Network Architect

network architect career pathNetwork Architects plan and design computer networks.

Not to be confused with Network Administrators who manage and support the network, or Network Engineers who build and repair it, Network Architects are responsible for the planning and design of data and communications networks. The responsibilities of these roles will overlap in some organizations, especially in startups and SMBs, however most enterprises and government agencies employ specialized professionals (or teams of professionals) in each position.

In addition to hard technical skills, network architects need to understand the company’s business needs in order to design an efficient, secure and scalable network that aligns with strategic goals. With a firm grasp on the business issues, the network architect can begin to craft the network blueprint, carefully considering aspects like which hardware, software and cable infrastructure will be best suited to the project at hand. A high-level position, most network architect jobs require 5 - 10 years of relevant experience, strong business acumen, and at least a bachelor’s degree in computer networking or a related field of study.

Accredited universities and private computer schools offer a range of courses and degrees to prepare you for a career in network architecture. Compare network architect training programs online and in your area.

a.k.a. Enterprise Architect | Network Designer | Computer Network Architect | Network Infrastructure Architect

Network Architect Training

Skills & Responsibilities

Network architects need a variety of technical and business skills to excel in this role. Here are some typical day-to-day activities and marketable skill sets for network architects:

  • Design computer networks, including local/wide area networks (LANs/WANs) and intranets.
  • Compare and purchase network hardware, such as routers, switches, modems and firewalls.
  • Research and implement network software, such as network drivers and monitoring applications.
  • Work closely with the CTO and other executives to align network design with organizational goals.
  • Design and integrate VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and other telecommunications systems.
  • Supervise network engineers, network admins and other workers in network setup & configuration.
  • Possess abundant soft skills, such as critical thinking, verbal/written communication and leadership.
  • Continuously evaluate emerging network technologies to maximize performance, security & efficiency.
  • Periodically test and evaluate network performance, and adjust and redesign network where applicable.


Network Architect Salary

  • The average salary for network architects in the U.S. is $112,000.

Network Architect Salary $112,000


Average salaries for network architects and related IT career paths:

  • Network Administrator: $69,000
  • Network Engineer: $82,000
  • Cisco Network Engineer: $94,000
  • Network Architect: $112,000
  • Enterprise Architect: $112,000
  • Cisco Network Architect: $113,000
  • IT Security Systems Architect: $133,000
  • Chief Network Architect: $144,000

Top paying U.S. cities for computer network architects:

  • San Jose, CA: $137,550
  • Portland, OR: $130,170
  • San Francisco, CA: $ 129,980
  • Edison, NJ: $128,830
  • New York, NY: $ 121,250
  • Austin, TX: $ 120,390

Sources: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics |


Education Requirements

Beyond the requisite job experience – typically 5+ years in a hands-on networking role – network architects typically need at least a bachelor’s degree on the education front. Due to the demand for business knowledge in this role, some organizations prefer to hire network architects with a Master’s degree or MBA. Desirable majors for this position include network design or administration, information systems management, computer science or a related IT discipline.

In-demand technical skills to look for in a network architecture degree program include network design and modeling, information security, telecommunications, cloud computing, virtualization, software engineering, technical writing, and information systems management. A network architect learning plan should also cover skills in popular vendor technologies, especially those from industry-leader Cisco Systems.

A major factor in becoming a network architect is understanding the business side as well as the technical, and being able to analyze and express how these two worlds interact. Thus, a strong set of Soft Skills is key to getting hired – and succeeding – in this role. Marketable soft skills in network architect training programs include critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective verbal and written communication, project management and leadership.

The subject matter in computer networking training programs works well in online learning formats, especially those that employ the latest digital simulations which can accurately mimic network hardware configurations and real-world scenarios.

Compare training programs that align with network architects' education requirements.


Training & Degree Programs

Browse degrees from accredited universities, targeted certification programs, and self-paced online courses matching the network architect career path.

Admissions advisors can provide more info about programs and curriculum, admissions and start dates, job placement, tuition costs and personalized financial aid options.
Got targeted learning goals? Many schools offer individual courses and certificates.

IT School

Network Tech Training

Course Highlights & Certifications

AAS - IT: Network Administration

  • Method: Online Degree
  • Degree Level: Associate
  • Accredited School: Yes
  • Financial Aid Available: Yes
  • Includes Certification Preparation for:
    • CompTIA A+, Network+ & Security+
    • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Prepares Graduates for Entry-Level Careers in Networks and Systems Administration
  • Windows Desktop/Server Support Training
  • Cisco Network Design and Administration
  • Network Security and Computer Forensics
  • Intro to Web Development & Programming

BS - Network Technology: Microsoft

  • Method: Online Degree
  • Degree Level: Bachelor
  • Accredited School: Yes
  • Financial Aid Available: Yes
  • Includes Certification Preparation for:
    • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Windows Server 2012
    • CompTIA A+ and Network+
  • Manage the Latest Microsoft Business Solutions
  • Install and Configure Windows Servers/PCs
  • Advanced Network Design and Administration
  • IT Project Management and Team Leadership
  • Explore Hot IT Topics in Enterprise Mobility, Cloud Computing & Cyber Security

M.B.A. Technology Management

  • Method: Online Degree
  • Degree Level: Master
  • Accredited School: Yes
  • Financial Aid Available: Yes
  • Prerequisite: Bachelor's
  • Prepare to Lead Organizations in the Planning, Development, Operation & Management of IT
  • Applied Managerial Accounting, Economics, Finance, Marketing and Decision-Making
  • Impact of IT Innovation on Strategy & Operations
  • Use Tech to Foster a Competitive Advantage
  • Network, Systems and Database Management
  • Technology Project Management and Leadership

Find Network Administration Schools

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Network Architect Jobs

Your network architect training and experience may qualify you for a range of positions. Browse and apply to:

  • Network Architect jobs link-icon
  • Senior Network Architect jobs link-icon
  • Network Engineer jobs link-icon
  • Network Administrator jobs link-icon
  • Cisco Network Architect jobs link-icon
  • Network Security Architect jobs link-icon
  • Enterprise Architect jobs link-icon

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IT certifications are an ideal way to prove your skills in the latest computer networking tools and technologies. Desirable certifications for network architects include:





Job Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts 15% job growth for network architects from 2012 to 2022 - faster than the 11% average for all occupations. The increasing diversity of computing networks – driven in large part by the proliferation of mobile and wireless devices – is a key demand-driver for network architects. Computer networking needs in the rapidly growing health information technology (health IT) sector will also create numerous job openings for network architects with skills in this domain.

The widespread adoption of cloud computing – which allows organizations to store and access data, applications and other IT services online – will temper demand for network architects, as network services that were traditionally built and managed in-house are outsourced to cloud-based service providers.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook


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