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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilhLnDRtwZo.
Quick Facts: Computer Network Architects
2023 Median Pay $129,840 per year
$62.42 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 180,200
Job Outlook, 2022-32 4% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 6,300

What Computer Network Architects Do

Computer network architects design and implement data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets.

Work Environment

Most computer network architects work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Network architects work in a variety of industries, usually in an office setting.

How to Become a Computer Network Architect

Computer network architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and experience in a related occupation, such as network and computer systems administrators.

Pay

The median annual wage for computer network architects was $129,840 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of computer network architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 10,200 openings for computer network architects are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for computer network architects.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of computer network architects with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about computer network architects by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Computer Network Architects Do About this section

computer network architects image
Network architects design LANs, WANs, and intranets.

Computer network architects design and implement data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to virtual capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers.

Duties

Computer network architects typically do the following:

  • Create plans and layouts for data communication networks
  • Present designs to management, customers, and staff
  • Deploy planned networks, testing to ensure proper implementation
  • Document processes for posterity
  • Upgrade hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, as needed to support computer networks
  • Research and recommend new technologies for network performance

Computer network architects, or network engineers, design and deploy computer and information networks. They consider an organization’s specific needs and requirements, such as information security, when planning networks. As part of the implementation process, network architects deploy and configure network equipment. They test the equipment and the network during all stages of implementation to check for slowdowns, blackouts, or points of failure.

Network architects create documentation throughout the design and deployment process as a reference for future network enhancements or maintenance. After deployment, they also may manage the networks and troubleshoot any issues that arise. They analyze data traffic and system performance to determine future upgrades.

Some computer network architects work with other IT workers, such as network and computer system administrators and computer and information systems managers, to ensure that an organization’s networking needs are being met. They also work with equipment and software vendors to manage upgrades and support the networks.

Work Environment About this section

computer network architects image
Most network architects work full time.

Computer network architects held about 180,200 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of computer network architects were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 26%
Telecommunications 10
Management of companies and enterprises 8
Educational services; state, local, and private 5
Temporary help services 5

Computer network architects spend most of their time in office settings. They occasionally work in server rooms, where they have access to the hardware that makes up an organization’s computer and information network.

Work Schedules

Most computer network architects work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Computer Network Architect About this section

computer network architects image
Network architects typically need several years of experience in a related occupation, such as a network administrator.

Computer network architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field and experience in a related occupation, such as network and computer systems administrators.

Education

Computer network architects typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and information technology, engineering, or a related field. Degree programs in a computer-related field give prospective network architects hands-on experience in classes such as network security or database design. These programs prepare network architects to be able to work with the wide array of technologies used in networks.

However, education requirements may vary. Some employers consider candidates who do not have a bachelor's degree, and others express no preference. Still others prefer to hire candidates who have a master’s degree.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Network architects typically need several years of experience working with information technology (IT) systems. They often have experience as network and computer systems administrators or in related occupations, such as database administrator or computer systems analyst.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Employers may require or prefer that their network architects be certified in the products they use. Certification programs usually are offered directly from vendors or from vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and the use of best practices that are required of network architects.

Advancement

Experienced network architects may advance into management positions, such as computer and information systems managers (sometimes called chief technology officers).

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Computer network architects examine data networks and decide how to connect the networks based on an organization’s needs and resources.

Detail oriented. Computer network architects create comprehensive plans of the networks they are creating with precise information describing how the network parts will work together.

Interpersonal skills. These workers collaborate with others to successfully design and implement computer and information networks.

Leadership skills. Many computer network architects direct teams of workers to help design, build, and maintain networks.

Organizational skills. Computer network architects may need to coordinate many different types of communication networks to make sure they work well together.

Problem-solving skills. These workers must be able to resolve issues that arise with computer networks.

Pay About this section

Computer Network Architects

Median annual wages, May 2023

Computer network architects

$129,840

Computer occupations

$104,420

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for computer network architects was $129,840 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,960, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $195,000.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for computer network architects in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services $134,130
Management of companies and enterprises 133,340
Temporary help services 127,670
Telecommunications 106,860
Educational services; state, local, and private 102,210

Most computer network architects work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Computer Network Architects

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Computer occupations

14%

Computer network architects

4%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of computer network architects is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 10,200 openings for computer network architects are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demand for computer network architects will grow as firms continue to design and build new information technology (IT) networks and upgrade existing ones. Continued expansion of cloud computing will increase demand for these workers to ensure that networks are properly designed and that transition to the new network proceeds smoothly.

However, demand for computer network architects is expected to be limited over the projections decade. Some computer network tasks, such as monitoring systems and troubleshooting network problems, continue to be automated and consolidated. In addition, some businesses, especially smaller ones with minimal IT requirements, find it more cost effective to contract with outside firms for these services rather than to hire computer network architects directly.

Employment projections data for computer network architects, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Computer network architects

15-1241 180,200 186,600 4 6,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of computer network architects.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Computer and information research scientists Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists design innovative uses for new and existing computing technology.

Master's degree $145,080
Computer and information systems managers Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor's degree $169,510
Computer hardware engineers Computer Hardware Engineers

Computer hardware engineers research, design, develop, and test computer systems and components.

Bachelor's degree $138,080
Computer programmers Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write, modify, and test code and scripts that allow computer software and applications to function properly.

Bachelor's degree $99,700
Computer support specialists Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists maintain computer networks and provide technical help to computer users.

See How to Become One $60,810
Computer systems analysts Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and design ways to improve efficiency.

Bachelor's degree $103,800
Database administrators Database Administrators and Architects

Database administrators and architects create or organize systems to store and secure data.

Bachelor's degree $117,450
Information security analysts Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor's degree $120,360
Network and computer systems administrators Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators install, configure, and maintain organizations’ computer networks and systems.

Bachelor's degree $95,360
Software developers Software Developers, Quality Assurance Analysts, and Testers

Software developers design computer applications or programs. Software quality assurance analysts and testers identify problems with applications or programs and report defects.  

Bachelor's degree $130,160
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Network Architects,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm (visited July 24, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.