How to Become a System Architect (With Salary Information)
Updated July 9, 2022
System architects design, set up, and maintain complex computer systems. In a world where computing is a critical part of nearly every business, systems architects are in demand in many industries and locations. Learning how to become a systems architect can help you decide if this career is right for you and plan for a challenging and rewarding job. In this article, we discuss how to become a system architect, explain job responsibilities for system architects, and provide a list of system architect jobs with salary expectations.
How to become a system architect
Learning how to become a system architect involves considering your interests, determining which specialized role you would like to pursue, and discovering the educational requirements for entering the field. Systems architects can fill many roles within an organization, from high level planning of business strategy in tandem with company executives to assisting individual project teams in implementing computer systems. Every job within this field has slightly different requirements, so do additional research about roles that interest you. Here are the steps to take to become a systems architect:
1. Develop an interest in computers
An interest in computer hardware and software is foundational for employment as a system architect. If you enjoy working with computers and undertake computing-related projects in your spare time, you're more likely to find fulfillment working in this field. Develop an interest in new technology and pursue opportunities to experiment with new products. Participate in digital communities and connect with others who share similar interests. Take advantage of all the free tutorials and guides shared on the internet and learn how to solve technological issues on your own.
2. Earn a degree or diploma
Educational requirements for entering the system architecture field can be less strict than in other careers. There is an emphasis on practical, demonstrable skills rather than credentials. Earning a degree or certification can make you a more attractive candidate to employers and give you the basic skills you require for this career. Pursue education in this field according to your individual needs.
If you have a deep interest in computing, consider a university degree in computer science or software engineering. These programs are typically four years long and introduce you to a diverse range of future employment possibilities. A four-degree in these fields gives you the foundational knowledge and qualifications to find employment across the information technology field. A college diploma in information technology allows you to gain practical skills and enter the workforce as soon as possible. Many college programs offer internships, which can be an excellent way to start a career in information technology.
3. Earn certifications
IT certifications demonstrate you're qualified to perform specialized tasks within the field. They emphasize hands-on experience with designing, implementing and maintaining computerized systems. There are many different specialized certifications you can pursue according to the work you want to do and the company you wish to work for. Some large companies offer technical certifications specifically focused on their own products. If you want to pursue a specific role at a large technology company, research the certifications that they offer and become proficient at using their products.
4. Consider an internship
Working as an intern at a technology company allows you to gain specialized experience, confirm your interest in the field, and establish professional connections. Many internships offer the opportunity to gain certifications and even find employment at the conclusion of the contract. You can work as an intern at the same time as you pursue a degree or diploma. Even if you do not plan to work at the same company as you intern at, an internship at a well-known company can make your resume stand out to other employers.
5. Gain experience
Systems architect is a relatively high-level position within the field of information technology. Successful architects develop an understanding of both the computer systems they design and the business they design them for. Gain as much experience in IT as you can by taking on contract work or starting out in more junior positions. Continue to attain new certifications, take on more challenging projects, and develop your professional network. The technology you work with is constantly developing, so demonstrate that you're adaptable and an eager learner.
6. Develop your network
Develop a network of professional connections to ensure that you stay informed about new developments and opportunities. New companies, products, and job opportunities are plentiful in an innovative field like IT. If you stay connected to others in your industry, you can follow these developments and be ready to adapt. IT professionals are very comfortable using technology, so there are many opportunities to make connections over the internet. Join communities, contribute valuable content, and interact with others who share your interests.
Related: Guidelines on How to Network
7. Write or update your resume
When you apply to systems architect positions, tailor your resume to feature your most relevant skills and experience based on the needs of the company. Emphasize your technical skills and certifications to show that you're capable of performing all the job's responsibilities. Outline your accomplishments at previous jobs to demonstrate that you can solve problems and overcome challenges. Stay aware of advancements in the field and make sure that your resume emphasizes your commitment to learning. You can use clear, demonstrable examples and simple language to show that you're a suitable candidate for the position.
Related: How to Write a Resume
8. Prepare for interviews
Interviews for IT positions sometimes require you to demonstrate your skills or solve problems. Continuously develop your skills to ensure that you're ready for challenging questions. Thoroughly research the company that you're applying to so you can display knowledge of their procedures and requirements. Treat every interview as a learning opportunity and develop your ability to answer questions and solve problems under pressure. Leverage your professional network to gain a better understanding of the questions a company might ask you at your interview.
System architect job responsibilities
System architects perform a wide variety of tasks involving computerized systems. They might listen to the needs of a client and then design a computer system according to those specifications, determine the cost of the hardware involved in setting up a new system, and provide consultation to those who implement that system. For example, a systems architect could help a business set up a website that allows customers to order products and sends the orders to a warehouse for processing.
Systems architects also work to maintain computerized systems and troubleshoot any errors that arise. They can create backups to preserve data in case of a system crash, test and oversee system upgrades, and make plans for dealing with any issues that arise in the future. Some systems architects develop algorithms for analyzing system performance or recommend software to companies according to their unique needs. There are several types of computer systems that a systems architect might work to design or maintain. Integrated systems involve combining computing, automation, storage, and networking functions to build unified systems to meet business demands.
System architect jobs and salaries
System architect jobs can have different specializations, roles, and salary expectations. Use this list to help you determine which system architect job you might wish to pursue:
National average salary: $110,146 per year
Primary duties: Enterprise architects oversee an organization's overall IT infrastructure. They consider every aspect of a business and develop strategies to implement appropriate computer systems to optimize performance. This is a high-level system architect position that often requires significant previous experience.
National average salary: $64,107 per year
Primary duties: Systems analysts listen to the needs of clients and recommend computer system solutions to make their business more efficient. They develop specifications and requirements for companies to follow in building their digital infrastructure. Some analysts test computer systems to improve their efficiency.
National average salary: $66,786 per year
Primary duties: System administrators set up, maintain, troubleshoot, and upgrade computer systems. They run tests, diagnose problems, and ensure that networks function properly. This is a more junior role within the field of system architecture.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.
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