At some point in the last decade, the data-breach became the modern day bank heist. Data is the currency of the digital world, and it’s worth its weight in gold.
The average consumer has personal information stored in the hands of dozens of third-party companies. This information can be stolen and then sold on the dark web to hungry scammers (Equifax, anyone?), but it can also be used for good: companies glean critical insights from the thoughtful analysis of consumer data, and use it to build products for which there is already a data-demonstrated demand.
Data architects: Design, build and oversee the massive structures that collect, store and safeguard our precious data. It’s a complex job that requires a lot of technical training, but it's time well-spent, especially when you think about earnings within the field.
According to the most recent findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for data architects is $109,020 per year—regardless of level of experience. Payscale offers a clearer pictures of how experience impacts earning potential, putting entry-level data architects at an average salary of $86,130, and mid-career data architects at an average of $103,296 per year.
Where You Work. Compensation is, of course, also impacted by demand—which, for IT and technology jobs varies widely by where you live. For example:
Who You Work For. Another way to anticipate earnings is by industry.
What You Know. Education is important but not the most crucial factor in determining a data architect’s salary. Almost every entry level data architect will have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar field. While many higher-seniority data architects hold graduate degrees, they're not always a must—five to ten years of experience in specific functions of data architecture is equally as valuable.
There are a lot of similar-sounding jobs in the technology world, and it can be easy to get data architects confused with cloud engineers, data engineers, or cybercrime investigators.
In reality, there is overlap between these positions—both in terms of skills and work experience—and they often work on the same cross-functional teams within a company. Data architects are tasked with:
An entry-level data architect has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, information technology, or a related field. Those hoping to jump into the workforce straight out of college should strongly consider landing internships to gain hands-on problem-solving experience. While a quality education is important in tech, experience and demonstrable expertise go a long way in setting you apart from other applicants.
A master’s degree is a great option to consider when leveling-up as a data architect. Candidates with graduate-level educations are more likely to manage direct reports and lead cross-functional teams. Some of the top master’s degree in computer science programs include:
Other popular graduate degrees for this field include information systems, information and communications technology, or even an MBA with a concentration in one of the above fields.
For those who are in between undergraduate and graduate programs or simply looking for a skill boost, the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) certificate is a well-known credential for data architects. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience to qualify.
Due to the demanding work and mission-critical responsibility that this profession holds, most data architects are hired once they’ve acquired demonstrable skills in database management. This is part of the reason why the average salary is so high; companies like to see at least a few years of hands-on work experience in related fields like programming and database administration before hiring a data architect.
While most data architects earn around $100,000, team leaders or “chief data architects" can easily make more than $200,000 per year. According to Glassdoor, senior data architects at Amazonmake about $150,000 a year, and principal data architects at Amazon make close to $200,000. The company prefers candidates to have a graduate-level education and at least 10 years of IT experience.
Tech giants like Amazon and Facebook are always looking for top data architects to join their teams.
But who else is hiring?
Do you have the data-driven mindset it takes to make it as a data architect? Do you love helping businesses find efficiencies through the intelligent capture and analysis of raw data? If so, you’re in luck—companies are paying closer attention to the insights gleaned from data. And using that information to their benefit is impossible without people like you.
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