How to Become an IT Architect
Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep
As more organizations work to modernize their businesses and increase their market performance, the demand for IT architects continues to grow. If you want to take advantage of this growth, you clicked on the right article. We’ll walk you through how to become an IT architect.
Read on for the essential IT architect skills, learning paths, and even tips for the job hunt.
What Is an IT Architect?
An IT architect is a software expert who designs high-level networks and technology solutions for clients, focusing mainly on security and business solutions. IT architects work mostly with large organizations. So, it’s natural for them to have a high-level knowledge of business, project management, and IT.
IT architects come in many forms. There are enterprise architects, who are in charge of ensuring that a company’s systems architecture meets the company’s business goals and strategies. There are solution architects, who focus on specific business problems or projects. And there are applications architects, who work with software and coding.
IT Architect Salary and Job Outlook
According to PayScale, the average salary for IT architects in the United States is around $117,000 in the United States. Senior IT architect salaries are about $126,000 on average.
There is no job outlook information available for IT architects in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics database. However, the demand for computer network architects, a profession that is closely related to IT architects, is expected to grow at least five percent by 2029.
Entry-Level IT Architect Job Requirements
The minimum qualification for most entry-level IT architects is a bachelor’s degree in a field related to information technology. Other employers may accept IT architects with related associate degrees.
PayScale reports that the salary range for entry-level IT architects is approximately $70,500. As you gain more experience in this field, your salary will also increase.
How to Ace Your IT Architect Job Interview
If you want to pursue a career in IT architecture, one of the obstacles you’ll have to tackle is the job interview. Job interviews are always nerve-racking, no matter how many times you’ve been through them.
When applying for a job as an IT architect, there are a few things you can do to prepare. In addition to practicing your coding and software designing skills, you have to brush up on your information systems and business knowledge. IT architects must have in-depth technical knowledge in both fields.
Common IT Architect Job Interview Questions
- How many programming languages are you fluent in? What’s your favorite programming language and why?
- How does IT architecture support and assist business goals and strategies?
- Briefly describe a project you managed. What challenges did you face?
- Which tools do IT architects use the most? Why are they important and how do you use them?
- Describe your protocol for developing security solutions.
What Degree Should I Get to Become an IT Architect?
Depending on your resources and availability, you can pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree related to information systems. Programs in computer science, management information systems, and information technology are the common choices among aspiring IT architects.
Below we’ll explain the different degrees you can earn to become an IT architect.
Associate Degree in Computer Science
Associate degrees typically last for two years. You can earn an associate degree by attending a community college or enrolling in an online degree program. If you pursue an in-person or online associate degree in computer science, you will learn the fundamentals of information systems and the fundamentals of mathematics.
While indeed shorter and more affordable, associate degrees may not be enough to qualify you for an IT architect role. In some cases, those with an associate degree eventually choose to pursue further education.
Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems
If you’re looking to earn a bachelor’s degree, consider one in management information systems. Majoring in this field will equip you with a higher-level understanding of both business and technology, both of which are vital to becoming an effective IT architect.
As with most degree programs, you’ll need around four years to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems. If you’re looking for remote learning opportunities, consider browsing some online information sciences degrees.
Online computer science degrees are also in abundance and convenient for students who wish to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a more affordable price.
Master’s Degree in Enterprise Architecture
While IT architects aren’t required to have a master’s degree, having this qualification will help you greatly in scoring higher-paying jobs. These programs focus specifically on the fields of IT architecture and business intelligence.
Most master’s degree programs last from one to two years. The good news is that some schools offer online master’s degree programs. These are great options for working adults who are looking to refine their skills but don’t have much free time to go to school.
Computer Science Doctoral Degree
The highest level of formal education an IT architect can get is a doctoral degree in computer science or related fields. Again, while further education is welcomed in IT architecture, it isn’t required.
A PhD in Computer Science is ideal for professionals who want to work in research roles.
PhD programs typically last from four to five years. Keep in mind that you’ll have to be on campus full-time doing research if you enroll in a doctoral program.
However, most programs offer fellowships and teaching assistantships. These give you the option to pursue your studies full-time while still earning an income.
What Does an IT Architect Do?
An IT architect is responsible for designing and managing software solutions for companies. To fulfill this role, one must be proficient in information systems, business information analysis, and project management.
Below are some of the responsibilities assigned to an IT architect.
Enterprise architects are responsible for the maintenance of all networks and systems in a company. In addition to managing the systems, they need to ensure that the company’s network is up to date with the latest trends in the information technology industry.
Enterprise architects also need to know how to choose the best software and systems to improve the company’s performance.
IT architects working as solution architects develop business plans and provide solutions to any issues and questions that may arise in a project. These professionals are also responsible for analyzing data and generating helpful insights out of them. These are then presented to other IT architects and stakeholders.
Infrastructure architects are professionals who design buildings and houses. Similarly, IT architects are responsible for designing efficient information systems and software according to the company’s needs.
Most IT architects work with cyber security, and it’s their job to develop and maintain security systems to protect the company’s network. IT architects also manage the development team and determine what fits into the software they’re developing.
Essential IT Architect Skills
Ideally, IT architects need to be highly skilled in IT and business. The scope of their knowledge and skills is why IT architects are compensated well. Below are some essential skills to become a successful IT architect.
Proficiency in Programming
What would an IT architect be without programming skills? Knowing how to code and being fluent in different programming languages is essential to any professional working with information technology.
If you choose to work as an applications architect, you need to be highly skilled in coding. This is because you’ll be responsible for designing and developing the entire framework of the software. You’ll also need to master the most common tools used in software development.
Knowledge of Security Systems
If you’re looking forward to becoming an IT architect, IT security is one of the things you must know about. Depending on the company you work for, you’ll need to develop highly efficient security systems. It’s also important that you stay abreast of the newest technologies and trends in the cyber security industry.
Strong IT Management Skills
In addition to designing information systems, IT architects should also be able to coordinate tasks among IT professionals. They are also required to oversee the maintenance of both the company’s software and hardware components. This involves deciding when and how to update these components and coming up with the corresponding budget plans.
How to Become an IT
Architect: A Step-by-Step Guide
Aside from being passionate about bringing tech solutions, there are some other things you’ll need to pursue a career in IT architecture. These things range from pursuing formal education to gaining some practical experience. Below is a helpful step-by-step guide to help you achieve your goals.
Earn a Degree
The very first step you’ll need to take towards becoming an IT architect is earning a degree in related information systems fields. Having a degree is a great way to break into the field and improve your job prospects. As mentioned earlier, you may either pursue an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree to learn about IT architecture.
Do an Internship
The truth about IT architecture is that companies will only hire the most skilled and experienced professionals. If you don’t have any prior experience as an IT architect, you’ll likely have a hard time getting your breakthrough in this field. Doing an internship is one of the best ways to learn by doing.
Learn Business Intelligence
Unlike most IT professionals, IT architects need to have a deep understanding of business intelligence (BI). That means you’ll have to learn how to bring technology and business together.
If you attend a university and take any computer science-related major, you’ll probably get to take introductory courses to learn the fundamentals of business intelligence. Alternatively, you can join a BI bootcamp or take BI online courses.
Apply for Jobs
Once you’ve pursued an education and gained experience in IT architecture, it’s time to start applying for jobs.
Lots of companies will be looking for professionals who have experience in the field. This is where your internship experience comes into play. If you’ve done an internship, the company you worked for may even hire you.
Earn a Master’s Degree
Enrolling in graduate school is not by any means obligatory for IT architects. However, earning a master’s or a doctoral degree will certainly set you apart from other professionals. Most graduate degrees will also equip you with the skills you’ll need to lead teams and manage projects as you move up the ladder.
The field of IT architecture includes different career paths. Each of these IT architect roles has specific certifications that you can earn. Again, while not necessary, earning professional certifications is a surefire way to boost your job prospects.
Some of the most common IT architecture certifications you can earn include the AWS Certified Solutions Architect, the SEI Software Architecture Professional Certificate, and the Certified Information Systems Security Professional – Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP).
How Long Does It Take to Become an IT Architect?
It may take you anywhere between two and four years to become an IT architect depending on the learning path you take. In addition to having a degree, you’ll also need to acquire some experience in the field.
Several large companies may require that prospective IT architects also have a master’s degree, although this is usually reserved for higher roles. That’s why you must get into the habit of continuous learning. Seeking opportunities for professional development is the surefire way of gaining the best jobs in IT architecture.
Should You Become an IT Architect in 2021?
Careers in IT architecture are in high demand. Alongside the rising demand are high compensation rates and more opportunities for growth in the field. If you’re interested in both business and technology, then becoming an IT architect is a great way to build on these interests.
IT Architect FAQ
What does an IT architect do?
IT architects are professionals who design, develop, maintain, and upgrade information systems in companies. Their work involves managing software solutions for companies, as well as coming up with solutions for possible issues.
Is it hard to become an IT architect?
IT architecture can be challenging. If you want to become an IT architect, you need to have in-depth knowledge of information technology. IT architects are experienced professionals who have to stay abreast of the latest trends in the industry. For some people, learning and studying constantly may be the hardest aspect of this career.
What degree do you need to be an IT architect?
The usual pathway to becoming an IT architect is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or related fields. That said, some employers may accept an associate degree in the same fields.
Do I need certifications to become an IT architect?
Professional certifications aren’t required in IT architecture, but most IT architects have at least one. These certifications are a great way of proving your knowledge and skills in the field. The most common certifications for IT architects are the AWS Certified Solutions Architect and the CISSP-ISSAP.