Editor’s note: This is the fourth article in a weekly series looking at the top jobs in data science and analytics. The first three pieces looked at data engineers, data scientists and data analysts. This article looks at the demand for and opportunities available to the data architect.
Job title: Data architect
Reports to: Since a data architect will work as part of the wider engineering function -- designing the data infrastructure of a business -- whom they report into may be very similar to a data engineer. Typically, a lead data architect or engineering manager would lead the architect, however, in smaller organizations they may work directly under a vice president or director of engineering or a chief technology officer.
Demand for this role: Given the rapidly growing need for robust and efficient big data platforms, demand for data architects is synonymous with that of a data engineer. Typically, before a team of engineers can begin to build the infrastructure, the architect would need to design and build the ‘blueprint,’ and ensure the end result is watertight. This is fueling the rising demand for data architects in every organization looking to build cutting edge big data platforms. Many architects will have solid engineering skills and can often both design and build the platform, while many engineers can have the ability to take on the role of an architect.
The data architect is also a warehousing expert, and will often be highly skilled in data management and storage solutions, which is a key differentiator from the engineer.
Top industries hiring for this job: As with most professionals in this space, any organization in any industry that is looking to build robust data warehouses or big data platforms will need an architect to design and build these warehousing solutions and provide the infrastructure oversight.
That said, larger organizations are currently the biggest recruiters, as start-ups and smaller organizations will often employ hybrids of full engineers and architects in order to save costs. The banking and financial services sectors are notable recruiters, while other large organizations will have a strong need as well.
Responsibilities with this job: As mentioned, a data architect will design and build blueprints for the big data infrastructure that the engineers will build, while also being able to build reliable and efficient data warehouses and data management systems. The data architect will have a much wider view of how the data warehouse will best be used and how it can aid the wider organization.
Required background for this job: The majority of organizations will consider candidates with a Bachelors degree in most tech-focused areas; namely computer science, computer engineering/architecture, software engineering and similar studies. Some organizations may require a post-graduate degree or exposure to wide data science topics, depending on the type of business.
Skills requires for this job (technical, business and personal): On a technical level, data architects will have an array of big data technology experiences in their portfolio. Given the heavy focus on databases, SQL or MongoDB would be a necessity, and experience or understanding tools such as Spark, Hive and Pig will also be hugely important. For those seeking an engineering hybrid opportunity, exposure to Hadoop will be a bonus, as will experience in a programming language such as Java or Python.
On a personal level, data architects will need to be passionate about data, particularly having a strong interest in solid and efficient data warehouses, and have a knowledge of data management and storage.
Compensation potential for this job: In New York currently, a fresh graduate in an entry-level data architect position could realistically expect a base salary of approximately $90,000 to $110,000, rising to approximately $130,000 to $150,000 after five years, and peaking at approximately $180,000 to $200,000 for eight or nine years of experience and above.
Success in this role defined by: Given the nature of the role, developing an expertise in data warehousing and data management and being a ‘go-to’ for all things data would be a sure sign of success in this space. The combined ability to collaborate well with data engineers and business leaders and architecting a solid and robust data warehouse, whilst providing the blueprint to a cutting edge and reliable data platform would be hugely attractive to employers and a key set of skills to have in this area.
Advancement opportunities for this job: A natural progression for a data architect would be to eventually move into a head of architecture position, leading teams and liaising with business leaders on data strategy. However, you move into a head or director of engineering and head up cross-functional teams that span across the whole data function of a business. Similarly, a data architect could also progress into CTO-level roles.
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