Network ArchitectJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Network architects take care of communication networks, such as local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. They play a crucial role in creating, maintaining, and modifying an IP network’s hardware, software, and virtualized components. Network architects have in-depth knowledge about a network’s technological requirements.

Network architects are responsible for network security; they design, implement, and manage security countermeasures when network vulnerabilities are discovered. These professionals offer technical guidance on networking solutions, technology roadmaps, and product plans. Network architects develop and deliver professional proposals and design documentation, both for clients and in-house use.

Sample job description

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 making sure 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? [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced network architect. If the above sounds like you, 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

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, information technology, or a related field. Employers prefer job candidates with a master’s degree in business administration, five to ten years of experience working with information technologies, and certification in CompTIA A+ or CCENT.

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 Window products and must be able to learn new computer programs as required to perform job functions

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a network architect is $158,450 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$157,600$213,200
Los Angeles, California$177,800$240,550
Denver, Colorado$148,150$200,450
Washington, DC$180,500$244,150
Miami, Florida$147,500$199,550
Orlando, Florida$136,050$184,050
Tampa, Florida$137,400$185,850
Atlanta, Georgia$144,100$194,950
Chicago, Illinois$165,650$224,150
Boston, Massachusetts$179,150$242,350
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$142,750$193,150
New York City, New York$188,550$255,100
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$153,550$207,750
Dallas, Texas$149,500$202,250
Houston, Texas$148,150$200,450
Seattle, Washington$172,400$233,250
National Average$134,700$182,200

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, 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 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 certification provided by the EC-Council provides the most basic, foundational understanding of networks. You’ll learn the concepts and best practices of creating and maintaining functional networks. This is an excellent certification to obtain if you’re new to the field and working your way on to higher levels of training and responsibility.
  • Cisco CCIE Routing and Switching. By obtaining this certification, the holder 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. The Cisco Certified Network Professional in Service Provider Operations 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 an expert-level skill in preparing, planning, monitoring, and operating high-level, complex data center networks. Those who hold 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 working with information technologies, in positions such as database administrator or computer systems analyst. With experience, a network architect can advance to 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 in 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 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.”

Sample interview questions

  • Can you describe what a link is?
  • What are the layers of the OSI reference model?
  • What would you consider to be the backbone of a network?
  • What’s a LAN?
  • What’s a WAN?
  • What’s the difference between the two?
  • Can you describe a node?
  • What’s the difference between a router and a modem?
  • What’s a point-to-point link?
  • What’s a subnet mask?
  • What’s an anonymous FTP?
  • What’s the maximum length allowed for a UTP cable?
  • What’s data encapsulation?
  • Can you describe network topology?

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