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How to Become a Solution Architect

If you have stellar computer skills, a love of coding, excellent leadership skills, and you are detail-oriented, a solution architect might be a great career choice for you.

Solution architects are responsible for designing and updating systems architecture to align with business needs. They work with a variety of stakeholders in determining company goals and building strategies to meet those goals. They should have excellent interpersonal and communication skills. They interact with both the IT side and the business side of the organization to ensure the system architecture in place is optimized for company objectives and needs. Typical tasks for a solution architect include developing cloud infrastructure, designing new security measures, and using IT solutions to make the business run more efficiently. 

A solutions architect needs to have an exceptional understanding of coding languages, such as Java and JavaScript, as well as the ability to assess existing software systems and make sound decisions on how to update, replace, or improve them. To be successful as a solution architect, you must be able to troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly, exhibit strong leadership skills in guiding development teams, and keep up with current trends and emerging technologies.

Sample job description

[Your company name] is looking to hire a driven solution architect who is enthusiastic about working hand in hand with our business and IT department to implement the most effective IT strategies to accomplish our productivity goals. As a solution architect with our company, you will work very closely with our customers to formulate the perfect IT equation for their success. If you enjoy technical concepts and problem-solving conflicts that may arise, our company would make a great career fit for you!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Analyzing technological environment and enterprise specifics
  • Documenting requirements
  • Preparing the cross-sector infrastructure
  • Creating prototypes 
  • Aid customers in their technology selection
  • Fostering solution development
  • Finding the best solution to solve existing problems
  • Describing the ins and outs of software to project stakeholders

Education and experience

  • BS in computer science, information systems, or equivalent education or work experience
  • At least 10-12 years of IT management experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent skills in computer and operating systems
  • Proficient knowledge in infrastructure and engineering design
  • Efficient at DevOps
  • Familiar with system security measures
  • Proficient at business analysis and database management
  • Knowledgeable in cloud development and web platforms
  • Expert verbal and written communication skills
  • Risk management and identification skills
  • Mastery of software development process and technical skills
  • Detail-oriented
  • Proficient in solution construction and management

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree in computer science or a related engineering field
  • Equivalent work experience in software engineering
  • Google cloud experience
  • Comprehension of the current state of machine learning, cloud migrations, continuous integration/deployment, SQL/NoSQL, security, networking, and cloud-based delivery models

Typical work environment

Solution architects spend the majority of their workday in meetings with clients, the IT department, and business departments, finding out their productivity goals and explaining how to achieve those goals using technology solutions and software. They also spend time in their offices brainstorming prospective solutions for customers’ business problems and how to implement those solutions. This includes drawing up a literal plan that each customer can most easily comprehend. 

Typical hours

A solution architect can usually expect a 40-hour workweek. They may be expected to work weekends and holidays if they have a strict deadline for an important customer. Most of their office hours will not be spent in an office, but in a boardroom on a conference call or virtual meeting with a customer.

Available certifications

Solution architects can work with a variety of different companies and clientele so a variety of certifications is vital for a successful career.

  • Open Group Architecture Framework (OGAF). The OGAF is used by some of the world’s leading organizations to improve business efficiency. Certification is achieved by passing two exams. Renewal is not required. 
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). The MCSE requires two-plus years of education or training along with at least two years of work experience. Candidates are expected to pass an oral or written exam. No renewal is required. 
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional – Architecture (CISSP). The CISSP is an appropriate credential for chief security architects but is also useful to solution architects in any specialty as companies value security very highly. In today’s world, you can’t be too careful with IT security. This certification requires two-plus years of training or education after high school. Candidates also must have two years of work experience and pass an oral or written exam. Certification renewal is required every three years. 
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. This certification is intended for individuals who perform a solution architect’s role. It requires more than two years of work experience. Candidates must pass an oral or written exam. Recertification is required every two years. 
  • CCNP Service Provider Operations (CCNP). The CCNP requires candidates to pass an oral or written exam and renew certification every three years. 
  • Emergency Management Certification (EMC). The EMC requires a minimum of two years of education or training after high school. It also requires two-plus years of work experience. Candidates must pass an oral or written exam.

Career path

One of the easiest paths to becoming a solution architect is by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in information technology, computer science, software engineering, or another related field. Some candidates go on to pursue a graduate degree in related fields, such as information systems, which some employers prefer. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1241

2020 Employment165,200
Projected Employment in 2030174,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift9,000 increase

With more and more companies leaving behind traditional advertising methods, i.e. newspapers, brochures, or posters, the need for solution analytics will most definitely climb over the next few years. As long as marketing exists, there will always be a need for problem-solving, and solution architects do it best. Solution architects will continue to bridge the gap between marketing and IT for years to come. Gaining additional certifications only increases marketability and guarantees your chance of becoming a solution architect.