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What does an Unix System Administrator do?

Learn all about Unix System Administrator duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become an Unix System Administrator.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A Unix System Administrator is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems running the Unix operating system. They may also be responsible for providing support to users of these systems.

Unix System Administrator job duties include:

  • Plan, install, and configure Unix operating systems and related software
  • Manage user accounts, permissions, and access rights
  • Monitor system performance and troubleshoot issues
  • Perform regular backups and disaster recovery operations
  • Keep abreast of new technology trends and developments
  • Train and mentor junior staff members
  • Write shell scripts to automate routine tasks
  • Create and maintain system documentation
  • Provide level 2 and 3 technical support

Unix System Administrator Job Requirements

Most employers require a bachelor's degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field for this position. Many also prefer candidates who have earned certification in Unix from a vendor such as IBM, HP, or Oracle. Employers also value experience working with Unix systems in a corporate environment.

Unix System Administrator Skills

  • System administration
  • Linux
  • Unix
  • Networking
  • Security
  • Shell scripting
  • Problem solving
  • Customer service
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Documentation

Related: Top Unix System Administrator Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become an Unix System Administrator

A system administrator, also known as a sysadmin, is responsible for the upkeep, configuration, and reliable operation of computer systems; especially multi-user computers, such as servers. The job often includes installing, upgrading, and maintaining systems and applications software. A sysadmin may also create and maintain user accounts, monitor system resources, and perform data backups.

Unix is a family of multitasking, multiuser computer operating systems that derive from the original AT&T Unix, development starting in the 1970s at the Bell Labs research center by Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and others.

Becoming a Unix System Administrator generally requires a college degree in computer science or a related field. Many employers prefer candidates with experience in customer service and technical support. Strong problem-solving skills are essential, as is the ability to work independently. Unix System Administrators must be able to effectively communicate with non-technical staff and users.

The duties of a Unix System Administrator vary depending on the size of the organization and its network infrastructure. In a small organization, a sysadmin may be responsible for all aspects of the system, including design, installation, configuration, maintenance, security, and troubleshooting. In a larger organization, the sysadmin role is often divided into sub-specialties such as network administration or database administration.

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