How Do I Become a Systems Architect?

Page Coleman

To become a systems architect usually requires a college education and experience in related fields. Though many systems architects start their information technology careers as developers, they must be able to transfer their focus from computer application details to conceptual designs of complex information technology systems. This position is challenging, and may lead to management opportunities.

Frequently, five or more years of experience as a software developer is desired for a systems architect position.
Frequently, five or more years of experience as a software developer is desired for a systems architect position.

You will likely need a four-year degree in computer science to become a systems architect. A graduate degree may help you increase your earnings, and some organizations may prefer to hire systems architects who have master’s degrees. In-depth experience in technology is often important. Frequently, five or more years of experience as a software developer is desired. Some organizations also prefer that their systems architects have experience in the programming languages, databases and other technologies they use.

In this role, you may be expected to understand the software development life cycle. System architects duties may include creating reports, specifications and designs for the information technology systems that are being created or updated. The use of visual modeling and development tools, along with understanding Unified Modeling Language (UML), can be important to systems architect training.

While application developers may be very involved in the details of creating computer applications, systems architects must be able to look at systems from a conceptual viewpoint. They must be able to understand users’ needs, and they may help elicit business requirements. Learning the business aspects of an organization, and keeping up with both industry and technology trends may help you be successful in this role.

Larger organizations that have complex information systems are more likely than smaller firms to hire systems architects. Working in a role such as an application developer at a larger organization may, therefore, increase your opportunities to advance. You may be promoted to this role, or you may need to change companies to become a systems architect.

To benefit the organization for which they work, a systems architect must design technical solutions that are efficient and robust. Ideally, the solution the systems architect proposes should not only meets current needs, but should also meet future needs without requiring a great deal of rework. In this way, a competent systems architect may save the organization money.

After you become a systems architect, you may be paid quite well. Systems architect careers may offer both challenges and responsibility. You may have opportunities to supervise application developers, and a position as a systems architect may lead to management.

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