System administrators (often abbreviated to sysadmin) are people who are responsible for maintaining a multi-user computer system and in some cases the LAN as well.

Typical tasks that a sysadmin would perform include:

SysAdmin Job Responsibilities
Small organisations will generally have one sysadmin to manage their computer systems whereas large organistations will have seveal. If one looks in the newspaper, you will see widely varying pay for system administrators. This is because the skill involved can vary quite substantially.

For small organistations, often the sysadmin is only required to maintain the LAN and computer systems. There may only be a single file server (maybe an NT box or something) and a dozen users. Problems, when they arise, can be dealt with easily and quickly.

In large organistations, sysadmins may be responsible for maintaining large mission critical servers. This is the type of work that I am involved in. For example, I look after 160 Unix servers (each worth between $100k to 400k) and these servers run mission critical applications for the largest Australian telecommunications company, Telstra. I've got to ensure that the servers are operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (known as 24x7) and is available 99.98% of the time otherwise massive penalties are applied (can be up to serveral 100k). On top of that, the applications on these servers must respond to user requests within certain agreed times (eg 1.2 seconds from when the user presses the button) otherwise penalties are applied. This is where a good sysadmin is worth their weight in gold. By applying kernel patches, tweaking their system, even down to knowing the optimum disk configuration for best performance, a good sysadmin can save a company a lot of money by minimising downtime and penalties.

Why are SysAdmins refered to as Gods?
To perform their job, sysadmins are given 'root' access to their servers (in NT terms, they are given 'administrator' access). This means that they can go anywhere and do anything on their system. They can read your email and go through your files - nothing can stop a sysadmin doing anything they like on their server. Hence, 'root' access is sometimes referred to as 'God' access and hence sometimes sysadmins are also referred to as Gods.