Solutions architect definition
A solutions architect is responsible for evaluating an organisations business needs and determining how IT can support those needs leveraging software, hardware, or infrastructure. Aligning IT strategy with business goals has become paramount, and a solutions architect can help determine, develop, and improve technical solutions in support of business goals.
A solutions architect also bridges communication between IT and business operations to ensure everyone is aligned in developing and implementing technical solutions for business problems. The process requires regular feedback, adjustments, and problem-solving in order to properly design and implement potential solutions.
Solution architecture itself encompasses business, system, information, security, application and technology architecture. Some examples of solutions architecture include developing cloud infrastructure for efficiency, implementing microservices for ecommerce, or adopting security measures for data, systems, and networks. While the scope of the job can vary depending on a business’ specific needs, there are certain responsibilities, skills, and qualifications that solutions architects will need to meet to get the job.
Solutions architect responsibilities
While job requirements and responsibilities will vary by company or industry, these are the general expectations of a solutions architect:
- Lead brainstorming sessions to develop potential solutions for business needs or problems.
- Identify opportunities for process improvements.
- Prepare and document testing requirements.
- Identify areas where IT can support business needs and goals.
- Work with business units to develop IT strategies and to improve current IT implementations.
- Build and migrate software and services across the organisation.
- Work with product and delivery teams to develop scalable solutions and products.
- Communicate and consult with clients and internal stakeholders to develop appropriate solutions.
Solutions architects must be prepared to work with leaders, managers, and employees across every business unit. And if you’re working on a product team, you might also be expected to work with clients to understand expectations and requirements. A solutions architect in a client-facing role will also need to understand how to manage customer satisfaction and set proper expectations for the end-product.
Solutions architect skills
To successfully align IT solutions with business objectives, solutions architect must have strong leadership and communication skills, as well as both technical and business knowledge. As a solutions architect, you will need to understand the business side of the organisation to understand which IT solutions will fit the company’s goals. Your leadership skills will be important for steering the overall process of identifying key business objectives and determining the requirements for each solution.
You will likely need a bachelor’s degree or higher in information technology, computer science, software engineering, or a related field. For more senior roles, you may need more experience or education, including a master’s degree. Depending on the role, you might also need experience in specific IT areas, such as networking administration, development, customer service, or other relevant areas.
According to data from PayScale, popular reported technical skills for solutions architects include:
- SAP Business Warehouse
- AWS and Azure
- Apache Kafka
- Data Management
- Software Development LifeCycle
- Big Data Analytics
- Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
- Experience with enterprise architecture
- Experience working with IT architecture frameworks
- Understanding of IT security, infrastructure, and governance
Solutions architect salary
The average salary for a solutions architect is $119,000 per year, according to data from PayScale. Reported salaries in the US range from US$75,000 to US$160,000 per year, and entry-level workers average around US$76,000 per year. The highest paid solutions architects are located in San Jose and San Francisco, where the reported average salaries are US$144,000 and US$132,000 per year, respectively.
Solutions architects early in their career report earning an average salary of US$94,000 per year. As experience rises to mid-career, the average reported salary ranges from $115,000 to $137,000 per year. For late-career solutions architects with 20 years or more of experience, the average reported salary is US$135,000 per year.
Solutions architect certification
As a solutions architect, you’ll want to get certified in any relevant skills or technologies for your industry or field. The skills and knowledge that you’ll need can vary depending on the role, but you can always find certifications and courses for individual skills required for the job such as Java, AWS, Azure, or Apache Kafka.
For a more targeted certification, there aren’t many solutions architect credentials currently on the market, but there are a few popular certifications for solutions architects that can help you grow your career, including: