What Does a Computer Network Architect Do?

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A computer network architect works at an office desk in front of a computer monitor.As more employees telecommute, an organization’s computer network must evolve. The advent of cloud computing has revolutionized interconnectivity and storage among devices. That’s why organizations typically hire a computer network architect to refine and build out computer networks.

Computer network architects ensure the integrity of a computer network infrastructure. A solid infrastructure is vital because it allows for an easy flow of information and communication across the network. Employees have access to data stored in the cloud from any electronic device. The ability to connect an array of devices allows for streamlined communication. Today’s computer network architect makes it all possible.

An advanced degree in electrical engineering can equip a professional to pursue a career as a computer network architect. Organizations need qualified professionals to design, develop, and sustain a computer network infrastructure.

The Role of the Computer Networking Architect

Computer network architects oversee and develop an organization’s data communication networks. They have a deep understanding of how to develop various computer networks.

The primary data communication systems include wide area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs). Computer network architects develop LANs for smaller organizations that operate in one building. They develop a WAN when connecting computer networks for larger organizations such as universities and multinational organizations.

Computer network architects who work for government agencies or private organizations can develop intranets to protect proprietary data. Intranet connections allow employees to share information, upload documents, and collaborate on projects. They have the knowledge and skill set to develop network infrastructures that meet growing demand.

Data communication systems require professionals who can maintain and update them. This includes an understanding of when hardware, routers, and other equipment need updating.

These professionals educate themselves on future trends and new hardware and software technology impacting the field. They also identify solutions to network issues that may disrupt data communication. If an organization decides to buy an office building across town, they need a computer network architect to upgrade their system from a LAN network to a WAN network. The upgrade ensures that both offices remain connected, which fosters a reliable connection and network security from cybersecurity threats.

How to Become a Computer Networking Architect

Computer network architects advance an organization’s ability to communicate and share data. Before leading a team of information technology (IT) professionals, they must take the steps to qualify for the role of a computer network architect.

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step requires a professional to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering, computer science, or network systems. A bachelor’s degree helps prospective computer network architects prepare for the career, providing them with a knowledge base necessary to excel in their career.

Step 2. Gain Work Experience

Upon graduation, a prospective computer network architect should consider gaining work experience in IT systems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that most in the position have work experience in computer-related positions — computer systems analyst, database administrator, or computer systems analyst.

Step 3. Consider an Advanced Degree

Anyone interested in a leadership position as a computer network architect should consider an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Although an advanced degree may not be required for the position, it can provide a professional with deeper knowledge of the field.

Step 4. Earn Certification

Many computer network architects decide to continue their education and go on to earn certification in emerging and existing network systems. Two notable industry certifications are the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications.

Skill Set

A successful computer network architect offers advanced knowledge and a sharpened skill set that makes them more competitive and effective in the field. In addition to their superior technical skills, they have the core competencies of advanced leadership, analytical, and interpersonal skills.

  • Technical: Computer network architects stay up to date on the latest network and software technologies. They understand the future technological needs of an organization’s network and how to integrate the technology into existing systems.
  • Leadership: While developing and maintaining network systems, computer network architects lead teams of IT professionals in the execution of the network plans.
  • Analytical: The role requires them to ensure that all networks remain secure from cybersecurity threats. They analyze network data to identify weak points within the network and to ensure that all devices connected to the network remain private.
  • Interpersonal: They communicate with their team to ensure that an organization’s network remains stable and secure. Those in leadership positions analyze network data and must communicate findings to executives.

Computer Network Architect Salary and Job Outlook

The median annual salary for a computer network architect was about $116,800 in 2020, according to the BLS. Those who have an advanced degree and years of experience in IT systems can expect to command a higher salary than those who are just starting out in the field.

A professional’s location can influence the salary. Those who work in populous states, such as California and New York, can expect to command higher salaries than those who work in smaller states, such as Nebraska and Kentucky. The BLS also reports that jobs for computer network architects are expected to grow by 5% from 2019 to 2029.

Discover a Career as a Computer Network Architect

The development of cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) has led to organizations scrambling to update existing computer network systems.

For those interested in developing, securing, and maintaining computer networks, an advanced degree in electrical engineering can provide the education to be leaders in the field.

Ohio University’s online Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE) can prepare those who are interested in leadership positions in IT systems. Prospective students can pursue a concentration in computer engineering where they’ll take a dynamic set of courses: Micro Nano Fabrication, Embedded Systems, Design of Digital Circuits, Computer Architecture, Computer Communications Network, Information Theory and Coding, and Nanoelectric Devices and Applications.

Explore how Ohio University’s online MSEE can prepare professionals for leadership positions as computer network architects.

Recommended Readings

Digital Circuits Overview for Electrical Engineers: What You Need to Know

Electrical Engineering vs. Computer Science: Which Career Is Best for You?

Women in Electrical Engineering: Opportunities and Resources for Pursuing an Engineering Career

Sources:

Business News Daily, “How to Become a Network Architect”

Cisco, What Is Network Architecture?

Digital Divide Council, Why Is Computer Networking Important?

Field Engineer, Computer Network Architect

SocialChorus, What Is an Intranet and Is It Still Relevant to Your Organization?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Network Architects