Computer network architects made a median salary of $109,020 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $164,280 that year, while the lowest paid 10 percent made $60,310.
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Computer network architecture is the rational design of all components of a computer network -protocol, software, hardware, and all modes of data transmission. It is a vast undertaking that requires the attention of an expert. That is what computer network architects specialize in.
Computer network architects are responsible for building and designing data and communication networks from small interoffice connections to large and modern networking, such as cloud infrastructures with multiple institutions. Here are some of the most common roles and responsibilities of a network architect:
You might just be cut out to be a network architect if you possess the following characteristics:
In this job, you will be dealing with almost all aspects of computers and technology, from hardware to software. Having an intrinsic interest in technology is the most vital foundation you can have in this career. Having a keen interest in computers keeps you passionate about the job and enables you to tackle all of its challenges while still enjoying what you do each day.
In this line of duty, you will be using a lot of your brainpower. Having excellent critical thinking skills enables you to power through each task without exhausting too much energy. It is one of those talents that give you the capability to do the job efficiently.
As with most other jobs, communication plays a vital role in the career of a computer network architect. You should have good reading comprehension, excellent listening skills, talent in effectively conveying messages, and good command of the English language since it is mostly the medium of communication in the tech field.
The thing about a tech job is that even though you are expected to deal with computers most of the time, you are ultimately doing your job for the sake of other people, their jobs, and their business. Whenever you are in the line of duty, your recommendations should always have the end-goal of making the business run better, make employees’ jobs more efficient, and make customers’ experience a lot more pleasant.
Your role in this specific job demands keen attention to detail. You have to acknowledge that every small bit is essential and that each component can potentially have a significant impact on the entire network in general. Paying attention to detail means that you don’t mind sifting through every piece that comprises each project and treating each one with the same importance as you would the larger pieces. It also means checking and double-checking your work, as well as cross-checking your team’s work each step of the project.
The world of technology is continually evolving. Every day there are updates that occur and changes that could potentially result in something drastic to what you are currently working on. Having the ability to adapt quickly, and being flexible enough to adjust yourself and your style to fit into the constant change will allow you to succeed almost under any circumstance.
The tech field is quite fast-paced, and the job is demanding. Facing a lot of pressure daily can easily take a toll on you if you do not have a healthy tolerance against it. Stress is a normal part of any job, and IT personnel are not exempted from stress. You can curb some of the stress out of your life and your career by exercising the following activities:
Although computer network architects coordinate and cooperate with teams, their focal-point tasks involve a lot of solo work. Thus, you should be able to work independently, make decisions on your own, and manage your work without needing much aid. Being self-reliant allows you to focus on your task and have it done quickly and efficiently.
There are several steps you must undertake to bag this job. It may take a couple of years of study on top of some long years of work experience.
Many computer network architects are computer science graduates. However, you can still land the job if you have a degree in a similar or related field like information systems, engineering, or any computer-related field. Such degrees give students hands-on experience in classes such as network security or database design. These classes can provide network architects with the expertise they need to handle a wide range of technologies used in different networks.
Many employers prefer their computer network architects to complete an MBA before getting hired, or during their employment as a network architect. The MBA usually takes two years to finish and touches on subjects that are both computer and business-related. Having an MBA gives candidates a solid edge since it gives them more advanced knowledge and skills than they would have acquired with just a Bachelor’s degree.
If you are fresh out of school, chances are you couldn’t get to this position until after five to ten years of working in other IT positions such as database administration, web development, software development, computer systems analysis, and network systems administration. Gaining actual on-the-job experience in other areas of IT combined with the knowledge and theoretical concepts gained from studying makes a candidate competent enough to perform the duties and responsibilities that a network architect has.
Software firms and product vendors offer specific certification that verifies that a network architect has the right skill set to use their product effectively. A prime example of this is the Cisco CCNA.
Below are a few of the essential skills that a good computer network architect should possess:
If you would take a look at the universal skills needed from a computer network architect, you will notice that there is a lot of analysis listed down: operations analysis, systems analysis, and quality control analysis, among others. There is a lot of thinking involved in performing this job, and so a potential candidate must possess superb analytical skills.
Active listening, speaking, reading, writing, and comprehension -in this profession, exceptional communication skills is a must. You will be dealing with lots of people, using a wide array of terminologies from the most technical to the most rudimentary, and you should be able to adjust according to your audience. Only someone with superior communication skills can cope well in this role. If you think you have more to improve, practice excellence by looking up proven tips to improve your communication skills.
Design is an element that is unique to the role of a computer network architect. It is probably the reason why the title ends with an architect. You have an essential responsibility of ensuring the layout of the network is seamless enough to produce a conducive working environment that fosters efficiency and high performance. You get to decide which hardware goes where and how to position routers in such a way that everything blends in perfectly. If you have a natural eye for functional design, it could work quite well for you in this role.
Learning is a never-ending process in almost any profession out there. This is especially true in the fast-paced world of computers and technology. That is why you have to be an active learner to keep up with the constant change there is in the field. Here are some tips on how to actively learn:
Plans, layouts, research, hardware-shopping -the world of a network architect is chock full of decisions to make. If you are not comfortable making big decisions on your own, you won’t go far in this career. Making tough calls on a regular basis is what the role is all about, and you should also be ready to claim accountability for the decisions you make.
Below are the best of the best schools to attend to degrees that can lead you to a career path towards becoming a computer network architect:
With the advent of online job posting, applicants do not have to hand out resumes to potential employers unlike before physically. This is especially true for computer and tech-related jobs such as this. Here are a couple of online avenues that you can check out to find a job as a computer network architect:
There are plenty of websites for job seekers who are looking for a computer network architect position. Websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn are some of the most popular sites there are out there, but there are also many more where companies may post job openings publicly. Just make sure to have your resume prepared and updated, as you may be required to submit one upon applying.
The ACM boasts of being the largest global scientific and computing community. They offer membership to computing professionals, release publications, and hold conferences. You can kick off your career with this society because they also offer career resources.
IEEE stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. It was first founded in 1844 as the AIEE, and when merged with the IRE in 1963 became the IEEE. It is a community that is composed of engineers, scientists, and students. Their goal is to provide information, inspiration, and collaboration between professionals in the computer science and engineering field.
They offer continuous learning resources through their thriving library, peer-reviewed publications, and international conferences. You can find a job with the help of the IEEE’s job board, which posts related job opportunities and allows you to post your resume, apply for jobs, and get job alerts.
The CRA is a non-profit organization with a vision of uniting industry, academia, and the government to advance computing research and change the world. It was founded in 1972 and currently holds its headquarters at Washington, D.C. The CRA publishes job announcements on their website. They offer keyword and location filters so that you can browse through the most relevant jobs that you are looking for.
CompTIA offers certification for IT professionals. It also provides membership and training in preparation for the certification exams that they offer. Although the organization itself offers career opportunities within the company, getting certified alone and holding membership within the group can exponentially expand your network so that you can more easily land a job as a computer network architect.
The NCWIT stands for the inclusion of women in the tech workforce. Women have been severely under-represented in the field as it has historically been the province of men for several generations now. This organization aims to bring more diversity within the tech industry by fostering a sense of inclusivity for more and more women.
They offer subscription, alliance, and resources to women who are in the tech industry, and they have some big names backing them up as partners: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Bank of America, and Merck, among others. They offer jobs within the organization itself, but they also publicize positions that are provided by their corporate members.
You can expect a good salary from a job as a computer network architect because of two main reasons: it is a highly-demanded IT job, and it is beyond an entry-level position since it requires extensive relevant experience.
To get a better grip of just how well-paid these professionals are, take a look at the 2018 mean annual wage differentials per US state for computer network architects in 2018:
|State||2018 Mean Annual Wage|
|State||2018 Mean Annual Wage|
|Idaho||Data not released|
|Wyoming||Data not released|
Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Make your resume stand out to increase your chances of earning an interview with these tips:
Hiring managers go through a lot of resumes reasonably quickly. Therefore, you must impress them or catch some positive attention within ten seconds of them reading your application. Knowing that, your resume must be top-heavy with all the brilliant details of your accomplishments featured on the top half of the page.
Your job experience can tell your potential employer just how much you are able to undertake. Give a summary of your previous roles and responsibilities, and also include specific examples of your achievements while performing your function. One paragraph of about three to four sentences will do brilliantly.
Be specific with your technical skills in your resume. IT skills such as those covering Operating Systems, Computer Languages, Software, and Computer Networking must be visible along with your educational background. Include seminars and training that you have attended, as well as additional courses that you finished to supplement your skills and knowledge.
Avoid jumbling all of your essential details into lengthy paragraphs, which are difficult to understand. Make use of bullets to make it easier for your employer to scan through your resume without missing any crucial details. Also, make sure to choose a font that is professional and easy on the eyes. Don’t go for cursives or fancy novelty fonts, which may give off an unprofessional first impression of you.
You can easily spot the right keywords to use by just prudently scanning through the job description. Words like experienced, hard-working, driven, intuitive, competent, or attention-to-detail may appear in them, and that gives you an idea of what the employer is looking for in an applicant. Simply mirror these keywords in your resume and interpret them as your own.
Here are some of the possible interview questions you can prepare for when applying for this job:
Analytical thinking is an essential skill for a network architect. The job entails a lot of analysis and processes that demand an analytical mind. Prepare to describe why you think analyzing is vital in the role you are about to play.
This question aims to uncover your priorities in terms of your work. Do you value precision and efficiency? Is teamwork and conflict-resolution at the top of your preferences? What are the hallmarks of success for a network architect in your perspective?
This question gives you a chance to show off your organizational skills. For such positions, employers typically want someone who is methodical and can handle multiple tasks without getting overwhelmed.
If your employer asks you such a question, he or she simply wants to know how you handle unfamiliar situations that are outside of your comfort zone. Think of past scenarios that made you uncomfortable, but you were still able to overcome and anchor onto that.
Your interviewer most likely wants you to prove your mettle with this question. Try and look back to a time where you took a significant leap, and it worked out because of your initiative and intuition. This is also a good time to display some of your best decision-making skills.
Sharpen your skills in Computer Network Architecture by taking these top online courses
If you want to upgrade your skills and knowledge in the field of network architecture, check out these top-rated online courses from SkillSuccess:
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