PC Specialist vs. Network Admin - what do they do?

keyboard, question mark and computer pointer
December 17, 2018

PC specialists are computer experts who help users set up their computer systems or troubleshoot problems. They may help clients in a company setting or an individual in their home. They install software and connect computers and printers to the Internet. They take care of routine maintenance and software updates and fix any local area network or wide area network issues that may prevent computers from connecting to each other.

What Will I Do As A PC Specialist?

As a PC specialist, you'll provide technical support to users of personal computers, or PCs. This technical support may take the form of troubleshooting, maintenance or repair, and may take place in person, over the phone or via e-mail. Some PC support services may be preventative in nature, like running antivirus software or clearing up file space to keep desktop computers running smoothly.

In other cases, your work as a PC specialist may require you to diagnose or fix a problem that already exists, such as inoperable computer software or a non-working printer. You may also provide step-by-step support to PC users as they install new programs, run diagnostic tests, set up desktop computers and so on.

What Are Some Common Working Environments for a PC Specialist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most PC support specialists work in office environments, but exact job title and duties may vary depending on your job title and place of employment (www.bls.gov). As a technical support specialist, you'll work for a firm or corporation and be responsible for helping employees with any computer-related issues that may arise.

In addition to troubleshooting and maintenance, you may install programs or updates on office PCs and offer tutorials or instructions on new computer programs or features. If help desk technician is your job title, you'll provide phone or e-mail assistance to customers who call in seeking resolution to various PC problems. In this position, you may work for a computer manufacturer, software company or a technical support consulting firm.

What Is a Network Administrator?

Network administrators can implement, manage and troubleshoot networks. It is their duty to study a company's needs and organize their computer system to work throughout the building. Network administrators constantly check data to make sure the system is optimized. From that data monitoring, they look for problems that could be caused by the network or another user. They also make sure new users have properly been trained in the network usage and train subordinates on proper uploading and downloading of material that could affect the network.

The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as a network administrator.

What Duties Do Network Administrators Perform?

The networks you manage will vary in scale from modest LANs (Local Area Networks) to WANs (Wide Area Networks) to GANs (Global Area Networks). They may be wired or wireless. They may be arranged in a number of configurations and involve a handful or hundreds of components. Your responsibilities will vary according to the network's size and environment. For example, your concerns working in a rural school district would be different from the concerns you would have working in a global military system.

Ironically, the smaller and less complex the network, the more you will have to do for yourself. As a LAN administrator, you may not have specialists to help you evaluate and purchase hardware and software or maintain network operations. As a senior administrator of a WAN or GAN, you would have a support staff to which you could delegate responsibilities.

Although there is often overlap between them, your workday tasks can roughly be grouped into the areas of implementation, management, troubleshooting and self-education. Implementation duties include lying out and connecting cables between servers and nodes, installing wireless transmitters and receivers, installing and configuring networking software and applications software, installing storage area networks and establishing user accounts.

Management duties are the most extensive and will take most of you time and attention. They include monitoring daily server traffic and system usage; maintaining user accounts and access privileges; maintaining network logs; updating network, application and security software; performing scheduled backups; performing scheduled tests; assisting with the realization of special projects; writing user documentation; training new users.

Troubleshooting duties include responding to user reports about service interruptions, analyzing network logs to locate the source of a problem and applying an appropriate solution. Solutions include restoring broken or intermittent connections, adjusting software configurations, installing patches and rebooting the entire system.

Self-education includes reading trade publications to keep abreast of general developments in networking technology, researching hardware and software upgrades compatible with the system you manage, recommending purchases and assisting with the planning and design of special projects.

From learn.org

Kate Wallace