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For many businesses, data is essential to their successful operation. Data can come from many sources and without proper planning,data systems are quickly overwhelmed. A data architect is an information professional who is responsible for developing the systems that will help a company efficiently gather, manage, store, and gain access to data. A data architect will work closely with database designers and software developers to develop a company-wide system to allow data to be accessed by the right people at the right time. A data architect will identify sources of data, both internal and external, and develop strategies for data storage and management. Much like an architect designs a building, a data architect designs the structure for the data so that it is efficiently gathered, stored, and accessed. The data architect will also anticipate and prepare for future data needs for the company.

Salary

On average, data architects make a salary of approximately $111,000 per year according to payscale.com. The salary any individual data architect will make will, of course, depends on level of experience and the individual company. There is also geographical variation in salaries.

Beginning Salary

Data architects just starting out in their careers can expect to make an average of $85,000 per year in salary and bonuses. Again, there is variability depending on the region of the country and the type of employer. At the other end of the spectrum, data architects with 20 or more years of experience can make upwards of $130,000 per year.

Key Responsibilities

The key responsibilities of a data architect involve the design, implementation, and maintenance of an organization’s data structures. The data architect is responsible for mapping and modeling data flow to allow for proper access and security of data, making sure that data is available to those that need it when they need it. A data architect should provide support to maintain data architecture best practices in accountability and governance of data. The data architect is also responsible for documentation of data flow and inventory to allow for data analysis.

Necessary Skills

Data architects need to have solid analytical skills. A huge part of the job of a data architect involves analyzing large amounts of information and putting it into a usable system. Communication skills are very important since data architects work as part of a team and must be able to communicate effectively with data analysts, software designers, and other team members. It is important that data architects have good attention to detail. Data structure can be very complex and small mistakes can often have large consequences. Data architects must be able to think logically. They are responsible for taking large amounts of data and developing logical patterns. Another important skill for the data architect is problem solving. When data problems arise, data architects must be able to come up with solutions quickly and accurately.

Degree and Education Requirements

A career as a data architect requires, at the minimum, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, information technology, or another related field. Coursework should include database design, website design, systems analysis, database programming, technology architecture, and data management. An internship in the field during college would provide much needed real-world experience. It is also important to be proficient in database programming languages such as SQL. Some companies may require a master’s degree in data analytics, information and data science, or other related fields. More education and experience can translate to faster career advancement.

Rewards and Challenges of a Data Architect Position

A career as a data architect can be very rewarding. It is a high paying position and is in high demand as information management becomes more and more important to business. Data architects see the fruits of their labor as they oversee data management systems that they helped design and develop. The ongoing maintenance of data systems remains dynamic as data needs within the company change, creating exciting and ongoing challenges to the data architect. The position has its challenges as well. The data architect works as a part of a team. Team dynamics can sometimes be a challenge if there are disagreements among team members or a lack of effective communication. Since data is such an integral part of the operation of the organization, any problems with the data management system can become critical. Problems must be solved quickly and under duress, creating an stressful environment.

Getting Started

The first step in a career as a data architect is to get the necessary education. Because the data architect position is such an important position, most employers will require the new data architect to have some experience in data analysis or data management. Securing a few years of experience in the field will greatly help career advancement. Experience can also come in the form of internships completed during college as well as advanced degrees like a master’s in information or data analysis. Professional development along with experience can be a great help. Independent study to develop a wide range of skills, such as a diverse portfolio of programming languages, can be an excellent boost to the aspiring data architect. Showcasing experience and skills can be a great first step toward a rewarding career.

Future Outlook

Information and data are becoming increasingly important to all businesses and industries. The management and analysis of that data will create many jobs, including data architects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer systems design and related fields is expected to grow by 3.9 per cent annually until the year 2020. As the volume of data grows, the systems required to manage, maintain, analyze, and access this data will become more and more complex. The need for professionals with the experience to handle and develop complex systems will grow. The job prospects for data architects in the future look promising.

A career as a data architect is a rewarding career requiring professional development and a wide range of valuable skills. Though becoming a data architect can take some time, the career possibilities are well worth the effort.

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