There are several fundamental principles in our complex computer systems, and one of the most important is the computer network, as it links all of our computers together, enabling fast and efficient sharing and receiving of information. This information sharing is what keeps email, file sharing, IoT devices, and a host of other tasks working as intended and keeping modern businesses buzzing.
Because it is essential in almost all aspects of business communication, computer network architects are essential cogs in the wheel of any organization. The growth of the computer network engineer is evidenced by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecast that the demand for these architects will increase by 5% by 2029. One of the biggest Employers of computer network architects is the computer systems design industry, as it accounts for 32.3% of the total employed architects.
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The importance of the architect in an organization is further confirmed by the average annual salary of $ 112,690. You don’t need a degree in quantum computing to understand why this field has become so coveted by computer scientists.
Are you interested in a computer network role? We’ve put together this guide to help you get started.
What is a computer network?
You must first know how networks work before you can fully understand computer networks. Well-structured networks allow devices and endpoints to connect, and these networks include various switches, routers, and wireless.
Additionally, networks use software protocols to securely communicate different types of data. A familiar example of a wireless computer network is Wi-Fi, while a wired network includes copper-based Ethernet cables and fiber-optic cables for data transmission.
What does a computer network architect do?
Computer network architects or network engineers plan and set up data communication networks from scratch. After mapping out a network topology, a network engineer presents the plan to senior management, explaining its operational implications and benefits.
Depending on the needs, the networks offered can vary considerably in size and specifications. A local area network (LAN), for example, spans a small area, which is perfect for a single office organization or internet cafe. However, for a multinational with many offices around the world, a wide area network (WAN) does the trick.
In addition to planning and design, network architects oversee the execution of the plan and ensure that it aligns with the network infrastructure. Network architects also research new networking technologies to determine what can meet the changing needs of an organization.
Popular Computer Network Architecture Job Titles
Computer networks encompass a variety of system-specific professional roles. Some of the most important designations are mentioned below:
- Computer systems analyst: Identifies areas for improvement in an organization’s IT systems by determining the strengths and weaknesses of existing systems.
- Information security specialist: Implements security measures to secure the computer systems and networks of an organization.
- Network administrator: Installs and configures networks and computer systems in addition to solving network connection problems.
- Systems architect: Designs and deploys the integrated systems of a company.
How to become a computer network architect
Getting a network architect job can be quite tricky if you don’t know which path to take. This three-step guide will help you through the process.
Step 1: Get formal training
A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field is the first step in becoming a network engineer, as the program will help you understand the basics of network architecture. Also note that some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) in information systems.
This is especially true in the case of businesses that move their business over the Internet. The two-year course includes topics related to business and IT to better understand the characteristics of networks in the corporate sector.
Step 2: gain experience
Most network architects gain five or more years of work experience in a related field, such as a network administrator or computer systems analyst, before moving on to their primary industry.
As newbies, they monitor the day-to-day functioning of computer systems and networks, implement security measures to protect the system, and recommend upgrades when necessary.
As they move up through the ranks, many begin to organize computer network specialists to improve existing systems by taking on a management role.
Step 3: Obtain the relevant certifications
Obtaining a vendor-specific certification is arguably the best way to improve the chances of being hired by the same vendor. After all, businesses require their network architects to be certified for the products they use and manufacture.
Cisco is a good example of this strategy: the Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA), which is an entry-level certification, provides an overview of configuring and installing Cisco products in addition to basic networking principles.
More senior network architect credentials include:
The way forward for computer network architects
A computer without a network serves a minimal purpose. As organizations continue to expand their networks, the need for skilled network architects who can design, maintain and upgrade existing networks will continue to increase sharply.
A thorough understanding of modern computer networks and a love for technology will make it easier for you to enter the industry, if you want to start a career in networking.
“You will have to constantly learn,” says Peter Steenkiste, professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. “You have to be very aware not only of the technologies available today, but also of the trends. A large part of network design is to effectively upgrade and expand networks. “
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