How to become an IT architect: a comprehensive guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 August 2022

Published 30 November 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.

An IT architect is a senior-level engineer who uses systems to help integrate business needs with technology, drive strategy, and create high-level architecture for complex technical solutions. If you are an IT professional with mastery of your field and love new challenges, IT architect is a role you may want to consider. Even if you don't have experience in IT, there are still ways for you to gain that experience and pursue a career as an IT architect. In this article, we discuss the IT architect's role in detail and explain how to become an IT architect.

How to become an IT architect

An IT architect role requires great IT skills, knowledge of business systems and technologies, and substantial experience in handling full-scope projects. Therefore, experienced IT professionals who know and enjoy their work can upgrade and aim for this role. The steps to becoming an IT architect for professionals from other backgrounds could be a bit different. The steps below can help you learn how to become an IT architect:

1. Learn skills relevant to the industry

If you aren't already in IT and still aspire to be an IT architect, you can begin by acquiring the appropriate IT skills, such as programming, software development, data science and cloud computing. There are numerous free IT courses on the Internet that you can use. To become an IT architect, you need at least a bachelor's degree in a computer-related subject and at least five years of professional experience. In addition, some companies ask for a master's degree in an IT architect role. Therefore, you may want to increase your career options with a degree.

Related: 12 data science certifications to consider gaining

2. Apply for jobs in IT

Experience is another key factor for an IT architect role. But it comes with years of dedication and investment in the IT field. The best way to progress quickly is by taking on roles that teach you better. Conversely, if you are from an IT background and aspire to be an IT architect, make sure you have extensive knowledge of your field.

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3. Improve your hard and soft skills and become an expert in your field

IT architects are the experts in their specific subjects. For instance, if you have a software development background, you may want to sharpen your software skills and understand the depth of the details required for communicating them. Similarly, if you are from a business analyst background and aspire to be an application architect, expand your knowledge regarding business architecture concepts.

You may also want to build soft skills, such as leadership and communication skills, along with upgrading your IT skills because a good IT architect communicates flawlessly with people from technical and non-technical backgrounds alike. In addition, quick decision-making and leadership skills are also essential since your action matters.

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4. Apply for IT architect jobs

You are ready to apply for an IT architect role by the time you can handle and lead complex projects. Nevertheless, the time it takes to become an IT architect depends on your ability. You can progress fast in IT with the right education and team.

Related: How to start a successful career in IT: guidance and tips

IT architect types

IT architects usually work on unique and challenging projects that have a lot of investment on the line. There are different types of IT architects, depending on expertise and the sector. Here are some of the prominent IT architect types:

Enterprise architects

Enterprise architects have expertise in multiple areas, such as networking, security, messaging, authentication and visualisation. Therefore, they focus on the strategy to bring all these pieces together. For instance, a company needs to manage the connection, security, data storage, remote support, data security, cross-boundary regulatory requirements, determine network capacity, disaster recovery options, and future capacity planning as it is planning to enable its workforce to work remotely.

Related: What does an enterprise architect do?

Solution architects

Solution architects offer special architecture around a business need. They often bring together several complicated technologies and integrate them into the system. Solution architects often work with enterprise architects to create secure and scalable technical designs.

Related: Solution architect vs enterprise architect (with tips)

Application architects

Application architects deal with software. They define the software development approach and framework, specify which tools to use, how all the components fit together and connect, how data is structured, where it resides, and how components communicate, among other things. Similarly, security architects focus on protecting the assets of a company against unauthorised access.

Requirements for the IT architect role

An IT architect role is attractive, but it requires excellent IT skills and absolute knowledge of business systems and technologies. In addition, as an IT architect, you greatly influence the decisions of a company in the long term. Therefore, this job also requires an exceptional level of soft skills. Here are some of the important requirements for the role:

Understanding of business systems and technology

An IT architect's role is to provide strategic technical leadership. Therefore, IT architects are familiar with the company's business processes and how they interact with other companies in the industry. An ideal IT architect recognises critical patterns and fixes broken procedures, allowing the IT department to lead rather than just respond to demands. IT architects are visionaries whose technical, business and industry experience allows them to develop technical solutions while considering industry best practices, models, and frameworks.

Architecture design skills

An IT architect is a highly skilled professional in the processes that create complex IT system designs. Such designs include requirements discovery and analysis, formulation of solution context, identification and evaluation of solution alternatives, technology selection and design configuration. Exceptional foundational skills allow you to create impressive designs that satisfy the stakeholders' requirements.

Related: Stakeholder types and management in business: a guide

Full project experience

IT architects are responsible for a project's design and its hand-off to implementers. Therefore, they have the experience of working with all parts of a project, from conception to development, testing, implementation and production. This breadth of experience helps IT architects stay anchored in the concepts of fit-for-purpose and system implementation in practice. In addition, the impact of the entire project scope leads to better design decisions and more informed communication.

Soft skills

One of the primary responsibilities of an IT architect is to communicate difficult technical information to all project stakeholders, including those without technical experience. Therefore, strong communication and relationship-building skills are essential to an IT architect. An IT architect also requires strong problem-solving and negotiation abilities, since they often collaborate with the project management team to make timely choices and keep projects on schedule. The key soft skills essential for an IT architect are as follows:

Leadership and analytical skills

The role of an IT architect requires a great combination of top-level technical abilities and the capacity to lead. Therefore, communication and teamwork are essential to the IT architect's success. An IT architect is a leader whose leadership can influence the whole enterprise and even the stakeholders. Furthermore, Information technology architects use analytical abilities to analyse all relevant data, discover patterns and gaps, and resolve concerns as they arise.

Communication skills

IT architects convey complicated concepts to colleagues and non-technical workers while listening, interpreting, and observing the needs. Furthermore, they also exchange information with appropriate tone, language and context. Therefore, excellent verbal and written communication skills are crucial for IT architects.

Organisational skills

Time management, priority, resource allocation, and the capacity to handle numerous tasks simultaneously are all examples of organisational abilities. While creating a plan and managing smaller-scale projects and responsibilities, information technology architects keep broader aims and needs in mind. Information technology architects can use organisational skills to define and achieve goals.

Project management skills

Project management is the process of designing, launching, executing, controlling, and closing a project to achieve certain goals and meet specific criteria within a given timeframe. Individuals collaborate as part of a team to achieve a common goal with project management. Great IT architects have excellent project management skills since they plan, lead, and manage several crucial projects.

Related: Project management skills and how to improve them

IT architect responsibilities

IT architects are IT leaders and industry experts. They contribute to simplifying complex business processes with technology and their technical knowledge. In addition, an IT architect is responsible for ensuring the architecture's completeness while adequately addressing all crucial concerns of its stakeholders. You can summarise the key technical responsibilities of an IT architect as follows:

Managing the architecture

IT architects monitor the models regularly and update them as needed to reflect changes, additions, and revisions. The architect also suggests what to implement by analysing architectural and technical information. Furthermore, managing the architecture includes resolving technical issues to ensure the correct incorporation of all parts of technical design.

Understanding and interpreting requirements

The architect identifies and documents business scenarios—the solution's driving force. The architect is responsible for comprehending requirements and ensuring their understanding of the architecture specification. The whole process includes exploring for information, communicating ideas, facilitating consensus building and synthesising and translating ideas into actionable requirements.

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Creating, refining, and expanding a useful model

IT architects convey the organisation's view of the architecture by understanding all the necessary business components. Therefore, IT architects create well-formulated models of the solution's components and supplement them as needed to match the conditions. IT architects also evaluate the value of solution-enhancing advances resulting from fieldwork and incorporate them into the architecture models as needed. In addition, they verify assumptions by discussing with subject matter experts to create a practical solution.

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