IT Architect

What Do Information Technology Architects Do?

Information technology architects help manage the technological aspects of a business, particularly the company's security architecture and business plans. These professionals ensure compliance exists within set rules and regulations and they also create and implement updated and new security systems and architecture. They must possess a bachelor's degree at minimum in a computer-related field and hold at least five years of professional experience; some employers require information technology architects to have their master's degree. These professionals should have the ability to explain their work to professionals outside of their field and communicate effectively with other information technology specialists in their company. Information technology architects enjoy impressive salary opportunities, earning an average annual salary of $91,000 in their first five years of employment and $135,000 after 20 years of employment.

Key Skills

Information technology architecture students gain valuable skills that help prepare them for successful careers after graduation. Students in the discipline learn about project management, allowing them to gain experience working and collaborating with their peers to achieve a common goal. They also study systems architecture and all of the components that allow them to implement changes and benefits. Students develop skills in virtualization, IT management, and IT security and infrastructure in information technology architecture programs.

Key Skills for Information Technology Architects

  • Systems Architecture: Systems architecture defines the behavior, structure, and views of a system through a conceptual model. Systems architectures often consist of sub-systems and system components that work together to implement the overall system.
  • Project Management: The practice of planning, initiating, executing, controlling, and closing a project to achieve certain goals and meet certain criteria for success in a specific timeframe, project management allows individuals to work as part of a team to accomplish a common goal.
  • Virtualization: Virtualization refers to the creation of a virtual version of something like virtual storage devices, computer network resources, and computer hardware platforms. The method began as a way to logically divide system resources from mainframe computers between various applications.
  • IT Management: The discipline of all information technology resources in a firm managed in accordance with the needs and priorities at hand, IT management includes things like data, networks, computer hardware and software, and data center facilities. Professionals in this discipline also coordinate budgets, staffing, and change management.
  • IT Security and Infrastructure: IT security and infrastructure refers to the security provided to protect critical infrastructures including rail transport, hospitals, highways, airports, transport hubs, bridges, media, the electricity grid, power plants, oil refineries, and water systems. Security protects these structures and systems from terrorism, contamination, and sabotage.
  • Cloud Computing: Identified as the shared pools of configurable computer system resources, cloud computing relies on sharing resources to accomplish coherence and economies of scale, relative to public utility. This skill allows organizations to focus on their core businesses rather than using their resources on computer maintenance.

How Much Do Information Technology Architects Make?

Information technology architecture graduates' salaries vary due to several factors. For instance, information technology architects just beginning their careers earn an average annual salary of $91,000 while those with more experience have average salaries of $135,000. Additionally, professionals who hold an advanced degree often enjoy higher earning potential than those with an undergraduate degree. Industry also plays a part in salary, with certain fields offering higher salary opportunities than others.

Average Salary of Information Technology Architects by Job Level

Entry-Level (0-5 Years) $91,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years) $111,000
Experienced (10-20 Years) $125,000
Late Career (20+ Years) $135,000

Source: PayScale

How Do I Become a Information Technology Architect?

Earn Your Degree

Individuals interested in working as information technology architects typically must hold a bachelor's degree at minimum. Professionals are not always required to hold a degree in information technology architecture specifically, but a computer-related degree is required by most employers. Many employers require candidates to hold advanced degrees and at least five years of professional experience. Professionals in the field often benefit from prior leadership experience.

Advanced degrees in information technology architecture allow individuals to develop their skills further in order to gain a deeper understanding of the field. Since the position holds a level of sensitivity with information, professionals typically must hold government security clearances and various other professional certifications. Many higher learning institutions provide students with the chance to earn their information technology architecture degree online.

Gain Experience

Employers often prefer candidates with prior professional experience. Typically, employers require a minimum of five years of experience. Students in online programs often enjoy the opportunity to earn in-the-field experience while they pursue their degree, allowing them to graduate and begin their career shortly or immediately thereafter. Internships serve as another way for students to earn professional experience while obtaining their degrees. Additionally, students are often offered full-time employment opportunities with the companies they pursued their internships through. Internships not only act as a bridge between college-level and professional-level experience, they also allow individuals to develop the skills and knowledge needed to move into successful careers after graduation.

Earn Credentials

While not all employers require candidates to hold professional certifications, information technology architects often pursue certification opportunities to help strengthen their resumes and set themselves apart from other candidates. Certifications serve as a way for professionals to display their competencies and skills to employers. Some certification opportunities in the field include the TOGAF certification, Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA), Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr), and the Certified Information Technology Architect (CITA). Earning a certification can qualify candidates for other job opportunities within their current company, allowing them to earn higher salary. Professionals can learn more about certification for their field by using resources like CompTIA and the IASA Global Association.

Types of Careers in Information Technology Architecture

Information technology architecture graduates enjoy numerous career opportunities. Most careers in the field require candidates to hold a bachelor's degree at minimum. Obtaining an advanced degree often opens up more prestigious career opportunities, room for advancement within a company, and higher salary potential. Graduates do not have to work as information technology architects. They can also pursue careers as information technology managers if they have experience with IT disciplines, network administrators if dealing with hardware and software interests them, software engineers if they want to work with different computer applications, systems analysts if they enjoy troubleshooting network errors, or even information technology project managers if they enjoy the project management side of the field.

Information Technology Manager

Information technology managers maintain, prepare, and keep information technology procedures and documentation updated. They also hire, supervise, and train IT employees, evaluate and research new technologies to use as upgrades or enhancements to their existing IT infrastructure, and they manage processes and resources to plan, design, and support all information services and products.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree and professional experience working in a variety of IT disciplines

Median Annual Salary

$85,450

Network Administrator

Network administrators maintain information technology inventories by updating schedules whenever necessary and properly disposing of equipment. They also maintain telecom systems. Network administrators perform physical setup, delivery, installation, repair, and troubleshooting for all hardware and software.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree

Median Annual Salary

$57,623

Software Engineer

Responsible for testing and documenting software for client applications, software engineers write code to develop single, multi-threaded, or user interface event-driven applications. These engineers also modify, write, and debug software for client applications and use visual development environments and source debuggers.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree with practical experience in programming and coding

Median Annual Salary

$83,515

Systems Analyst

Systems analysts maintain and create necessary documentation for security and operational audits, carry out application testing to provide database management support, route and analyze issues to the correct ticketing systems and consequently close and update existing tickets. They also modify and devise procedures to solve problems with computer equipment limitations and capacity.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree

Median Annual Salary

$64,585

Information Technology Project Manager

Information technology project managers ensure projects are executed properly and on the correct timeline. IT project managers ensure their employees share the same goals and vision for projects while they are assigned specific duties. These project managers stay with projects until they are finished, regularly evaluating them to determine whether follow-up projects are necessary.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree or higher with years of relevant experience

Median Annual Salary

$85,869

Where Can I Work as a Information Technology Architect?

Depending on where information technology architects choose to work, what setting they decide to work in, and what types of continuing education they wish to pursue, professionals in the field experience varying employment levels and salary opportunities.

Locations

Where an information technology architect lives can affect their career. Information technology architects who want to work somewhere with high employment levels should look for employment in the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Virginia-Maryland-West Virginia metropolitan division or the New York-Jersey City-White Plains, New York-New Jersey metropolitan division. Information technology architects interested in earning the highest potential salaries for their occupation can base their careers in the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California metropolitan division, earning an annual median salary of $144,490. Information technology architects can review the cost of living in their chosen area and compare it to their annual median salary to determine the best place to work from a financial standpoint.

Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Employment Level of Computer Network Architects

Location Employment Median Salary
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division 8,770 $122,220
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 7,400 $125,740
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division 4,920 $118,780
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 4,620 $114,470
Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division 4,420 $113,010

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Computer Network Architects

Location Employment Median Salary
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA 4,040 $144,490
San Rafael, CA Metropolitan Division N/A $135,130
Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA 130 $133,530
Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA-NH NECTA Division 240 $132,970
Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA Metropolitan Division 1,480 $132,280

Source: BLS

Settings

The setting in which an information technology architect works can affect their career. For instance, information technology architects working in computer systems design and related services experience the largest employment levels in the field. Those in telecommunications and management of companies and enterprises also see high employment levels. In regard to salary, information technology architects working for insurance carriers and related activities see the highest median annual salary; those working in management of companies and enterprises also enjoying high salary opportunities.

The Five Largest Employers of Computer Network Architects

Setting Percent Employed Median Annual Salary
Computer systems design and related services 26 $106,360
Telecommunications 11 $107,380
Management of companies and enterprises 7 $109,030
Insurance carriers and related activities 5 $110,330
Educational services; state, local, and private 5 $66,720

Source: BLS

Continuing Education for Information Technology Architects

Information technology architects are not always required to complete continuing education requirements, though they often decide to pursue them to advance their skills and expand their professional opportunities. Often, information technology architects who seek additional certifications or maintain current ones experience a broader set of job opportunities than their peers who hold the minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree.

How Do I Find a Job in Information Technology Architecture?

Finding a job after graduating from an information technology architecture program varies depending on the type of program and how much experience an individual holds. Some students pursue internships during their programs, allowing them to gain in-the-field experience while they earn their degrees. Since most jobs in the field require a certain amount of professional experience, candidates with internship experience often find employment right after graduation. Students who do not pursue in-the-field experience during their program will need to graduate and begin an entry-level position before applying for more advanced positions that require professional experience.

Professional Resources for Information Technology Architects

Professional Organizations

  • The Information Architecture Institute A nonprofit organization of volunteers, the Information Architecture Institute dedicates itself to making the world's information clearer and easier to use by improving how people practice, learn, and teach information architecture.
  • Code for America Code for America was founded in 2009 as a non-partisan, non-political organization committed to bridging the gap between the private and public sectors in their use of design and technology.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology The Association for Information Science and Technology exists as a nonprofit membership organization for information technology professionals. The organization supports special interest groups across the field.
  • Society for Information Management With more than 5,000 senior information technology executive members, the Society for Information Management is a professional organization for those who hold management positions in the field.

Professional Development

  • CompTIA CompTIA is a nonprofit trade association that issues professional certifications in the information technology industry. The association is one of the top trade associations in the industry, granting certification to more than two million professionals.
  • IASA Global Association IASA Global Association is a global community for information technology architects with chapter locations across the world.
  • Association of Information Technology Professionals Part of CompTIA, the AITP is a leading association for technology students, professionals, and educators. AITP dedicates itself to strengthening the knowledge and skills of members.
  • Association of Enterprise Architects The Association of Enterprise Architects is a professional organization for all enterprise architects, dedicated to increasing job opportunities for members by advancing their market value and professional excellence.

Finding a Job

  • Indeed A worldwide employment-related search engine, Indeed provides job listings through a single-topic search engine. Available in more than 60 countries, Indeed also features 28 languages and holds the spot for the highest-traffic job website in the country.
  • LinkedIn LinkedIn is an employment and business-oriented service that operates via mobile app and website. The site's main use is professional networking, with employers posting jobs and professionals posting their resumes and cover letters.
  • Monster A global employment website, Monster is a job search engine providing job postings in more than 30 countries, the company also owns the sites Military.com and Fastweb.
  • Glassdoor Glassdoor is an employment website for employees and former employees to anonymously review companies and their management; it is also a job search engine where professionals can apply for employment opportunities.

Continuing Education

  • Association for Information Science and Technology The Association for Information Science and Technology is a nonprofit membership organization for information professionals. The organization provides support for continuing education programs in the field.
  • Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals An institution for professional certification in the information technology industry, the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals awards certification to individuals who pass a written exam and hold a minimum of four years of experience in computer-based information systems.
  • CompTIA CompTIA provides a continuing education program for professionals. Those in the program experience a variety of certification opportunities and renewal options. The organization provides individualized assistance to ensure each professional gets the most out of their program.
  • Cisco Cisco provides certification for associate-level information technology careers. Professionals can pursue certification through Cisco to advance their career opportunities.