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How to Become a Data Architect

Data architects work with database systems, management systems, SQL, machine learning, and data visualization. If you want to become a data architect, you're in the right place. This detailed guide includes the steps you need to take, the essential skills required, the education pathways available, and the benefits of data architecture.

It's not too difficult to become a data architect, but it takes a lot of time and learning. Many data architects earn a degree, but you need work experience more than anything. Let's jump into how to become a data architect in 2021. 

What Is a Data Architect?

Data architects are senior-level experts that design and implement an organization's data management framework. These professionals create an enterprise strategy and oversee the full life cycle of data, including collection, organization, and storage.

Working in data architecture, you'll earn a high annual salary because you’ll supervise all management systems and stages of data processing. You will also develop data policies and security protocols, and teach employees how to evaluate data sources and quality. 

Data Architect Job Description

A data architect earns a high salary to match the various responsibilities that come with the role. You have to design and build complex database systems for mining, cleaning, storing, sorting, organizing, interpreting, and analyzing data. You'll work alongside solutions architects, database administrators, and similar professionals to build and maintain an organization's database.

Data architects often work at larger organizations than data analysts and other entry-level roles. As these organizations handle copious amounts of data, they need data architects more than startups.

Data Architect Salary and Job Outlook

According to PayScale, the average salary for data architects is $114,312 per annum. This pay is much higher than the median salary for some of the best tech careers. Extensive experience and leadership roles at renowned companies allow you to increase your earning potential. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report on data architects, but they do report on computer network architects, which is a close match. According to the BLS, you can expect a job growth rate of 5 percent, which is slightly slower than average.

Top Reasons to Become a Data Architect in 2021

Becoming a data architect can be a great option because the earning potential is high, and there are various learning pathways and career development opportunities. Data architects are also in high demand, which is a big bonus. These are the top advantages of data architecture.

  • High earning potential. Working as a data architect, you can earn a generous salary. As you gain additional certifications and more experience, your earning potential will increase.
  • Various learning routes. Degree programs are the most common learning pathway for data architects, but it's not the only route. You can learn data management and engineering skills through coding bootcamps, online courses, and vocational schools.
  • Career development opportunities. Data architecture allows you to progress into various professions in the data field. Securing renowned job titles is common, and you can work for diverse companies.
  • High job demand. You want a future-proof job, and data architecture offers this. Professionals can expect moderate job growth. 

Data Architect Job Requirements

The typical job requirements for data architecture include a degree, extensive experience, database systems knowledge, and soft skills. Here are all the job requirements for data architecture, explained.

  • A degree. You can gain the skills data architects need without studying a degree program. However, most employers want professionals with a bachelor's or master’s degree. An undergraduate degree will provide you with the necessary expertise and knowledge about systems analysis and design models.
  • Extensive experience. Hands-on experience often goes a long way in the tech industry, and that includes data architecture. So, if you don't have formal qualifications but you do have four to five years of job experience, most employers would consider hiring you.
  • Knowledge of database systems. Database systems are an essential aspect of data architecture. You're going to be using database systems during all stages of your work. Both small and massive amounts of data rely on database systems.
  • Soft skills. Interpersonal skills are essential for data architecture. You'll be working with various data teams and executives, and you need to know how to interact with them. Communication skills are just as vital. 

Types of Data Architect Careers

The types of data architect careers include cloud architecture, machine learning architecture, and data analysis. These are all jobs that you can transition to if you have been trained in data architecture. Here is what each one entails.

Cloud Architect

Cloud architects work in the backend to ensure data experts can access data sources and data systems. These professionals have fast-paced jobs as they have to keep up to date with data policies, monitor data availability, and expand the cloud infrastructure as needed.

Machine Learning Architect

Machine learning architects work closely with data scientists, DevOps professionals, and data engineers to optimize machine learning performance and create models. You will handle all tasks relating to data integration and ingestion, and you'll stay ahead of new technologies. 

Data Analyst 

Data analysis is a fantastic entry-level job for aspiring data architects. If you want to become a data analyst, you’ll need to develop extensive skills to work with big data to analyze and translate it into actionable insights.

Data Architect Meaning: What Does a Data Architect Do?

Data architects carry out a range of tasks, including training team members, using statistical analysis to extract actionable insights, and developing detailed reports. Let’s take a closer look at each of these job responsibilities below.

Train Team Members 

Team members need data architects to keep them updated on database management procedures including mining, organizing, and evaluating data. You will also need to teach these technical skills to new employees so they understand how to perform data analysis. 

Extract Insights from Statistics 

Data architects help a business by presenting stakeholders with valuable insights drawn from the data. You'll apply statistical analysis to do this, as well as fundamental data management techniques. Analytical skills in statistics will also help you identify data trends, weaknesses, and relationships.

Create Detailed Reports 

Stakeholders in the organization you work for need to see progress and updates on data. You’ll periodically create detailed reports reflecting data findings, trends, and your final analysis. Upper management will use these reports as the basis for many important decisions.

Essential Data Architect Skills

A data architect must have a high level of expertise in a wide range of skills and tools. SQL, machine learning, and data visualization are three of the most important ones. Let's see how data architects use each of these skills. 


Data architects work with data structures and databases. Professionals need to learn SQL to manage this data, as this popular programming language allows them to interact with databases. Data modeling and designing are also made easy through SQL.

Machine Learning 

Handling large database systems with high velocity is simpler with machine learning skills. You can efficiently determine data quality, improve decision-making, and make predictions. Machine learning is a great skill to rely on for designing databases, managing systems, and optimizing your results.

Data Visualization

In order for businesses to create accurate, data-driven business strategies, data architects must learn data visualization. You will create graphs, charts, diagrams, and pictures to present your data and show how an organization can benefit from it.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Data Architect?

It takes between five and ten years to become a data architect. It does help to earn a degree before looking for data architect jobs, but having technical experience is more crucial. If you don't have a degree, but do have five years of experience, landing a data architect job is possible.

Some aspiring data architects might not have had job titles relating to this career or worked in the tech industry at all. In this case, it's good to exhaust as many learning pathways as possible to make a career switch and become a data architect. You can complete a degree program and expand your skills through coding bootcamps and online courses as well.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Data Architect?

Yes, it is possible to secure a data architect role through a coding bootcamp. Bootcamps will help you gain the essential skills for data architecture like database design, coding skills, and business skills. You will learn these skills quickly and pay about a fraction of what degree programs costs.

Can I Become a Data Architect from Home?

Yes, you can become a data architect by enrolling in bootcamps and earning certifications from home. Data architecture also allows you to work remotely. You'll find many remote jobs in the labor market that enable you to fulfill business requirements anywhere in the world.

How to Become a Data Architect: A Step-by-Step Guide

Data architects need a lot of career experience and educational training. However, it's not that complicated to become a data architect. Our step-by-step guide below can help you launch a career in data architecture.

Step 1: Learn Essential Skills 

Becoming a data architect starts by gaining the knowledge you need. There are no set education requirements for all data architecture jobs, which allows you flexibility. You can complete a degree to help you land a high-paying role, or enroll in a coding bootcamp and focus on the job experience.

Step 2: Create a Portfolio

Prove that you have exemplary foundational database skills by creating a portfolio. A portfolio helps your career planning process, as you’ll gain experience and have something to show potential employers.

Step 3: Complete a Certification Program 

Data architect certifications are great to help you find data architect positions. Certifications prove you know your stuff, and this is what employers want to see. You can earn more than one certification, but you'll have to complete multiple certification exams.

Best Schools and Education for a Data Architect Career

There are many ways you can become a data architect. Learning options can be guided, self-paced, online, or in person, and even offer career services to help you find a job. Here are the best education pathways to become a data architect.

Data Architect Bootcamps

Bootcamps focus on equipping students of all backgrounds with skills that meet industry standards. Bootcamps teach you all you need to know about data while gaining practical skills, and are quicker and more economical than degree programs. However, without prior work experience, it will take some time to apply for senior positions with only bootcamp training. 

Vocational School

Vocational schools focus on practical skills. However, if you aspire to become a data architect, you might struggle to find a suitable program at a vocational school, since they tend to focus more on trade jobs. It is possible though to find a computer science program that will teach you about databases, cloud technologies, and other key concepts. 

Vocational school candidates pay less than degree program graduates and more than coding bootcamp students. However, a vocational school doesn't fulfill the standard education requirements for data architecture.

Community College

Studying at community college is possible if you have a high school diploma and you can study for two years. These colleges will teach you all you need to meet the requirements in data architect job descriptions, and you'll be eligible for entry-level jobs after graduation. 

Many full-time employees have chosen community college because it's cheaper and quicker than a degree, and the entry requirements aren't as strict. Many community colleges also offer career services to help you land a job quickly.

Data Architect Degrees

While candidates with plenty of experience stand out compared to those who do hold a degree but have little experience, degree programs can be helpful to become a data architect. You'll learn the analytical and problem-solving skills you need for this career while accessing career services and networking opportunities.

Degree program graduates can also earn a higher annual salary than those without a degree. In addition, many four-year colleges have hiring partners, which can really help when the time comes to look for jobs. A bachelor's degree takes about four years to complete. 

The Most Important Data Architect Certificates

Data architect certifications can help you find a job, progress in your current position, and maximize your earnings. They are a great credential to showcase in your resume and impress employers. Here are some common certifications for data architects in 2021. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Data Analytics - Specialty

To gain the AWS Certified Data Analytics - Specialty certification, you need to have mastered AWS. This certification evaluates whether you know how to store, process, and use data on AWS and how AWS integrates with data analytics. With this certification, applying for many data architect positions won't be as challenging.

Google Professional Data Engineer

Candidates must have around three years of industry experience to pass this exam. The exam will test skills like building data-driven business solutions, as well as implementing and maintaining data processing systems. All the skills you need to know for this certification revolve around the Google Cloud platform.

IBM Certified Data Architect - Big Data

To gain this certification, you need skills in Hadoop, BigSQL, data modeling, data monitoring, data governance, and disaster recovery. The exam presents problems, and you must prescribe cloud technologies and data technologies as solutions. You should also have skills in network requirements, cluster management, and analytical tools. 

How to Prepare for Your Data Architect Job Interview

When you prepare for a data architect interview, you should get ready to explain why you would be the best option and answer situational questions. Preparing for practical questions is also vital. Here are some data architecture technical job interview questions you can expect.

Data Architect Job Interview Practice Questions

  • How do you stay updated with industry technologies and trends regarding data analytics and architecture?
  • What information do you analyze when you're evaluating a database model? 
  • Which database system do you prefer most, and why? 
  • What are software design patterns, and what are they used for? 

Should I Become a Data Architect in 2021?

If you love analyzing data, using predictive analytics, and working with cloud computing, data architecture is an excellent career for you. These professionals are at senior-level, earn a generous salary, and can work from anywhere in the world. Data architecture requires a lot of work and time, but the career advantages are worthwhile. 


Can You Become a Data Architect Without a Degree?
Although it's not common, you can become a data architect without a degree. It takes five to ten years to become a data architect, and a degree program makes it easier to break into this industry. However, you can become a data architect through a community college or coding bootcamps.
Is It Hard to Become a Data Architect?
Becoming a data architect isn't easy, but it's not as challenging as most tech architecture jobs. It requires a lot of time and knowledge to become a data architect, and you'll have to gain extensive work experience first. Professionals don't just become data architects; it's a job you work up to.
What Skills Do You Need to be a Data Architect?
Becoming a data architect isn't easy, but it's not as challenging as most tech architecture jobs. It requires a lot of time and knowledge to become a data architect, and you'll have to gain extensive work experience first. Professionals don't just become data architects; it's a job you work up to.
Is Data Architecture in Demand?
Yes, data architects are in demand. Large and medium organizations work with massive amounts of data, and in turn, need data architects to create frameworks for this data.
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