A network architect designs plans for a network of linked computers and other equipment, such as telephones. The network might connect computers and communication equipment within a building or across different buildings. Job titles can vary and may include network engineer or network analyst.
You could work on different types of network including: local area networks (LANs) which link offices in a building or local area; metropolitan area networks (MANs) which link a large area or joins LANs across a campus or city; wide area networks (WANs) which are national or international; and global area networks (GANs) which combines all of these with satellite technology.
You could be:
liaising with managers and technical staff to analyse the information technology infrastructure needs of the organisation
looking at data such as network traffic to determine the capacity and speed required
designing the network structure and presenting this to management
identifying the hardware required, such as routers and switches
identifying the software required, such as network drivers and firewalls
working out a data migration plan, if designing a new network to replace an existing one
working with the technical team carrying out the installation
developing technical documentation
keeping up to date with new hardware and software technology.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries can be around £25,000 to £27,000 a year. Experienced network architects can earn up to around £55,000 a year. Very experienced and senior level network architects may earn up to £85,000 a year or more.
If you do contract work, the daily rate varies.
You will be based in an office, which could be at a desk or in a server room.
You will spend most of the time working at a computer.
You might have to travel to visit companies.
Your hours will usually be regular, Monday to Friday, but in some jobs you may need to work outside of office hours if assisting with installations or updates.
Most entrants have a degree (SCQF Levels 9-11) in a relevant subject such as computer systems, computer networking or network management and design.
Some entrants have a specialised postgraduate (SCQF Level 11) degree in advanced networking or network security.
For entry to a degree course you need 4-5 Highers, sometimes including Maths.
You may enter with an HND (SCQF Level 8) in Computing: Networking and complete further training with an employer.
For entry to an HND course you normally need 1-2 Highers plus some subjects at National 5.
Studying for a relevant Foundation Apprenticeship while in fifth and sixth year at school could count towards entry of a course. Entry requirements vary between colleges, but you usually require some subjects at National 5 including English and Maths.
You would need a driving licence if you have to travel between sites.
There are jobs in a wide range of companies and organisations including banks, building societies, insurance companies, central and local government, water, utility companies, universities, colleges and the National Health Service (NHS). There are also jobs with companies that supply, install and service networks.
What Does it Take?
You need to be able to:
keep up to date with IT developments
understand the business needs of your company or client
communicate with a wide range of people, some without a technical background
organise work programmes and prioritise tasks
work as part of a team and motivate others
understand and convey complex technical information.
You need to have:
excellent problem solving skills
a logical, systematic and analytical approach
excellent IT skills and knowledge of hardware and software
good project and budget management skills.
Many network architects study part time for further qualifications.
You could do CISCO Certification courses through the CISCO Networking Academy, which are available at Entry, Associate, Professional and Expert levels.