You don’t need a degree to become a systems administrator. A good place to start is the CompTIA A+ certification. Find out more here.

A systems administrator, or a sysadmin, is an IT professional who ensures a company’s servers, networks, and other critical computer systems are running smoothly. It’s a senior role that follows IT support positions on the career ladder.

Despite what many articles will tell you, becoming a systems administrator doesn’t necessarily require a college degree. While a degree in IT fields like computer science or information systems can enhance your resume, you’ll still need certain IT certifications and relevant experience to land a sysadmin job.

If you’re hoping to get into the information technology industry without a degree, you’ll need to start by learning the basics of IT and work your way up to a systems administrator position. Typically, this journey begins with a job as an IT support specialist. Fortunately, breaking into IT support doesn’t require a college degree either.

In this post, we will:

  • Explain the steps to becoming a systems administrator without a college degree.
  • Show why starting in IT support serves as an essential springboard to a systems administrator role.
  • Introduce Climb Hire’s comprehensive IT Support training program, which is free for all students in 2024.

Our six-month program is designed to give you the technical knowledge and skills you need to kickstart your IT career, with no previous experience necessary. It will make sure you’re fully ready for the opportunities ahead.

Climb Hire is a non-profit organization focused on helping low-income and underserved working adults start careers in tech. Check out our IT Support training program and apply here

Steps to Becoming a Systems Administrator without a College Degree

Before we dive into each step in detail, here’s a quick overview of how to become a systems administrator without the time investment of a degree:

  1. Learn the basics of IT and earn the industry-standard certification that employers love to see on resumes.
  2. Land an entry-level job in IT support.
  3. Gain hands-on experience working in the field while leveling up with more advanced IT certifications. These will help you land a systems administrator role.
  4. Get a job as a systems administrator.

Step 1: Learn the Basics of IT

It’s not good advice to simply tell a person looking to become a systems administrator to “learn IT skills,” yet that’s what many other guides on the internet do. Yes, this is the first step, but it can’t end there. You need to know how and where to learn to make this advice useful.

That’s exactly what we’re going to explain.

Before we get into those details, let’s be clear that you’ll need to get CompTIA A+ certification to become an IT support specialist. This is the universally recognized, industry-standard certification that proves you understand all of the IT fundamentals. It’s the gold standard certification for entry-level IT roles that job recruiters look for on resumes.

CompTIA A+ certification involves passing two exams: 

There are two ways to learn the material to pass the exams:

1. Find the materials to teach yourself — whether that’s through a self-guided online course or YouTube videos.

People are attracted to these courses because they think they’re more convenient and cost-effective, but that’s not necessarily the case. You can do courses like these at your own pace, but teaching yourself complex concepts and keeping yourself disciplined and on a learning schedule is no easy task.

Also, you have to be careful with self-guided courses, as some only begin with a free trial, or they claim to be free but then end up charging for necessary materials down the road.

2. Enroll in an instructor-led course. 

We find this method of learning to be more reliable. The fundamental concepts and skills of IT infrastructure are technical and fairly complex. Having an instructor there to guide you and answer all your questions will make grasping those technical concepts a whole lot easier. While some instructor-led certification programs can be on the pricey side, that’s not always the case.

This is where we come in.

We’re Climb Hire, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income and overlooked working adults begin careers in the tech industry. We offer remote, instructor-led training programs in the tech industry, plus dedicated guidance as our students look for jobs upon graduation. One of our programs is training for IT support.

Thanks to our generous donors, our IT Support program is free for all students throughout 2024. The program only takes six months to complete and fully prepares you to earn CompTIA A+ certification. We also cover the fees of your CompTIA A+ exams, which normally cost over $500.

This may sound too good to be true, but it’s not. We’re a nonprofit whose only goal is to help people. Here’s a more in-depth look into our IT Support program.

Learn IT Support with Climb Hire

Climb Hire’s IT Support program offers a proven pathway to master IT fundamentals and earn CompTIA A+ certification. It will directly set you up for a successful career path in the tech industry, from IT support to systems administrator and beyond.

Our program stands out because:

  • It’s comprehensive, with instructor-led training that covers all the essential IT basics tested on CompTIA A+ exams, including hardware, software, troubleshooting, operating systems, cloud computing, network security, and more.
  • Our instructors are industry experts who deliver personalized instruction to small “pods” of students. This approach ensures that each student receives the support and attention they need throughout the program.
  • The curriculum includes hands-on assisted lab work to practice and hone your skills. This enhances skill retention and IT problem-solving and prepares students for success in IT support roles.
  • In addition to technical skills, we also dedicate our class time to teaching “soft skills,” such as interview practice, resume writing, and professional communication. Training in these skills gives you the confidence you need in interviews and improves your chances of getting a job.
  • It’s convenient, offering scheduled online classes that allow you to easily integrate them into your schedule without the need for travel.
  • Upon completion of the program, you’ll be paired with a dedicated Career Development Advisor who provides personalized guidance and support throughout the job application process.
  • Graduates gain access to our extensive alumni network, connecting them with industry insiders, mentors, and potential employers, who offer invaluable opportunities for job prospects, mentorship, and career advancement within the tech industry.
  • Thanks to the generosity of our donors, our IT Support program is completely free. On top of that, we cover the $500 CompTIA A+ exam fees.

Testimonials from our graduates offer concrete evidence of how our program has propelled their careers in the tech industry.

For example, Miguel transitioned from being a cook to securing a position at IBM. He credits Climb Hire for teaching him valuable soft skills about the job application process that transformed his approach and enabled him to successfully transition into the tech field.

“It feels so amazing to me to be now on the other side. I’m so grateful.”

It only takes 6 months to complete our IT Support program. After that, 80% of our graduates secure jobs within 6 months, many with salaries exceeding $50k.

By taking this path, you’ll have successfully completed the first two steps toward becoming a systems administrator in a year or less.

Apply now to our IT Support program.

Step 2: Land an Entry-Level Role in IT Support

You’ve got your certification, so now you need to:

1. Find jobs that you’re qualified for, such as help desk technician, technical support specialist, and assistant network administrator.Many entry-level IT support jobs mention that an ideal candidate will either have CompTIA A+ certification or a degree in a tech-related field, so you’ve got that covered.

2. Write a convincing cover letter. 

A strong cover letter can quickly propel you past other candidates to score an interview.

But writing one can be tough. You’ve got to strike the right balance between showcasing your qualifications and demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role within a limited space. Plus, you have to capture the attention of the hiring manager.

3. Nail the interview. 

This is your chance to impress the hiring manager with your personality, communication skills, and knowledge of the role. You’ve got to be professional and likable as you convey why you’re a great fit for the position.

All of this can be a really daunting and lonely process if you’re doing it by yourself. You can reach out to friends or people in your network, but they don’t always have the time to help.

That’s why we include soft skills training and career support at Climb Hire.

In class, we teach you how to write resumes and cover letters and train you for interviews. During the job hunt, your Career Development Advisor is there to support you and reinforce those skills.

Plus, you’ll be able to tap into our wide professional tech network, which can lead you to job openings, give recommendations, and even directly refer you to hiring managers. When looking for a job, having connections is always helpful.

Step 3: Gain Experience in the Field & Level Up with More Advanced Certifications

If you search for systems administrator jobs, you’ll often find that they’re looking for:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience
  • Advanced IT certifications

With or without a degree, the job description for computer systems administrators often say they want someone with at least 1–2 years of experience in the field. So, diligently working for at least a year seems like a good baseline before you start trying to advance up the ladder.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to pursue additional certifications to prove your competency in the job requirements of a sysadmin, such as:

  • CompTIA Server+, Network+, Security+, and Linux+, which validate skills in server maintenance, network configuration, cybersecurity, and Linux operating systems respectively.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate primarily focuses on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, though it also encompasses knowledge and skills relevant to managing other operating systems and workloads.
  • Linux Professional Institute Certifications (LPIC) focuses entirely on Linux operating systems.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) covers a broad range of networking topics essential for managing computer network infrastructure. It is not specific to any single operating system.

Step 4: Get a Job as a Systems Administrator

A year or more of experience and certifications will show potential employers that you’re qualified to get a job as a systems administrator. The process of landing a job remains essentially the same, despite it being a more advanced role. You still need a great resume and cover letter that showcase that you’re prepared and a good overall fit for the role. And you still have to ace the interview.

The difference now is:

  • You have experience going through the professional application and interview process.
  • You have a professional network through your job.

You’re the inspiring example of how to start a career in IT from scratch and work your way up, all without paying tens of thousands of dollars for a formal degree.

Choose Climb Hire to Start Your Journey into IT

You can work your way up the tech ladder to a systems administrator position without a college degree. Demonstrate your technical expertise in the field and you’ll be a strong candidate for those roles. It all starts with mastering the IT basics.

Climb Hire offers a direct path to getting the skills and support you need to start the process. 

Why choose our IT Support program?

  • It’s free for all students who enroll in 2024.
  • You’ll learn from experts who will fully prepare you for your first IT role.
  • It’s a 6-month, fully remote program, making it a convenient and fast way to learn.
  • You’ll get training in the soft skills that will help you land a job.
  • We offer dedicated and personalized support during your job search.

Over 80% of Climb Hire graduates secure jobs within six months of program completion, most earning salaries over $50k.

Becoming a systems administrator is well within your reach. Apply now and start your tech career within a year. 

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