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Software Architect

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree
Average Salary: $105,000
Job Outlook: Very good

A software architect is a high-level software designer who works to narrow down the process of creating software applications. The role of software architect was not necessary until recently, when software development became much more complex. Now, software architects are a necessary part of the software development process because there are so many high-level choices to make during the beginning of the software development process.

Software architects are now necessary to help limit the options available to developers further down the line. Essentially, they make major development choices about the application framework, technical standards, platforms, and tools. They often help design software so that it advances the goals of the business or end-goal software application.

Software architects also have to communicate with their business and to lower-level software developers. Often, communication is written or emailed, so it can easily be tracked.

Education and Training Requirements

For the most part, software architects have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer systems and technology or related fields. Architects can major in various fields, including software engineering, mathematics, or computer science, and they typically must also have experience in software development at the end-product level.

Because software architects are part of the major design process for software applications that are being developed, these architects must be familiar with the entire software design and development process, so experience in the field and on the job training is often a necessity.

Getting the Job

Software architects are often hired from within the company from other software engineering and design positions. Since experience is a necessity, being promoted from within a large company is often a good idea. Some software architects with experience and education can move to other companies by simply applying for open software architecture positions.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Like other aspects of software development, software architecture is a growing field and is expected to continue growing. Software development is becoming increasingly complex, which means that more people are necessary for making the upper-level decisions about software development.

A software architect may seek more career development in upper-level management positions for software developing companies. Many work independently or start their own businesses, as well, which often comes with a more lucrative salary.

Working Conditions and Environment

This is not a particularly stressful job, but software architects must communicate effectively both with the business and with the lower level software engineers. For the most part, these software engineers work in an office setting, and some telecommuting opportunities may be available.

Software architecture is typically very deadline based. This means that while a software architect may typically work normal business hours during the day and work week, when a major deadline looms, the architect may need to put in more hours to ensure that the deadline is met.

Salary and Benefits

The average salary for a software architect is $105,000 per year, though salaries are on the rise for this position. Software architects can make a bit less than this, to about $90,000, but some make up to $170,000. Those who are self employed may have the best options available to them for contracting positions.

Most software architects are able to get health benefits through their company, including paid time off and a retirement package. Those who are consultants, contractors, or otherwise self employed will be responsible for covering these benefits on their own.

Where to Go for More Information

Association for Computing Machinery
2 Penn Plaza, Ste. 701
New York, NY 10121
(425) 564-4229

Institute for Electrical & Electronics Engineers Computer Society
2001 L Street NW, Ste. 700
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 371-0101

University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering
AC101 Paul G. Allen Center, Box 352350
185 Stevens Way
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-1694

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