Programmer vs System Administrator: Which Career Path is Right for You

Careers in the technology space and broad and diverse and require different sets of skills. Programming and Systems Administration are two occupations that stand out and you are likely to find professionals in these fields in almost every company.

The rising demand for programming and administration skills has opened doors to freelancers who bridge the gap and work for companies seeking experts in the same field.

In this tutorial, we explore differences between Programmers and System administrators, more specifically in terms of the skillsets.

Who is a Programmer?

Programming is the process of writing code to create an application or program that carries out specific tasks.

A programmer is an IT professional who writes code, which constitutes a software application or program. A typical application or program can have hundreds or even thousands of lines of code depending on its complexity.

A computer programmer is sometimes referred to as a software developer and the two can be used interchangeably to refer to the same thing. However, there’s a perpetual debate as to the differences between the two professionals and the scope of responsibilities that programmers and developers can undertake.

There is a bucketful of programming languages in use today. Popular examples include Java, Python, Go, RUST, C, C++, C#, Javascript, and PHP. Although not categorized as programming languages, HTML and CSS are the backbone languages for front-end web development.

The proliferation of programming languages has led to the emergence of various programming niches in the tech industry. Programming has grown in leaps and bounds and rapid growth in the tech industry has led to the emergence of various programming niches.

Let’s explore some of these categories of programmers.

Frontend Developers

Front-End developers are professionals who specialize in designing the visual components of a website or web application. They are tasked with creating the UI (User Interface) of websites and ensuring smooth and immersive UX (User Experience).

As the name suggests, Front-End developers design the look and feel of the websites and ensure all the elements are aesthetically appealing and responsive to user interaction and input. As a Front-End developer, you need to be creative enough in order to visualize how websites will appear to visitors and potential clients.

Must-have skills for front-end developers include:

  • HTML & CSS
  • Javascript, TypeScript
  • Frameworks such as Bootstrap, React, Angular and Vue.JS
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Responsive Design
  • Version Control such as Git.

Backend Developers

Backend refers to everything that happens behind the visual aspects of a website or application. A good example is when you click a button that performs a certain task.

For example, when you click the ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Send Up’ button, although it’s part of the visual aspect of the website, what it actually accomplishes is what is referred to as the backend.

The backend mostly entails server processes, APIs, and interactions with complex and large-scale databases.

Ideally, backend developers should have a firm grasp of front-end languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript to be able to work efficiently. However, more importantly, they need a solid foundation in backend technologies such as:

  • Java
  • Python
  • Perl
  • .NET
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Node.JS
  • C
  • Database technologies such as SQL, PostgreSQL, and NoSQL databases such as MongoDB and Redis.
  • API development
  • Testing and Debugging Tools
  • Git Version Control

Fullstack Developers

If you combine the skills of a front-end and back-end developer, you end up with a full-stack developer. A full-stack web developer is tasked with developing websites from the ground up: from the visual elements such as the website layout, typography, and responsiveness, to the backend architecture.

As a result, a full-stack developer is one of the most valuable and sort after developers and commands an attractive pay package. Expectedly, a full-stack developer will have a combination of skills drawn from a front-end and back-end developer.

Mobile Developers

Mobile applications – both Android and iOS – are a critical part of our everyday life. You use them every day, whether you are on social media, ordering lunch or dinner, checking out the news or weather, or simply playing a game on your phone.

Mobile developers are professionals who develop and test mobile applications, which requires a skill set in the following languages:

  • Java
  • Kotlin
  • Swift – For iOS apps
  • Objective C
  • React Native
  • React.JS

Database Developers

Databases are ubiquitous and any tech stack, cloud application, or centralized enterprise application relies on one or more databases to store and replicate data. The more intricate an application is, the more the need for stable and robust database management systems.

A database developer is a professional with mastery of how databases work. Database developers create and maintain databases and ensure efficient storage of data. In addition, they are responsible for designing and implementing new databases and ensuring existing ones are well-updated and tweaked to accommodate changing requirements of the application.

A database developer needs to have the following set of database skills:

  • SQL relational databases such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL server, etc.
  • NoSQL databases including MongoDB, Redis, Apache Cassandra, CouchDB, etc.
  • Oracle
  • IMB DB2
  • Data Analysis
  • Linux / UNIX operating systems.

Game Developers

The global video game industry is an enormous industry that has taken the world by storm for a while now. Revenue from the global gaming industry in 2022 was estimated at nearly USD 347 billion. In fact, so big is the gaming industry so that it is estimated to be almost four times as much as Hollywood according to

The growth of the gaming industry is necessitated by the constant innovation of gaming consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation which command enormous popularity and demand globally

This has, in turn, driven up demand for gaming programmers. These are programmers who focus entirely on writing code for developing games on various platforms be it Windows, Mac, Linux, Android or iOS

To be a successful game developer, you need deep knowledge and understanding of gaming engines such as:

  • Unreal Engine
  • Godot
  • Cry Engine
  • Unity

And many more. Equally important, is the mastery of the following programming languages:

  • C and C#
  • Java Javascript
  • Python
  • HTML and CSS

System Hardware Programmers

System or hardware developers are programmers who focus on writing code using low-level programming languages specifically for firmware. This is a program or microcode that is embedded in non-volatile memory such as ROM (Read Only Memory). It contains instructions on how the computer will handle and manage hardware devices.

Firmware is an inherent part of the hardware and cannot be modified. Another example of firmware is BIOS (Basic Input Output System) which runs checks during booting and ensures all components are running as expected.

Widely used languages used by system or hardware programmers include:

  • Embedded C and C++
  • Java
  • Python

In addition to this, system programmers should be well acquainted with the ins and outs of system architecture and how various components communicate with each other on a hardware level.

So far, we have summarized some of the biggest and most common categories of programmers. While this is not a comprehensive list of all programmers in the industry, these programmers develop apps, tools, and services that we interact with on a daily basis.

Let’s now switch focus and have a look at System Administrators.

Who is a Systems Administrator?

System administrators are IT professionals who are in charge of an organization’s computing environment. They carry out a diverse mix of operations including ensuring optimal performance and maximum uptime of an organization’s core IT services and systems.

In addition, they are tasked with deploying, configuring, and maintaining servers as well as troubleshooting any faults. From time to time, system administrators carry out assessments and roll out new technologies in response to the growing needs of an organization.

In summary, the crucial functions of a systems administrator include:

  • Installation and configuration of software applications.
  • Ensuring the security of servers and applications by implementing measures such as access controls, firewalls, etc.
  • Monitoring of servers and applications and ensuring maximum possible uptime.
  • Setting up user accounts.
  • Automating repetitive and tedious tasks.
  • Carrying out server backups.
  • Troubleshooting connectivity issues and outages.

Given the nature of responsibilities that a systems administrator is tasked with, the following skills are crucial in order to help them accomplish their tasks.

  • Competency in administering operating systems such as Windows, Linux, or Mac. More emphasis is placed on Linux since most IT services and applications run on a Linux environment. Still, Windows servers are commonly used in most corporate setups and in-depth knowledge in Windows administration is a huge plus.
  • Familiarity with different hardware including servers, firewalls, printers, PCs, etc.
  • Sound knowledge of computer networks including how to configure and maintain LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks).
  • Cloud computing skills. Familiarity with Cloud platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, Office364, and Google Cloud to mention a few is a huge plus, especially in organizations that host their application on Cloud.
  • Knowledge in virtualization platforms such as Vmware Esxi and VSphere, VirtualBox, OpenStack, etc.
  • A deep understanding of containerization platforms such as Docker and Podman along with container orchestration tools such as Kubernetes and Docker Swarm.

IT Certifications For System Administrators

Ideally, it’s expected that Systems administrators, and in fact most IT professionals, have one or more IT certifications. Not only does a certification prove that you are qualified for the job, but it also increases your chances of landing a lucrative job and scaling up the corporate ladder.

Depending on the role or technologies used, here are some of the most in-demand certifications for a beginner-level system administrator.

  • RHCSA – Red Hat Certified System Administrator
  • RHCE – Red Hat Certified Engineer
  • LPIC – Linux Professional Institute Certification
  • MCSA – Microsoft Certified System Administrator
  • MCSE – Microsoft Certified System Engineer
  • CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Administrator
  • CKA – Certified Kubernetes Administrator
Our Take

Both professions are lucrative and continue to be in high demand in the modern IT industry. You can settle for the occupation you are comfortable with depending on your strengths and capabilities. We recommend that you do some introspection and settle on the profession that you are passionate about and desire to develop yourself in.

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James Kiarie
This is James, a certified Linux administrator and a tech enthusiast who loves keeping in touch with emerging trends in the tech world. When I'm not running commands on the terminal, I'm taking listening to some cool music. taking a casual stroll or watching a nice movie.

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Leave a Reply
    • @Mehdi,

      Programmers, System Administrators, and DevOps Engineers are all in high demand in the tech industry.

      • The best career path for you depends on your interests and skills. If you enjoy writing code and solving problems, then a career as a programmer might be a good fit for you.
      • If you are interested in managing computer systems and troubleshooting problems, then a career as a system administrator might be a good fit for you.
      • And if you are interested in automating the software development lifecycle and bridging the gap between development and operations teams, then a career as a DevOps engineer might be a good fit for you.
  1. Sir I’m newer to both technologies my sir said one thing administrator is stress-less job better than development i was completed my two courses as little bit means as a developer I’m completed Python. now I’m fully confusion which I want select what I’m doing please give me suggestion which is better way for me..

  2. I started out as a sysadmin over 18 years ago. I am still a sysadm, A programmer gets famous when he does something good and an administrator if he does something bad

  3. what does professionalism mean to a system administrator? what does it mean to a programmer? please help me understand this.

  4. Java developers are presently very much in demand by a huge margin. Being platform independent, many enterprise applications run on Java. Although .NET is an outstanding framework and C# is an excellent language, they are very much affected by the Microsoft Windows Server platform

  5. I am with Administration Development is boring sometimes. Administration is less stressful than developing specific products in time-bounded manner. But also Administration have its own stress as the above quote. But for me Development is boring in some ways

  6. Comparatively which would be a better option for a beginner – studying python basic+advanced for data science or doing an oracle OCA and OCP certification just to get the entry into IT.I finished my masters in information and communication technology 5 years back , since then i have been working in a totally different field and would like to get back into IT.@thank you

  7. HI Ravi,

    I’m working in Application support domain, which deals with maintaining a application always up and running and writing scripts to do automatation some tasks and tier3 email work . i have knowledge on unix commands , shell scripting,( perl too some times still not upto mark) these applications are running on unix sevrers. so i need to change the doamin.i got stuck in thinking wheather to move to development or others. Can you suggest which path i need to take for me for better futhur.

  8. Hi Ravi Sir,

    I have 7+ yrs experience in technical support field (windows). Now I am confused that where I need to go? As a IOS developer or ccna & ccnp or windows server. In which field I can earn more?

    • @Dipen,

      That’s huge experience in Windows platform and I strongly suggest you go for CCNA. If you have strong programming skills, you can go for iOS development, as the feature is mobile, so that you can get high paying jobs or even you can start your own venture to offer services on iOS app developments to clients..

      • Hi Ravi Sir,

        Thanks for your reply. I don’t programming skill so can I use my time to learn a programming language from the beginning like c,c++, swift for IOS or I go to CCNA and more? one more think I am planning to go to Australia so which field is better for my bright future?

  9. Hello Sir,

    I am a student of 6th sem, B.Tech. I have tried hands on programming. I like it, but somehow i don’t think i code so well. Assuming this, i stopped competitive coding. I have came 3rd in a coding competition on CodeChef for my own college, but when it’s about an open contest, i somehow cannot get a good rank. I have already done this for 6 months in the previous sem.

    I have taken up CCNA course, which i haven’t studied so well as of now. In place of studying networking, i took up a course on Linux. I am enjoying it very much. I have very less time left in hand, and i have got to continue with Linux and networking. But i do like developing in Java. What do i do?

    • @Madhavi,

      Difficult to answer, as you said you’re not good at programming and nor you have interest in coding, so its difficult to continue here, because coding involves lots of dedication, practice, patience and most importantly time..

      As for about Linux, most newbies found it easy and interesting, but Linux too is complicated when comes to SysAdmin level, you have to know about each technologies like RAID, LVM, KVM, Scripting, etc..If you are good at programming you can able to write shell script in Linux..

      For now, I suggest you to go for Linux Admin/Networking with scripting skills, these three enough to crack any job in Linux…

  10. Hi Ravi,

    I have 15 months experience as Security Admin in Wipro however, I always wanted to go for development. Is there any chance that i can go for development. Will it be good for my career in future. If yes, how can I pursue that path. Will I get considerably low package? If no, how to progress in my current job. Kindly Help..

    • @Raksha,

      Just wanted to know Security Admin in a Windows or Linux field? If you’ve any prior coding knowledge before you can easily switch to development field, but if don’t have any knowledge then its difficult to learn from scratch as it involves time and patience to learn.

      Else you can go for security certifications in the same field, here are some IT security certifications you can go through it –

  11. Hello Sir,

    I am from ECE stream I did my BTech in 2016 I want to get into IT sector but I am confused to choose the fields like networking or programming. Please suggest me thanks in advance.

  12. Dear Sir,

    Hope! You’re good. I’m Fazil having 2+ years experience on IT System Administration. Not Interested in Programming. My Question is,

    *System administrator or network engineer or technical support engineer*

    Which one will have the highest learning curve? Higher Package ? Which one has the more stuff? Which one have creative ENVIRONMENT?

    • @Fazil,

      All System/Network/Technical Engineer falls under same category as “Sysadmin” Jobs, all are same no difference, for example, a Sysadmin must have knowledge of Administration, Network and Support (Communication skills.).

    • @Sudheer,

      Automation itself is programming and administration itself keeping the program up. So both are good choice and have bright future..

  13. Sir I am pursing my MCA six semester, I don’t have much knowledge in programming and all, I am confused as what I should choose Programming job or administration job. So, sir please give me solution which field I choose for my internship and further. (sorry for bad English)

    • @Yogendra,

      As you doing MCA, so I suggest you to go for Programming, if you’re not comfortable with programming, go for Administration kind of jobs, but to be fact, both fields have good future, so its upto you which or what to choose..

  14. Dear Sir, I am also worried about that which field I join in my 3rd year because I love programming and I like database…

    Please guide me which specific path should i follow…?

    • @Zing,

      Both the platforms have greater career, its upto you what to choose as your career. I suggest you to go for Programming + DBA, as you already have interested in it..

  15. Hello Sir,

    I have completed my BE in computer and I am fresher. I have good knowledge in programming and as well in database, but i am confused. Which are the good certification courses like Java or DBA? and which is better option to start my career?

    • @Swati,

      First of all congratulations for cracking BE computer. I see you already have good knowledge about programming and DBA, and every program have a backend that is database, so you already have both skills on your pocket, I suggest you to go for JAVA + DBA course for better career..

        • @Swati,

          As a girl, I suggest you to go for programming, because admin jobs always deals with complex tasks which involves lots of time and patience in setting up…

        • A friend of mine is a Unix admin, and his wife is an Oracle DBA. They say they couldn’t do each other’s work. Being a sysadmin requires one to know a lot of things (operating systems, applications, networking, security etc). Basically, a good sysadmin has to have a broad level of experiences.

          Being a DBA is a bit simpler from that point of view, as your skillset is mostly focused on a one thing – DBA (well, it does require you to know OS specifics etc).

          If you enjoy working with multiple platforms and applications, go for sysadmin. You’ll have a chance to deal with the Cloud, HA, provisioning, monitoring, backups, etc.

          If you fancy optimising poorly written queries 50% of your work time, go for DBA.

          Go for programming if you don’t like any of the above.

  16. Hi I have a 4 years of Experience 2years Teaching and 2 years as Windows Server Administrator but I’m always think about programming
    Is it possible to move .net side ? If I choose is company accepts my decision ?

  17. Sir I don’t have much knowledge in programming and all…I’m confused as what I should choose…Programming job or administration job…As I have gone through your replies I think, being a girl, programming is a better option.

    Is choosing C or C++ a good option with more job opportunities or should I go for something like JAVA? By the way, due to some personal problems I had to pause my career for three years as soon as I got out of my engineering…Will this make it difficult for me to find a job asap? Kindly let me know about money I could make out of whatever you suggest…Thank you sir…

    • @Sahithi,

      Yes, you should go for Programming and C/C++ is a good start, after all it’s the base language for any programming platform..

  18. I am CS final year student, I have ccna certification. I want to work in network industry, but the main problem is that in India all networking companies hire for night shifts and my parents are not comfortable with this. I don’t know what to do.I don’t like to code and don’t want to switch my field.

  19. Hi, I am Mohan, I have 2 years of experience in Windows administrator (L1). Now I would like to enter into the next level of my career. So, which course is best? Linux or UNIX or cloud computing. Which course having more scope and high pay?

    • @Asadullah,

      A software engineer must have front-end knowledge as well as back-end i.e. database, so you should go for both for better carrier..

  20. Hi Sir,

    I have 2 years experience in Linux administration in web hosting company but recently i feel stagnant for future. I decide to learn some different things Java (Developing) or Security (Penetration) ?

    • @Sumonta,

      You already have 2 years of experience in Linux administration and this is good point to move forward with this Linux skills, why you so worrying about future? Linux is future, don’t you think? Learning new things are always great and adds extra skills to our resume..

  21. Hi Mr. Ravi Saive,

    I just graduated, Bachelor’s in computer science and I love both admin and programming, very confused which to select as my Career, please let me know which is good in area of career development and scope in the future..

  22. Hi, I am Krishna, I did graduate in 2012 with multimedia course, started as my carrier as graphic designer for last 4 years, then present in this field so many tensions while i am in home also. I need peaceful job I can’t stay in our field.

    I don’t have knowledge about programming, and even I don’t know how much knowledge I have in Administration. Which is having a better future in present market and opportunity. Which platform is best for me. Now I am interested to work in Linux industry and am also confused to choose oracle DBA …

    please guide me

    • @Krishna,

      For bright and better career, I think you should go for Linux Administration + Database Administration, both skills will have more chance of getting hired in IT industry..

  23. Hi Sir, I need a help I have 6 Years experience in window administrator and basic networking and I have BCA degree with 4 year education gap and now I am trying for change and I faced approx. 15-20 Interview and approx. 6-8 companies confirmed on telephonic but I have not received any offer letter by mail.

    so I need a help what to do I am upset, should to join any institute for any course or what please help me.

  24. Hi, I completed my B.Tech 2013 in IT stream, working as a Technical Support form the past one and half year, I am not satisfied with this either economically or Technically, I am thinking what I have to choose like MCSA -> VMWRAE, / Linux / Developing.

    I don’t have knowledge about programming, and even I don’t know how much knowledge I have in Administration. Which is having a better future in present market and opportunity.

  25. Hi Sir,

    I am Hari, completed Bachelor Science in IT in 2015, i was worked as marketing executive in one company from past 1 year. Now I am interested to work in Linux industry and am also confused to choose software developer or else admin.

    I need to know which field is feels like more stressful and and also which field is we can easy to enter in to job…about scope and more vacancies? marketing job was felt like more tensed while am in home also, I need peaceful job can you help me to find out.

    • @Hari,

      Do you have any background knowledge of programming or Linux admin skills? if yes, then its easier to choose between them, but if you don’t have any prior knowledge on both, then it makes very difficult to learn and choose as a career..

  26. I am graduated in year 2016 from EnTC engineering stream and confused which filed should I choose being a girl and according to branch, market scenarios?

    • @Ruchika,

      Congratulations on becoming a Engineer, both programming and administration jobs have bright future with good career, but administration job involves complex tasks and needs lots of patience, time dedication, and mostly admin jobs in shift format, so for a girl its difficult to work on rotational shifts rather than a day job, whereas programming job too challenging and have higher payout, but still I suggest go for programming job for less workload…

  27. I am a IT presuming my 3rd year in a reputed college but i still don’t know which domain is my area of interest. I know c,c++ but not entirely, I can try programs in C but now JAVA is blooming, I also liked networking but I have limited awareness of networking so I’m completely confused. I don’t have much awareness of other languages, suggest me what i can follow or how to find my area of interest..

  28. i started as my carrier as Java developer for 3 years, then learned tibco and worked few years as tibco admin, support. now want to go back as developer, and hard to find one. did i take wrong path from developer to admin?

    • @Kumar,

      There nothing wrong in your decision, both are good platform for bright future, but still I prefer sysadmin job as it filled with challenging tasks and also you will get good salary as compared to developers..there is always high demand for Linux admins in the todays IT industry.

  29. Hi, Am Shanthi, Worked as Junior .net developer for 1 year and after that i was a DB Administrator for 3 yrs. Got married and having kid so there is a break of 3 yrs.Now i am willing to start or continue my career.. suggest me which one to choose am bit confused.

    Am focusing on job now pls suggest me the right way…

    • @Shanthi,

      I think you should continue as .net developer with DBA administration skills, this will be your plus point for job prospective..

  30. Hello,

    I have just started my career as a Linux System Administrator.
    I want to know in future where should I focus whether in Virtualization/Cloud/Big Data Admin.

    Thanks in advance.

    • @Chetan,

      For better bright future, I will recommend you to choose Linux administration as career path, because its filled with challenging tasks with new technologies to play with it..

  31. Hi Editor,

    I did MCA and am working with one MNC since last one and half year. While hiring they told that you will get chance to work on Linux/Unix but unfortunately I didn’t got neither Linux nor Unix. I got only clerical work like filling excel sheet in short total non technical work. My question is that which one will be better option for me either java programmer or Linux administrator. Frankly saying though I completed my PG in computer filed i am new to both the technologies hence unable to take firm decision. Please suggest me that which will be better java or linux administrator?

    • @Dhananjay,

      It’s upto you what to choose? but to be frank both streams are good enough to give bright career in future, but still I can say go with Linux administrator job, as it gives you lots of new challenges to work on and on new technologies, also the salary is much higher than coders in the Linux field…

  32. Hi, I’m interested to change my career to software field from civil engg. field. I would like to know what are the best software’s to learn except programming/languages.
    please guide me in better way.

  33. I have joined the MCSA course before some day, when I completed my course can i become system administration….

    • You can join in Advantage Pro. The best center in south. I have done my RHCE course there. It’s s good. You can try so.

  34. Hi, I am working as a php developer for1 year , I like to change my profession because of this repetition and learning of new frameworks every time. Is it good to choose Linux admin as career because I like a more interactive job.

  35. I m computer science student but I found it difficult to choose between programming and networking how can I identify my interest

    • @Pravan,

      It’s difficult for me to tell, but both platforms are good enough to make your career bright in future thats for sure, but I still advise you to go for Sysadmin stream as it more challenging then programming, but difficult to learn new things in Linux..

  36. I have been a J2EE developer for 2 years, next 3 years in sysadmin and Oracle DBA. For a clear view, I can tell you about what i have experienced until now to let you know how developer goes and how SA and DBA goes. When i was a developer, i have many tasks to do, the algorithm to be cared, stress with deadline when i could not resolve the issue with what didn’t work like expected. As follow the statistics, the developer could not code more than 20 lines per day, the other is just copy and paste, what i don’t want to talk here. They spend a lot of time for algorithm, code and fix bug to let it run smoothly. Then the company will charge you the money for per bug when the QA found it out from your program. And you face with program’s security. Why SQL Injection, why XSS, you need to dig into it to understand. And so funny that i thought DDOS should be prevent and mitigate from software, LOL. Nothing change day by day, you go to company, look at the poor IDE screen and the lines. You would not understand the overview of architecture of software when you are not a leader or manager. Just do a small part of work, without understanding overview that should provide you a good view to think when develop.

    So for SA and DBA, what for now? You understand the overview of system, why it works and why not, the software just a part of system, not all. You will know about everything. When a program is slow or cannot handle a lot of requests, you will think about caching, go to configure to tuning system with HA. Basically, SA (may be include DBA if the company size is small) control everything. You can make the script for automatic. Don’t need to touch to the system. For the guy who like programming, you can also code Python to penetrate the system. Check DDOS, virus, exploit vulnerability. Currently i have just done a little DOS tool (like Slowloris) with Python.

    – Do what you really like. You have to understand yourself to determine what you like to do, I switch from developer to SA because I want to understand and manage everything and be known that the system all works correctly. The creative is depended on yourself. I still develop some tools for myself. That’s what i know about Developer and SA. Hope it helps you guy to have a more clear view about job career.

  37. First, I have noticed an error in the first paragraph of this article, the sentence below has repeated Programmer, i thought the comparison was between administration and programming.
    In this article I will be discussing “career as a Programmer as compared to career as a Developer (Programmer)”.

    Secondly in my own opinion i would like to concentrate on System Administration as i am more comfortable with it, though having some programming skills in System Administration is also required and necessary.

    • @Aaron,
      That was a really good catch, the article was published 2 years back and from the comment I can see it has got lots of popularity, but no one pointed out this error yet, even the author itself never pointed me. Anyway thanks for your finding, corrected in the writeup. Thanks

  38. hii i have one more question … that if i want to learn linux programming then in INDIA which place is the best for learning linux..

  39. hii Ravi and avishek .. i am so glad too see your’s advice ..its very nice
    my name is debangshu dutta i had complete my +2 and now i am pursuing BSC.IT from corresponding and i had also completed a networking course from HCL but now i want to focus on one stream . and i like to learn languages but i am confuse between linux and .net so please help me out to choose one. please let me know which one is better for future ..

    • @Debanshu,
      It’s very difficult to answer, but as per my experience, both platforms have bright future, in fact Linux administration jobs have good future and payout than a developer..

  40. Hi.I am a fresher..n am confuse what to do in between Linux or java/.net..I just have my touch to c,c++,java..thats it..someone telling to do UNIX,Linux and someone telling to do what u already familiar with and frankly speaking, I have no issues to join Linux or java..but am confuse what to please guyz give some advise,so that I can get my path as soon as possible.

    • @Priyanka,
      Both are good platforms, but I still advice you to go for Linux, because of its popularity. In Linux you will get tons of thinks to learn and do…

  41. I think that it’s mostly a function of personality. If you’re a creative sort of person who enjoys designing new stuff, then you should be a software developer. If you’re not very creative but you enjoy learning about technology and solving problems, then you should be a system administrator. By the way, the personality trait in question is called Openness to Experience and it’s one of the five major factors in the Big Five model of personality.

  42. Hi.I am a fresher, I joined MNC and they are offering me a profile of websphere administrator, just want to know the future scope of administrator, I just want to earn more or have to switch to programming. Please guide

    • @Sarthak,
      Webpshere is new technology and you will learn new things about it. Regarding which career to choose is upto you, both Administration and Programming have equal value, but admin level jobs have higher salary as compared to programming…

  43. I have completed M.Tech in signal processing stream. As my passion to work on software side,I have done the course on C,C++, data structure , Unix and core java…then my interests moved towards c c++ and unix n started learning in deep..again went to 3wks workshop on aix administration n learnt that one…now i m confused to go for development or administration… Plz suggest me..

    • Congratulations @ Aparna, for completing your’s masters. Since you have interest in both and know pros and cons of both you are the person who needs to decide what to do. Know your inner voice, ask yourself what you like the most out of these two and then follow what your heart say. I repeat follow what your heart say and not mind. You will always be right.
      Keep connected :)

  44. In this article, is admin jobs discussed in general or specific to one role? I am planning to choose a career in Websphere as a Websphere Administrator. Please guide me as to how it is in the market at present? I don’t find much information regarding this role on the internet so I am a bit worried.

  45. “because C was the first Programming Language. ”

    C wasn’t the first programming language. Unless you meant that C was the first language you learned. C became available in the 1970s. Fortran has been out since the 1950s. And even that I don’t think makes Fortran the first programming language but just the first of the major programming languages.

  46. HV done polytechnic diploma in comp science but my past exp is in admin I was confused when someone says me for choosing software but after reading this article I will listen my heart which is insisting me for choosing admin as my carrer

    • @Sheetal,
      Always listen to heart and take decision..there isn’t any wrong taking admin as career, as you will learn lots of things during administrating servers..

  47. Who works in the senior post among two, system administrator or software developer. By the name title, I guess administrator works in the top level but by the knowledge, I guess developer works above administrator

  48. Hello!
    If you are a system admin and would like to take the dive into programming, try this out. contains a free at your own pace course entitled CS50x. Search for it in the course catalogue and sign up for a free and great crash course into the fundamentals of programming, complete with free software and problem sets. I took my first programming courses back in high school nearly 13 years ago and I have a BS in Computer Science, and it does seperate the cream of the crop. You’ll be able to step into any field you want because you’ll have a skill that very few want to do, and once you have it down you can learn any language you want with a little bit of trial and error.

    Even to this day 13 years from when I started I’m going back and refreshing myself on these courses because it’s so valuable.

    • Dear Elmo,

      Informative feedback and nice URL. Thanks. I would be testing it shortly to feed my hungry programming soul.
      Keep connected!

  49. After reading article i felt that both are good and my point of view system admin is something that is of service types, and the web developing is a creative path so which ever you choose we should be perfect with the thing we select and interested in.

  50. Hi Avishek,

    I am having 10yrs of EXP in IT as a system Admin ( Windows & Solaris), Now as solaris is going down, Which one will be the best for future like going with Websphere Admin or Storage Admin.

  51. LOL the picture has it all wrong. The person in the server room with the laptop is the “system admin” or “server guy”, the one doing the charts on the right is the “programmer”.

    For anyone who may read this; if you’re wanting to work in the IT industry; please try and be a PROGRAMMER above everything else.

    The difference between a programmer and a system administrator is simple. The later (sys admin) is a donkey, they’re cheap, dime a dozen. The former is a god.

    As a sys admin, no matter how good you get, you’re nothing more than a power user to systems, software and hardware; you are forever chasing the latest and greatest technology advancements and over the course of your career you’ll end up reading and studying new techology as whatever you’ve learnt 6 months ago becomes irrelevant. You’ll forever be doing industry certifications and vendor certifications and competing with the ever younger group of people who know just as much as you do.

    As a programmer, once you get the fundamentals down; you are literally the creator of worlds. If you become a really good programmer you have the power to write software not just for your employer, but also for yourself. Coding is the future. Ability to code will separate the chafe from the wheat in the years to come. I know programmers who are good enough that they can learn a new language in a matter of days. Why? because all languages the the same principal foundations.

    Speaking from experience; every system admin I know hates his job and wants to get out. In their mid 20s and early 30s they’re not complaining, but once they hit their mid 30s or have a family or kids, they find that they’re dying to get into management and get out of being the “IT fix it donkey” for the company. They hate not knowing more than the 21 year old who’s just finished the latest certification from Vendor X (which soon will become out of date anyway).

    Sadly I work as a sys admin; I’ve hit 30 and am studying to become a programmer. It will be a long and hard road; but it’s never too late! I currently hate having to upgrade working systems for companies just because they want the “latest technology”.

    • May be your theory is right in some condition but System admin don’t always need a certification all their life. Neither do i believe that their knowledge level is same as a fresh graduate. Had it been true why the industry would have demand for 5+ years exp, 10+ years exp and so on?

      • I have been a sys admin for a long time and want to head towards programing. What advice do you have for someone who doesn’t have a background in programming?

        • @Bernie,
          Both platforms have good career, but starting with zero background makes very difficult to move ahead..still the choice is I said both platforms are good enough to brighten your upto you..

  52. I am mostly a SysAdmin, but do like to develop. I found that best of both worlds in Application System Engineering. 75% of my time is spent on SysAdmin tasks, the other 25% is spend in Application development in Java, C++, Perl, and .Net.

    I work in a department where there are about 40 of us IT guys in shop, and there is only one other admin, and I’d only call him a quasi-admin. So the stress of taking care of 200+ servers can get to you, but like a Dev figures out a way to streamline and make a program more efficient, a good Admin does the same with his systems. Proper monitoring, automation, scripting, crons, etc… are a SysAdmin’s best friend.

  53. Dear All,

    I Want to know the salary difference for java programmer and linux administrator…
    please dont mine because everyone do the job for sake of money only…
    and..also what is the difference between the Unix Administrator and Linux Administrator…

    • @ Rajesh,
      salary depends upon a whole lot of things.

      0. company
      0. Your Experience
      0. Geographical Location
      0. Availability of Professional in that region
      0. Market Trends

      and blah….blah…blah. You can not get correct answer. It will always be biased towards some point.

  54. hi guys,

    Choosing Administrator as career will be good… in developing we have dead lines, tensions , pressure…. in administration we will never find the word TARGET but work burden will there if something went wrong and routine work… what ever may be enjoying our job will be always good… enjoy the work choose a good career

    In Developing new inventions will be done its a good carrier. it will be possible when you have good logical thinking, problem solving skills and coding. Be perfect in any one of the programming language and choose your path as a developer, designer or a tester based on your interest

    • @ Sreenu

      Target in Administration.
      Target for Administrator means a black day. and there remains workload and target/Deadline in all the occupation of the world in one manner or the other.

  55. Great article,
    most of the arguments are real, but sysops do create as developers and developers propose and suggest enhancements to sysops as far as both sides respects each other…

    Thanks for your article,


  56. Hi. I have always been a fanatic of tecmint. I want to ask for suggestion for a career move. I used to be a tech support with a little knowledge on server for 4 years, then I am a programmer now in the same company for 2 years. I want to focus on Linux system administration career but sadly many companies are hiring a expert level of Linux system admin. How I can I get into Linux system admin job when my experience is not enough? And lastly, is there any company that hire for a newbie Linux admin that will later on be trained?

    Thank you so much. And God bless

  57. Are you saying that C was the first programming language or the first language that you learned….it sounds like the former, which is not correct.

  58. Hi,

    I have 4 years experience in system administration(Windows & Linux).
    Not it is very much boring. everyday i’m doing the same routing work. Backup, restore, patch update, monitoring.. getting bored.

    I’m having good knowledge in core java. I’m teaching java to my cousin. and also I got interested in programming.

    Is there any way to change my career from administration / monitoring /maintenance.


    • Hello Kupi,
      My problem is just opposite to yours. I’v 3 years of experience in PHP programming. But now am tired of coding. And now am trying to get RHCE certified. When Am reading you comment with my thoughts, I could conclude that we people cannot leave either coding or administration. So I choose one to be my profession and another to be my passion. No other solution. :-)

  59. Sir,

    This articles help me lot.keep going on this type of articles It will help to the newcomer.

    thanxs. God gives you all the strength.

  60. Sir..
    I’m also in same problem..
    I have completed my project on & Completed Windows System administration and Network administration..
    Now, I’m in confusion about which way is better to go..
    I love both programming & Administration…
    As U said..
    I fell like Programming is my First Love..
    Can you please help me to choose which way is better to my career..
    Which Field has Growth..

  61. Great article, but I was searching for a definite answer. I know it all depends on me, but I love to manage servers and play with networking stuff. At the same time I am extremely inclined towards coding, especially C. Is there a better of the two given that I am 50-50 towards each side :D Lol, just a query!!

    • @ Abhishek, You May Love Both, both may fascinate you but after all you have to choose one as your career, the one for which you could wake up every morning Happily! and this only matters at the last. Hope it helps

    • I have been a SysAdmin for 20 years. If you are a programmer, you do NOT get to touch the systems at a low level. You must work on the program you are assigned by your manager. If you are a SysAdmin, you get to work with the servers from the ground up. From unpacking it, to releasing it into the wild for the programmers, database administrators, application administrators, etc to work on. Plus, you have specialty servers that no one ever gets to touch, but they run needed services that everyone relies on. IN ADDITION, there is a LOT of opportunity to write code as a SysAdmin. At a minimum ALL SysAdmins must be able to write shell scripts. If you know Perl, Python, or any compiled language, you can use ALL of those to write scripts and programs that you need to get your job done. Those are the most interesting programs to write. There is a lot of room to be creative and write code as a SysAdmin. As a programmer, you will not get to do any system administration tasks unless you work for a small company. Yes, there are some boring tasks (e.g. backups) to the job, but EVERY job has boring tasks that must be done.


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