What Is a Solutions Architect (and How Do I Become One)?

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 8, 2021

A solutions architect creates the overall technical vision for a specific solution to a business problem.

[Featured image] A woman in a yellow shirt and denim overalls works as a solutions architect in a bright office with computers on the desk behind her. She's smiling and looking at the camera.

A solutions architect creates the overall technical vision for a specific solution to a business problem. They design, describe, and manage the solution. In many ways, this person builds the bridge between a business problem and the technology solution and outlines each of the phases and requirements required to make that solution work. 

What does a solutions architect do? 

A good solutions architect looks at the existing environment and analyzes what technologies are available and what software product must be developed to provide the best solution for the problem that needs to be solved. From there, the solutions architect creates an overall strategic technical vision—not unlike an architect designing a blueprint for a building. They develop a budget for producing a software product based on that vision. 

After the stakeholders have agreed on the project, the solutions architect is responsible for monitoring the process and keeping stakeholders updated and informed on the progress. Most of the time, the project involves both technical and non-technical stakeholders, and the solutions architect must make sure that each party's needs are considered and factored into the project's scope. 

Tasks and responsibilities

Depending on the company you work for and the project you’re working on, your day-to-day tasks as a solutions architect might include:

  • Providing recommendations and roadmaps for proposed solutions

  • Performing design, debug, and performance analysis on solutions

  • Documenting and sharing best practice knowledge for new solutions

  • Advocating for process improvements and helping develop solutions

  • Regularly communicating new features and benefits to partners, customers, and other stakeholders

  • Providing technical leadership to a team throughout the project lifecycle

  • Developing proof-of-concept projects to validate your proposed solutions

  • Reviewing and validating solutions designs from other team members

Solutions architect vs. project manager

Although a solutions architect is not a project manager, this position requires excellent project management skills to ensure that the project stays on time, on budget, and is effective in solving the problem it was developed to solve. It also requires clear communication skills and the ability to translate technical details of the project into simple language that will be easy for non-technical stakeholders to understand. Successful solutions architects are usually curious, rational, analytical, and methodical—all of which are important traits for this job.  

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The solution architect role also requires being able to project into the future and consider upcoming uses. A solutions architect must view the long-term use of this product and implement scalability and adaptability into the solution for the future.   

Why should I pursue a career as a solutions architect?

If you are creative, analytical, outgoing, pragmatic, and can explain problems and solutions on both a technical and non-technical level, you could have a future as a solutions architect. 

The average annual base pay for a solutions architect, according to Glassdoor, is $124,960, although it ranges from about $91,000 to $172,000 [1]. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer network architects is bright for the future. Employment opportunities are expected to grow 5 percent from 2020 to 2030, making it a faster-growing field than many occupations [2]. As companies continue expanding their information technology networks, the demand for solutions architects will likely increase. 

How do I become a solutions architect? 

There is no single path to becoming a solutions architect. These professionals can come from many different backgrounds, although some of the most common degrees solutions architects hold are bachelor's degrees in information technology, computer science, or software information. A candidate with an MBA in information systems may also be a good fit for a role as a solutions architect. 

Most solutions architects have spent at least a few years in software development. This gives them a strong understanding of the tools and technologies involved in designing solutions. Five to 10 years of hands-on experience in network administration or information technology systems is common, but it varies based on what a specific company is looking for. 

Read more: How to Become a Software Developer | 9 Tips

Get started with Coursera

Looking for a way to build your skills and expertise as a solutions architect and add to your existing resume? Consider a course in software design and architecture to help you learn to think like an architect and start developing software designs. Or consider a course in software architecture to better familiarize yourself with the most common solution architectures.

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Articles Sources

1. Glassdoor. "Salary: Solution Architect, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/solution-architect-salary-SRCH_KO0,18.htm." November 30, 2021.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer Network Architects, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-network-architects.htm." Accessed December 1, 2021.

Written by Coursera • Updated on Dec 8, 2021

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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