A data architect is becoming a key role in today’s data-driven job market. Their job is to design and implement robust data systems, ensuring the seamless flow and integrity of information crucial for strategic decision-making in businesses.
All organizations, big and small, store their important information in a database. These organizations rely on databases to access, manage, manipulate, and update information to aid decision-making, analyze markets, examine consumer data, and much more.
When it comes to the design and development of crucial databases, organizations turn to professionals known as data architects.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 10,200 job openings for data architects each year between 2022 and 2032. An increased need for organized data and continued use of cloud services, especially by businesses that lack their own IT departments, are seen as major reasons for this predicted job growth.
The BLS reports that a bachelor’s degree is typically needed to become a data architect. Some companies prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree from a program focusing on data or data management.
Data Architect Degree
Some schools offer an associate’s degree program in information technology focusing on database administration or security and data assurance. However, these programs might be used primarily to prepare for further studies at the bachelor’s degree level rather than career preparation, even for entry-level positions.
An associate’s degree might also be sufficient if you have work experience in a related area, such as programming or networking.
Few schools offer bachelor’s degrees in data management. Most commonly, aspiring data architects pursue a Bachelor of Science in Data Science.
However, other programs such as the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics also contain courses addressing relevant topics in data architecture and database management.
Courses that data architects would focus on at the bachelor’s degree level include:
- Data Structures
- Data Analytics
- Data Mining
- Data Modeling
- Data Visualization
- Cloud Architecture
- Artificial Intelligence
- Big Data Management
- Computer Architecture
- Database Administration
- Database Management Systems
You could also expect to take linear algebra, statistics, programming, probability, and discrete mathematics classes.
While some companies might prefer candidates who hold a master’s degree to begin working in data architecture, a master’s could be necessary for any professional seeking advancement to senior management or executive positions.
As with bachelor’s degree programs, no schools offer a Master of Science in data architecture; instead, you’ll find various programs in related areas containing courses in database design, database administration, and data analytics.
Some master’s degrees that you might consider are:
- Master of Science in Data Science
- Master of Science in Data Analytics
- Master of Science in Computer Science
- Master of Science in Information Science
- Master of Business Administration – Data Analytics
- Master of Science in Information Systems and Technology
- Master of Science in Information Systems – Database Administration
- Master of Science in Information Technology – Database Administration
Some courses you are likely to find in the curricula of these master’s degree programs include decision analytics, predictive analytics, information systems analysis, information security, advanced database management, and enterprise architecture.
Many master’s degree programs are available in a 100% online or hybrid format, allowing you to pursue this advanced degree while maintaining your professional schedule and other obligations.
In some programs, internships are available to bachelor’s and master’s students. Internships can be found with many large companies, such as IBM, Facebook, and Wells Fargo, and provide the opportunity to apply concepts and practices studied through the curricula.
How to Become a Data Architect
By most accounts, your first step toward realizing a career as a data architect is to obtain a relevant bachelor’s degree, as those described above.
Courses you should be sure to take include those addressing database design, cloud computing, and data modeling. Many job postings for a data architect call for candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree.
While some colleges might offer associate’s degrees and even certificates in data analytics, database management, and data science, these might be used in some cases to obtain entry-level positions, if you find a company willing to accept this level of education or to prepare for degree studies.
Bootcamps in data science, data analytics, or similar areas offer quick education in programming, modeling, forecasting, data visualization, big data, and other data architecture and management aspects.
These can help you build basic skills in much less time than it would take to earn a degree. You might develop strong enough skills to enter the field; however, an advancement may depend on obtaining a four-year or graduate degree.
Data Architect Certifications
Certifications are an effective way to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities in data architecture. These certifications are obtained mainly by passing an exam, though some might first require completing a course.
Some certifications are offered by large technology companies as well as professional organizations. For instance, the IBM Certified Solution Architect – Cloud Pak for Data v4.x certification shows one’s adeptness at designing solutions in a cloud environment.
The IBM Certified Solution Architect – Data Warehouse V1 certification is used for professionals who wish to emphasize their proficiency in data warehousing, data storage, visualization, modeling, and analytics.
And the Big Data Professional certification is administered by SAS, an analytics solutions company, and underscores one’s abilities in data manipulation, access, and analytics.
Other professional certifications related to data architecture include:
- Google Professional Data Engineer: shows an ability to design, develop, and maintain data processing systems.
- Data Science Council of America Senior Big Data Engineer: reinforces one’s depth of knowledge in streaming data storage, streaming data architectures, machine learning, and big data analytics.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Data Analytics – Specialty: validates the ability to understand and integrate AWS data analytics services, from data collection and storage to processing and visualization.
What Does a Data Architect Do?
From analyzing data sources and structures to designing and implementing databases, it is up to a data architect to store, manage, protect, and maintain data for all types of organizations.
As outlined by Indeed.com, a data architect’s responsibilities might be listed as follows:
- Identifying installation solutions for new databases
- Determining the requirements for a new database
- Publishing or presenting design reports
- Identifying areas for improvement in current systems
- Coordinating with other team members to reach project milestones and deadlines
- Auditing database regularly to maintain quality
- Creating systems to keep data secure
An example of a data architect job description as seen in an actual job posting follows:
- Quickly gain an understanding of our flagship products
- Strategically design and implement the technical vision and blueprint of the organization’s data framework.
- Ensure high quality and availability of data through effective data management practices.
- Define and establish enterprise data management framework, data and tool standards, models, architectures, and governance procedures.
- Optimize and manage data flows and performance to enhance efficiency and accuracy.
- Evaluate and recommend technology capabilities consistent with organization’s standards
- Collaborate with team leads and data engineers to provide oversight and execute on a long-term data vision.
- Evaluate our ability to analyze large volumes of data and recommend ways to leverage that data within new or existing offerings.
- 14-16+ years of experience
- Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, MIS, Information Systems or engineering fields, or equivalent experience.
- Extensive experience in data architecture, with a focus on designing and implementing data frameworks.
- Strong understanding of data management principles, practices, and methodologies.
- Proficiency in developing data models, architectures, and governance procedures.
- Familiarity with Microsoft Azure and its data-related capabilities.
- Experience in leveraging AI and ML technologies to analyze and derive insights from large datasets.
- Excellent collaboration and communication skills to effectively work with cross-functional teams.
- Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
- Experience with healthcare data and a familiarity with HIPAA guidelines a plus
- Experience with working with BI tools like Power BI, Tableau and Looker
- Experience with source control tools such as GitLab or Azure DevOps and related CI/CD processes
- Large scale design, implementation, and operations of OLAP, DW, NoSQL and big data storage technologies such as SQL Server, Snowflake, Azure synapse analytics, CosmosDB, RedisCache, Azure Data Lake Store, Hadoop, Hive, MongoDB, MySQL, Neo4j, Cassandra, HBase
Other skills commonly seen in data architect job posts include problem-solving, creativity, communication, math, and leadership.
Data Architect Career Paths
Related job titles include:
- Solution Architect: A professional who is responsible for designing and managing complex software or systems solutions. They play a key role in ensuring that the technical solutions align with the business needs and objectives.
- Cloud Architect: Specializes in the design, implementation, and management of cloud computing systems. This role involves a deep understanding of cloud services and technology, as well as the ability to integrate these services into an organization’s IT infrastructure.
- Data Designer: Specializes in designing and structuring data systems to effectively manage and utilize data within an organization. This role involves a blend of skills in data management, database design, and often an understanding of data analysis and visualization.
- Business Intelligence Architect: Specializes in designing and implementing solutions that help organizations make data-driven decisions. This role involves a deep understanding of both the technical aspects of data management and the business needs that drive data analysis.
Those who obtain the necessary skills and an advanced degree could move into a senior data architect role. They would oversee integration processes, manage data flow, and lead teams that optimize data and create solutions.
Once obtaining at least a bachelor’s degree, as discussed earlier, other career paths to consider are data engineer, data analyst, data scientist, big data engineer, database manager, and business intelligence manager.
Washington ($159,650), California ($152,960) and the Maryland ($152,230) are the three top-paying states for data architects. Texas ($146,970) and New Jersey ($145,870) round out the top five. According to Salary.com, the current average salary for a senior data architect is $128,890.
Frequently Asked Questions
A senior role in data organization, translating business requirements into technological requirements, and defining standards for data management across enterprise applications.
Key languages include SQL, Python, Java, and Perl, along with knowledge of data warehousing and ETL tools.
Data architects focus on high-level data strategy and conceptualizing data frameworks, while data engineers execute these visions and maintain the frameworks.
Typically, it involves obtaining a degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field, gaining professional certifications, and developing proficiency in relevant programming languages and tools.
The average base pay is around $129,000 USD annually, with potential for higher earnings in advanced roles.
Yes, it’s a rapidly growing field with high demand, competitive salaries, and opportunities for advancement.