How to Become
a Data Architect
Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications
Data architecture is a process that determines what kind of data a company is going to collect and how it will store and organize this data. A data architect is the professional behind this work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology jobs are expected to grow in demand by 11 percent by 2029. This includes data science jobs. Wondering how to become a data architect? Below is our complete guide on everything you need to know.
What Is a Data Architect?
A data architect is a professional who is responsible for designing the best ways to organize and store data. Additionally, they also develop and maintain software that integrates this data into the company’s network.
The average data architect is highly skilled in data management, data modeling, and data storage. They should also have data warehouse and business intelligence skills. Below we’ll explain some of the things that data architects do.
What Does a Data Architect Do?
The main thing that data architects do is develop ways of collecting and storing useful data. They also come up with different methods to integrate this data and make it accessible to staff.
Be careful not to mistake a data architect for a data engineer. These two professions are similar, but they’re not the same. Data architects are in charge of creating plans that will guide data engineers when they need to use the stored data.
Develops Data Models
As architects, these data scientists are in charge of developing data models to organize and store data. These data models are also designed to allow for the integration of the data into the company’s network. This integration is essential so that everyone in the network can access this data, regardless of their department.
Maintains Data Management Software
In addition to coming up with ways to organize and store data, these professionals are also responsible for maintaining the data. They have to ensure that data management systems are working properly. They also manage the data sources and determine the best ways to collect data.
Collaborates With Other Professionals
The main objective is to make data accessible. Their job also consists of consulting professionals from other departments and assessing the best ways to improve the company’s data architecture. They also collaborate with other IT professionals such as software engineers and data analysts to come up with efficient strategies.
Data Architect Education Pathways
There is no direct path towards becoming a data architect. There are, however, plenty of options available for people who want to pursue a career in this field.
You can earn a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or other fields related to information technology. You can also join a data science boot camp. Below we’ll explain these different paths.
Data Architect Degrees
To become a data architect, you’ll need to have completed some type of formal education. The first option is to get an Associate Degree in Data Analytics. Associate programs usually last two years, and you’ll learn about data policy, data sources, data collection, and data validation.
Another option is to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Data Science. Most entry-level data architects have a bachelor’s degree in one of these topics. If you want to apply for better-paying jobs, you’ll need to have a Master’s or Doctoral Degree in Data Architecture and Management.
Data Architect Bootcamps
If you’re looking to switch your career and you don’t have the time it takes to pursue a college degree, try a boot camp. These short-term programs are intensive and pretty straightforward. They’ll teach you what you need to know to become a skilled data architect.
While there are no boot camps for data architecture specifically, you can join a data science boot camp and enroll in a data architecture or data management program. BrainStation and Data Science Dojo are two leading online schools that offer data science programs.
Data Architect Courses
If you’ve already completed higher education, you can enroll in online courses. Online courses are a great way of refining your skills and remaining competitive. Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are short-term courses that will help you specialize. MOOCs usually last for a couple of months, and they’re exclusively online.
One of the advantages of enrolling in an online course is that you’ll acquire knowledge that relates specifically to data architecture. These courses will teach you the fundamentals of designing and implementing database solutions and other data architect skills.
How to Become a Data Architect: A Step-by-Step Guide
There are different paths you can take to become a data architect. You can get a college degree or you can simply join a bootcamp and be qualified within a few months. Alternatively, you can enroll in online courses and gain experience in the field without a diploma.
However, if you want to become a successful data architect, follow the general steps below.
Earn a degree
The first step you need to take is to pursue a degree in computer science, data science, or information technology. Most data architects have a bachelor’s degree in one of those areas.
Learn how to use data architecture tools
As a data architect, you’ll work with data management and data modeling all the time. That’s why you need to learn how to use some of the most commonly used tools, including AWS, IBM InfoSphere Data Architect, and ER/Studio.
Complete an internship
Most jobs in big data require applicants to have previous experience in the field. Having experience is even more important, considering these professionals play major roles in companies. Internships are one of the best ways to gain practical experience.
While you’re not required to have certifications to work as a data architect, they’re a great option if you wish to remain competitive in this field. We’ll talk about the most relevant certifications in this field below.
Apply for jobs
If you’ve followed all the steps above, you’re more than ready to start applying for jobs as a data architect. Keep in mind that the more education and experience you have, the higher your chances are of scoring the best jobs.
Top Data Architect Skills
The top skills every data architect needs to have are different programming languages, data management and data modeling tools, and soft skills. Below we’ll explain in detail the three main skills you need to become a data architect.
Mastering programming languages is the basic skill for every professional working in information technology. Data architects need to be fluent in at least two or three programming languages. To become a successful data architect, you need to be proficient in Java, Python, Ruby, R, and C/C++.
Another skill you need to have is to know how to work with database management. SQL, a programming language used specifically in data storage, is a must-have skill in this field. Several database management programs are used in this industry, such as PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM InfoSphere, Erwin Data Modeler, and Oracle.
Data mining is a process in which specialists analyze large datasets and retrieve useful information. Unlike data miners, data architects don’t have to analyze the data. They only retrieve it from the databases. Professionals on their way to becoming data architects must learn the fundamentals of data mining such as regression, clustering, modeling, and more.
Data Architect Salary and Job Outlook
While there are no statistics available for data architects, the Bureau of Labor Statistics presents reports for database administrators. It states that database administrators earned an average salary of $98,860 in 2020.
According to the BLS, this profession is expected to grow by 10 percent in the next eight years. This growth is much faster than most other professions, which means that fields within data architecture will have plenty of job opportunities in the coming years.
Entry-Level Data Architect Job Requirements
Most entry-level data architects have at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Data Science, or another IT field. According to PayScale, the average salary for entry-level data architects is about $68,690.
How to Prepare for Your Data Architect Job Interview
If you’re preparing for a data architect job interview, you should study and practice as hard as you can. Data architects are highly skilled with programming languages, data management, data modeling, and data warehouses. We recommend studying those topics.
Although no job interview is the same, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your data architect job interview. Below we’ll show you a few questions that can help you get ready.
Data Architect Job Interview Practice Questions
- Do you hold any IT certifications?
- What are the advantages of SQL?
- What programming languages are most important in data architecture? Briefly explain their advantages.
- Describe the main elements of data warehousing and data modeling.
- Describe a project or a task you completed using SQL or SAS.
Data Architect Certifications
Data architects are not required to have professional certifications. However, if you get certifications within your field, you’ll have higher a chance of getting hired by major IT companies. These certifications are also a great way of testing your knowledge.
There are several certifications available for data architects. Below we list the main options.
IBM Certified Data Architect - Big Data
IBM is one of the world’s leading tech companies. This certification will test your knowledge as a big data architect, including your knowledge of designing and implementing data management systems and dealing with business solutions.
Being able to add a certification issued by IBM in your resume will make quite a difference. It’ll prove your knowledge and skills and help you when applying for the best job opportunities available.
AWS Certified Data Analytics
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is one of the most popular platforms for cloud computing. If you make a quick search for data architect job opportunities, you’ll see that most companies require that these professionals know how to use AWS technology.
Whether you already use AWS or if you’re still learning how to use it, getting a certification from Amazon is a great opportunity to prove your knowledge, not only with this cloud-computing platform but also with data architecture and data analytics.
ABDE (Associate Big Data Engineer)
The ABDE is a certification issued by the Data Science Council of America (DASCA). While it is not necessarily a certification created for data architects, its exam tests all the knowledge that these professionals need to have.
The ABDE exam covers topics that include data science, Python, R, machine learning, data processing, data analytics, data storage, cloud and cluster, among others. To take this exam, you need to have a degree in computer science or related fields.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Data Architect?
It takes at least two years to become a data architect with an associate degree. If you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree, it will take you a minimum of four years to start working as a data architect.
If you’re looking for the shortest path to becoming a data architect, you can use bootcamps or online courses. These alternatives usually last for a few weeks or a few months and will teach you the fundamentals of data science.
However, better-paying jobs will require that you also have professional certifications and a graduate degree. In that case, it can take you an additional two to four years to become a data architect.
Why You Should Become a Data Architect in 2021
Database administration and architecture is expected to grow by 10 percent by 2029, according to the BLS. There will be plenty of job opportunities in this field in the next few years.
In addition to having many opportunities, the average salary for data architects is also a good reason why you should pursue this career. You can earn a six-figure salary later in your career. If you want a high-paying job in tech, you should become a data architect.
Data Architect FAQ
Data management, data modeling, data storage, and data mining are a few of the skills you’ll need. Fluency in programming languages, mastery of database management tools, and the ability to design high-level software are also essential skills.
While there are no specific degrees for data architects, most professionals in this field have a bachelor’s degree in a tech field. Alternatively, you can also apply for jobs that accept associate degrees and certificates from short-term courses such as bootcamps.
Most professionals start their journey by earning a degree, completing internships, gaining certifications, and applying for jobs. Attending grad school is also an alternative, and it’s a great way of improving your chances of getting better jobs.
Data architects are responsible for determining which data the company will collect and how they will collect it. These professionals also develop data management solutions that allow for the integration of data into the company’s network.