In a world where you lack experience or need an opportunity to get your foot in the door with a new job, I highly recommend education and training. There are lots of certifications out there. Since you specifically mention windows network administration, I'd recommend looking into the Microsoft Certified Certification program. It can be a little expensive if your employer doesn't pay for it.
In this world there is absolutely zero substitution for on the job training. So ideally what I would recommend is finding an employer who will give you the on the job training and assist you with continuing education and certification. There are many employers out there that will hire people on part-time to help them learn by giving them smaller responsibility tasks while they learn on the field. You would just need the self discipline and dedication to take that to the next level and achieve the certifications and advancements to take on the rest of the work.
If there's one thing that my dad has taught me personally it's that, in life, no one can ever take your experiences or your education. So shoot for achieving your goals by getting read up on the subject and get some equipment that you can test yourself with. There's a ton of great tutorials out there that will help you. And whenever you encounter something new, learn how to solve it and write it down. You'll find over time that you'll achieve great things with network administration that way.
This was first published in July 2008