Here's Why Network Architects Are in Demand

Network architect blueprint

An organization’s computer network can range from a simple connection between two offices to a globally distributed communications system. Regardless of the size, a network architect is responsible for creating and maintaining this vital network.

This tech-savvy draftsperson isn’t just an expert at engineering networks; a network architect is also able to translate and implement specific company objectives, such as expanding wireless and mobile capabilities. According to Nick Chlam, recruiting manager for Robert Half Technology in Cincinnati, Ohio, “A network architect ultimately drives the big picture for a company’s technology infrastructure.”

Network architect salary on the rise

Because companies rely heavily on networks — and, just like all technology, networks are always evolving — the network architect position is indispensable. In fact, according to our Salary Guide, the average starting salary for a network architect in the United States is expected to increase 5.3 percent this year, ranging from $120,000 to $175,000.

Use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find specific salary information for your city.

What it takes to be a network architect

As a network architect, your main objective is to keep data, voice and information flowing 24/7 while preventing network congestion or failure. You’ll also need to assess the business and applications requirements for corporate data and voice networks, as well as plan, design and upgrade network installation projects.

Prospective employers often seek candidates with at least seven years of experience with network operating systems such as Cisco, Novell and Windows Server. Certification from these sources is also highly valued and could help you earn an increase in starting compensation. The network architect role also typically requires:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field
  • Extensive background in all aspects of networking technology
  • Experience working with routers, switches, cabling and other essential network hardware
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as strong interpersonal and leadership abilities

Other duties for network architects can include establishing and maintaining backup, version-control and viral defense systems. Troubleshooting network architecture while making recommendations for system fixes and enhancements is also a typical responsibility.

Additionally, network architects are often asked to make recommendations to leverage network installations and help reduce the company’s overall operational costs.

Find out what IT certifications are most in demand.

Aspiring network architects: Keep up with trends

When it comes to impressing potential employers, the more training and certifications you have, the better, says Chlam. “You’ll need to update your skills constantly and stay apprised of the latest technology—including what’s in use today and what is emerging,” he explains. “You’ll need to prove that you’re a specialist to stand out in the crowd, specifically in the top network areas: security, data, routing, switching and voice.”

The network architect position requires that you stay abreast of network trends and other relevant changes in technology and in your industry, but Chlam says you also need to network in another sense — by continuously refining and building new professional relationships.

Focusing on both areas will help to raise your profile as a contender for the in-demand network architect role.

Look to Robert Half Technology’s latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting salaries for a wide range of IT jobs — including network architect. 

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Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 8/4/14.