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 #1

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

Sample job description #2

Description:

  • 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

Job environment:

  • 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

Technology familiarity:

  • 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

Sample job description #3

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

Skills/qualifications:

  • 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

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

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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