How To Become a Software Architect: Definition and Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 23 November 2022 | Published 25 June 2021

Updated 23 November 2022

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Software architecture is the blueprint for innovative technology solutions and applications. Regardless of the industry, if software is being used or created, architecture skill sets can be necessary. Constructing new and updating existing software is valuable, but it may take practice and an understanding of coding or design patterns. In this article, we define what a software architect is and provide seven detailed steps for how to become one in the technology career field.

What is a software architect?

A software architect is a technology developer who develops high-quality designs or programs and plans for new software product developments. This might also include engaging with back-end coding to implement unique experiences or designs. These professionals might use technology tools or resources, like coding or management systems, to help develop or maintain the designs or programs they create. Other duties they have may include:

  • Developing and updating company technology strategy plans

  • Providing technological support as needed across company teams

  • Implementing revisions to coding to improve user experiences or interactions

  • Analysing technology or industry trends to stay relevant among competitors

  • Defining company design principles to guide technological developments

  • Streamlining company communications between used software

  • Designing new software to address company needs

  • Auditing company technologies for redundancies

  • Updating company technology policies

Typically, software architects work closely with software engineers and developers when designing new company software or implementing updates. Architects may have strong skill sets in computer science, programming and software architecture design and development. Overall, their primary goal is usually to find or create and implement software technologies that are aligned with their company's needs or pre-determined goals.

Related: What does an enterprise architect do?

How to become a software architect in seven steps

If you're interested in becoming a software architect, here are some steps you may consider on your journey:

1. Consider a computer science degree

Although companies might not require computer science degrees for these positions, depending on individual experience, they may help you grow your foundational knowledge of technology and technological best practices. Courses you take can cover topics like:

  • Evaluating with mathematics

  • Designing, testing and analysing algorithms

  • Understanding digital platforms, tools and resources

  • Comprehending ethical information practices

  • Programming levels and functionality

  • Managing databases and technology intelligence

  • Understanding computer architecture and networks

  • Computing communications between software

  • Comprehending coding language and software architecture principles

  • Learning computer theories

You might also choose to specialise your degree to focus on software architecture skill sets or topics. Depending on where you decide to pursue your computer science degree may influence your time commitment. For example, receiving a computer science degree in the UK might take three years and in the U.S. it may take four years. If you are interested in getting a degree in computer science, it's important to research different programs to find the best fit for your needs.

Related: How To Create an Effective Graduate CV

2. Engage in networking

Networking can provide many benefits because it allows you to connect with professionals in the software architecture field and potentially gain professional experiences. Some other benefits of networking may include:

  • Growing professional connections

  • Learning from other software architects

  • Finding mentors

You might network by following other software architects on social media or attending professional events like conferences or learning seminars. If you are just starting your journey in this career field, engaging in networking may provide opportunities for you to find mentors who can give you advice about working in this type of technology career. Mentors may also provide you with opportunities to gain professional experiences in this field or other related fields like software programming and development.

Related: Networking Tips for Job Seekers

3. Comprehend software architecture principles

Comprehending software architecture principles may help you strengthen your foundational knowledge of this technology field. The SOLID framework in this industry includes many of these important principles, like:

  • Single responsibility: This principle refers to making sure each system has defined uses and a narrow purpose to provide users a clear understanding of its functionality.

  • Open-closed: This principle refers to implementing software updates only when they are necessary and changing minor aspects to help prevent overly complex systems or user experiences.

  • Liskov substitution: This principle refers to the structure and constraints of software inputs or outputs, and their ability to communicate with other systems.

  • Interface segregation: This principle is like single responsibility and refers to auditing the duties of systems to eliminate redundancies or unnecessary functionalities.

  • Dependency inversion: This principle refers to the interactions between different layers of software and their dependencies on each other.

Related: What is a use case? Definition, usefulness and examples

4. Understand coding languages

Understanding coding languages is another important step in this career field. This knowledge can provide benefits when thinking mathematically about software algorithms and might help you more easily communicate with software developers. Some common coding languages that may be useful for architects may be:

  • Python

  • Ruby

  • JavaScript

Depending on the industry you work in as a software architect, you might use or reference different coding languages.

Related: FAQ: What Is JavaScript?

5. Learn software design patterns

Learning software design patterns may be beneficial for when you are creating plans for implementing new software or updates. Some common software design patterns that may be useful for architects are:

  • Layered: This design pattern might help structure different software layers and their unique services or functions. Specifically, this pattern may assist with desktop or e-commerce applications.

  • Client-server: This design pattern might help streamline communications between the software's server and clients. Specifically, this pattern may assist with email, document sharing and cloud applications.

  • Pipe-filter: This design pattern might help systems process data as they are being used. Specifically, this pattern may assist with visual buffering or synchronisation of interactivity.

  • Broker: This design pattern might help with system intuitiveness when in use and make it easier for people to search for information. You might need to use specialised software to assist with this type of design.

  • Peer-to-peer: This design pattern might help with streamlining information requests between users and servers. Specifically, this pattern may assist with file or data sharing and might require the use of user protocols.

  • Event-bus: This design pattern might help manage the back-end communication process of individual user subscriptions. Specifically, this pattern may assist with user notifications.

  • Blackboard: This design pattern might help with a software's universal memory capabilities and configurations. Specifically, this pattern may assist with user recognition like speech.

  • Interpreter: This design pattern might help translate software code into symbols that may be easier to understand. Specifically, this pattern may assist with software communication protocols.

6. Focus on obtaining relevant skill sets

Obtaining relevant skill sets in software architecture may assist you while working on daily tasks and might even help you advance your career in this field. Some relevant skill sets to consider include:

  • Communication: This skill set may be relevant for communication with computer programmers or developers to create your software designs. It might also provide benefits when explaining complex systems to clients or stakeholders.

  • Technical awareness: This skill set may be relevant for understanding trends or best practices in technology for functionality, user experience and interaction. It might also provide benefits when you are planning to develop new software or implement updates to existing software.

  • Management: This skill set may be relevant for managing existing software or troubleshooting daily concerns. It might also provide benefits if you are managing programmers or developers throughout the software creation process.

  • Organisation: This skill set may be relevant for organising data and information within software systems or applications. It might also provide benefits if you need to reference previous records or files for immediate use.

  • Analytics: This skill set may be relevant for retrieving important analytic data to gather details about user interactions or system efficiency. It might also provide benefits if you need to produce statistics for company reports.

Related: IT Skills: Definition and Examples

7. Collect certifications

Collecting certifications can help you highlight your unique skill sets or specialisations in software technology. If this interests you, you examine these sources:

  • International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB): They offer a variety of foundational, advanced and expert level certifications for software professionals. Some of these include software testing, management or security.

  • National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC): They offer a variety of software security based certifications for software professionals. Some of these include security testing, training or certified degrees.

  • BCS The Chartered Institute for IT: They offer a variety of IT based certifications, with a few focusing on software. Some of their certifications focused on software include testing and development architecture.

Please note that none of the companies or applications mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles