Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from a small connection between two offices to a multinational series of globally distributed communications systems. Network architects must have extensive knowledge of an organization’s business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.

What do Computer network architects do?

  • Create a plan and layout for a data communication network
  • Present the plan to management and explain why it is in the organization’s best interest to pursue it
  • Consider information security when designing a network
  • Decide what hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, are needed to support the network
  • Determine how cables will be laid out in the building and where other hardware will go
  • Research new technology to determine what would best support their organization in the future

Computer network architects, or network engineers, also create models to predict future network needs. They look at current data traffic and estimate how growth will affect the network. They keep up to date on new hardware and software technology and test how it can improve network performance. Network architects also have to keep security in mind. When network vulnerabilities arise, they implement security patches or other countermeasures.

Architects often work with their organization’s chief technology officer (CTO) to predict where the organization will most need new networks. They spend most of their time planning these new networks. Some network architects work in the field, supervising engineers and workers who build the networks a network architect has designed. Network architects are often experienced staff and have 5 to 10 years of experience working in network administration or with other information technology (IT) systems.