When you are in a role like Computer Network Architect, you need to reinvent yourself and stay updated with the new technologies and changing needs of the industry. You have to set aside some time everyday to keep upskilling. At times, this can be challenging to manage with your day to day work.
The other challenging part could be the work hours. Many a times, you might need to collaborate with teams in different times zones and this can have an impact on your work life balance. You might also need to attend calls/support windows in odd hours.
Look at the actual companies that you aspire to work for and see if they have work place apprenticeships as an alternative
Just like any other job, things keep changing and we need to keep learning. Most employers as well as jobs do allow time for learning and retraining.
Every job has its sweet spot as well as a bitter spot. Do not be discouraged by bitter spots. Just learn
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Great Question! While I do list out the hardest parts of being a network architect or a network engineer in general, do not let it derail you from your target of becoming a network architect. It is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs out there.
One of the hardest part of being a network architect is having to work on days when your peers or family members have a holiday. You may have to sacrifice certain family functions/ reunions,etc in favor of fixing a customer outage. You will probably have a messed sleep schedule as most of the maintenance and upgrade activities happen during the night.
Another challenging but also a rewarding part of being a network architect is that the network and networking technologies are changing very frequently. You will have to be on your toes and keep on learning the new things to keep yourself relevant in the industry and also to move forward.
All in all, you will be responsible for maintaining one of the basic needs of the digital millennia, which though stressful at times, it will be a great journey.
Tobias C.’s Answer
Also, when SHTF (Google it if you don't know this acronym) - which happens quite often in this department - there is a lot of pressure and time is of the essence. Some people cannot handle this pressure and will burn out get frustrated soon.
On the bright-side tho, it's a well respected, high income role with a good perspective if done passionately.
Second, in a real life situation you will be constrained some what with what is already there. Some times it is necessary to come up with a solution that uses what is already there. This involves both time and expense. As an engineer, it is necessary to keep an eye on these. The solution has to fit the situation. It is not always possible to throw every thing and start fresh even though the new solution is attractive.
Third, security of the network. Even if the current problem is solved, an insecure solution causes more damage. Generally you need to check and see how it can be compromised and how to prevent it
So the hardest part in my opinion is having the interest to learn routing paradigms, details of internals, how IPv4 and v6 work, about HTTP behavior and security and alot more. I know how the circuit board works, how the processor(s) move data and how to test them; I can fix network problems and its fun but to be the network engineer you have to have an interest in it, I think; If not? learning will be hard.