What Does a Data Architect Do? A Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Like traditional architects, data architects design the blueprints organisations use for their data management systems.

[Featured image] A solutions architect wearing black overalls and a yellow shirt stands alone in an open office.

Much like traditional architects draw up blueprints for the framework used to create structures, data architects design the blueprints that organisations use for their data management systems. This includes drafting a data management framework to meet business and technology requirements while ensuring data security and compliance with regulations. Data architects work in a variety of industries, including the technology sector, entertainment, health care, finance, and government.

Interested in launching your career in data architecture? Learn how to get started in this guide.

What is a data architect?

Data architects are IT professionals who leverage their computer science and design skills to review and analyse the data infrastructure of an organisation, plan future databases, and implement solutions to store and manage data for organisations and their users.

Since almost every company uses data, data architects can work in nearly any industry, including technology, entertainment, health care, finance, and government.

Data architect tasks and responsibilities

Typical responsibilities range from evaluating the current data architecture to keeping databases secure. Depending on your organisation and industry, your day-to-day tasks might include:

  • Translating business requirements into databases, data warehouses, and data streams

  • Creating procedures to ensure data accuracy and accessibility

  • Analysing, planning, and defining data architecture framework, including security, reference data, metadata, and master data

  • Creating and implementing data management processes and procedures

  • Collaborating with other teams within the organisation to devise and implement data strategies, build models, and assess shareholder needs and goals

  • Researching data acquisition opportunities

  • Developing application programming interfaces (APIs) to retrieve data

Curious about data architecture? Get an overview of common database architectures through this video.

Types of data architects

The volume of data that businesses and organisations deal with every day continues to grow rapidly. It's a critical element for business leaders who rely on data to make sound decisions. It's also important to consumers who want to make sure that their data is kept safe. 

As a data architect, you can use your skills in multiple ways and fill a variety of roles. Examples include:

  • Data architects define an organisation's data vision and put it into practice.

  • Project managers oversee projects associated with the planning and building of data architecture.

  • Cloud architects employ company data in a cloud environment for optimal performance.

  • Security architects design and employ safeguards to ensure data confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

  • Machine learning architects design scalable systems for use with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) models.

Data architect salary

The average annual salary for data architects in the UK is £78,793 according to Glassdoor as of October 2022 [1]. Your salary will depend on factors like where you work, your level of experience, and the industry you work in, among others. For example, data architects working in a major metropolitan area like London tend to earn salaries higher than the national average.

Data is an increasingly important component of businesses across many industries, which may account for the demand for data architects. The number of available jobs for data architects has nearly tripled over the past three years. This is an increase of 296 per cent in data architect job demand in the UK [2]. Not only is the number of jobs growing, but the average salary is well above the UK median salary for IT workers of £60,000 [2].

Data architect skills

To become a data architect, you’ll need a mix of job-specific and more general workplace skills that empower you to leverage data tools and technologies to help data drive business goals. Here are some of the useful skills you’ll need:

Technical data architect skills

  • Data mining to uncover patterns, anomalies, and correlations in large data sets

  • Data management to efficiently and cost-effectively collect, store, and use data

  • Coding languages like Python and Java to develop applications for data analysis

  • Machine learning to build scalable systems for handling big data

  • Structured query language (SQL) to manipulate data

  • Data modelling tools like ERWin or Visio to visualise metadata and database schema

Workplace skills

  • Business acumen to connect your firm’s objectives with the end user's needs and to develop impactful designs

  • Communication skills to effectively portray your work to non-technical audiences by simplifying complex language and information

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills to understand the importance and overall impact of your actions on your firm and beyond

How to become a data architect

Developing the right skills is a big part of becoming a data architect. If you’re interested in this advanced data career, here’s a quick guide on how to get started. 

Consider a degree in data or computer science.

A bachelor’s qualification is a common entry-level requirement for data architects in the UK because it is a highly skilled position. Qualifications in computer science, data, computer engineering, or a similar field will enable you to start building the skills you’ll need on the job.

Taking courses in operating systems, technology architecture, data management, database systems, and systems analysis can give you a solid foundation of knowledge and skills that can translate to professional expertise.

Build a foundation in data.

Many boot camps, workshops, and courses available online can sharpen your skills in specific areas of data management. If you’re new to the world of data, you might consider an introductory programme, like the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate. As you advance, consider courses in more advanced topics, like Python, SQL, or data warehousing.

Start with an entry-level job in data.

A job as a data architect is rarely an entry-level position. Instead, employers typically look for data architects with at least five years of experience in a data-related role, such as a data analyst, data engineer, or data scientist. You might start out in one of these positions to allow yourself to work your way up to being a data architect. These roles are well-suited to develop into data architect job opportunities because they frequently work under data architects in day-to-day operations.

Earn a data-centric certification.

Once you’ve started gaining experience, you might also opt to pursue a professional credential to enhance your resume. These are some options you might consider.

  • Certified Data Professional (CDP): This credential from the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals allows applicants to choose from specialisations like data analytics and design, business analytics, data integration and interoperability, data warehousing, enterprise data architecture, and data management.

  • Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP): This widely-known data architecture certification is offered by the Data Management Association. It offers four certification levels depending on the amount of experience you have.

  • IBM Certified Data Architect - Big Data: Industry leaders at IBM offer this certification geared toward those who design large-scale and complex data processing systems.

Next steps

Having skills in data architecture can open professional possibilities across a variety of industries. If you’re ready to take the first step toward a career in data, consider enrolling in the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate course on Coursera. Build job-ready skills in less than six months as you learn at your own pace. The courses included in this programme are 100 per cent online and are available for beginners who have no prior experience in the field.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How much does a Data Architect make in United Kingdom, https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/Salaries/uk-data-architect-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN2_KO3,17.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed August 15, 2023.

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