What Does a Data Architect Do? A Career Guide

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The designs for an organisation's data management systems are created by data architects, just like traditional architects.

Data architects develop the blueprints that businesses use to create their data management systems, much like traditional architects develop blueprints for the framework needed to make structures. 

This involves creating a data management framework that satisfies technological and business needs while maintaining data security and legal compliance. 

Data architects are employed across various sectors, such as technology, entertainment, healthcare, finance, and government.

Do you want to start a career in data architecture? Check out this article to find out how to begin.

Who is a data architect?

A data architect is responsible for designing, creating, deploying and managing an organisation's data architecture. The data architect ensures the data architecture aligns with the organisation's overall business and technology strategy and supports the organisation's data-related goals and objectives. He also provides guidance and direction to other organisation members regarding data architecture, data management and data governance best practices.

Data architect tasks and responsibilities

The tasks and responsibilities of a data architect can vary depending on the organisation and its specific needs but generally include the following:

  • Designing and implementing data architecture that aligns with the organisation's overall business and technology strategy.
  • Developing and maintaining data models supporting the organisation's goals and objectives, including logical and physical data models.
  • Managing data governance and quality processes to ensure data is accurate, consistent, and compliant with relevant regulations.
  • Developing and implementing data management policies and procedures, such as data security, backup, and recovery.
  • Managing data warehousing, data integration, and data migration activities.
  • Providing guidance and direction to other organisation members regarding data architecture, data management and data governance best practices.
  • Collaborating with other IT and business teams to understand data requirements and ensure data architecture supports their needs.
  • Keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in data management, data warehousing and data governance to ensure the organisation's data architecture is current and effective.
  • Participating in selecting and implementing data management and data warehousing tools and technologies.
  • Communicating data architecture vision, strategy, and decisions to stakeholders and senior management.

Data architect skills 

Data architects are expected to have a wide range of skills, including:

  • Strong knowledge of data modelling techniques, including entity-relationship modelling and dimensional modelling.
  • Knowledge of data warehousing, ETL, and data integration technologies.
  • Familiarity with data management best practices, such as data governance, data security, and data quality.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills, with the ability to understand complex data structures and relationships.
  • Experience with SQL and other programming languages.
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills, with the ability to work with cross-functional teams and communicate technical information to non-technical stakeholders.
  • Experience with data visualisation and business intelligence tools.
  • Strong understanding of data governance and data management regulations and compliance.
  • Familiarity with cloud data warehousing and big data technologies.
  • Strong ability to adapt and learn new technologies quickly.
  • Strong leadership, project management and mentoring skills to lead and guide data-related projects.

Types of data architects

There are several different types of data architects, depending on the specific focus and responsibilities of the role. Some common types include:

  • Enterprise Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for designing and implementing the overall data architecture for an organisation. They ensure that the organisation's data architecture aligns with the general business and technology strategy.
  • Solutions Data Architect: This data architect is responsible for designing and implementing data architecture for specific projects or solutions. They work closely with project teams to understand their data requirements and design data architecture that supports those needs.
  • Technical Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for the technical design and implementation of data architecture. They have a strong understanding of data management technologies and work to ensure that the organisation's data architecture is technically sound and supports its data-related goals and objectives.
  • Information Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for designing and implementing data architecture that supports the organisation's information management goals and objectives. They ensure that the organisation's data architecture is aligned with its information management strategy.
  • BI Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for designing and implementing data architecture that supports business intelligence and analytics. They ensure that the organisation's data architecture is aligned with its business intelligence and analytics strategy and supports its data-related goals and objectives.
  • Big Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for designing and implementing data architecture that supports big data technologies and initiatives. They work to ensure that the organisation's data architecture is aligned with its big data strategy and supports its data-related goals and objectives.
  • Cloud Data Architect: This type of data architect is responsible for designing and implementing data architecture that supports cloud data warehousing and cloud-based data management. They work to ensure that the organisation's data architecture is aligned with its cloud strategy and supports its data-related goals and objectives.

How to become a data architect

Becoming a data architect typically involves a combination of education and experience in data management and technology. Here are some steps that can help you on your way to becoming a data architect:

  • Earn a bachelor's degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field. Many data architects have a background in computer science or a related field.
  • Gain experience in data management and technology. Many data architects have experience working with databases, data warehousing, data modelling, and data governance.
  • Learn SQL and other programming languages used in data management and warehousing.
  • Get familiar with data warehousing, ETL, data integration and management technologies, big data, and cloud data warehousing.
  • Get certification in data management or data warehousing, such as the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) or the Certified Data Warehouse Professional (CDWP).
  • Participate in data management and data warehousing projects to gain hands-on experience.
  • Network with other data architects and professionals to learn from their experience and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.
  • Look for opportunities to develop leadership and project management skills as your career progresses.
  • To further your knowledge and skills, consider pursuing an advanced degree in data management, data warehousing, or a related field.

Becoming a data architect is not an overnight process; it takes time, patience, and dedication. 

It's a challenging role that requires a combination of technical and business knowledge, strong problem-solving skills, and the ability to communicate effectively with technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Data architect salary and Job Scope

Data architect salaries can vary depending on several factors, including location, experience, and industry. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a data architect in the United States is around $120,000 per year, ranging from $90,000 to $150,000.

Salaries for data architects can also vary depending on their industry. Data architects in finance and healthcare industries earn higher wages than those in other industries.

In addition to salary, the job scope and responsibilities can also vary depending on the organisation and industry. Some data architects focus on data warehousing and management, while others focus on data governance, data quality, or business intelligence.

Data architects may work with stakeholders, including business leaders, IT professionals, and other data professionals. They may also work closely with project teams to understand their data requirements and design data architecture that supports those needs.

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