Software Architects design and develop software systems and applications. They may create software tailored to a clients’ specific needs or create products geared for consumers, such as games or desktop applications. They act as high-level decision makers in the process, determining everything from design choices to technical standards, such as platforms and coding standards.
Software Architects tend to oversee and work closely with other members of a development team such as programmers. They are usually the leader of software development projects, but often report to upper management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Software Developers, including Software Architects, are expected to see an above average growth rate of 17 percent through 2024. This will add an estimated 186,600 jobs to this sector during this timeframe.
Software Architect Duties and Responsibilities
A Software Architect’s duties and responsibilities will vary from project to project and company to company. There are, however, several common primary duties for nearly all Software Architects. A review of job listings identified the following core tasks and responsibilities.
Develop Software Solutions
Software Architects must be able to evaluate and identify software solutions. Their jobs often begin by working with a client to discuss what they need their custom software to do or looking at poor-behaving software and finding ways to improve it. If creating consumer products, they may look at similar existing products and find ways to better them or revolutionize them. Software Architects must conduct research, gather information, interpret data, and then create a solution.
Most Software Architects will be expected to act as the lead person on all software development projects. This may include creating a team of workers suitable for the scope of the project, assigning duties to the staff, creating a timeline for the project, and performing cost analysis and budgeting functions. The analysis, design, programming, testing and deployment are all managed by the Software Architect.
Documentation is a very important part of the Software Architect’s job. Every aspect of a system or application must be thoroughly recorded. These documents will serve as references for new employees and for future maintenance on the system. Software Architects must be able to communicate well through writing and be able to create flowcharts and diagrams.
Coaching and mentoring one’s development team is a common requirement of the Software Architect. They are expected share their skills and expertise with their staff as well as set a positive example for them. They need to be able to encourage their team members to think creatively as well as keep them motivated.
Software Architect Skills
A successful Software Architect must be technically-inclined, a great problem-solver, and possess excellent interpersonal relationship skills. They are wonderful leaders and are extremely reliable. They should also work well under pressure and tight deadlines. In addition to these traits, employers look for applicants with the following skills.
Core skills: Based on job listings we looked at, employers want Software Architect with these core skills. If you want to work in this field, focus on the following.
- Broad and extensive knowledge of the software development process and its technologies
- Knowledge of architectural styles and design patterns
- Understanding of various coding methods and computer languages
- Data modeling and database design experience
- Experience with software development lifecycle (SDLC) processes
- Experience with service oriented architecture (SOA)
Advanced skills: While most employers did not require the following skills, multiple job listings included them as preferred. Add these to your skillset and broaden your career options.
- Experience with enterprise service bus (ESB) platforms such as, MuleSoft or BizTalk
- Experience with content management systems
Software Architect Resources
There are more resources available on the Web for those interested in working as a Software Architect. We scoured the internet and found these links full of learning opportunities and the latest industry news.
On the Web
Software Developer’s Journal – Staying up-to-date on the latest technologies and trends in the field are vital. Software Developer’s Journal provides downloadable issues of their journal packed with great articles and editorials. They also have a blog on their site that is worth perusing.
Software Magazine – This site provides free access to its magazine as well as a section devoted to news & events.
Software Architect Books
You Can Be a Software Architect – Author Bett Correa shares insights on how she became a successful Software Architect after working for many years as a software developer. She provides tips and advice on how to break into the career and how to do well at it. A great introduction into the world of the Software Architect.
Documenting Software Architectures – Since documenting architectures is such a large part of the Software Architect’s job, this resource is a must have for those working in the field. It provides readers with all the industry standard formats and guidelines for creating your documentation.
97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts – Over 4 dozen expert and experienced Software Architects share their wisdom on what is most important to be successful in their field. Easy to read and packed with wonderful insights, this is a great tool for those wishing to follow in the experts’ footsteps.
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers – IEEE established in 1884 for the burgeoning electrical industry, has grown into an organization with over 430,000 members worldwide composed of scientists, engineers, software developers and computer science employees. Their large network of members enjoy career development, technical information, research and industry news from this organization.
Computing Technology Industry Association – Founded in 1982, CompTIA provides certification and business credentials, IT education, networking opportunities and resources to those in the information technology field.
Association for Computing Machinery – Founded in 1947, ACM is the largest educational and scientific computing society in the world. It boasts over 100,000 members worldwide and is a wonderful resource for anyone in the computing industry.