Systems Administrator Kaiwhakahaere Pūnaha

Systems administrators develop, maintain and administer computer operating systems, database management systems, and security policies and procedures.

video_library Watch Video

Systems administrators may choose to become certified through associations such as the Institute of IT Professionals.

Systems administrators may do some or all of the following:

  • plan and develop computer operating systems and associated server hardware
  • install and support operating systems
  • write documentation of the systems
  • ensure that storage, archiving, backup and recovery procedures work properly
  • find and fix hardware and software problems
  • test new systems, and commission and install new applications
  • train people to use computer systems or organise training, particularly for new software.

Systems administrators who specialise as database administrators may do some or all of the following:

  • design and build a database management system that stores an organisation's records
  • write database documentation, including data standards, procedures and definitions
  • monitor the growth of the database, and plan its capacity and security requirements
  • monitor the performance and security of the database, and minimise the risk of the database failing or being hacked.

Physical Requirements

Systems administrators spend a lot of time using computers, so they need to know how to use computer equipment properly to avoid occupational overuse syndrome (OOS).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for systems administrators includes work with computers or operating database management systems such as Cisco, Oracle or Microsoft.

Personal Qualities

Systems administrators need to be:

  • methodical and accurate
  • good at problem solving and time management
  • good at planning and organising
  • adaptable and patient
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to communicate well, as they need to relay complex information about computers in easily understood terms.


Systems administrators need to have knowledge of:

  • a range of computer operating systems
  • new developments in computer and security systems
  • computer principles and protocols
  • the effects of new technology on clients and their work.

Database administrators also need to have knowledge of at least one database management system.


Systems administrators:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may sometimes work evenings and weekends to complete projects or maintain systems
  • usually work in offices
  • may travel locally or internationally to clients' workplaces, or to conferences and seminars.

Systems Administrators can earn around $85K-$120K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Systems Administrator are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for systems administrators varies depending on skills and experience.

  • Systems administrators usually earn $85,000 to $125,000 a year.
  • Database administrators can earn $85,000 to $145,000 a year.

Sources: Absolute IT, ’IT Job Market and Remuneration Report 2022’; Recruit I.T., 'Technology & Digital Salary Update, Auckland, December 2022’; and Recruit I.T., ‘Technology & Digital Salary Update, Wellington, December 2022’.

Systems administrators may progress into a range of other IT jobs such as IT architect, or move into supervisory or management roles.

Systems administrators can specialise in roles such as:

Computer Security Specialist
Computer security specialists establish, manage and administer IT security policies and procedures to minimise the risk of security threats, such as hacking, to an organisation's computer networks.
Database Administrator
Database administrators develop, configure, maintain and support database management systems in accordance with user requirements.

Years Of Training

2-4 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a systems administrator. However, you usually need:  

  • a diploma or degree in computing, information systems or business computing
  • or extensive experience in the types of systems used.

Systems administrators may have also a diploma in systems administration, while database administrators may have a diploma in database administration. 

Systems administrators gain skills on the job and may attend a wide range of courses to update their knowledge and skills.

Systems Administrator