Systems administrators develop, maintain and administer computer operating systems, database management systems, and security policies and procedures.
Systems administrators usually earn
$85K-$120K per year
Database administrators usually earn
$85K-$145K per year
Source: Absolute IT and Recruit I.T., 2022.
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’.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
What you will do
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.
Skills and knowledge
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.
- 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.
What's the job really like?
Systems administrator video
David Finnigan shares what it's like to be a database administrator –1.53 mins.
There are two things I do in a normal day – the first is to make sure that the databases I support are running quickly and that the appropriate people have access. I also make sure that any overnight jobs such as backups or reports have finished successfully. And then the other thing that we look after is a lot of consultation with projects that might be intending to use databases in the future.
I think databases are critical to a lot of modern organisations. It’s probably not too big a stretch to say that no database, no organisation or no company. And as such a DBA has a large role to play if a database system is down or even running slowly - that can cause a big impact to customers and internal staff within an organisation, and as a result a DBA can make a really positive difference in turning that around and repairing it.
I think repairing issues, addressing those sort of problems are one of my favourite parts; when something has gone wrong and it’s impacting a lot of people, it’s very rewarding to be able to apply your knowledge and skills and experience, and resolve that issue quickly. And to oftentimes literally hear the relief in the users’ voices when you’re able to tell them that it’s working properly again.
I started in an IT support role like a lot of people do, and in the organisation I was working at at that that time they didn’t have a dedicated DBA so I sort of organically moved into that area. The need was there and then I’d go to training courses and eventually just chose to specialise.
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.
A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. Useful subjects include digital technologies, maths, physics and English.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway programme is a good way to gain industry experience.
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.
If you want to get into technical support, get some work in the service or hospitality industry, and talk to people from all walks of life – because it will make it easier when you're dealing with clients.
Useful experience for systems administrators includes work with computers or operating database management systems such as Cisco, Oracle or Microsoft.
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).
Systems administrators may choose to become certified through associations such as the Institute of IT Professionals.
Find out more about training
- IT Professionals NZ
- 0800 252 255 - email@example.com - www.itp.org.nz
- NZ Tech
- (09) 475 0204 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nztech.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Systems administrators in demand
Demand for systems administrators is strong because organisations rely on computer systems and networks to operate effectively.
They need systems administrators to
- to develop, maintain and administer operating systems
- to prevent systems failing or being hacked, and to ensure backups and recovery procedures are in place.
Shortage of experienced systems administrators
There are not enough experienced systems administrators to meet demand. Nearly two thirds of IT employers report skills shortages, and there aren't enough information technology (IT) trainees.
As a result, database administrator, ICT security specialist and systems administrator (which are all types of database or systems administrators) appear on Immigration New Zealand's long-term skill shortage list and will appear on Immigration New Zealand's Green List from March 2024. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled systems administrators from overseas to work in New Zealand.
According to the Census, 4,641 database and systems administrators worked in New Zealand in 2018.
Types of employers varied
Systems administrators may work for a wide range of organisations, including:
- large computer firms
- local authorities such as city councils, and government departments
- private organisations with large computer networks
- internet and telecommunication providers.
- Hays, 'IT Salary Guide and Recruiting Trends', accessed November 2021, (www.hays.net.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Long Term Skill Shortage List', 19 February 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Changes to Immigration Settings Announced, '23 September 2023 (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Recruit I.T., 'Technology and Digital Salary Update Auckland', 'Recruit I.T., 'Technology and Digital Salary Update Wellington', July 2021, (www.recruitit.co.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
Progression and specialisations
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.
Last updated 26 September 2023