To me, there are 3 roles above the entry level. Systems Administrator, Systems Engineer, Systems Architect.


Systems Administrator - Responsible and has domain over the day to day operations of the IT Infrastructure. These are the guys in the trenches every day keeping it running and fixing it when it breaks. They may have some functionalities that overlap with the Engineers and Architects, but their job is not to focus further into the future then is necessary to keep the environment running at peak efficiency. (10 ft view)

Systems Engineers - Responsible for the implementation and planning of future operations as well as the evolution of the environment. Normally they will perform the initial configuration and then pass off the application or infrastructure to an Administrator to handle the management. There only job dealing with day to day operations is to ensure the provided solution meets the needs of the administrators in the scope necessary for administration. (100 ft View)

Systems Architect - Responsible for the big picture planning. Obtains a list of requirements from Administrators, Engineers, and stakeholders and creates an overview and mid-level technical plan for implementation. Their only responsibility is to provide a technical plan for reaching the desired state that can be executed using the tools and resources available and maintained going forward. (1000 ft View)

TL;DR; If you maintain things your probably an administrator. If you build things, you probably an engineer. If you design things your probably an architect. More often you are two or all three of these things.

Note: This is my personal high-level opinion of that each title should mean but these titles are thrown around a lot. From help-desk people who are Sys-Admins to people who are obviously Engineers being called Administrators.