When your company is on the hunt for systems administrators, you can be forgiven if you feel like the deck is stacked against you. The position is a hard one to fill because it requires a unique combination of technical knowledge, attitude, experience, and common sense. While many IT professionals start their careers as a systems administrator, there’s a huge difference between a novice and experienced sysadmin.
If you’re a hiring manager and you’re able to expand your search beyond your immediate geographic area, you should consider expanding your search to some of the states we list below. We’ve spent a year and a half accumulating a ton of information about IT jobs around the country, state-by-state, down to individual cities. We pulled data using our interactive State of IT Jobs map.
We’ve parsed and analyzed that data and have some thoughts for you about where systems administrator jobs are over-populated, where they’re under-populated, and where there might be some qualified and certified sysadmins looking for work.
1. D.C. and Surrounding Area
The area surrounding Washington, D.C. is often referred to as the National Capital Region, or NCR. As we’ve gone through the reams of IT jobs data, the NCR is reliably the area most densely populated with IT professionals. That certainly remains true for systems administrators.
Whether just looking at the raw number, or what percentage they comprise of the total workforce of the area, systems administrators are very common in D.C., Virginia and Maryland. That’s probably due to how many so-called “Three-Letter Agencies” like the FBI, NSA, and NGA have footprints in that area. On top of that, hundreds of server farms for many of the world’s largest public clouds are located in the area.
The sheer volume of positions for systems administrators in the area, as well as the number of job postings we found throughout the region, imply strongly that there’s stiff competition for systems administrators in the NCR.
This doesn’t mean that companies looking to hire sysadmins shouldn’t look there, after all, some of the world’s most experienced administrators live and work there. But companies should be aware that competition there is fierce, and there may be other places where you won’t have to work as hard to get a quality candidate.
Data regarding jobs in the information technology sector indicate that Arizona is where supply of candidates is high, and competition low. According to our data, Arizona is home to thousands of systems administrators, but the state is far from oversaturated.
Compared to other states, the percentage of systems administrators in the state’s workforce sits below the national average. A steady stream of job postings indicates that the market itself is healthy. But with systems administrators sitting near the top of the list of top IT jobs in the state, there may be far more systems administrators looking for new places to work than places looking to hire them.
If you’re able to hold a search for sysadmins in Arizona, you’ll find the densest congregation of qualified systems administrators in Phoenix. Administrators with entry-level certifications in Phoenix outnumber most other cities in the state combined. But that’s not to say that searches in other cities wouldn’t be fruitful.
Many cities in Arizona have large numbers of systems administrators: Tucson, Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca, and Yuma. By starting your search in those cities, you’re less likely to run into competition from other companies.
In a lot of ways, Florida’s profile resembles Arizona’s quite closely. Although there are nearly three times as many systems administrators in Florida than Arizona, Florida’s working population is roughly three times greater than Arizona’s. Therefore, the percentage of the workforce represented by systems administrators in Florida is, like in Arizona, nearly exactly the median percentage for the U.S. That suggests that while the job market for sysadmins is healthy in Florida, they’re not bursting at the seams.
A company looking to hire experienced systems administrators could very well benefit from including Florida candidates in their search. The number of open positions compared to the number of qualified candidates suggest, like in Arizona, that there are probably more candidates looking for new jobs than companies offering positions.
A particularly nice thing about searching for qualified candidates in Florida is that the supply of them is spaced fairly evenly throughout the state. In the middle of the state, Tampa, Orlando, and their suburbs contain high numbers of qualified sysadmins. In the south of the state, Miami, Ft Lauderdale and Ft Myers do too. In the north, Pensacola and Jacksonville span the state and have competitive numbers of qualified systems administrators.
A company that expanded its search for systems administrators to Florida would likely find a market full of qualified and experienced candidates who aren’t being flooded with opportunities from other companies.
It’s hardly surprising that California would appear on a list of states with attractive numbers of systems administrators. Whether it’s the defense and military-heavy south near San Diego, the entertainment hub of greater Los Angeles, the shipping and agri-business focus of the northern regions, or the technology hub of greater San Francisco, there are computer systems of all shapes and sizes throughout the state.
But in spite of the availability and obvious demand for qualified and experienced systems administrators, our data suggest that relative to the entire state’s working population, systems administrators make up a smaller than average percentage.
Whether that slight paucity of sysadmins spells opportunity or extra effort for your company’s search is a matter of perspective. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and San Jose are positively bursting with qualified candidates, but competition there will probably be stiff. Meanwhile, many of the suburbs of those cities, like San Jose, Torrance, or Coronado, or smaller California cities like Fresno and Sacramento all have qualified candidates in a much smaller pool of available jobs.
According to our data, Georgia has a decent number of job descriptions and available positions for IT professionals who are qualified as systems administrators. However, as a percentage of the entire working population of the state, systems administrators come in well below the national average.
This combination of factors suggests that while there are plenty of candidates for systems administrator positions, there may not be a very attractive selection of jobs for them. And a company that included Georgia in their search for systems administrators could find themselves with candidates who want more than the state has to offer.
Cities all over the state have IT professionals who hold industry certifications, but the overwhelming majority of them are in Atlanta. Augusta, Warner Robins, and Albany represent a fair share of certified candidates, but the lion’s share is in Atlanta.
Seen through the lens of our IT jobs data, Texas is the least like other states on this list. For a state of its size, with a working population larger than most, systems administrators make up a relatively small percentage of its total workforce. And where they are working, they’re not clustered into one city, but instead are pretty well spaced throughout the state’s many large cities and suburbs.
Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, all these cities boast very high numbers of IT professionals with industry certifications. But the number of available jobs as well as descriptions for currently held positions is lower than most other states.
If your company is in a position to search for systems administrator candidates in Texas, you may very well find qualified, certified individuals with few prospects close to home.
The last state on our list, Colorado has a high number of systems administrators relative to the size of its total workforce. The ratio of systems administrators to the rest of the workforce is nearly triple that of the national average in Colorado, and it has as many sysadmin positions as states with much larger workforces, like Florida and Texas.
This puts Colorado in a different light than many of the other states we’ve focused on, because while it doesn’t reach the highest density levels like D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, it does rank high and so competition there will probably be quite fierce. But if your company has the resources, you’d find experienced, capable systems administrators.
In terms of where within the state to look, Denver and its surrounding suburbs like Aurora, Littleton, and Englewood, have the overwhelming share of qualified systems administrators. Colorado Springs also has a fair number, but the huge percentage of sysadmins can be found in and around Denver.
Curious about sysadmin jobs in an area not on this list? Try our State of IT Jobs map today. All you need is a zip code. Happy hunting!