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IT Architect: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an IT architect. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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IT architects work for companies and organizations to maintain computer networks. They typically need to have a bachelor's degree in order to gain employment, though some employers prefer those with a master's degree or certification.

Essential Information

IT architects create and maintain computer networks for organizations, companies and other users. A Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems or a related field is required for this position, though employers may give preference to applicants who have completed graduate education in an area related to information systems management. IT architects may also pursue voluntary certification to bolster their credentials.

Required Education Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems (or related field)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 9%* (computer network architects)
Median Salary (2015) $100,240* (computer network architects)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties of an IT Architect

The primary duties of an IT architect are to design and maintain computer networks. Architects use computer design software to model and test network plans prior to implementation. Additionally, they may use these programs to simulate adding new hubs, changing routers or making other modifications to existing networks.

IT architects may act as managers and are responsible for scheduling technician assignments and assessing budgetary needs, which may include estimating upgrade costs or switching Internet services. Other duties may include conducting computer support personnel evaluations and coordinating future direction on technical issues, such as obsolete software.

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Job Requirements of an IT Architect

Preparing for a career as an IT architect begins with completing a bachelor's degree program in information systems or a related field. Freshman and sophomore students begin with introductory classes, such as knowledge organization, database creation and operating system basics. Students who have progressed in the major may delve more deeply into intermediate and advanced topics including management support systems, network security and system design. Most programs also offer students the option of conducting a research project in which they apply learned knowledge with approved research in order to analyze risk management techniques, system design assumptions or other information science issues.

Advanced Degrees

The BLS stated that employers may favor candidates who have completed a master's degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in management information systems or a related area. MBA programs typically combine managerial and technical topics, like using databases to enhance e-commerce and coordinating operation systems with wireless networks. Students generally complete these programs in 1-2 years and have the option of taking supplemental computer programming classes in C++ or Java.

Certifications

IT architects may consider attaining voluntary certifications in order to advance employment prospects. Industry-neutral certifications like those offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association, Project Management Institute or the Security Certified Program demonstrate to an employer that an applicant has completed the necessary training and developed the required skills to perform the job. Candidates may also consider vendor certifications offered by companies like Microsoft and Cisco Systems, which train IT professionals in operating systems, servers, routers and other products.

Earning a credential generally requires completing one or more courses and a certification exam. Credentialing organizations may mandate that candidates take continuing education courses to become recertified. Interested candidates may want to consult the respective credentialing organization for specific details.

There are a number of voluntary certifications available for IT architects. These are offered by industry associations or specific vendors. Employment for IT architects is expected to grow faster than average for the 2014-2024 decade, according to the BLS.

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