The significance of the role of the Operation System (OS) in the overall Information Technology employment sector cannot be undervalued. Indeed, it is hard to talk about technical skill-sets or the practical application of such skill-sets without at least some underlying understanding of their context within a computer operating system environment. From hardware specifications and requirements, user technical support, system administration and security, to software development and system implementation, operating systems are an integral part of the information technology and computing world in all its aspects, and it is difficult to form a concrete demarcation between specialized careers in this industry and the concept of the computer operating system.
Probably the most common thought of career position within the information technology arena that garners the most OS-centric job description specifics is that of the system administrator or network administrator. A system administrator is a person employed to maintain and operate a computer system or network for a company or other organization. The duties of a system administrator are wide-ranging, and vary widely from one organization to another. Sysadmins are usually charged with installing, supporting, and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems. Other duties may include scripting or light programming, project management for systems-related projects, supervising or training computer operators, and being the equivalent of a handyman for computer problems beyond the knowledge of technical support staff.
Unlike many other professions, there is no single path to becoming a system administrator. Few colleges or universities have specific programs for system administration, so many system administrators have a degree in generic fields such as computer science, computer engineering, information system management, or even a trade school program.
Currently, entry-level systems administrators make about $55000, as reported by esj.com, while salary.com states the median expected salary in 2006 for a typical system administrator in the United States is $65,675. System administrator salaries are strongest within the financial services and insurance industries.
Perhaps second only to the system administrators in terms of OS-centric roles, technical support officers are responsible for ensuring the smooth running of computer systems. Tasks vary depending on the size and structure of the organization, but will typically include installing and configuring computer systems, monitoring and maintaining the computer systems, taking staff/clients through a series of actions within the supported operating systems, and troubleshooting, diagnosing, and solving hardware/software faults. Application support roles also fall under this category, which provide support for specific applications implemented within the organization.