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What is a Data Architect?

Big organizations that use technology tend to gather a lot of data. An e-commerce site may track hundreds of pieces of data, from purchases to discounts to products. With all of this data, you may wonder how a business can keep everything organized.

That’s where the data architect comes in. A data architect helps businesses bring order to the data they have so that a business knows how data is collected, where data goes, and how data can be retrieved by other people in a business.

In this guide, we’re going to chat about the role of the data architect. We will discuss responsibilities for data architects, the skills you will need to become a data architect, and a bit about salaries. We will conclude by discussing how you can become a data architect and whether or not this is a career path you should consider.

What is a Data Architect?

Data architects are in charge of the architecture of an organization’s data. A data architect will track how data is collected and used so that all of the data collected by a business is clearly understood. The findings of a data architect will be shared with other data team members, ensuring everyone in an organization is clear on data collection, retrieval, and retention policies.

Being a data architect means that you have to think about the big picture. The data architect role is more senior than many other jobs where you will work with data. You will need to think about how data is collected across various projects and map out your findings. You will need to work with stakeholders to ensure those who need to know about an organization’s data architecture have the information they need.

Data Architect Job Responsibilities

Data architects have varied roles depending on the organization for which they work. Bigger organizations may need data architects to track various projects whereas a data architect may be focused on fewer data sources in a smaller organization.

Here are a few of the responsibilities you will have as a data architect:

  • Develop data retention policies to decide how long data is stored.
  • Plan data migrations when necessary.
  • Define the standards used to collect and store data within a business.
  • Plan how data should be achieved within a business.
  • Oversee the security precautions taken to ensure data is held according to company standards and any relevant laws.

A data architect will work with both members of a data team and more senior members of an organization. This is because data architects play a senior role on a data team.

In terms of instruction, data architects will ensure that everyone complies with the standards set forth by the data architect and any relevant stakeholders with regard to working with data. Data architects mainly provide guidance; they are not usually involved in actually building data structure.

Data Architect Skills

Data architects need a good understanding of working with data on a day-to-day basis to succeed. A data architect must also understand how data is used in an organization and have the skills necessary to define data architecture.

Here are a few skills you can expect to find on a job description for a data architect:

  • Knowledge of Microsoft Excel.
  • Knowledge of database theory and architectures.
  • Work experience in a data role such as data analyst or data engineer.
  • Knowledge in preparing diagrams that represent data.
  • Good analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Knowledge of SQL.

Data architects are not in the weeds with regard to implementing the standards they have developed but they do need to make sure that their standards are understood. Being a data architect means you need to be comfortable delegating: you give employees guidance and then they should execute the tasks you have given.

How Much Do Data Architects Earn?

Glassdoor reports the average data architect based in the U.S. earns $108,278 per year. Senior data architects earn on average $117,782 per year, which is notably higher than the salary offered to a more junior data architect. You may be able to earn a higher salary depending on the organization for which you work.

How Do I Become a Data Architect?

Data architect is a senior role in the field of data science. Thus, you will need some data experience under your belt before you start applying for data architect jobs. There are two main ways in which you can become a data architect:

  • Go to university and study towards a degree related to computing or data (i.e. computer science, mathematics, physics). A bachelor’s degree is the minimum if you choose this path but a master’s degree or PhD is incredibly valuable in data roles.
  • Work your way up from a more junior role in a business.

Those who choose to study instead of go straight into the workforce will still need hands-on industry experience before advancing to the position of data architect. Data architects are senior positions because they are expected to comprehend various data concepts, from how data is stored in databases to writing retention policies.

With hard work and an interest in becoming a senior member of a data team, there is no reason why you cannot end up as a data architect in your career.

Should You Become a Data Architect?

Becoming a data architect is a decision you need to make further down the line in your career in data. You need hands-on data experience in a professional role to become a data architect; the more experience you have, the better.

On a day-to-day basis, you will help organizations understand the ways in which they use data. You will also define the architecture for data and how employees are expected to work with data. You may have some role in more hands-on configuration but most of the data work will be left to the specialists in respective areas.

If you would prefer to work in a role where you are more hands-on with data, working as a data analyst, data scientist, or a data engineer may be preferable. But if you want to get a view of the bigger picture in terms of how data is used in an organization, the data architect role may be a good fit for you.

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