Solutions Architect Vs. Project Manager

Does a career in information technology sound appealing to you? Project managers direct IT projects, from inception to execution, while solutions architects use their computer skills to make those plans a reality.

Comparing Solutions Architects to Project Managers

Solutions architect and project manager are both common careers in the world of information technology (IT). Project managers oversee IT projects from the beginning of a plan through the plan's implementation. Solutions architects are key IT experts that are expected to execute the plans that have been made. Other similarities and differences are explored below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Solutions Architect Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology $114,983 12% (for all Computer and Information Systems Managers)
Project Manager Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology $85,667 12% (for all Computer and Information Systems Managers)

Source: *Payscale.Com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Solutions Architects vs. Project Managers

A deep knowledge of information technology is vital to being a solutions architect and a project manager. Project managers use their skills to oversee IT projects and the teams that will execute them, from beginning to end. Solutions architects are the experienced members of the teams that work with project managers to successfully execute, troubleshoot, and implement these projects. In other words, both roles are vital for success, with project managers taking a more macro view and solutions architects ensuring that the day-to-day work is a success.

Solutions Architect

Solutions architects work for businesses to help design and implement new IT systems and to improve older ones. Communication is very important, as the goals and issues of various departments must be addressed through these designs. Some solutions architects work in specialized areas such as quality assurance, business planning, and teaching. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology is generally required. Though not always necessary, previous IT experience may be helpful in finding a position.

Job responsibilities of a solutions architect include:

  • Recognizing possible improvements of IT systems
  • Translating business goals into technological designs
  • Ensuring the work of others is up to par
  • Testing and documenting data

Project Manager

IT project managers do just that - manage! They manage projects and the people that will work on projects, from initial brainstorming to completion, and every step in between. Daily responsibilities include motivating workers, evaluating progress, and troubleshooting issues that will inevitably arise. A bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology is generally required, along with a good amount of experience, as this is a managerial role. Depending on the position, certification may be required.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Ensuring that projects are within financial budgets
  • Communicating goals and deadlines verbally and through IT project plans
  • Executing testing plans of completed work
  • Determining additional projects and tweaks that can be made to existing ones

Related Careers

There are many options available for those interested in careers in the information technology field. If being more hands-on like a solutions architect is appealing to you, you may enjoy being an IT specialist. If overseeing and planning the work of others as project managers do is more your style, you may find rewarding work as an IT manager.

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