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Network Architect Career Guide

In order for any company to conduct business today, they need a reliable network. This means that staff must be able to communicate with one another and their customers, and have a dependable way to see, change, and store necessary information. On top of that, these networks need to be safe as well.

Network architects are a crucial component of creating, modifying, and troubleshooting business networks. They manage LAN and WAN communications, along with larger-scale network security. They create roadmaps, offer necessary technical guidance, and much more.

In order to thrive in this position, you’ll want to have a thorough understanding of computer hardware, network systems, and terminology. In addition to having solid analytical skills, obtaining certifications related to security and networking will also go a long way in making you competitive in this field.

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced network architect. Network architects are responsible for managing an organization’s network systems. They make sure all computers communicate safely and seamlessly, manage wireless access points, data storage and retrieval, and much more. These architects keep companies talking by ensuring they can communicate both internally and externally by installing and maintaining LAN and WAN networks, routers, modems, and computer systems. They also work closely with other engineers, architects, and technical experts and may liaise with upper management contacts to prevent and resolve technical issues. Are you an analytical thinker with a knack for problem-solving? Are you a great team player with keen attention to detail? If so, please apply!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Manage technical network solutions and frameworks
  • Perform network troubleshooting to isolate and diagnose common network problems
  • Upgrade network hardware and software components as required
  • Design, test, and inspect network systems
  • Perform network planning, modeling, and analysis
  • Install and maintain hardware such as cables, hubs, routers, and wireless adaptors
  • Design, implement, and manage security countermeasures when network vulnerabilities arise
  • Analyze, engineer, and execute software functions
  • Develop and deliver professional proposals and design documentation
  • Manage technology vendors

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, information technology, or a related field required
  • Master’s degree in business administration preferred
  • 5-10 years of experience working with information technologies preferred
  • Certification in CompTIA A+ or CCENT preferred

Required skills and qualifications

  • Extensive knowledge of computer operations and systems
  • Expertise in written and verbal communication skills
  • Certifications courses such as CompTIA A+ or CCENT are a plus
  • Excellent problem-solving and analytical abilities
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Strong communication skills both oral and written
  • Strong computer skills including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • Strong computer skills in Windows products and must be able to learn new computer programs as required to perform job functions

Typical work environment

A network architect can expect to work in an office environment for the majority of their workday. They may be required to set up and install physical systems in various locations. This may mean visiting office areas, hallways, server closets, and other locations and might require being hunched down, squatting, standing on ladders, or other light activity.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a network architect are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. 

Available certifications

As network architects work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • Network 5 Certification – This EC-Council certification provides the most basic, foundational understanding of networks. You’ll learn the concepts and best practices for creating and maintaining functional networks. This is an excellent certification to obtain if you’re new to the field and working your way to higher levels of training and responsibility.
  • Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching – Obtaining this certification will demonstrate an expert-level understanding and knowledge of networking across various LAN and WAN interfaces. You’ll be well-versed in a variety of routing and switching systems, and have an excellent understanding of the foundation of business networking.
  • CCNP Service Provider Operations – This Cisco certification reinforces and validates knowledge within the scope of troubleshooting and maintaining network infrastructures. By obtaining this certification, you can identify and isolate performance problems, implement fallback and fault measures, and keep the integrity of frameworks and management systems.
  • CCIE Data Center – By obtaining this certification, the holder demonstrates expert-level skill in preparing, planning, monitoring, and operating high-level, complex data center networks. Those who gain this certification have demonstrated an exceptional level of understanding and hold the highest level of technical skill as certified by Cisco.

Career path

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, information technology, or a related field. Employers prefer that applicants have a master’s in business administration. As for work experience, employers like to see job candidates with five to ten years of working with information technologies, in positions such as database administrator or computer systems analyst. With experience, a network architect can advance to an information systems manager.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1241

2020 Employment165,200
Projected Employment in 2030174,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift9,000 increase

According to an article on the industry website Focal Point, one trend that will affect the technology industry is the rising demand for cybersecurity. According to the report, network architect is one of the five in-demand cybersecurity jobs; 2020 was the first year that this occupation made the list. “To meet the growing demands of today’s businesses, (ISC) 2 estimates that the U.S. cybersecurity workforce would need to increase by 62 percent.”