Job Search

IT Specialist vs. System Administrator: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

IT specialists and system administrators are both important roles in the world of information technology. While they share some similarities, there are several key differences between the two. In this article, we discuss the differences between an IT specialist and a system administrator, and we provide additional information technology professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is an IT Specialist?

IT Specialists are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of an organization’s computer systems and networks. They work with a variety of software and hardware, including servers, workstations, routers, switches, storage devices and printers. IT Specialists also troubleshoot problems when they arise and work with users to resolve issues. They may also be responsible for managing user accounts, setting up new equipment and providing training on how to use new systems. IT Specialists typically work in an office environment, but may be required to travel to different locations to provide support.

What is a System Administrator?

System Administrators are responsible for the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of computer systems and networks. They install and configure software, troubleshoot hardware and software issues, and monitor system performance. System Administrators also create and maintain user accounts, set up user permissions, and provide technical support to users. They may also be responsible for developing and implementing system security measures. System Administrators typically work in an office environment, but may be required to work remotely or on-call in some cases.

IT Specialist vs. System Administrator

Here are the main differences between an IT specialist and a system administrator.

Job Duties

Both IT specialists and system administrators have a variety of job duties. The type of tasks they perform depend on the needs of their organization. System administrators typically manage computer systems, so they may install and configure new software, troubleshoot issues and maintain existing systems. They also often design and implement new systems.

IT specialists usually focus more on specific projects that support an organization’s IT needs. They may conduct user studies, develop security policies and conduct training sessions. Additionally, IT specialists often monitor and maintain network security.

Job Requirements

IT specialists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. They might also pursue certifications to show their employers that they have the skills needed to perform their job duties. System administrators often need a similar educational background, although some employers might prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in computer science or a related field. Additionally, system administrators might need to be certified in the specific type of software they will be working with.

Work Environment

System administrators and IT specialists can work in a variety of environments, depending on the company they work for. For example, some system administrators may work in an office setting while others may work in a factory or warehouse environment. Similarly, IT specialists may also work in both office and non-office settings.

IT professionals typically spend most of their time working with computers, either at a desk or on the job site. They may travel to different locations to provide technical support as needed.


Both IT specialists and system administrators use technical skills to perform their jobs. However, system administrators typically have a more in-depth knowledge of computer systems and networks than IT specialists. They also benefit from having problem-solving skills to identify and resolve issues with systems.

System administrators also need interpersonal skills because they often work with other people in an organization to ensure that the network is running smoothly. They may need to train new users on how to use the system or provide support to people who are experiencing problems. Communication skills are also important for system administrators as they need to be able to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical staff.

IT specialists usually focus on one specific area of information technology, such as database administration or web development. As a result, they tend to have more specialized skills than system administrators. For example, a database administrator would benefit from having SQL skills, while a web developer would need to know HTML, CSS and JavaScript.


IT specialists can earn an average salary of $67,205 per year, while system administrators can earn an average salary of $82,947 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


Marketing Strategist vs. Marketing Manager: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Personal Assistant vs. Secretary: What Are the Differences?