What Is a Data Architect? (With Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A data architect analyses current data infrastructure for companies before they plan and implement future databases used by thousands of customers. Data architects often possess design skills and creative thinking abilities to complete their tasks and projects successfully. Understanding a data architect's career path can help you determine if it's a career that suits your skills and personality. In this article, we discuss what is a data architect, explore their duties and responsibilities and show how to become one.

What is a data architect?

If you're interested in this career, you may wonder, 'What is a data architect?' Data architects are IT professionals who use their abilities in computer design to create databases for the collection and analysis of big data. They are essential, creative problem-solvers who use a range of programming software to design and build solutions to manage and store data for companies. They help organisations meet strategic data management goals. Here are other duties and responsibilities of a data architect:

  • Work with software engineers and data engineers to develop plans to integrate new databases

  • Evaluate a company's existing databases and data architecture

  • Plan end-to-end data models for consumption and analysis

  • Code data architecture and combine existing databases

  • Research new data collection methods

  • Maintain database security

  • Create database standards to ensure the safety of the database

  • Communicate with stakeholders and top executives to evaluate their goals and needs

  • Ensure data structures comply with all government regulations and industry standards

  • Monitor database and set up feedback systems to refine and constantly improve

  • Write and establish procedures for database management

  • Research new products, software or techniques that could improve an organisation's data-related functions

  • Work with marketing teams to develop models before product launches

Related: Software Engineer: Role, Duties, Skills and Qualifications

Average salary for data architects

Many data architects are full-time, salaried professionals, though some may work part-time or contractually. The average salary for a data architect is $51,608 per month. This amount varies depending on several factors, including your level of education, software expertise, geographical location and the industry in which you work. Your salary may also depend on your experience. For example, an experienced data architect may earn a higher salary compared to a data architect who recently graduated from college.

Related: How To Negotiate Your Salary (Steps and Tips)

Work environment

A data architect usually works on-site at their company, communicating and working with others in their department. They may sit for extended periods while working at a computer. They follow a typical work schedule, working Monday through Friday. Due to their duties and responsibilities, data architects may work overtime to meet deadlines, especially if they're working on large projects requiring a lot of data analysis.

How to become a data architect

Here are some steps you can take to become a data architect:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is often a requirement for data architects. Data architects usually hold a bachelor's degree in information technology, computer science, computer engineering or a related field. Courses that might be especially useful for a career in data architecture include classes in system analysis, technology architecture, operating systems, data management and database systems.

2. Complete an internship

Perhaps the best way to gain entry-level experience is to complete an internship while attending college or university or right after graduation. An internship can help teach you some essential skills to prepare for jobs in the IT field. During an internship, you may learn skills such as performance management, application architecture and network management.

Related: What Is an Internship and How To Get One Successfully

3. Gain experience in IT

Data architects are usually in more senior-level positions as employers of data architects often look for candidates with three to five years of work experience and demonstrated project success. Some jobs that may help you gain relevant experience include programming or database administration jobs. Employers often train you in the specific systems and requirements of their organisation which can help you learn how to apply your skills and knowledge to the specific environment. You can also attend workshops and boot camps conducted by companies to gain additional knowledge about specific aspects of the job.

4. Develop your skills

To better succeed in the field of data architecture, it's important to possess several hard and soft skills, including:

  • Technical skills: It's important to have familiarity with computer software such as data modelling, database management and visualisation tools and know how to use various programming languages, such as Java, C++ and Python.

  • Communication skills: As a data architect, you often communicate with managers, IT professionals and marketing professionals to understand the company's requirements. You may also explain your technical solutions or process to others who may not be in a similar technical field so it's important to know how to communicate clearly.

  • Analytical thinking: As a data architect, you often problem-solve at both the macro and micro levels so it's important to not only assure the integrity of the smallest piece of data but also to ensure the safety, security and organisation of enormous systems and large data sets. Being able to meticulously identify and analyse a problem can help you create and implement an effective solution.

  • Time management and multitasking skills: As information technology is a fast-paced environment, being able to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines can help you advance your career as a data architect. Consider creating timelines for your work projects to plan your time carefully, as it can help you efficiently complete all of your duties.

Related: 10 Effective Communication Skills for Career Success

5. Complete professional certifications

Professional certifications are optional, but they may help enhance your resume. Certifications demonstrate your practical expertise in different aspects of your job. Most certifications require self-study, followed by an examination. Some certifications require you to recertify within a certain period, but these requirements vary. Here are some certifications you can obtain to enhance your resume:

Certified Data Management Profession (CDMP)

Offered by the Global Data Management Community (GDMC), the CDMP is a well-known certification for data architects with four levels of certification: associate, practitioner, master and fellow. Each level requires a minimum number of years of industry experience. The associate level requires at least six months, the practitioner level requires two to 10 years, the master level requires at least 10 years and the fellow level requires at least 25 years. To reach the fellow level, it's also important to pass certain examinations and earn a nomination from a member that holds a master or fellow CDMP certification.

Certified Data Professional

You can earn this credential from the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals which requires you to complete a four-day in-person workshop and pass a written assessment. This certification can help you pursue a specialisation as a data architect. You can choose to certify in different specialisations including:

  • data governance

  • data analytics and design

  • business analytics

  • data stewardship

  • information systems

  • data management

  • data warehousing

Certified Data Architect-Big Data

You can obtain this certification from the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM). This certification focuses on specific software tools, such as Cloudant (NoSQL), Hadoop, BigSQL and BigInsights. It can demonstrate your expertise in providing solutions using these specific software tools. This can help you impress certain employers looking for candidates with expertise in specific software tools.

6. Join professional organisations

Professional organisations can help you advance your career. They may conduct conferences to discuss recent developments in data architecture and determine if these developments have an industry-wide impact. These conferences may have a keynote speaker who is successful in the field of data architecture. Representatives from different companies often attend these events so consider bringing several copies of your resume and prepare to convince potential employers that you're a good fit for a data architect position at their company.

7. Earn an advanced degree

Many data architects, especially those seeking leadership positions in large companies, hold a master's or doctorate degree. Higher-level data architect jobs usually have higher pay. If this is something you think you're interested in, choose an advanced degree that best matches your skills and career goals. Here are some examples of relevant advanced degrees you can earn:

  • Master of Science in Big Data Technology

  • Master of Science in Business Analytics

  • Master of Science in Data Science and Business Statistics

Benefits of becoming a data architect

Here are some benefits of getting into the field of data architecture:

  • High earning potential: Data architects often have high earning potential which can increase as you gain more experience and additional certifications.

  • Plenty of learning routes: University degree programmes are not the only learning pathway for data architects as you can learn data engineering and management skills through vocational schools, online courses and coding bootcamps.

  • High job demand: Due to the increased importance of storing and organising data, lots of employers are looking for data architect candidates.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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