What Does a Network Architect Do?
Network architects design and implement complex computer networks for organizations in various industries. In support of the organization’s current and future needs, they collaborate closely with other IT professionals to optimize networks for performance, security, and scalability. Typically, network architects work in office settings, either as part of an in-house IT team or as consultants.
An effective network architect has a deep understanding of network protocols and technologies, as well as strong analytical and problem-solving skills. It is important for them to have experience with different networking hardware and software systems, as well as the ability to identify and troubleshoot complex network issues. Furthermore, they should have experience managing projects and communicating effectively with technical and non-technical stakeholders. As well as meeting the organization’s needs, they must be able to balance performance, cost, and security concerns.
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National Average Salary
Network architect salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.
The average U.S. salary for a Network Architect is:
Network Architect Job Descriptions
It’s important to include the right content in your job description when hiring a network architect. The following examples can serve as templates for attracting the best available talent for your team.
[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
- 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
Your role and responsibilities
ABC Company has a global network that is deployed using cutting-edge platforms and is looking for a high quality and driven Network Architect for our team.
This network architect will be responsible for
- Developing network and related architectures and solutions based on requirements from offering, engineering, and operations, as well as key customers
- Working across the organization to provide technical leadership for the network infrastructure
- Assessing new technologies and best practices for adoption
- Driving standardization and automation into all aspects of the network platform
- Engaging with internal and external customers for briefings, issue escalation, and complex solution development
- Enabling the extended team’s vitality through training, mentoring, and skills transfer
- Documenting network capabilities as appropriate for both internal and external consumption
Required technical and professional expertise
- At least 5 years of experience designing service provider network infrastructures, at scale, e.g., MPLS/BGP, routing, switching, SDN/NFV, EVPN, VXLAN
- At least 2 years of technical writing and speaking skills
- Team and business leadership experience
Preferred technical and professional expertise
- CCIE/JNCIE or comparable certifications
- 5 years of experience in developing architectures
- 2 years in python or similar programming language
- Develop strategy, technical direction, and engineering solutions for enterprise-wide data networking and data security services supporting key business requirements
- Lead the development and execution of Architecture, Engineering and Operational roadmaps for data networking and data security services globally and drive efforts to validate that strategic direction is aligned with business architecture/direction
- Provide technical leadership for the establishment, and implementation of end-to-end network data, and security infrastructure solutions utilizing new technologies, including AWS Cloud
- Provides technical solutions for the establishment and implementation of high availability network solutions, to support convergence of voice, data, and multimedia services, as well as cloud application security architectures
- Provides clear and concise recommendations to remediate performance/scaling bottlenecks
- Participates in lab testing with other teams to ensure that performance expectations are met before/after rolling out new applications and services
- Provides escalation support for troubleshooting and resolution of all network data and security issues as required by other infrastructure support teams
- Maintain expertise in data network security technologies to ensure that cost-effective solutions and processes are deployed and aligned with business direction
- Mentor other members of the Network Services team on architectural and engineering best practices by reviewing engineering designs and providing guidance as required
- Partner with business unit and development team SMEs to develop best -practices that can be proactively incorporated into architectural and engineering designs
- Evaluate, select and deploy toolsets to manage, measure, monitor, and report network and systems characteristics
- Develop and maintain partnerships with key vendors and ensure that all technology and services roadmaps are understood and leveraged where applicable
- Partner with Enterprise Architecture, PMO, Business IT, Infrastructure Leads, and third party service providers in the conception, evaluation, piloting, engineering, and operational delivery of solutions for the organization
- Partner with peers to understand project portfolios and determine staffing needs for network architecture and design services and provide input to sourcing solutions for variable resource requirements
- Define and implement methodology templates for total cost of ownership analysis, requirements gathering, infrastructure design, and peer reviews. Develop a culture and process for re-use of solutions templates across projects thereby simplifying the solutions engineering process and improving the productivity of the resources
- Effectively communicate the feasibility of requested deliverables and timelines to internal business and project stakeholders
- Install & Qualify components into production following company policies and procedures
- Build relationships which foster collaboration and partnerships to drive better strategies, processes, and final product to the customer
- Understand and comply with defined standards for FDA/regulated IT environments
- Participate in IT Risk Management initiatives in line with industry and corporate Audit and Compliance strategies
- Assist with development and management of the Network Services budgets
- Complex routing, switching, and ISP environments
- Cisco Routers (ISRs and ASRs)
- User Remote Access VPN Headends – Cisco ASA, Meraki
- Firewalls (Palo Alto preferred, Cisco ASA/Meraki is desirable)
- QoS understanding and configuration (routers and switches)
- Routing protocols (BGP, OSPF, EIGRP)
- WAN architectures (“legacy” ex: MPLS and “trending” ex: SD-WAN & VPN methods)
- Thorough understanding of most enterprise IPv4 protocols and emerging IPv6 deployments
- Strong familiarity with cloud networking (AWS: VPC, Transit Gateways, Direct Connect, ELB/ALB, Route 53)
- Familiarly with network configuration, automation tooling, telemetry, authentication technologies.
- Familiarity with Network Troubleshooting Tool Suites (Extrahop, “Wire Data” visibility tool suites, Syslog Parsers, AKiPS, etc.)
Minimum qualifications education and experience:
- Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree preferred
- 8 or more years of relevant job experience including analyzing, configuring, troubleshooting, designing complex enterprise networks
- Industry certifications – primarily via our Strategic Partners
- Network management – (e.g., NetMRI, Palo Alto Panorama)
- Network monitoring tracing – (SNMP; packet analysis software, Wireshark, Extrahop)
- Network OS – (IOS-XE, PANOS, EOS, Meraki)
- SEIM – Splunk
The Network Architect participates in network and security design, configuration, and testing activities for ABC Company’s customer-facing professional services projects. The individual in this role exhibits a strong passion for building and improving secure networks, with a focus on project delivery. This role requires the individual to think critically through problems and be a self-starter when completing assigned project and support escalation work. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are a must, as significant customer interaction is required.
Duties and responsibilities:
- Design, configure, and test network solutions per scope of customer projects
- Perform troubleshooting and support activities as part of project delivery
- Lead or participate in discovery and design workshops
- Support physical installation of network and security devices, either in person or remotely
- Lead network assessment projects, and provide oversight for Engineering staff members in the development and presentation of findings and recommendations
- Communicate progress and status of deliverables to customer and Technium project teams
- Maintain technical acumen and apply as necessary
- Other duties as assigned
- 10+ years of network/security implementation and/or management experience required
- Strong understanding of network routing and switching protocols required
- Demonstrated experience with WAN and backbone network protocols (BGP, OSPF, MPLS, etc.) required
- Experience with next generation firewall technology (Palo Alto, Check Point, Fortinet, etc.) desirable
- Experience with cloud (AWS, Azure, GC) network and/or security desirable
- Certificates within network/security domain (CCNA, CCNP, CCIE, PCNSE, etc.) desirable
- Excellent analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills with the ability to communicate complex technical issues in an easy-to-understand manner
- Resourceful, with the ability to work independently
- Strong time management skills and attention to detail
- Ability to multi-task activities with shifting priorities
- Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Information Systems preferred
Candidate Certifications to Look For
- Network 5 Certification – This EC-Council certification provides the most basic, foundational understanding of networks. Candidates will learn the concepts and best practices for creating and maintaining functional networks. This is an excellent certification to obtain if they’re new to the field and working their 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. Candidates will 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, candidates 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. Candidates who gain this certification have demonstrated an exceptional level of understanding and hold the highest level of technical skill as certified by Cisco.
How to Hire a Network Architect
When hiring a network architect, first consider the following:
- Recruiting: Do you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to attract and screen candidates?
- Complexity: Do you need a senior professional, or will mid or junior-level skills and experience suffice?
- Duration: Is this a one-time project or an ongoing need?
- Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effectively?
- Urgency: How soon does the work need to be completed?
- Headcount: Do you have the budget and approval for an internal employee, or should you consider alternate options?
Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, great options exist for every scenario. These are our recommendations:
1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)
The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.
This is the best route to take when:
- You need to fill the position quickly
- You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
- Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
- You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff.
- You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
2. Advertise your opening on a top job board
Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice.
We recommend using a job board when:
- Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
- You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort
- You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
- You are prepared to respond to all applicants
We recommend CareerBuilder for network architect openings:
CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.
3. Leverage your internal resources
You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates.
A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.
Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.
We recommend these options when:
- Your brand has great name recognition
- You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
- You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
- You have an effective employee referral program in place
If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.
Sample Interview Questions
- How do you identify the specific needs of organizations in various industries when designing and implementing complex computer networks?
- How do you approach disaster recovery and business continuity planning, and how do you ensure that networks can quickly recover from disruptions or outages?
- What are your methods for ensuring that network operations are aligned with the business goals and objectives of other IT professionals, stakeholders, and clients?
- Would you be able to tell me how you use network monitoring and reporting tools to improve network performance and reliability?
- What steps do you take to ensure that network infrastructure upgrades are completed on time and within budget?
- Is there a time when you had to design a network architecture that balanced performance, cost, and security requirements?
- What steps do you take to ensure that your networks are protected from unauthorized access and data breaches?
- How do you evaluate and select new technologies for your clients or company based on your experience with various networking hardware and software systems?
- Do you have any experience designing and implementing virtualized network environments? What are your steps in the process?
- To ensure your network designs are future-proof, what steps do you take to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in computer networking?