data architect job description
Job Descriptions

Data Architect Job Description and Salary Expectations

An increasing number of businesses center their operations around advanced information systems that allow them to gather, manage and manipulate relevant data. Consequently, data architects are among the most sought-after IT professionals on the market.

Attending online IT courses may not be enough to become a data architect, as most companies require formal education in computer science, information technology, or a similar field. So, in this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the job of a data architect, including job description and salary.

It takes years to obtain and polish the skills necessary to land a data architect job, but the projected salary expectations make all the effort worth the trouble.

You should also go through our IT Data Analyst job description if you would like to learn how to use the systems data architects create.

What is a Data Architect?

what is data architect

Distinguishing between data scientists, data engineers, data architects, and data analysts isn’t always easy for industry outsiders because these positions are complementary. But, broadly speaking, a data architect is the mastermind that conceptualizes and designs the entire data system.

The data engineer then builds the system based on the architect’s blueprint that data scientists and analysts use to gather and interpret the data. The primary role of the data architect position is to evaluate and understand the company’s needs and tailor data management systems to those needs.

This is not an entry-level position, and besides the necessary education, you’ll also need a significant amount of experience to become a data architect. This role requires familiarity with standard data architecture principles such as:

  • Modeling standards
  • Stored procedures
  • Data replication
  • System safety

In addition, data architects are in charge of all upgrades of the systems they design, and they often work odd hours so that the rest of the organization can continue using the system without any interruption.

Read our Computer Science and Computer Information Systems salary guide to determine how much professionals in these fields earn annually.

Types of Data Architect Jobs

Assuming that all data architect positions are the same is a common misconception among inexperienced IT professionals. There are numerous iterations of this position, and each of them requires you to choose a path early in your career and gradually grow into a specific role.

Here are some of the most common types of data architects.

Data architects

This role involves working closely with the organization’s senior management and its IT team to design and maintain the system that will improve its day-to-day operations.

Aside from understanding the company’s needs, data architects also have to worry about end-users’ experience. Their key responsibility is to discover the most efficient way to acquire, store and distribute data across the system.

Once the system is created, they continue working with data scientists and different members of the organization’s IT teams to improve its efficiency and user-friendliness.

Machine learning architects

In addition to conceptualizing and designing data systems, they also create machine learning models used with different services and applications within the system.

A machine learning architect needs to develop a teaching strategy for each model and generate a suitable environment. Maintaining communication with data engineers and data scientists to improve the relevance of the models is among the tasks this role entails.

Besides strong programming skills, you also need to be familiar with the latest trends in machine learning to get this position.

Cloud architects

As a cloud architect, you won’t be so focused on designing a data system. Instead, you’ll oversee the creation of its backend structure and monitor its functionality as the usage rate grows. You’ll also be in charge of the system’s safety and design features that prevent data loss or malware attacks.

You’ll also have to keep track of the latest changes in cloud services that might affect a cloud-based data system. Read our full cloud architect job description to learn more about this position.

Enterprise information architects

This role usually serves as a bridge between the organization’s IT and business teams. As an enterprise information architect, you’ll develop procedures that govern the company’s data management and security.

The development of a company’s data policy that adheres to the privacy laws and regulations as well as implementing the best data management practices are some of the most important responsibilities of enterprise architects.

Aside from advanced programming skills, you’ll also need an excellent understanding of user-centered design and leadership skills to fill this role. Check out our Oracle DBA job description if you’d like to focus on optimizing the database performance.

Data Architect Skills and Qualifications

Education alone isn’t enough to land you the job of a data architect, but it is a prerequisite without which getting this position might be difficult. To get started on this path, you first have to complete undergraduate studies in computer science or computer engineering.

Ideally, during the studies, you should attend courses that deal with data management, application design, and system development. You’ll also have to become proficient in

  • Java
  • SQL
  • ETL
  • Python
  • Kafka
  • Yarn
  • Spark
  • Hadoop
  • RDBMS

Attending coding boot camps or online courses can help you gain more experience with these programming languages and data management software. In addition, you’ll also need to be comfortable working in Linux, Solaris, Unix, and Windows operating systems.

Advanced understanding of statistics and applied mathematics is also required for this role, as well as familiarity with data migration and data visualization processes.

Besides IT-related skills, data architects also need an in-depth knowledge of business management, and they must be able to take a creative approach towards the obstacles and organization is facing.

Data architects work in different industries, and their role includes knowing the best practices of data collection, storage, and analysis within the industry they’re working in. Browse through our guide to the best IT certifications that will enable you to choose your career path.

Becoming a Data Architect

There isn’t just one road you can take if you want to become a data architect, as the skills and qualifications you’re going to need ultimately depend on the industry you’re working in.

Probably the best first step towards this goal you can take is to land an internship in an IT company while you’re still in undergrad school. This will allow you to gain some experience with different programming languages and to learn more about network management or application architecture.

Get an entry-level IT job

A data architect is a senior position, and you’ll need sizeable professional experience before becoming eligible for this role.

Starting as a database administrator or a programmer will put you in a favorable position where you can polish your warehousing, database modeling, or database management skills.

Obtain a Master’s degree

Ideally, you’ll pursue the Master’s degree immediately after completing the undergraduate studies because not having one can become a major roadblock on your way to the data architect job. Most senior positions in IT require you to have a Master’s degree, and data architect isn’t any different.

Landing a data architect job

With years of experience and the right qualifications, you’ll become eligible to take on the role of a data architect. These jobs are available across healthcare, education, finance, and various other industries, and you should target organizations that deal with vast amounts of client data.

Getting Data Architect certificates

After few years on the job, you’ll become eligible for different data architect certificates. The IBM Certified Data Architect – Big Data or Certified Data Management Professionals are among the best certification programs you can attend, but they’re far from being the only ones.

Keep in mind that each program has different requirements, so for instance, you won’t be eligible for the CDMP certificate if you don’t have at least two years of experience in a data architect job.

Browse through our CTO job description if you want to learn more about the responsibilities of chief technology officers.

Average Data Architect Salaries

How much you’re going to earn as a data architect depends on several factors, such as your education level, years of experience, or performance capabilities.

Moreover, the salaries for this position depending on the location, and you’ll earn significantly more in New York or Los Angeles than you would in Jacksonville, Florida. The lowest-paid data architect positions start from $75,000 per year, while top earners in this field make as much as $180,000 annually.

The average salary ranges between $140,000 and $150,000, while bonuses span from $2,000 to almost $30,000. Most data architects make $2,800 per week, but some companies offer more than $3,000 per week to data architects with more than five years of experience.

Data architects are in demand as more businesses start to center their strategies around data. That’s why it is safe to assume that data architect salaries will grow in the foreseeable future.

Your salary expectations shouldn’t be too high if you’ve never held this position before, but you should also keep in mind that pay raises are quite common after you spend a year or two on the job.

The exact compensation structure offered for this position depends on the company, so it is difficult to talk about all the benefits a data architect might receive. Read our IT security salary overview to find how much information assurance engineers or network administrators earn annually.

The Pros and Cons of Becoming a Data Architect

Advantages

Dynamic work environment

Data architects collaborate closely with the company’s management and IT teams to create a data system that caters to its needs. In some cases, this role includes explaining highly technical terms and concepts to people who don’t have an IT background.

Room for creativity and innovation

Creating a concept and a blueprint of a data system allows you to develop an innovative solution that can drive a business forward. The position requires a high level of familiarity with a specific industry, giving you the freedom to use that knowledge creatively.

Lucrative compensation

The entry-level data architect salaries are well above the national median salary. Besides, this position usually comes with high bonuses and an excellent healthcare plan.

Disadvantages

It takes years to become a data architect.

You need to have the right education and the right skills to become a data architect. It takes a lot of hard work and years of professional experience to become eligible for this role.

This job requires constant development, and you shouldn’t pursue a career in data architecture if you’re not ready to work on your skills.

Long and odd work hours

Designing, managing, and updating a data system is an arduous task that often involves working overtime or weekends. Systems updates are usually done after work hours or over a weekend to avoid disrupting the company’s daily operations.

What’s the Difference Between Data Architects and Data Scientists?

Although these two roles intersect in multiple points, they’re not identical. A data scientist is concerned with the extraction of information from unstructured or structured datasets. On the other hand, a data architect creates an infrastructure a scientist uses to build data models.

These roles are equally important for data science teams, but they require slightly different skill sets. Hence, you’ll need to decide early in your career which of these positions you’d like to profile for and then work patiently towards your goal.

Frequently Asked Questions About Data Architect Positions and Salaries

Question: What are the best industries for data architects?

Answer: All industries that process vast amounts of data daily are in high demand of data architects.

Question: Do all companies offer the same rate for data architect positions?

Answer: No, you may get an offer for $85,000 or $180,000 depending on the company, your experience level, and numerous other factors.

Question: Is it necessary to complete undergrad school to become a data architect?

Answer: Completing undergraduate or master’s studies is a prerequisite for most senior positions, but whether or not you need an undergraduate degree to become a data architect depends on the company.

Question: How long does it take to get data architect certification?

Answer: You will have to pass one or more exams to get a data architect certificate, and it may take months to prepare for each test.

Final thoughts

Becoming a data architect is a career goal that will take years to achieve, even if you get your master’s degree before hitting the job market. Getting an internship, attending coding boot camps, or completing online courses are some of the steps you can take to prepare yourself for this role.

However, it may still take you five to ten years to get to this position after you land a job related to the creation or management of a data system.

The financial benefits of the job make the struggle worthwhile, but you should keep in mind that the position comes with a high level of pressure that doesn’t allow a good life-work balance. Was this article helpful?

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