As a sysadmin, you arguably have one of the most important jobs in your company. You keep the gears turning, maybe literally, and everyone looks to you and your department when things go awry. We talked to some IT pros out there in the real world to find out the best and worst things about being a sysadmin.
The Bad Part about Being a SysAdmin
When it comes to assessing how IT pros view their roles, we see a diverse range of opinions from sysadmins. However, there were a few common gripes that come up time and time again.
No Gratitude. This isn’t necessarily unique to sysadmins because there are certainly worse jobs out there. Performing your daily checks, clearing tickets, and mitigating any possible security threats to your network are almost always going to go unnoticed by your superiors.
When things are running smoothly in your company, it is easy for everyone to kind of just forget that you’re there, which isn’t always a bad thing. It doesn’t help the feeling, however, that many IT professionals feel underappreciated and undervalued in their organizations.
No Tolerance for Downtime. The irony about this problem is that the people who forgot you were there because the system was running so smoothly, now wonder what you’ve been doing the entire time now that something broke and is taking down critical business functions.
Downtime is no joke for companies. It means angry clients and lost revenue. If you are smart, you spent all of your quiet time designing, refining, and implementing your disaster recovery and backup systems.
No Training. Unfortunately, sysadmins are supposed to know everything, but they’re often left without the proper training. This is a big problem. The boss wants skills and interdepartmental functionality but is unwilling to pay to train IT staff. You can either use some these tactics to convince your boss to pay for training, or pay for it yourself.
We heard from some IT managers that they don’t want to pay for the training that makes their admins desirable to other businesses, as well. That’s not our outlook. In fact, we argue that certifications not only make you better but help the entire company. But the latter attitude is out there.
Non-Technical Decision Makers. Some companies have no IT manager to act as a buffer between upper management and the IT department. This leads to some highly intelligent, vastly experienced executives making business decisions that are, from an IT perspective, technically impractical, overly expensive, or impossible for the sysadmins to implement. These decisions are mostly steamrolled through with the IT department having little or no say in the matter, leading to expensive failures further down the road.
New Challenges. This is a two-edged sword in many instances. Some sysadmins work in departments that are so set in their ways that there are very few new challenges. For instance, someone probably doesn’t want to move away from tried and true technologies (ahem, Windows XP). Others will tell you that their company is so eager to be at the cutting edge of technology that they will overwhelm their sysadmins with too many new projects, offering little planning and support for them.
The Good Part about Being a SysAdmin
It’s really easy to be cynical about working in IT, but it is important to remember that there are many good things to enjoy in the industry! The same doom-and-gloomers that gave us their least favorite things about working in IT also had some pretty positive insights with regard to the sysadmin space. It is always important to remember that no matter how unmotivated you may feel as an IT professional, you are on one of the few career paths that allows for self-improvement, diversification, and inventiveness. Go get ‘em.
Job Growth. That’s right, the industry is growing! The US Department of Labor projected 12 percent growth in the market for systems and network administrators between 2012 and 2022, while security analyst positions are expected to increase by as much as 36 percent. In a global economy where entry-level to medium-skilled jobs are being made redundant by automation and outsourcing, you can be glad that your profession is in demand and the demand is set to increase.
Industrial Diversity. There aren’t too many companies that operate without computers, networks, or the internet, regardless of the sector that they occupy. Manufacturers, retailers, hospitals, and government institutions all have IT infrastructure that needs to be maintained, and you are just the person to do it.
Great Earning Potential. Sysadmins have great earning potential compared to the level of study required as opposed to some of the other disciplines in IT. There is a lot of pressure in some cases, granted, but the potential for earning a decent living is one of the great things about being a sysadmin.
Personal Growth. Just because your current employer isn’t looking to help you on your certification path doesn’t mean that you can’t opt to self-study and achieve self-certification. This will open up new avenues to you, and is sure to create opportunities for you in the future as you pursue a career in IT, no matter what direction you ultimately choose.