When companies manage complex IT systems and something goes wrong, a solutions architect may be hired to provide consultation, taking into consideration a company’s concerns and business needs. While many companies can fend for themselves, external assistance can improve system workflows and help them get back to business.
Solutions Architect Job Outlook
According to the BLS*, employment for solutions architects, also known as computer network architects, is expected to grow 5% between 2018 and 2028. The steady job demand is likely as firms continue to expand their digital capabilities and information technology (IT) networks.
What Does a Solutions Architect Do?
Solutions architects build and integrate computer information systems, particularly those under the category of software-as-a-service (SaaS), like Salesforce and Dropbox. They’re mainly focused on bringing effective technology system solutions to improve SaaS deployments across the organization. To do that, they need to be avid consultants that define the system’s problem and propose a solution that meets the customer’s needs.
This process also requires them to work as a liaison between business managers and IT engineers, bridging the gap between technical and non-technical staff. They must maintain a satisfactory relationship with external clients so they can continue providing services for them.
According to job descriptions posted on sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn and Robert Half, the primary duties of solutions architects include the following:
- Oversee all aspects of solution development
- Provide leadership and strategic guidance during solution development
- Translate customer requirements into operational strategies
- Research best practices and ensure company services match business trends
- Participate in business development discussions
- Follow the lifecycle of IT product developments
- Facilitate reduced risks for clients
- Document architectural implementations
- Install hardware devices
- Lead deployment and training
Required Skills for Solutions Architects
The nature of this profession, although highly technical, requires soft skills as well. These professionals are expected to balance their core competencies with excellent communication and business skills. Below are some skills that current employers in the market pay attention to:
- SaaS and Amazon Web Services integration
- Cloud computing and IT risk mitigation
- Database management
- Product life cycle processes
- Understanding of communication technologies (e.g., CRM and POS)
- Web development applications
- Basic coding
- Marketing and client services
- SQL data modeling
- Communication skills
- Analytical skills
Solutions architects must also be highly dynamic in working with different teams within and outside of their companies. The combination of their communication and analytical skills will help them communicate effectively with clients to speed up solution implementation.
Solutions Architect Salary Potential
In 2018, the BLS reported the median annual salary for solution architects was $109,020. Computer network architects who worked in either management of companies and enterprises or telecommunications brought in the highest earnings. Professional experience, certifications and degrees, and the local job market may impact salary ranges.
How Do You Become a Solutions Architect?
Experience is key for people aspiring to become a solutions architect. Companies may require applicants to have five to 10 years of experience with information technology systems or network administration.
Generally, solutions architects hold a bachelor’s degree or a master’s related to computer information systems (CIS), software engineering, or computer science (CS). People interested in undergraduate programs can expect them to provide coursework that covers different operating systems as well as coding and adoption training.
A master’s degree may be needed to advance in solutions architecture. Some employers may even prefer applicants to have an MBA in Information Technology Management due to the collaborative nature of the role. An MBA includes courses like database management and strategic management of innovative technology. While a bachelor’s or master’s may be preferred, computer information systems certifications may provide students with fundamental knowledge in both general information systems and vendor-specific systems. While some certificates require a bachelor’s in computer information systems, others are open to aspiring professionals and might require less time and fewer requirements.
Do Solutions Architects Need Certifications?
Not necessarily. But, someone pursuing a career as a solutions architect might consider one that showcases expertise in a specific field or vendor. For example, certifications for solutions architects might be offered by companies that promote the professional advancement of its IT workforce. Some employers, like Amazon, might require candidates and current employees to register in one or some of the following certification programs:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- Certified Technical Architect
- Certified System Architect
- The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)
Similar Jobs to Solutions Architect
People interested in pursuing computer information systems careers can also consider the following careers that require comparable IT and business skills:
Systems analyst – These professionals have similar job duties to solutions architects but may not be required to have experience with multiple software or communication systems like CRM or POS. They may not be responsible for maintaining relationships with clients either.
Database administrator – Database administrators are responsible for a company’s entire data management systems. They must maintain the data and make sure it’s accessible but safe from cybercrimes. Like solutions architects, they must understand the business aspect and present data to analysts and stakeholders that is both digestible and valuable.
Computer information systems manager – CIS managers stand at the helm of business and IT expertise. These managers are responsible for creating a company’s IT strategy and managing the entire department.
If you want to combine technical skills and business solution strategies, explore Florida Tech’s information technology degrees online.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Computer Network Architects, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm (visited December 10, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Degree and/or certificate program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.