What Is an Information Technology Architect?


Updated November 9, 2023

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Information technology architects manage and design businesses' technological components. Discover this career's typical duties, required skills and education, and similar specializations.

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Information technology (IT) architects, also known as enterprise architects, manage organizations' technology-related issues. These professionals oversee the creation of new security systems and architecture, ensure regulatory compliance, and conduct risk assessments.

Becoming an IT architect can be a lucrative decision, with Payscale reporting an average annual salary of $122,780 as of November 2022.

An IT architect needs at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, IT, or a related field. Some employers require or prefer candidates with master's degrees and five or more years of relevant experience. IT architects can work across diverse industries and with people throughout their organizations, requiring excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

This page provides an idea of what to expect from an information technology architect career, including typical duties, average salaries, and overall job outlook. Discover the education and skills needed to become an IT architect.

What Does an IT Architect Do?

An information technology architect's job includes managing, planning, and executing various organization-wide technological components with a focus on digital security. These professionals play a key role in the big picture of a company's information technology security, compliance, and organization. Because they hold a lot of responsibility, this role can sometimes be stressful.

IT architects collaborate with top executives, along with technical and non-technical staff. Because most companies increasingly use computers and technology as part of their everyday operations, information technology architects can find employment opportunities across diverse industries and sectors.

As high-level, specialized professionals, IT architects need various soft and hard skills, including problem-solving, communication, and IT management. We discuss some of the most important aptitudes for IT architects below.

Key Soft Skills for Information Technology Architects

  • Analytics: These skills allow individuals to apply their problem-solving, critical thinking, and decision-making skills to interpret information and draw conclusions. Information technology architects must consider all relevant information, identify patterns and gaps, and address concerns as they arise.
  • Communication: Communication skills include verbal and written techniques for delivering information. Information technology architects explain complex concepts to colleagues and non-technological professionals while listening, interpreting, and observing needs. Written communication skills must consider appropriate tone, language, and context.
  • Problem-Solving: These abilities include active listening and observing, along with researching and innovating as needed. As information technology architects implement and manage security and business operations, they identify solutions to concerns and challenges. Problem-solving involves working independently and with teams.
  • Organization: Strong organization skills encompass time management, prioritization, resource allocation, and the ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Information technology architects must recognize larger goals and needs while constructing plans and maintaining smaller-scale projects and duties. Organization skills help information technology architects set and meet goals accordingly.
  • Project Management: This refers to planning, initiating, executing, controlling, and closing projects to achieve goals within a specific timeframe. Project management allows individuals to work as part of a team to accomplish a common goal.

Key Hard Skills for Information Technology Architects

  • Systems Architecture: Systems architecture defines the behavior, structure, and views of a system through a conceptual model. It often includes sub-systems and components, which work together to deliver proper functionality by the overall system.
  • Security Risk Management: IT architects manage and assess potential security risks associated with their organizations' IT systems. These duties include monitoring for weaknesses and creating a response plan after finding vulnerabilities.
  • IT Management: This discipline refers to managing a firm's information technology resources in accordance with its needs and priorities. IT management covers data, networks, computer hardware and software, and data center facilities. Professionals in this discipline also coordinate budgets, staffing, and change management.
  • IT Security and Infrastructure: IT security and infrastructure cover the safeguarding of critical infrastructures from terrorism, contamination, and sabotage. These structures include rail transport, hospitals, highways, airports, and the electricity grid. Security protects these structures and systems.
  • Cloud Computing: This form of computing relies on decentralized resource sharing to accomplish coherence and economies of scale. Knowledge of this field allows organizations to focus on their core businesses rather than using their resources on computer maintenance.

History of IT Architects

As a subspecialization of computer science, information technology architecture is a relatively new field that has emerged in the last few decades.

IT architecture refers to the process of creating systematic IT rules and models following established IT processes and using notations like Uniform Modeling Language. This architecture aims to help businesses achieve their goals using technological solutions. IBM was one of the first companies to use information technology architecture processes and methods.

A Day in the Life of an Information Technology Architect

By creating plans and layouts for data communication networks, IT architects serve as leaders and support staff. Information technology architects design, implement, and oversee security and business technologies for businesses and organizations. Information technology architects ensure efficiency and effectiveness by communicating with colleagues about software, network, and database architectures.

Information Technology Architect Career and Salary Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer network architects, a career similar to information technology architects, earned a median salary of $120,520 as of May 2021. Earning potential can vary by education, experience, and geographic location. With 5-10 years of experience in the field, IT architects often earn $55,000 more per year than their entry-level counterparts.

The highest number of information technology architects work in the computer systems design and telecommunications industries. These IT architects earn salaries exceeding the annual median wage. With high levels of information technology activity, California and Texas employ the largest groups of IT professionals.

The top-paying industries for information technology architects include computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing as well as the financial investments sector, both of which pay annual wages above the national figure. New Jersey provides the highest salaries for IT architects and is home to one of the 10 top-paying metropolitan areas for the profession.

Annual Median Salary

Source: BLS

How to Become an Information Technology Architect

With a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, you can pursue entry-level roles in information technology and advance into an architect position. A bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or computer engineering usually takes four years to complete, but students may also complete accelerated programs online or in the classroom.

Students with associate degrees or previous coursework in the field may significantly shorten their bachelor's program length. Bachelor's graduates can pursue employment as software programmers, information technology analysts, and other entry-level roles.

On-the-job training and experience can prepare junior technology professionals to advance into architect positions. While building a professional portfolio, future information technology architects demonstrate their ability to serve as leaders in the field.

Learners with professional histories as data scientists, information security specialists, and computer support specialists also possess the necessary skills for architect roles. Information technology architects can benefit from industry certifications, which some employers may require.

Aspiring professionals wondering, "what is an information technology architect?" can follow the links below.

How to Become an Information Technology Architect

How to Become an Information Technology Architect

Learn about the typical experience, education, and skills to become an information technology architect.

Day in the Life of an Information Technology Architect

Day in the Life of an Information Technology Architect

We describe a day in the life of an information technology architect to provide an idea of popular job duties, tasks, and responsibilities.

Information Technology Degree Programs

Information Technology Degree Programs

Discover what to expect from a typical IT program. We explain the various degree levels, IT career and salary outlook, and ideas for paying for your education.

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Certifications for Computer Science Professionals

Discover how professional certifications can help your career in computer science. We cover different types of certifications, explain how to earn these credentials, and highlight some top options.

Similar Specializations and Career Paths

Information technology architect students and graduates can pursue various career paths and fields. Below, we describe five popular careers similar to information technology architects.

  • Computer Network Architects: Computer network architects create data communication networks like intranets, wide area networks, and local area networks. Typical duties include upgrading hardware, creating data communication network plans, and giving presentations about plans to management. Large employers include the computer systems design, telecommunications, and management industries.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators: Network and computer systems administrators oversee the daily operations of their organizations' computer networks. Most businesses require network and computer systems administrators to hold certifications in the products they use. This role can advance to positions like computer network architect or computer and information systems manager.
  • Computer Hardware Engineers: Computer hardware engineers develop, test, and research computer components and systems. Common job duties include testing computer hardware, updating computers to work with new software, and altering designs. Computer hardware engineers need experience with coding and programming, problem-solving, and database knowledge.
  • Computer and Information Research Scientists: Computer and information research scientists create ways to use existing and new technologies. They work for the federal government, the computer systems design industry, and in research and development. Some computer and information research scientists advance to become computer and information systems managers.
  • Database Administrators and Architects: Database administrators and architects organize and create systems for storing data. They also help keep data secure and enable access to authorized users. Common job tasks include maintaining databases, backing up data, and testing changes to database structures.
Career Required Education Required Experience Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2021-2031)
Computer Network Architects Bachelor's degree Five years or more $120,520 4%
Network and Computer Systems Administrators Bachelor's degree None $80,600 3%
Computer Hardware Engineers Bachelor's degree None $128,170 5%
Computer and Information Research Scientists Master's degree None $131,490 21%
Database Administrators and Architects Bachelor's degree None $101,000 9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Resources for Information Technology Architects

Joining a professional group focused on IT architecture can help you keep up with new technologies, network with colleagues, and learn about education and career opportunities.

Professional Organizations for IT Architects

Professional organizations and associations bring together information technology professionals to connect, collaborate, and build communities. Through online and face-to-face interactions, professional organizations and associations build networks of IT architects. Additional content provided for members includes policy and technology updates, publications, and advocacy opportunities.

Professional resources may also provide assistance to information technology architects. Industry leaders such as Cisco offer product and support services, plus partnership and training programs.

Association of Enterprise Architects

The AEA offers individual, student, and chapter memberships to advance the enterprise architecture profession and increase its visibility in the marketplace. It unites enterprise architects by facilitating collaboration and sharing through online forums, community blogs, and industry publications. Members receive access to on-demand webinars and job board information.

IASA Global

IASA Global facilitates the growth of information architecture communities to drive standards and professional practice. Members can access local education activities, networking and social events, and subscriptions to the latest IASA news. Additional benefits include discounts on industry conferences, certification eligibility, and online self-assessment and training materials.

Association for Information Science and Technology

ASIS&T brings together information science practice and research. Members can join at the student, professional, and retired levels, or as part of an institutional affiliate or partner. Benefits include access to ASIS&T's training programs, job information, and annual meetings and events.

Society for Information Management

SIM builds connections among information technology leaders through meetings and online networking, publications, and outreach programs. Members can receive discounts at regional and national gatherings, along with participating in working groups to collaborate with peers across industries. Additional membership benefits include a quarterly journal, a leadership forum, and access to SIM's online library.

Frequently Asked Questions About IT Architects

What is information technology architecture?

Information technology architecture refers to the creation of IT rules and models following IT enterprise, infrastructure, and solution processes.

What does an information technology architect do?

Information technology architects manage technology-related components of their company. They oversee security architecture and systems, ensure compliance, and create conceptual models.

Is information technology architecture a good career?

Information technology architecture can make an excellent career choice for analytical, tech-savvy people. IT architects earned a strong average annual salary of $122,780 as of November 2022.

What skills do you need to be an IT architect?

Crucial skills to succeed as an IT architect include familiarity with systems architecture, security risk management, IT management, and cloud computing. Communication, project management, analytical, and problem-solving skills also rank high in importance.

Page last reviewed Nov 2, 2022

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