It is a common understanding that when you add a user into Farm Administrator group via Central admin, then it can access everything in the Central Admin and perform all operations. If you are thinking the same way then it is not correct. As a member of Farm Administrator group, you can perform only certain operations which don’t require access to the SharePoint Server’s Infrastructure. You can view a lot of things but still not completely.

As an example, if you want to create the Web Application (this is required to create Site & App Pool in IIS, Create a Content Database, Update the Config Database, Create A Couple of Timer Jobs and Reset IIS) with the Farm Administrator account then either you will get an Access Denied or Prompt you for the SharePoint Farm Admin Credential. There are many options which you can't do.

In order to get full control on the Central Admin and PowerShell, your user account requires the following permissions:

  • - Part of Local Administrator group on all servers in the farm.
  • - Farm Administration SharePoint Group.
  • - SharePoint_Shell_Access to run the SharePoint PowerShell.

Here is a table which will tell you what you can do and can’t as a member of SharePoint Farm Administrator Group Only.

Central Admin Category Sub-Category Component Member of Administrators group on the local computer Member of Farm Administrators SharePoint group
Application Management Web applications Manage web applications  Full Control Manage Features, managed Paths, Service Connections, Self-Service Site Creation, Blocked File Types, User Permissions, Web part Security, User Policy, Anonymous Policy, Permission Policy
Configure alternate access mappings Full Control Edit Public URLs, Map to External Resource, Add Internal URLs 
Site Collections Site Collections Full Control Create site collections, Delete a site collection, Confirm site use and deletion, Specify quota templates, Configure quotas and locks, Change site collection administrators, View all site collections, Configure self-service site creation
Service Applications Manage service applications Full Control Connect, Manage, Publish, Permissions, Administrator
Service Application Associations Full Control Edit, Change
Databases Manage content databases Full Control Add, Delete, Edit
Specify the default database server Full Control Edit
Configure the data retrieval service Full Control Can change
System Settings Servers  Manage servers in this farm Full Control View
Manage services in this farm Full Control View
Manage services on server Full Control View
Convert server role in this farm  Full Control View
E-Mail and Text Messages (SMS) Configure outgoing e-mail settings Full Control Yes
 Configure mobile account  Full Control Yes
Farm Management  Configure alternate access mappings Full Control Edit, Change
Manage farm features Full Control Activate, Deactivate
Manage farm solutions Full Control View
 Manage user solutions  Full Control Yes
Configure privacy options Full Control Yes
Configure cross-firewall access zone Full Control Yes
Monitoring  Health Analyzer Review problems and solutions Full Control View, Edit, Delete, Set the alerts, Reanalyze
 Review rule definitions  Full Control Yes
Timer Jobs  Review job definitions  Full Control Timer Job Status, Scheduled Jobs, Running Jobs, Job History, Job Definitions 
 Check job status  Full Control Yes
Reporting  View administrative reports  Full Control Yes
Configure diagnostic logging Full Control Enable, Disable, Full Control
View health reports  Full Control Yes
Backup and Restore Farm Backup and Restore  Perform a backup Full Control No
Restore from a backup Full Control No
Configure backup settings Full Control No
View backup and restore history Full Control Yes
Check backup and restore job status  Full Control Yes
Granular Backup  Perform a site collection backup Full Control Yes
Export a site or list Full Control Yes
Recover data from an unattached content database Full Control Yes
Check granular backup job status  Full Control Yes
Security  Users  Manage the farm administrators group Full Control View Only
Approve or reject distribution groups Full Control Yes
Specify web application user policy  Full Control Yes
General Security  Configure managed accounts Full Control Yes
Configure service accounts Full Control No
Configure password change settings Full Control Yes
Specify authentication providers Full Control View Only
Manage trust Full Control Yes
Manage antivirus settings Full Control Yes
Define blocked file types Full Control Yes
Manage web part security Full Control Yes
Configure self-service site creation Full Control Yes
Information policy  Configure information rights management Full Control Yes
Configure Information Management Policy Full Control Yes
Upgrade and Migration  Upgrade and Patch Management  Convert farm license type Full Control No
Enable Enterprise Features Full Control Yes
Enable Features on Existing Sites Full Control Yes
 Check product and patch installation status Full Control Yes
Review database status Full Control Yes
 Check upgrade status  Full Control Yes
General Application Settings  External Service Connections Configure send to connections  Full Control Yes
Configure document conversions Full Control Yes
InfoPath Forms Services  Manage form templates  Full Control Yes
Configure InfoPath Forms Services Full Control Yes
Upload form template Full Control No
Manage data connection files Full Control Yes
Configure InfoPath Forms Services Web Service Proxy  Full Control Yes
SharePoint Designer  Configure SharePoint Designer settings  Full Control Yes
Search Farm Search Administration Full Control Yes
Crawler Impact Rules Full Control Yes
Content Deployment Configure content deployment paths and jobs Full Control Yes
Configure content deployment Full Control Yes
Check deployment of specific content  Full Control Yes
PWA Settings  Manage  Full Control Yes
Apps SharePoint and Office Store  Purchase Apps Full Control Yes
 Manage App Licenses  Full Control Yes
Configure Store Settings  Full Control Yes
App Management  Manage App Catalog Full Control Yes
Monitor Apps  Full Control Yes
Configure App URLs Full Control Yes
App Permissions- Full Control Yes
Office 365  Office 365  Configure Yammer Full Control Yes
How to configure SharePoint Insights Full Control Yes
Configure hybrid OneDrive and Sites features  Full Control Yes
Configuration Wizards   Farm Configuration  Launch the Farm Configuration Wizard  Full Control No

This applies to almost all versions of SharePoint (specifically 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016).