In a world that has quickly evolved and has become overrun with technology, some companies scramble to keep up with the times. Many have to adjust and learn the ins and outs of a fast-paced technical world while searching for new talent to bring into their team. One type of talent that is quickly growing in demand is software architecture. As the hunt for software architects increases and companies scramble to hire a software architect, many decision-makers and smaller businesses are left wondering — what exactly is a software architect?
What is a Software Architect?
Software development teams have many members — from developers and engineers to software architects. Software architects are some of the most demanding positions on a software development team and are often delegated various critical tasks from designing to engineering. Due to the complexity of the assigned tasks and the skill and education level required of an architect, some companies have trouble filling software architect roles.
Software architects are indeed vital members of software development teams — they’re much more than that. While they do handle design patterns and engineering tasks, the tasks delegated to them are often more complex in nature than those assigned to software engineers and developers.
When it comes to the question “what is a software architect,” there’s a lot to unpack. To fully understand this role and what it entails, you must learn about their skill requirements, the different types of software architects, their roles and responsibilities, and what separates them from software engineers.
Software Architect Skill Requirements
The skills of a software architect can be broken down into two categories: technical and soft skills. Additionally, the skills required of a software architect may also vary between jobs and companies along with education, experience, and skill level. For example, a senior software architect will have more developed skill sets than those of an entry-level software architect. Even so, there are some fundamental technical and soft skills that software architects must exhibit to even be considered an architect.
Software Architect Technical Skills
Technical skills are a skill type defined by special knowledge and experience in regard to specific tasks. Unlike soft skills, technical skills are typically developed over time through experience or learned from higher education, such as through university or college. Technical skills can also be self-taught by studying through various online platforms and reading various books pertaining to the skills in question.
While technical skills can vary greatly depending on the job, a software architect must exhibit several fundamental technical standards and skills to be considered a true software architect. They include:
- A concrete understanding of the technology environment: Software architects are assigned various tasks from software design to software engineering. As such, it’s imperative that they know and understand the entirety of the technology environment and how it works. They should also have good technical knowledge and understanding of technology alternatives.
- Familiarity with modern architectural paradigms: Being familiar with specific paradigms will help software architects capitalize on their architectural dexterity, aiding them in transitioning to cloud platforms, using server-side application architectural paradigms, and using modern web and mobile application architectures.
- Fluency in certain codes: A software architect is usually at the forefront of any software development team. This means that software architects are often in charge and are viewed as team leads. Since they’re usually in leadership positions, they’re usually required to contribute to the entirety of the software-building process — including coding. As such, software architects must be fluent in certain coding languages, particularly those that their company uses.
- Expertise in cloud software: Cloud software is often a go-to software choice for many technology-based businesses. A software architect should be well-versed in all things cloud technology will help them with, assess the tools at their disposal, and determine which are appropriate to use and when. Since cloud technology can encompass many different platforms and services, architects should be able to identify and choose the right cloud service to use in their work.
- Understanding domains and databases: Since software architects often must aid in coding, it’s important that they also understand the specifics of your company’s domain and any databases that you use. This will assist them in solving problems more effectively.
A few other technical skills that you may want to look for include:
- DevOps expertise
- In-depth understanding of systems design practices
- Familiarity with data modeling and database design
- Expertise in Unified Modeling Language (UML)
Soft skills sometimes come naturally or develop gradually. Either way, certain soft skills are vital for software architects to have in their arsenal. They include:
- Communication: Having strong communication skills is often necessary for the workforce. However, with software architects, it’s even more necessary. Not only will your software architect need to communicate to you, their team, and other professionals, but they’ll also be expected to explain visions and ideas to stakeholders. As such, software architects must be able to explain ideas clearly and definitively. Your software architect should also be well-versed in negotiation skills to deal with trade-offs.
- Creative thinking: Software architects must be able to look past the small details and at the bigger picture. They should be able to handle technical details but also focus on the overall system and how specific components contribute to the overall goal. They’ll often be met with issues they must overcome, typically through alternative and creative solutions.
- Leadership: Since software architects are often in charge of development teams, they must have strong leadership skills. Architects often have to mentor and teach other software professionals. So, they must know when and how to take on a leadership role and how to confidently guide those who look up to them. They must be able to coordinate and support their teams throughout the whole development process. Sometimes, they may even be in charge of managing multiple teams at once, which means they must be able to resolve conflicts, make quick decisions, and keep their teams motivated — all of which are included in leadership skills.
- Organization: Software architects are often assigned various tasks with various deadlines. Oftentimes, they’ll have access to limited resources, yet they’re expected to do a lot with what they’re given. As such, software architects should have good organizational skills to help them prioritize tasks and organize their teams.
- Problem-solving: Software architects are expected to run into numerous problems and errors while working. After all, they manage so many tasks right down to the overall system design. Because they work with the system design, they must be able to identify problems, review them, and come up with solutions promptly.
- Time management: As mentioned previously, software architects are often assigned various tasks and are expected to handle them simultaneously. Additionally, they’re expected to participate in meetings with clients, stakeholders, and upper-level management and collaborate with teams. Their schedules often get overflooded, and they become busybodies. So, managing their time well is an essential skill to have.
Types of Software Architects
The term software architect isn’t as black and white as you may think. While software architects can encompass many different roles and have various tasks assigned to them, there are several architectural styles and types you should know about so that you can choose the right one for your business.
Enterprise architects focus on organized growth and an enterprise’s development of their information technology (IT) systems. They are primarily responsible for the longevity of IT systems and improving them in the long term. Enterprise software architects are usually critical to the success of an organization.
Other duties of an enterprise architect include:
- Reducing system complexity
- Refactoring existing solutions
- Increasing agility of the IT system
Solution software architects are professionals who work in the IT field. They are often tasked with using IT systems to create solutions to various business problems. Software architects often work alongside other IT professionals and work to create plans and solutions for technological software problems.
Other duties of a solution architect include:
- Managing and maintaining software
- Staging test procedures
- Conducting test procedures
As their name implies, data software architects work with data. They’re often referred to as IT professionals and are responsible for collecting, storing, and distributing data, as well as ensuring that data is backed up properly. They’re also in charge of designing blueprints for data management systems to ensure that their company’s data is properly handled and secured.
Other duties of a data architect include:
- Converting business requirements into databases
- Researching opportunities for data acquisition
- Creating application programming interfaces (APIs) to recover data
Cloud architects are another form of IT professionals and overall software architects responsible for tasks relating to a company’s cloud computing system. They oversee cloud computing strategies that include cloud application designs and cloud management.
Other duties of a cloud architect include:
- Introducing cloud adoption
- Creating and maintaining cloud architecture
- Assist in all cloud-related tasks
Security architects aid their company in all things security. This includes checking for weaknesses and risks to their systems, conducting penetration tests, and performing risk analyses and ethical hacks on various network infrastructures.
Other duties of a security architect include:
- Building and maintaining security systems
- Preparing budgets for risks and security measures
- Allocating personnel resources when necessary
Software Architect Roles and Responsibilities
So, what does a software architect do? What are software architects’ roles and responsibilities?
Software architects are responsible for significant tasks, including those relating to the functionality, performance, scalability, security, and tradeoffs of their organization’s systems. While the true roles and responsibilities may vary between jobs, there are a few commonalities that many businesses agree that their software architects should be responsible for. These include:
Pre-development refers to what happens between the fruition of the idea and the initiation of the design. It often includes heavy research, gathering information, exploring and comparing options, and deciding in which direction a project should go.
Architectural prototyping is the process of building prototypes or models of the overall idea. These models are usually unfinished versions of the idea and can easily be tweaked to see in which direction a project should go. Architectural prototyping allows architects to explore and experiment with different designs, styles, and features to see what would work best.
Software Project Development
Software architects are also often tasked with aiding in software project development. This sees them designing high-level concepts and user interface designs for various software applications. They also usually are required to collaborate with other software professionals, working to implement all requirements into the final product.
Software architects are also often responsible for ensuring quality assurance. This means they must use various systematic processes to decide if products and services are up to certain quality standards. Quality assurance is usually handled throughout the entire project.
Finally, software architects are tasked with post-development tasks, such as managing and maintaining good working software and products and assisting clients with any post-development support they may need.
Software Architect Salary
According to Glassdor.com, the overall software architect salary in the United States is around $163,000. The average salary for entry-level Software Architects is about $144,000, and about $196,000 per year for Senior experts in the U.S.
In comparison, in Mexico, the average salary for a Software Architect per month is:
- Entry level monthly salary is about $4,200 USD
- Junior level monthly salary is around $7,000 USD
- Senior level monthly salary is around $8,100 USD
Brazil's market for Software Architects is also competitive with U.S. salaries for their markets. Here's the averages for monthly salaries:
- Entry level monthly salary is about $4,560 USD
- Junior level monthly salary is around $5,180 USD
- Senior level monthly salary is around $6,641 USD
Software Architect vs. Software Engineer
When it comes to software architects and software engineers, there are a few similarities and differences between the two professions. For example, both professions deal with the software development process, writing code, and creating functional computer systems. However, the way these professionals handle these tasks differ. Additionally, the education and training they have received also differ.
The main difference between software architecture and software engineering approaches is that a software architect generally handles tasks relating to software planning, whereas a software engineer handles tasks relating to engineering. Still, many aspects of these two professions are intertwined, and oftentimes software architects will find themselves having to dive into the engineering world, too.
Hire a Software Architect With Revelo
It can be hard to cut through the noise and find and hire a software architect to fill the vacancy on your team. As hard as it may be, you don’t have to win this battle alone — Revelo is there to help. With our talent marketplace, you’ll be able to find the best fit for your company and build the all-star tech team that your company deserves. Schedule a meeting with one our representatives today to answer any of your questions and get the process started!