The rise of information technology in the modern workplace makes learning how to become a solutions architect worth it in 2021. There are various ways to master solution architecture and get credentialed by top educational institutions. This article will help you evaluate the top learning paths and start chasing high-paying solutions architect jobs.
With the right training and experience, you can become a successful solutions architect. All the necessary information to become a solutions architect from scratch is detailed below.
What Is a Solutions Architect?
A solutions architect is an IT expert with a client-oriented role in the business world. This person is in charge of upgrading an organization’s information technology architecture. Solutions architects evaluate specific business needs before selecting, building, and integrating the information and computer systems that will allow the organization to meet its goals.
The rise of enterprise software has boosted the demand for solutions architects. These professionals work with an IT department to update existing systems and improve core business operations, implementing solutions after surveying a system’s capabilities. A good solutions architect could be the difference between success and failure.
Solutions Architect Job Description
A solutions architect fulfills an organization’s technology needs to help it achieve its business goals. They gather specifications, assess systems, and oversee team projects. To join their ranks, you need to have advanced technical skills and a deep understanding of business.
In day-to-day operations, solutions architects regularly brief clients on the progress of ongoing projects. These professionals must explain complex problems to company management in simple terms. Therefore, communication and problem-solving skills are crucial in this role.
Solutions Architect Salary and Job Outlook
Being a solutions architect can net you a six-figure annual salary. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer network architects earn a median salary of $116,780 per year. Meanwhile, PayScale reports that the average solutions architect makes $119,957 annually. These figures factor in experience, education, and local job markets.
According to BLS, employment for computer network architects, a subclass of solutions architects, will grow by five percent over the next decade. The positive job outlook is due in large part to firms expanding their digital capabilities.
Top Reasons to Become a Solutions Architect in 2021
The top reasons to become a solutions architect are high job satisfaction, high pay, high demand, and the opportunities you’ll have to advance in your career.
- High demand. Businesses need the latest software and hardware to stay ahead. The proliferation of software solutions for businesses has increased the demand for solutions architects, guaranteeing job stability.
- High salary. Solutions architects are valuable assets to their company’s team, and their worth is reflected in their compensation The complexity of their tasks means their knowledge and expertise are crucial in any industry.
- Rewarding work. The work of a solutions architect is challenging, often requiring expertise in both technology and business. However, challenges are welcome to anyone passionate enough to know that overcoming them leads to job satisfaction.
- Opportunities for growth. Advancements in technology create new job opportunities. This dynamism rewards creativity. If you have success building software solutions, your work will not go unnoticed and a promotion may be on the horizon.
Solutions Architect Job Requirements
The business community highly values solutions architecture. Some of the requirements for the job are listed below so you know how to pursue the career. It’s good to have a broad knowledge of software architecture design, hands-on experience with business intelligence tools, analytical skills, and various soft skills, including leadership and communication.
- Project management skills. The person who supervises the implementation of solutions needs to be able to coordinate complex tasks and keep everyone on schedule.
- Technical expertise. Having in-depth knowledge of information technology infrastructure is a crucial part of developing the best solutions.
- Business expertise. Having an advanced understanding of business analytics and business processes is essential. You won’t be able to help your company meet its goals without an aptitude for business operations.
- Communication skills. Exceptional interpersonal skills bridge the gap between technical terminology and business objectives. To get everyone on board with your ideas, you must communicate well with your clients.
Types of Solutions Architect Careers
Solutions architects can work with high-level information technology architecture, within a specific domain, or with a particular software product. No matter which of these types of solutions architecture you decide to go into, you should understand your client’s business goals, requirements, and development procedures.
Technology-Based Solutions Architect
This career involves the implementation of complex technologies like microservices architecture or cloud architecture. These architects must have a background in the underlying technologies, and the differences between various options, so that they can make an informed decision about which solution is best for their client.
Domain-Based Solutions Architect
Solutions architects can also focus on specific domains like retail or telecommunications. This type of architect must have a vast knowledge of the common business practices and the current hardware and software landscape for that domain.
Product-Based Solutions Architect
This career focuses on specific types of software products for business management, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Organizations using these products require a software architect with deep knowledge of the product to help run day-to-day operations.
Solutions Architect Meaning: What Does a Solutions Architect Do?
Solutions architects are valuable company assets who design and handle software solutions. They plan their work around client specifications, develop IT and business solutions, and manage projects.
Launches Inquiries and Explores Possibilities
Architects generally start a project by considering the requirements and specifications set by clients in advance. They must understand a client’s business strategy, evaluate project constraints, and assess the strengths, weaknesses, and costs of possible solutions. In the pre-design phase, architects conduct investigations and prepare for implementation.
Based on their initial planning, architects develop a technical solution. They lead the process of integrating a new IT system with existing infrastructure. Along the way, they fix any technical issues that arise. Also, they ensure that the new solution meets industry regulations.
Supervises and Coordinates Implementation
Solutions architects have a bird’s eye view of the entire project they are running. They coordinate with different departments to smoothly develop scalable solutions. They might collaborate with software developers, cloud solutions experts, sales team members, and machine learning engineers. They may even mentor junior members of their team.
Architects manage a project’s scope and timeline to ensure that development targets are hit. They also notify relevant stakeholders about the status of the product and budget, making sure that everyone is on the same page.
Essential Solutions Architect Skills
Successful solutions architects have a variety of skills and competencies. They work with complex database management systems and expert IT tools. To manage development teams, they must also know the relation between the enterprise environment and a given software architecture design process. We explain all the relevant hard and soft skills below.
Solutions architects need a deep understanding of software architecture design concepts, operating systems, application architectures, database management, software development, security, and web platforms. They’re also skilled at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other cloud development technologies, machine learning, and business continuity.
As project lead, you will need to make micro-decisions to achieve larger project and business goals. You identify workers’ talents, mentor your employees, and lay people off as needed.
Communication and Presentation Skills
You have to be able to explain data and plans, produce technical documentation, and lead team meetings. You must communicate in a clear, precise, and professional tone.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Solutions Architect?
It can take between four to six years of training to become a solutions architect. The exact timeframe, however, varies depending on your career path.
The first step is earning the requisite education. Technical knowledge and skills are available through four-year bachelor’s degree programs. Some also earn specialty certifications, which can take an additional six months. Finally, a solutions architect usually has a few years of experience in lower-level information technology careers.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Solutions Architect?
Yes, a coding bootcamp can be a great pathway to a career in solutions architecture. They provide focused training. It’s a popular alternative to traditional educational institutions.
Coding bootcamps offer intensive programs that focus on specific tools that companies use, such as Salesforce and Amazon Web Services (AWS). They specialize in teaching in-demand tools and technologies, which are exactly what a solutions architect needs to know about.
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Can I Become a Solutions Architect from Home?
It is challenging to become a solutions architect from your home. Schools do offer online education options that will prepare you for the work, but finding remote work may be difficult. Solutions architects can work remotely, but there are barriers to effective communication.
How to Become a Solutions Architect: A Step-by-Step Guide
The steps to becoming a solutions architect involve education, experience, and certification. Let’s look at each of these steps in greater detail.
Step 1: Seek Out an Education
In most cases, a solutions architect has a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, Software Engineering, or a related field. For good measure, you can add an online MBA to build out your managerial skills. You might also need specialized experience in networking administration, business development, or customer service.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Having several years of experience in information technology systems can land you a job with a reputable company. Experience also comes in handy for solutions architect certification programs.
Step 3: Get Certified
Companies with their own applications architecture often hire certified solutions architects. You can get certified in a specific technology like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, or you can earn a project management certification to highlight your business expertise.
Best Schools and Education for a Solutions Architect Career
Some education pathways for solutions architects cover the field in general, while others focus on a specific application or vendor platform. You will see that many learning centers teach concepts you must know for certification exams. The following list provides an overview of the best types of education programs.
Solutions Architect Bootcamps
Most bootcamps don’t focus on solutions architecture per se, but rather on specific solutions. If you want to specialize in blockchain solutions, for example, you would join a blockchain bootcamp. There are also bootcamps that teach popular cloud platforms like AWS and Azure.
Vocational education is designed for students who want to learn a specific trade or vocation. They usually last one or two years and tend to cost less than other forms of postsecondary education. Vermont Technical College, for example, has a program in computer engineering technology, which can help you get the ball rolling on a career as a solutions architect.
Many community colleges offer associate degree programs for aspiring cloud architects. These schools are located throughout the United States, but many of their programs are available online. Stanley Community College and the Community College of Philadelphia, for example, have programs that prepare students for the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam.
Solutions Architect Degrees
Solutions architects generally complete college degree programs. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree. Candidates who want to obtain advanced knowledge can pursue a master’s degree later on. Texas A&M and the University of Houston are two examples of universities with bachelor’s degree programs that cater to aspiring solutions architects.
The Most Important Solutions Architect Certifications
Solutions architect certifications showcase your knowledge and validate your technical skills. Some companies require you to be certified before they’ll hire you. Below are three certification options worth considering.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
Passing this AWS certification exam authenticates you as a solutions architect who can design distributed applications and systems based on AWS. It will serve as proof that you’ve mastered cloud technology and that you can design solutions that meet clients’ needs.
Independent analysts, consultants, and chief security architects with two years of experience can take this Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. ISSAP stands for Information Systems Security Architecture Professional, and this designation shows that you can lead and create effective security solutions for an IT department.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
This globally recognized certification covers project management practices in detail. You’re only allowed to take the rigorous PMP test after you’ve met the education and experience requirements. The PMP title proves your management expertise and commitment to the Project Management Institute (PMI) Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct.
How to Prepare for Your Solutions Architect Job Interview
The job interview stage is crucial in the solutions architect hiring process. Companies generally want to test your competency and professionalism in meeting business goals. Interview questions can be personal, professional, or behavioral. Below are some questions that you may be asked.
Solutions Architect Job Interview Practice Questions
- How would your former colleagues and employer describe you in three words?
- Explain how one of your previous projects demonstrates your teamwork and leadership skills.
- What role does data play in your solutions design process?
- Tell me about a time when you recognized an operating error and fixed it.
- How can solutions architects support functional analysts?
Should I Become a Solutions Architect in 2021?
Yes, you should consider a future in solutions architecture in 2021. It is fun, in demand, and lucrative. Average salaries in this field and in most related professions exceed $100,000 per year. It is an especially great career option if you’re looking for something that combines various technical and soft skills and involves working with both technology and business.
Solutions Architect FAQ
Can You Become a Solutions Architect Without a Degree?
Pursuing a career in solutions architecture without a degree is challenging. Alternatives like bootcamps offer good training but don’t always lead to certification. To gain experience without a degree, you will have to find companies open to alternative forms of education.
Is It Hard to Become a Solutions Architect?
Becoming a solutions architect is not impossible, but the job requires dedication, technical aptitude, and an understanding of business concepts. You may need to have a bachelor’s degree and some experience to land a job with a reputable company. If you enjoy technology and business, the hard work will be well worth it.
Is Solutions Architecture a Good Job?
Yes, solutions architecture is a job that utilizes business, technical, and managerial skills. It challenges you to come up with effective and unique solutions for whichever business model and enterprise environment you’re working with.
Are Solutions Architects in Demand?
Yes, there is a high demand for people with expert-level skills in solutions architecture because all businesses today incorporate technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for computer network architects will rise by five percent between 2020 and 2030.
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