A solution architect is an information technology professional who designs computer systems, networks, applications and user interfaces for an organization. These professionals typically work with internal and external customers to develop systems to required business specifications. In most cases, these professionals have a wide range of technical knowledge, rather than focusing their skills in a specific area of information technology.
Educational requirements include at least a bachelor's degree in information systems, computer science, information technology or a related discipline. Certifications related to system and network architecture through popular technology providers such as Cisco and Microsoft may increase employment opportunities. These types of certifications offer highly recognized credentials.
A solution architect is responsible for understanding internal and external customer needs, and designing computer and network systems that allow customers to implement systems for their technology business applications. This involves performing system and network modeling, analysis and planning to implement a solution that will meet business needs within financial budget guidelines. This may include researching software and hardware products or services, and finding best solutions and prices to meet business requirements. In most cases, the architect presents and translates the design to customers to ensure the design will meet the customers' requirements.
After the design of systems are completed, the solution architect translates the requirements to internal information technology teams such as software and hardware programmers, developers and network administrators to successfully implement the design. This can include delegating development responsibilities to ensure the project is completed in a required time frame. As a technical expert, the architect often provides guidance and makes decisions on changes required throughout the design process, and may also do some of the development along with the team of information technology professionals.
Along with design and development, an architect reviews and analyzes current technology infrastructure and its ability to support strategic objectives of an employer or customer. This includes working with all departments within an organization to assist in the improvement of business processes, testing systems to ensure functionality is satisfactory and recommending new systems or product upgrades.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects 30 percent growth for these and related professionals who direct and oversee computer systems and their functionality. Growth is expected due to continuous technological advances and many organizations' need to stay competitive with technology. In May 2014, Indeed.com lists a national average salary of $101,000 per year for this occupation.