How To Become a Network Architect

If you have an analytical nature, pay attention to detail and envision yourself working with computers on a daily basis, you might be wondering how to become a network architect. Computer networks form essential parts of companies across nearly all industries. It’s a network architect who develops the computer networks that allow for communication between computers so that employees can work, including physical hardware and software systems and programs. The term ‘network architect’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms ‘computer network architect’ and ‘network engineer.’

Computer networks are complex systems made of hardware (tangible equipment) and software. They often come in the form of local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs) and intranets. LANs connect computers within a geographic space. WANs provide a similar connection across geographic spaces, though they may use different equipment to accomplish this task. Intranets provide secure access to the Internet. A network architect must know how to set up and use each of these technologies. He or she must thoroughly understand the differences between them in order to determine what type of network will be the best fit for a company’s needs, including the need for cost-effectiveness. Network architects may have to explain their recommendations to company management.

Planning is a major component of the network architect’s job. This professional spends a good deal of time determining not only what type of network is needed and what computer hardware and software will best help the company meet its goals, but also devising the physical layout of the computer network, such as where hardware such as cables should be stationed. Because computer technology is constantly evolving, network architects need to stay on top of new advances in information technology.

As a technical occupation, a career as a network architect requires significant study of computers and related subjects. Popular courses of study for aspiring network architects include engineering, information systems and computer science. Because network architect is not an entry level position, an advanced degree and extensive fork experience are often assets for candidates seeking to move into this position. Aspiring network architects who choose to pursue an additional degree typically earn a Master of Business Administration degree through a program that allows them to focus on information systems. It’s not uncommon for network architects to have worked for as long as 10 years in a related field, such as network administration, before attaining the network architect job.

Networks typically earn a salary that ranges from $95,500 to $137,000 per year, according to a Robert Half Technology cited by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They also enjoy a positive job outlook, with opportunities in computer occupations as a whole expected increase by 22 percent by 2020, the BLS reported. If you enjoy working with technology and can organize and plan effectively, knowing how to become a network architect could be the start of an exciting new career in the thriving field of computers and information technology.

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