How to Become a Computer Network ArchitectHow to Become a Computer Network ArchitectHow to Become a Computer Network Architect

Accessing software, sharing, and storing files securely, supporting remote work — these capabilities and others rely on online networks. Computer network architects design, program, and maintain the online networks that make it possible for computer users to share information quickly and efficiently.

Those interested in how to become a computer network architect can benefit from exploring the role’s work responsibilities, salary, and job outlook. Additionally, aspiring computer network architects can consider the advantages of earning a bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS).

What Is a Network Architect?

In small startups and large corporations alike, computer network architects design communication solutions that allow organizations to engage in a myriad of activities fundamental to their day-to-day operations. These activities include:

  • Sending emails
  • Conducting video calls
  • Collaborating on digital documents
  • Accessing databases
  • Sharing resources such as software and storage devices

Network architects may develop small data communication networks, such as local area networks (LANs), that connect devices to servers in a localized area. They may create enormous cloud infrastructures with expansive connection capacities. A well-designed computer network:

  • Maintains uninterrupted connectivity between network devices
  • Transmits data smoothly and without congestion
  • Protects a network from unauthorized access and misuse

In addition to building reliable data communication networks, network architects manage a computer network’s infrastructure. This may involve installing software, modems, routers, and other necessary hardware to ensure operations run smoothly.

Computer Network Architect Job Responsibilities

Computer network architects’ specific responsibilities can vary based on the position they hold. All professionals in the field typically analyze their organization’s current network needs and project how those needs may change. Computer network architects often do this by studying the organization’s current data traffic.

This allows them to build scalable networks that can accommodate their organization’s needs as it grows. Their analyses also help computer network architects determine specific network requirements related to:

  • Account bandwidth
  • Infrastructure
  • Security

When designing networks, computer network architects add security features that allow for varying levels of access to information, an important tool for protecting sensitive data. Computer network architects may also troubleshoot networks for technical issues like insufficient data storage capacities or outdated security protocols. As part of maintenance, computer network architects upgrade critical hardware and software, including routers and network drivers.

Other duties include:

  • Evaluating requirements for transmitting voice and multimedia content
  • Backing up critical data into secure storage locations
  • Building and maintaining systems that protect the network from viruses and other malicious activity
  • Determining how to lay out cables and where to place hardware for network installations
  • Staying up to date with the latest technologies and trends that can help advance the company’s goals

Steps for How to Become a Computer Network Architect

A combination of the right education and relevant experience can translate into a successful career as a computer network architect. The following explains, step by step, how to become a network architect:

Two computer network architects look at a screen.

1. Gain a Computer Network Architect Education

Computer network architect education requirements may differ, depending on the employer. In general, candidates need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as computer science, programming, or management information systems. A bachelor’s degree in management information systems (MIS), for example, helps cultivate skills in database design, operating systems, and business communications, all key to the network architect role.

Some positions may require candidates to have an advanced degree beyond a bachelor’s, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Science (MS) in Cybersecurity.

2. Establish Network Architecture-Related Work Experience

Many positions for computer network architects require candidates to have several years of experience, typically at least five years working with information technology systems.

Aspiring computer architects can start by gaining experience in roles such as:

  • Network or computer systems administrator
  • Database administrator
  • Computer systems analyst
  • Help desk manager

3. Explore Network Architect Certification Options

Gaining certifications can be key to becoming a competitive candidate for computer network architect job openings because certifications attest to a certain level of expertise and skill.

Consider the following certifications:


  • CompTIA A+ certification
  • CompTIA security+ certification
  • CompTIA network+ certification


  • VMware certified professional (VCP)


  • CCT (Cisco certified technician)
  • DevNet associate
  • CCNA (Cisco certified network associate)
  • CyberOps associate
  • DevNet professional
  • CCNP (Cisco certified network professional) enterprise, CCNP collaboration, CCNP data center, CCNP security, CCNP service provider
  • CCDE (Cisco certified design expert)
  • CCIE enterprise infrastructure, CCIE enterprise wireless, CCIE collaboration, CCIE data center, CCIE security, CCIE service provider
  • CCAr (Cisco certified architect)


  • MTA (Microsoft technology associate)

Computer Network Architect Salary

Computer network architects had a median annual salary of $120,520 in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Salaries ranged from approximately $63,240 to more than $168,890 a year.

Geographic location and years of work experience factor into individual salaries. Professionals with specific skills, such as Cisco networking skills, can also earn more than the average salary for this role.

Future Growth of Computer Network Architect Jobs

Computer network architects can expect a 4% job growth rate between 2021 to 2031, with a predicted 11,800 job openings each year, according to the BLS. With businesses regularly expanding their information technology networks, which requires professionals who can design, build, and upgrade these networks, the IT career outlook for computer network architects is promising.

Pursue a Career as a Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects bring significant value to the organizations they work for. In addition to keeping a business’s information organized and secure, their work facilitates smooth communication and accurate information sharing. By preparing themselves with the right skills and technical expertise, aspiring computer network architects can generate the innovative communication solutions employers covet.

Explore how to become a computer network engineer and the benefits of earning an online Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems (MIS) from Maryville University.

Recommended Reading

Examples of Digital Divide in the Modern Day

MIS vs CIS Degree: Differences and Career Opportunities

Systems Analyst vs. Software Developer: Complementary Technical Experts


CareerExplorer, “What Does a Network Architect Do?”

Chron, “Network Architect Duties”

Cisco, Cisco Certifications

CompTIA, CompTIA Certifications

Field Engineer, “A Guide to Finding Best Computer Network Architect Jobs.”

Invision, “6 Reasons a Computer Network Is Good for Business”

Payscale, Average Network Architect Salary

TechRepublic, “A Step-by-Step Guide to Network Architecture Careers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer Network Architects

VMware, Certification

We are your IT, “An Introduction to Computer Networking and Network Services for Business”

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