Network admins are no longer tethered to their network by a patch panel — or one geographic location. In some cases, they can be remote, which is great for hiring managers and even better for net admins. In both cases, they have their pick of talent not only from their local area, but the entire United States and beyond.
While that may initially seem like a great opportunity to attract talent, it can also be daunting. When you’re hiring locally, you probably know the lay of land: local companies, similar industry, and a network of professionals. Once you start moving outward, you may want to focus your attention on some of the best states for network admins.
If you’re a hiring manager who needs to find new network administrators, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve tried to put together some insight for you. Read on to find technologies your prospects should be familiar with, and what those technologies are used for. We’ve also analyzed, using our State of IT Jobs map where you might think about searching for network administrators.
What Does a Network Administrator Need to Know?
At heart, networking is moving information from one device to another. How that information moves, how many devices it comes from, which devices it goes to, and which devices it passes through in that journey, is where the career field gets complicated.
A network administrator deals with devices like personal computers, laptops, mobile phones, printers, servers, access points, switches, routers and firewalls. Imagine that those devices are like people trying to send mail to one another. The network is the postal service, and the network administrator’s job is to make sure the roads are clear, the mail trucks work, and everyone has an up-to-date address book.
Many of those devices have addresses that let devices recognize one another, but they’re in a special alpha-numerical pattern that electronics understand. But they understand it because they speak different languages than English — and network administrators have to know those languages too. In network administration, these are often called protocols. Those protocols include Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), and Internet Protocol, which has two versions IPv4 and IPv6.
There’s a big difference between the internet and an internal network, and network administrators need to understand both. When on an internal network, security is less of a concern. But once your network “touches” the internet, there are all sorts of things that can happen. A network administrator has to know what sort of security threats exist, and how hardware and software can defend against it. Devices called firewalls help with this, and advanced firewalls have multiple features that make them adaptive security appliances or ASAs.
There are also industry certifications that a network administrator can earn to prove their mettle. While some certifying bodies cover only information about a particular hardware or software provider like Cisco, Microsoft, and Juniper. Others, like CompTIA and EC-Council, certify broad familiarity with the type of information.
Nearly every certifying body has a series of certifications that range from entry-level knowledge to expert-level. If you’re hiring a network administrator at the lowest rung on the ladder, some of the certifications you might look for are Cisco’s Certified Technician (CCT), or Certified Network Associate (CCNA).
The CompTIA Network+ and A+ both demonstrate a broad base of familiarity with core networking technologies, and if your company depends on Microsoft products, the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certificate means the prospective administrator understands the tech your company uses.
Where Can Network Administrators Be Found?
If you’re trying to hire qualified network administrators, you might struggle with where to post or search for candidates. Obviously, if you’re hiring for a small company with one location and limited resources, you’ll probably want to limit your search to your geographic area. But if you and your company have the resources to look farther and wider than your own backyard, we have analysis that could help you.
Over the last 18 months, CBT Nuggets has been scraping data from job sites, social media platforms, and industry websites. We’ve identified available job postings, filled positions, vacancies, and more. On top of that, we’ve performed keyword analysis on job descriptions and postings for industry certifications.
With all that in mind, we’ve got a strong sense of where there is greater-than-average density of network administrators: in other words, a buyer’s market for hiring managers.
First of all, if you’re looking to hire network administrators in Montana, Georgia, Michigan, or Oklahoma, be forewarned: the market in these areas for network administrators is slower than anywhere else in the country. In Montana and Georgia, the job market is woefully unappealing. Not only for network administrators, but every other position we tracked, the demand and fulfillment for network administrators is far below the national average.
If you’re trying to find network administrators, major metropolitan areas are almost always a good place to consider. But the downside of those is that other competitors will be looking there too. Washington, D.C., northern Virginia, NYC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco all lead the country in network administrators, but they’re also likely to be the most competitive.
If you’re looking for places where positions for network administrators are significantly higher than the national average, consider Delaware, New Mexico, Maryland, Massachusetts and Louisiana. Network administrators make up a higher percentage of the workforce in those states than the rest of the country.
In Delaware, it’s Wilmington, Dover and Newark that have the highest concentrations of netadmins. In New Mexico, look to Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Clovis for network administrators who might be looking for a move. Maryland’s netadmin hotspots are Baltimore, Laurel, and Columbia. Massachusetts’ best spots to look are Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Last, in Louisiana it’s New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Metairie that have the state’s large share of network administrators.
A network administrator is a key position for any company. Their skills can range from the most fundamental of entry level, to a capable team member with several years of experience. Support staff who aren’t a part of daily IT work, like hiring managers, will find that when they’re familiar with the work network administrators perform, they can filter candidates more efficiently and accurately.
Hopefully, this crash course can help hiring managers understand the job a bit more and where they might find network administrators who are tired of rubbing elbows with stiff competition for open jobs. Be sure to try our interactive State of IT Jobs map to explore areas that weren’t discussed in this post. You never know what you’ll find.