Data ArchitectJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Companies are making data-driven decisions now more than ever, and they need people to design and manage the databases where they store that data. That’s where data architects come in. A data architect visualizes, designs, and prepares data in a framework that data scientists, engineers, and analysts can use. Data architects often take data from disparate sources and develop a vision for combining those sources into a more cohesive, easier-to-use framework. A data architect must create an end-to-end vision for how a design might translate into physical databases and how to integrate disparate sources of data. Data architects work closely with users as well as developers to create plans.

Today, data architects need to be able to model and predict how changes in the way an organization acquires data could impact the way the organization uses that data, and map out the way data will flow through the various stages of a project.

Sample job description

Data architects play a critical role in designing databases to organize data as well as allow authorized users to easily extract the information they need. They work closely with various departments in a company to troubleshoot technical issues, identify all sources of a company’s data, update the database regularly, and present data visually. In addition to coding skills, they also need advanced mathematical and statistical knowledge. [Your Company Name] is hiring an experienced data architect, with keen analytical skills and an eye for detail. If you have three to five years of experience, the ability to juggle multiple deadlines, and a passion for data, our company just might be the perfect fit for you.  

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop and implement comprehensive enterprise data strategies, including data modeling, implementation, and data management for enterprise data warehouses, and advanced data analytics systems
  • Responsible for planning and implementing data management for new data sources, publicly available data, business-to-business partnerships, and advanced data analytics systems all following the comprehensive enterprise data strategy
  • Gather requirements, gain business and IT alignment, perform vendor and product evaluations, mentor business and IT resources
  • Work with cross-functional teams to ensure end-to-end technical and business viability
  • Ensure the successful delivery of solutions, training and documentation
  • Provide leadership in establishing operational and analytic environments

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, MIS, or mathematics, as well as 10+ years of experience in information technology (IT).

10+ years of progressively responsible experience in a directly related area, demonstrating both professional and management capabilities, and extensive experience in collecting business requirements from customers and transforming those requirements into business solutions are strongly preferred.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience working with structured and unstructured data
  • Experience consuming/exposing data in various ways, including APIs, BI Tools, SQL
  • Ability to reverse engineer existing data flows and source-to-target mappings
  • In-depth knowledge of a wide range of established and emerging data technologies
  • Proven experience in implementation
  • Solid understanding of data architecture and data modeling techniques

Preferred qualifications

  • B.S. or equivalent in computer science or related field or a combination of technical skills and a database development background
  • 5+ years of experience designing and implementing data management solutions for a complex and integrated environment
  • 1+ years of CRM data management experience
  • Experience architecting data management solutions for the Salesforce platform and Microsoft SQL Server databases

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a data architect is $158,200 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$157,350$212,860
Los Angeles, California$177,500$240,150
Denver, Colorado$147,900$200,100
Washington, DC$180,200$243,800
Miami, Florida$147,250$199,200
Orlando, Florida$135,800$183,750
Tampa, Florida$137,150$185,550
Atlanta, Georgia$143,900$194,650
Chicago, Illinois$165,400$223,750
Boston, Massachusetts$178,850$241,950
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$142,550$192,850
New York City, New York$188,250$254,700
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$153,300$207,400
Dallas, Texas$149,250$201,950
Houston, Texas$147,900$200,100
Seattle, Washington$172,100$232,850
National Average$134,450$181,950

Typical work environment

Most data architects work forty-hour weeks in an office, although remote positions for data architects are becoming more available. Data architects spend a large quantity of time sitting at a computer. They work closely with others in their company, including management, to report their findings. They give presentations, meet with clients, and have to be able to communicate with people in and out of IT. A data architect may sometimes have to work overtime to meet deadlines. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours in an office setting for a data architect are usually from 9 AM to 5 PM. Freelance workers are usually able to set their own workdays and hours.

Available certifications

With a rising number of open data architect positions, many data architect certificate programs are available to train you with the specific skills you’ll need to have a fulfilling career as a data architect.

  • Associate Big Data Engineer (ABDE). Offered by the Data Science Council of America, the ABDE certificate is for candidates with an undergraduate degree in computer science who already have foundational coding skills. This credential is vendor-neutral and internationally recognized. To earn this certification, you’ll need to pass a 75-question exam online.
  • Google Professional Data Engineer. This certification is specific to Google cloud, and although there are no prerequisites, Google recommends at least three years working in the industry and at least one year designing on Google Cloud. The certification is earned after passing an exam that will take about two hours to complete.

Career path

Data architects usually have educational backgrounds in computer engineering, computer science, or related fields with coursework in application design, systems development, and information management. They also study subjects like computer programming, web development, operating systems, systems analysis, and technology architecture.

As students, people starting on the path to become a data architect do internships in IT fields where they can learn network management and application design. Data architect is not usually an entry-level position, so many data architects often begin their careers as database administrators and work on their skills database management, data modeling, and data warehousing.

It’s also important for a data architect to pursue professional certifications like the CDP (Certified Data Professional), offered by the Institute for Certified Computing Professionals. Many companies also prefer people in senior-level positions as data architects to have master’s degrees in computer science or data science.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1243

2020 Employment168,000
Projected Employment in 2030181,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift13,200 increase

Many organizations are transitioning to storing their data in the cloud, and creating plans for cloud migration is a growing trend in the data architecture field. Also, as organizations attempt to become more agile and responsive, many companies desire real-time analytics, which requires a data architect to design faster and more flexible systems.

According to a survey of subscribers to the trade publication Database Trends and Applications, database performance is becoming a more common concern for data architects. In 2019, 64 percent of subscribers surveyed reported spending more time on database performance. Machine learning, the use of data lakes, and using data engines like Spark are also becoming more common in the field.

Sample interview questions

  • What sparked your interest in database architecture?
  • What is your preferred system database and why do you prefer it over others?
  • Which software design patterns have you worked with and which do you prefer?
  • Tell me about the biggest challenge you’ve experienced as a data architect and how you managed to overcome it.
  • What is your process ensuring your work is accurate?
  • How do you keep your work secure?
  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? In ten?
  • What makes you a good fit for this company?
  • Explain your involvement in your previous company’s data architecture. What overall impact did the changes you made have on the company? 
  • How do you keep up with the latest technology advances in the field?

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