IT Architect: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for IT architects. Get the facts about job duties, education and certification requirements and salary to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Industrial Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an IT Architect?

Information technology architects will collaborate with construction managers, business executives and technological product vendors to prep and plan the information network for companies, schools or government partners. They will direct a staff in the installation of network systems or oversee the updating of an old system. They will analyze costs as well as keep up with the technological advances of the age. This will keep the system as updated as possible with constant advancements in security and logistics.

IT architects are experts in information technology (IT) and help companies manage their IT department to increase efficiency and improve their business. The table below outlines the general requirements for a career as an IT architect.

Degree Required Associate's degree, bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Computer science, information technology, management information systems
Key Responsibilities Manage IT staff, direct major decisions within an IT company, assist company in making IT purchase decisions, decide how to best implement technology
Certification Certification required by some employers
Job Growth (2014-2024) 15% (for all computer and information systems managers)*
Median Salary (2015) $131,600 (for all computer and information systems managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Job Description of an IT Architect?

According to the International Association of Software Architects (IASA), narrowing down the job description of an IT architect can be challenging because the field is rather small and job duties may vary greatly (www.iasaglobal.org). In general, an IT architect is an expert in the IT field who has exceptional technical skills and acts as a leader for an IT department.

As an IT architect, your job duties may be focused on managing an IT staff and directing the major decisions regarding IT within a company. Other duties may include assisting a company with making decisions about IT purchases, deciding how best to implement technology to achieve the most efficiency and keep costs reasonable, consulting with others on the development of new systems and testing systems.

What Education Is Required?

The most common education required for an IT architect is a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology or management information systems. In some cases, an employer may consider you for a position with just an associate's degree if you have proven experience, expert knowledge.

An IT bachelor's degree program focuses on programming and technology. A computer science program concentrates on systems, project creation and programming. A management information systems program provides you with training in the analysis, development and management of computer systems.

Continuing education is often required because the IT field is always evolving and changing with the introduction of new technology and improvements on old systems or processes. The IASA offers courses in specialized topics and in areas important to IT professionals; these topics can include business strategies, design procedures and software development.

Do I Need To Be Certified?

Certification can be helpful in proving your skills and may be a requirement for some employers. Several certification options are available from software companies and professional organizations. Microsoft offers the Microsoft Certified Architect designation (www.microsoft.com). This certification is aimed towards experienced IT professionals and shows proof of advanced skills.

The IASA provides the Certified IT Architect designation. This designation covers IT architecture skills and knowledge. To earn the certification, you must go through an application process, which involves appearing before the IASA Board of Education.

Certification is also offered through the Open Group IT Architect Certification Program (www.opengroup.org). To gain the Open Group certification, you submit an application and undergo a review by the board.

How Much Can I Earn?

IT architects fall under the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) category of computer and information systems managers (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, professionals in this career earned a median annual wage of $131,600, as of May 2015. The BLS reported an expected job growth in the field of 15% from 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Several related career fields may be featured including data administration, computer programming or computer system administration. All of these jobs will need you to earn at least a bachelor's degree. Computer system administrators run the day to day operations of a business or company's computer systems. They will take charge of the networks, routers and user needs. Another field, computer programming, allows you to feature your programming skills by coding for software developers or repairing bad code in existing software. A third area of expertise might be as a data administrator, using specific software to organize data that might include financial information or customer records, and managing them on a daily basis.

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