A Network Architect's responsibility is to put together the overall design of a network. These Architects will usually communicate with customers about their networking needs and propose a solution that will "fit" and/or enhance their current IT environment. The Network Architect role is a higher level than my current role, which is Network Engineer. A Network Architect will need to have solid knowledge, skills, and understanding of the architecture that is relevant to the technology that he/she specializes in (for me, it is Voice Networking/VOIP).
There are different type of Network Engineers, so an architect is an advanced Engineer with expert level knowledge in that area of Network Engineering. This will come after many years of experience in the field. The Network Architect will design the solution, but the Engineer will build/implement it. The type of Engineer depends on what you would like to have expertise in : Data Center, Collaboration/Voice, Security (Firewalls), Servers, CyberSecurity, Routing & Switching.
To get started in IT Networking, I would recommend that you find a trade school or community college that offers courses in IT Networking. One of the best programs (the one that I went through) is the Cisco Network Academy. https://www.netacad.com/
Next steps after getting formal education in your desired area of networking, would be to acquire the IT Certification relevant to that area of networking. https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/certifications.html
Final step is to secure a job as a Network Engineer and continue to progress with development of your skill set in order to reach the knowledge level of an architect.
I want you to know that you are not limited to only the Cisco brand. There are many other network vendors, but Cisco is a BIG one. There is a shortage of females in this field and we are high in demand. The salaries are awesome, but that can also depend on which industry you are working in (Public sector, government, private entity, etc).
Good luck to you!
Nisha recommends the following next steps:
- Research Community Colleges that offer programs in IT Networking
- Research certification programs in desired area of Networking