Behind every successful project is a Jira administrator making sure things run smoothly — fact. They’re like the unsung heroes of project management, lurking quietly in the shadows; configuring Jira, setting user permissions, and customizing workflows. But who are these mysterious Jira admins, and what secrets do they hold?

In this article, we uncover the hidden world of Jira administrators and how you can join their ranks, if you so wish. We’ll get into what a Jira admin does, certification for Jira admins, training and resources for administration at scale, and more.

What is a Jira administrator?

A jira administrator is an individual responsible for managing and maintaining Jira.

(NOTE: In some smaller organizations, you might have an admin who oversees the entire Atlassian stack, and other tools, as well.)

Jira admins handle:

  • Configuration: Jira admins are responsible for setting up and configuring the Jira instance, in order to meet the needs of the organization. It includes creating and maintaining custom fields, workflows, and schemes, and managing Jira projects.
  • Jira maintenance: Jira admins are responsible for maintaining the Jira instance. They make sure that the tool is always up to date by doing routine maintenance tasks, monitoring system performance, and applying upgrades.
  • User management: Jira admins manage user accounts and permissions; they create and delete user accounts, assign roles and permissions, and make sure everyone has access to the right projects and issues.
  • Troubleshooting: when issues arise in the Jira instance, who resolves them? The Jira admin, who’s responsible for troubleshooting and resolving issues — which can be related to configuration, performance, security, and so on.
  • Customization: Jira is a highly customizable tool; it’s up to the Jira admin to install and maintain Jira apps, or integrate other tools to enhance the functionality of the Jira instance.
  • Training and support: it’s the ones who know Jira best that provide training and support to users of the tool. Jira administrators may conduct training sessions, create user guides, or simply answer questions on how to use Jira.

So, what is a Jira administrator you ask? In a nutshell, they take care of pretty much everything that happens in the backend to keep the Jira instance up and running!

What is the importance of the Jira admin?

Maybe the most important part of a Jira admin’s role is to ensure that the Jira instance is configured and maintained in such a way that it supports the organization; this includes five interconnected steps.

  1. Assessment: First, the Jira admin has to really understand the organization’s needs — from projects, to processes, and workflows — so they can configure the Jira instance in the best way possible. 
  2. Configuration: Then, they configure the tool by creating custom fields, workflows, and schemes, and setting up users, groups and permissions.
  3. Maintenance: The Jira admin has to make sure that the tool is running smoothly and that issues are resolved as quickly as possible; this is an ongoing process.
  4. Support and training: Jira administrators work hard to ensure that users are getting the most value from the tool. They answer questions, respond to requests, and configure something new/differently when the need arises.  
  5. Continuous improvements: It doesn’t stop there; the Jira admin has to continuously improve the Jira instance, by developing new customizations, integrating with other tools, or implementing Jira best practices.

Jira admins work closely with project managers, developers, and other stakeholders to guarantee that Jira is configured correctly, and that it supports existing processes. Given that the role is critical, it’s important to have someone with the necessary skills and experience to manage Jira well. If the Jira admin lacks skills, the organization will probably experience inefficient workflows and configuration, system stability issues, risks of unauthorized access, etc.

What qualifications do you need to become a Jira admin?

Nothing is set in stone but, generally, a Jira project administrator is required to have three fundamental qualifications.

  • A strong technical background is the first requirement to become a Jira administrator. You’ll need solid technical skills, particularly in areas like database management, scripting, and software development. While a degree in computer science (or related field) can be helpful, it’s not a strict requirement. 
  • A great understanding of Jira (and project management) is another prerequisite. If you want to become a Jira project administrator, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with Jira fundamentals, and continuously keep up with current advancements as things move quickly in the Atlassian world. 
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills are also very important, because a Jira admin answers frequent questions and responds to requests. And the role often involves working closely with different teams and stakeholders to understand how best to configure Jira, so that it works well for them.

How to become a Jira administrator

If you’re interested in learning how to become a Jira administrator, there are a few key areas you might want to focus on to develop your skills and knowledge. By sharpening your expertise, you can increase your chances of becoming a successful Jira admin.

8 steps to Jira admin greatness

Step 1: Start with Jira basics — Before you dive into any certification training, take time to learn Jira terminology, key concepts, and navigation, then focus on understanding the interface, and practice creating issues and workflows. You can start here, or check out free Jira tutorials to help you with the basics.

Step 2: Learn project management concepts — Jira is a project management tool after all; having a good understanding of project management concepts (like Agile) is a prerequisite. You can start by learning about project lifecycle, planning, execution, and control; there’s a plethora of online courses to choose from.

Step 3: Develop your technical skills — As mentioned, if you want to get into Jira administration, it’s helpful (though not mandatory) to be proficient in database management, scripting, and software development. These skills can help you to customize Jira’s functionality and troubleshoot technical issues.

Step 4: Focus on project management skills — You can start by learning how to develop project plans, manage timelines, and coordinate with project stakeholders. These skills will help you understand the needs of different teams so you can build a Jira instance that is configured to support them.

Step  5: Get hands-on experience — The best way to learn Jira administration is by practicing. You can start by creating a Jira account, then a test project to practice. You can also join Jira communities and participate in discussions.

Step 6: Upgrade your Jira understanding — Once you’ve figured out the basics, you can learn Jira administration by moving on to the more advanced Jira concepts like setting up workflows, custom fields, custom screens and issue schemes.

Step 7: Get a Jira administrator certification — Atlassian offers Jira admin certifications to help you validate your Jira skills and knowledge. The Jira admin certification program helps you learn Jira administration, user management, project management, and customization.

Step 8: Become more familiar with common scenarios — Work on Jira projects, either as a member of a project team or as a Jira project administrator for a while, so you can develop your Jira skills and familiarize yourself with different scenarios. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Jira admin certification tips to get you started

Becoming a certified Jira admin is a great way to learn more about Jira and get familiar with best practices. The certification itself provides tangible proof of your expertise using Jira, which some employers value (or potential clients, if you’re a consultant).

  1. There’s a few Jira administrator certifications to choose from. You’ll find the exam objectives for the Jira admin certification here (Cloud), and for Data Center and Server here.
  2. Atlassian’s Getting started with Jira tutorial covers the basics of Jira. 
  3. Atlassian provides official study guides and practice exams for the Jira administrator certification.
  4. Here’s a free Jira instance that you can use to practice and improve your skills.
  5. The Atlassian Community is a great place to connect, ask questions and share. 
  6. And, finally, The Hub, by Appfire, is a valuable source of how-to articles, admin tips and tricks, master classes, and more.

Jira administrators play a key role in managing projects and making sure that Jira is used in the best way possible. If you develop the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience, you can excel in that role and contribute to making project management efficient and effective within your organization.

Last updated: 2023-07-31

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