Why the Data Architect Salary is on the Rise

Data Architect looking at computer screen.

Control of digital data gives organizations a tactical advantage. Enter the data architect: the mastermind who ensures an organization’s data is properly gathered, organized and available when needed.

“This challenging role involves more than just ensuring data centers are secure, co-located and accessible,” explains Eric Younkin, Branch Manager at Robert Half Technology’s Cleveland location. “A data architect is responsible for the complicated processes that are essential to making strategic business decisions.”

According to Younkin, because data is now taking center stage in many organizations, demand for data architects is intensifying. Compensation trends reflect that demand: Robert Half Technology’s Salary Guide reports that the average starting data architect salary in the United States is expected to increase 6.4 percent this year — ranging from $127,250 to $175,500.

You can use the Robert Half Technology Salary Calculator to find salary information specific to your city.

What it takes to be a data architect

Below are a few key qualifications for a data architect:

  • High level of analytical and creative skills
  • In-depth knowledge of the methodology, design and modeling of databases and data systems
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to plan and coordinate data resources effectively
  • Working knowledge of network management, distributed databases and processing, application architecture and performance management
  • Bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field
  • Experience with Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server or other databases in various operating system environments, such as Unix, Linux, Solaris and Microsoft Windows

Data architects need more than technical skills. Here's how to boost your soft skills.

How to become a data architect

A data architect must be able to understand and evaluate business requirements and then translate that information into specific database solutions. “This includes not only being responsible for physical data storage locations (data centers), but also the way data is organized into databases,” says Younkin. “It’s also about maintaining the health and security of those databases.”

Leadership skills are necessary for data architects to establish and document data standards while working with systems and database administration staff to implement, coordinate and maintain enterprisewide data architecture. Data architects also can be responsible for overseeing data design models, database architecture and data repository design, in addition to creating and testing various database prototypes.

Like most technology jobs, technical experience is helpful, if not required. However, data architects also must be business-minded, so experience in a relevant nontechnical role could actually boost your marketability for this in-demand position.

For those lacking experience, Younkin offers this advice: “Spending time in a more functional role, such as business analyst, can give you access to a whole other perspective of what data can be used for. Don’t stray too far away from the technical, though. If you can’t spell OLAP, you probably won’t make it to a role like data architect.”

Look to Robert Half Technology's latest Salary Guide for job descriptions and starting compensation trends for a wide range of IT jobs — including data architect. 

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Note: This post has been updated. It originally appeared on 4/28/14.

Tags: IT Jobs