Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.
What they do
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers. Network architects must have extensive knowledge of an organization’s business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.
Computer network architects typically do the following:
- Create plans and layouts for data communication networks
- Present plans to management and explain why they are in the organization’s best interest to pursue them
- Consider information security when designing networks
- Upgrade hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, as needed to support computer networks
- Research new networking technologies to determine what would best support their organization in the future
Computer network architects, or network engineers, design and deploy computer and information networks. After deployment, they also may manage the networks and troubleshoot any issues as they arise. Network architects also predict future network needs by analyzing current data traffic and estimating how growth will affect the network.
Some computer network architects work with other IT workers, such as network and computer system administrators and computer and information systems managers to ensure workers’ and clients’ networking needs are being met. They also must work with equipment and software vendors to manage upgrades and support the networks.
Computer network architects spend most of their time in offices, but occasionally work in server rooms where they have access to the hardware that make up an organization’s computer and information network.
How to become a Computer Network Architect
Most computer network architects have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and experience in a related occupation, such as network and computer systems administrators.
Computer network architects usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, engineering, or a related field. Degree programs in a computer-related field give prospective network architects hands-on experience in classes such as network security or database design. These programs prepare network architects to be able to work with the wide array of technologies used in networks.
Employers of network architects sometimes prefer applicants to have a master’s of business administration (MBA) in information systems. MBA programs generally require 2 years of study beyond the undergraduate level and include both business and computer-related courses.
The median annual wage for computer network architects was $112,690 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $64,770, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $168,390.
Employment of computer network architects is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.
Demand for computer network architects will increase as firms continue to expand their information technology (IT) networks. Designing and building these new networks, as well as upgrading existing ones, will create opportunities for computer network architects. The expansion of healthcare information technology will also contribute to employment growth.
Similar Job Titles
Design Engineer, Network Analyst, Network and Security Engineer, Network Consultant, Network Systems Consultant, Networking Systems and Distributed Systems Engineer, Solutions Architect, Telecommunications Analyst
Computer Systems Analyst, Information Security Analyst, Software Developer-Systems Software, Network and Computer Systems Administrators, Computer Systems Engineer/Architect
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Center of Excellence for Information and Computing Technology
- IEEE Computer Society
- Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals
- International Association for Computer Information Systems
Magazines and Publications
Almost all organizations rely on efficiently organized computer networks to accomplish day-to-day business. Computer network architects design those networks, and computer systems engineers run them. Computer network architects create plans and layouts for data communication networks, ranging from building small connections between two offices to accessing the vast networking capabilities of cloud computing that connects customers around the globe. Network architects develop a deep understanding of a business’ plans in order to design networks to best suit their current and future needs. They analyze the organization’s data traffic, and work with chief technology officers and hardware engineers to predict future demand, and determine where to build new networks. Computer systems engineers implement the network architects’ designs, and solve the complex problems involved in the day-to-day operations of networks. They frequently test system operations, identify security risks, and research new products or processes that will improve system function. Network architects need to be effective leaders, and both roles require strong communication and teamwork skills. Work schedules are often more than 40 hours a week. Network architects and computer systems engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, along with several years’ experience working with information technology systems. A master’s of business administration in information systems is needed for some network architect positions.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org