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Project Manager Vs. Solution Architect

Information technology jobs are highly sought after and are financially very rewarding. Two such careers, project managers and solution architects, are discussed in this article along with some important statistics on both.

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Comparing Project Managers to Solution Architects

Project managers and solution architects are commonly considered internet technology (IT) positions. Project managers are directly involved with all parties on the management of IT projects to find technology solutions for a company or institution. Solution architects are those experts who are brought in to work with managers to apply the ascribed plans to solve a large IT issue. A comparison of these two IT careers is found below along with some financial information that may be helpful.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2017) Job Growth** (2014-2024)
Project Managers Bachelor's degree $85,110 (project manager, IT) 15% (computer information systems managers)
Solution Architects Bachelor's degree $95,000 (solutions architect, IT) 8% (network and computer systems administrators)

Sources: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Project Managers vs. Solution Architects

Both of these careers have similar educational backgrounds with a degree needed in computers and information technology. These professionals normally sit in on meetings to determine a company's technological needs and how to solve them. Project managers specifically will apply their knowledge and expertise to the initial concept meeting of a project's problem, how to solve it and what tools will be needed for the job. Solution architects are experts in executing the discussed and accepted plan to solve a particular technology issue for an organization. Throughout their work they constantly determine feasibility of the plan and whether the technology is even available at this time. If not, the solution architect studies, researches and works to create the answer to the problem.

Project Managers

Project managers have years of experience behind them in working with large IT projects. They have to be multifaceted in their abilities to work with feasibility studies, resource costs, budget plans, and external hiring. These individuals understand the importance of the technology and the need to meet budgets and timelines. Managers understand the integration and changes to technology over time, strong communication between departments and team members and the ability to analyze risk management issues.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Keeping abreast of the latest in technology changes
  • Meeting with all project members according to their needs
  • Facilitating communication between departments
  • Providing leadership with all parties to meet task commitment and deadlines

Solution Architects

Solution architects are technology specialists who are called in once an integration plan has been settled on. Their job commonly is to take the work of a functional analyst and turn it into an architectural plan that works. This plan will need to be researched, built and tested repeatedly by the solution architect. Solution architects will need to be knowledgeable of a variety of computer programs like SharePoint, Stream Analytics, SQL Server and others.

Job responsibilities of a solution architect include:

  • Developing strategies with all players in the initial plans
  • Consulting with other experts to integrate differing technologies
  • Establishing relationships with external professionals in their fields
  • Motivating and reinforcing good work to enhance success throughout the project

Related Careers

Like project managers who run entire IT problem solution projects, database administrators are IT experts whose job it is to use their software skills to solve a company's data problems by storing and keeping that data safe. Computer network architecture (CNA) is similar to being a solutions architect in that CNAs create and build communication networks to solve a company's networking problem much like solution architects work to fix a large integration technology issue for an organization.

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