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How to Become a Data Architect: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a data architect. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in data architecture.

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Do I Want to Be a Data Architect?

Data architects develop, analyze, and administer data for businesses, schools, and other organizations. They need sophisticated design and development skills to collect data and translate it for use in computer applications and systems.

Most data and other computer network architects work in an office setting and little physical activity is demanded of the job. While much of their work may be completed independently, some team collaboration may be required for certain projects. Data architects work full-time, with a possibility of overtime.

Job Requirements

Most data architects have a bachelor's degree in information technology (IT), as well as years of experience in the IT field. The following table lists common requirements to become a data architect:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Bachelor's degree*
Degree Field Information technology*
Certification Optional certification is available**
Experience At least three years of experience in the IT field*
Key Skills Excellent communication and organizational skills; creativity and innovation; ability to multi-task and to lead a team; ability work under pressure and time constraints*
Computer Skills Experience with programs such as Microsoft Excel, Access, SQL, Business Objects software, XML, SOA, ETL, BI, ERP and Agile; computer programming and data modeling skills*

Sources: *Job postings from multiple employers (Dec. 2012), **

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree program in information technology or a related field can help prepare students for future careers as data architects. An IT degree program may include coursework in database systems, data management, Web development, programming, operating systems, technology architecture and systems analysis. These programs also could cover IT problem-solving skills.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. Many years of experience is typically necessary to become a data architect. Building experience through a college internship may help students transition more smoothly into an entry-level position in the field.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Becoming a data architect may require three to 10 years of experience in the IT field. While there is no specific route to becoming a data architect, potential job candidates need extensive skills in database design, development, management, modeling and warehousing. Entry-level IT jobs in programming or database administration can help aspiring data architects gain the requisite experience for a job in data architecture.

Step 3: Get Certified

There are no certification requirements for data architects, but earning the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) distinction can help these professionals to stand out and possibly to advance their careers. Certification requirements include two years of work experience and a bachelor's degree. Additionally, candidates must pass the CDMP exam, offered by the Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP). To renew CDMP certification, candidates are required to complete at least 120 hours of continuing education every three years.

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