Computer Architect Education Requirements and Career Information

Sep 08, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a computer architect. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about job duties, salary and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Computer architects increase overall system performance for businesses and organizations that utilize computers and computer networks. They might be involved in designing software, testing computers or writing algorithms. Entry-level computer architects need at least a bachelor's degree to get started.

Essential Information

Computer architects are involved in the design and operation of hardware and software systems, and work to improve technologies used for business and pleasure. They may work in any industry where computers are used extensively. Computer architects typically hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited college program. These professionals may choose to earn a graduate degree to enhance job prospects in this lucrative field.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
 Median Salary (2018)   $109,020 (for all computer network architects)*
 Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)   5% growth (for all computer network architects)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Requirements for Computer Architects

Computer architects hold bachelor's degrees in computer science or computer engineering; focuses or tracks specific to computer architecture are also available. ABET, Inc. is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation to accredit college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering and technology.

Undergraduate curriculum teaches students how computers operate and what affects their performance. Since computers change rapidly, students rarely focus on one particular system or technology. Rather, they acquire the knowledge and skills needed to keep up with and understand changes in the field. Coursework may include mathematics, algorithms, software engineering, operating systems, information systems, programming languages and computer architecture.

Many graduates go on to earn a master's or doctoral degree. Applicants are expected to have a solid foundation in computer science upon entering a graduate program; to qualify, they often need a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Graduate coursework includes engineering and business, multimedia systems, advanced computer communication, advanced computer architecture and high-speed computer networks.

Career Information

Computer architects with bachelor's degrees from accredited schools qualify for entry-level positions. Employers may prefer candidates with master's degrees for more advanced jobs. Those who intend to teach at a university or perform research must generally have doctorates. Computer architects familiar with a variety of operating systems and programming languages generally have the best job opportunities. While there are no projections specifically for computer architects, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that computer network architects are expected to experience a 5% job growth during the period of 2018-2028, which is as fast as average. According to the BLS, computer network architects earned a median annual salary of $109,020 in 2018.

Computer architects may find work in the business, health care, science and government sectors. They often work for firms that develop computer software and hardware. Computer architects can work as application programmers, hardware designers, network managers, computer engineers or consultants. Some also earn business or law degrees and work for technology companies, using their computer knowledge to offer advice on technological solutions. Computer architects must keep up with changing technologies to remain valuable and competitive. By gaining experience or additional education, candidates may advance to project manager, lead architect or chief information officer.

Job Duties

Computer architects are primarily tasked with increasing overall system performances to meet the needs of businesses and other organizations. Their responsibilities can range from designing gaming software to improving meteorological models for weather forecasting. Computer architects put together individual components to build new systems that meet cost, performance and function goals. They research, design, develop and test computers and related equipment. This may include designing supercomputers for government agencies or new business tools, such as phone applications. Some write algorithms to help computer operations run more smoothly and effectively.

Computer architects benefit from a bachelor's degree in computer science or computer engineering. Going on to complete a master's degree and possessing a complex understanding of programming language and operating systems will aid computer architects in finding more advanced positions. Job responsibilities can vary depending on what industry computer architects work in, but they will generally deal with computer systems, programs and applications.

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