In today’s field of Information and Technology (also known as IT), solutions architects are among the top valued professionals in almost every successful organization. Having an IT manager on board simply isn’t enough anymore in our ever shifting and increasingly dynamic business environment of the hour, where new challenges, constraints and opportunities seem to pop up by the minute. While a solutions architect may be assigned as part of a different team than the IT departments (they are usually part of the development team in most organizations), their primary strength lies in their solid knowledge of technology on which they base their solutions architecture activities. Let’s take a look at the solutions architect job description to get a better understanding of what these professionals do and why are they so necessary to any modern business team struggling to take on more and more complex challenges.
Solutions Architect Job Description
According to the most common definitions, a solutions architect is a person in charge with designing technological solutions (sometimes with a great degree of creativity involved) and matching them to the set of problems the organization is dealing them. This kind of task involves many complex sub-tasks, such as translating the limits and contingencies of the problem or problems into specific requirements for the tech side, creating the solutions organizing them in order to obtain the best results (a higher match rate to the problems), translating the tech solutions back to the team which will make use of them and so on. In short, perhaps the most crucial aspect of a solutions architect job description is having vision. The term may seem elusive, but once you work closely with solutions architects and see what they do and the ideas they come up with, you’ll understand exactly what this is about.
Most of the time, a solutions architect can be considered a de facto leader of a company’s development team. This is a brief list of what is expected of solutions architects:
- Identifying the key issues and weaknesses of a set of problems the organization is dealing them;
- Converting those problems into requirements for the technological side of activities;
- Identifying technological or tech-related solutions to those issues; this is often achieved through a fair amount of research, sometimes the topics of that research may be so far from the initial problem that they may even seem out of place.
- Building an architectural design of solutions based on the findings. By ‘architectural design’ we mean a structural build of how those solutions are meant to function together as a whole, we’re not referring to actual architecture (unless the organization’s activities specifically require it).
- Conversion of those requirements into the designed solution architecture, in a way which will surpass the problem at hand: the structure of solutions created should outlive the initial task and become a template or a blueprint for tackling all similar issues in the future.
- Translation of the architecture’s perks to the other development team members and leaders. This part is essential: all parties which are expected to implement the solutions prescribed must buy into the new way of solving them, understand why the change is necessary etc.
Solutions Architect Education Requirements and Training
As you can see from the above requirements in the solutions architect job description, this is a position entailing vast amounts of both pragmatic tech knowledge and creativity. In order to become a solutions architect, one needs to complete several instances of higher education and accumulate the required training. First of all, the aspiring solutions architect needs a bachelor’s degree (4 years of study) in computer science or a related field. Such related fields can be information technology or software engineering, but anything further from that won’t be considered too relevant for the desired position. Next, one could improve their chances of being considered for the job by obtaining certification as a solutions architect, though this is an optional step. There are several organizations which offer such certificates, sometimes without a traditional exam being involved (two of the most known are The Open Group and The iCMG Enterprise Architecture Firm).
Last, but not least, all aspiring solutions architects should also have around 5 years of experience (or at least 3, in the more lucky scenarios) in a relevant job (like network administration or IT management), preferably as a team leader. While employed on this related position, one should strive to already start performing the job of a solutions architect, even if it’s for something as small as their own one-man project. It is the only way to prove your skills and finally get the job you desire.
Solutions Architect Salary
The median salary of a solutions architect (updated as recently as June the 20th) is $111,951. This alluring six-figure sum doesn’t represent the average salary for this profession (though the average is probably pretty close), but indicates something else instead. It means that half of all employed solutions architects in the country earn a bit more than this median value, while the other half earn a bit less. If you’re wondering how much more or how much less you can make in this position, here’s a brief look at what the main percentiles earn:
- The lowest-earning 10% make more than $76K per year;
- The top-earning 75% of them make more than $92K per year;
- The median solutions architect salary is, as mentioned above, above $110K ($111,951 to be more precise);
- The top-earning 25% make more than $130K per year;
- The top earning 10% of solutions architects make more than $150K per year.
One can also expect bonuses based on performance, ranging between $1,961 and $27,125 per year, as well as profit sharing revenue, ranging from $1,029 to $20,648. All the more incentive to give your best on the job.
This makes the solutions architect salary one of the best in the general work field, with a pay designed to match the high levels of knowledge and creativity the job requires. If you add to that the fact that a large share of these professionals also get dental coverage and vision coverage in addition to basic medical insurance, the perks of the job just never seem to end.
Solutions Architect Outlook
As far as the solutions architect job outlook goes, things are looking good as well. There aren’t a lot of positions for this niche on the market yet, but this is only due to the fact that it’s still a fairly new job specialization. According to State’s University, the employment of solutions architects is expected to grow by 30% in the next few years, as more and more organizations become unable to keep up the intensifying pace of things without at least one of these specialists in their ranks. However, even if the employment opportunities are announced to be bountiful for this position, bear in mind that the competition for them is also going to be fierce. If you want to get a competitive advantage in the race for one of these jobs, focus on developing your education, certification and experience the most you can, while also working on a compelling skills portfolio.