A computer network architect is an experienced professional that can design and create advanced computer networks. Computer network architects are often highly educated and hold many certifications, some of which are extremely involved and have very high requirements. Computer network architects are considered on a level above network administrators and many of them work for large corporations or on government contracts.
Computer network architects make a mean annual wage of $94,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a top pay rate of $141,590 for the very experienced. An architect may work on their own or they may have a team that implements their suggestions. Often, an architect will work on a contract basis with specific companies rather than being in permanent employment. Usually, once the network is set up properly the network architect is done.
What Does a Computer Network Architect Do?
1 to 5 years
A computer network architect will first evaluate the needs of the project, company or government institution. Once these needs have been properly evaluated the network architect will need to create a system that is usable, can be maintained, will fall under the project’s budget, will be able to be completed by the appropriate deadlines and will be as secure as possible. All of these factors together necessitate that the computer network architect be able to juggle and manage many things at once.
Once a plan has been approved and is in place the network architect will delegate many of the activities to IT professionals. These IT professionals will perform the physical acts of cabling and routing, as well as many of the basic operations of actually setting up the network. The architect will test the network to ensure that it is functioning correctly and will often train the existing IT staff on the network’s usage.
How Do You Become a Computer Network Architect?
Computer network architects are very experienced individuals who have been in the IT industry for a long time. The most basic path to becoming a computer network architect is to start out as a computer network administrator. Network administrator’s usually have a minimum of an Associate’s Degree, but will often have a Bachelor’s Degree as well. Many network administrators are expected to maintain certifications such as their CCNA.
As a network administrator gains experience, they will often acquire more certifications. Higher-level certifications are usually required for someone to be considered a qualified network architect. The most common of these certifications are provided by Cisco, but other certifications are also provided by Microsoft. Higher-level certifications usually require a certain amount of time within the industry to qualify. They are sometimes expensive but the cost will often be subsidized by an employer.
How Do You Advance as a Computer Network Architect?
A computer network architect is already in a very advanced position. They can move to being a systems administrator, and they can move between industries for higher pay. Non-profit organizations usually pay less than private enterprises, while government and military contracts usually have the highest rates of pay. Larger corporations may also be able to offer higher rates of pay than ordinary corporations, and companies that specialize in the development of network architecture often have very high rates of pay as well.
Computer network architects can also consider starting their own consulting companies or moving into the consulting industry on their own. Many network architects work on a contract-by-contract basis, and some of them also contract out additional work to their own team members. Many contract workers will operate internationally and be called upon by companies across the globe.