Data Warehouse Architect Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about a data warehouse architect's job duties, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a data warehouse architect career.
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Pros and Cons of a Data Warehouse Architect Career

Data warehouse architects build specialized information systems that make an organization's data readily available for analysis and retrieval. Consider the pros and cons to determine whether this high-tech career is for you.

Pros of a Data Warehouse Architect Career
Projected job growth is strong (15% for the related career of database administrator for 2012-2022)*
Salary prospects are high (starting salaries for data architects ranged from $119,750 to $164,750, according to a 2015 report)**
Considered a 'new and emerging' occupation with a bright outlook***
Technical expertise applicable across a broad range of industries****

Cons of a Data Warehouse Architect Career
Must stay abreast of rapid technological change*
Years of experience may be required for position*
An MBA with a concentration in information science may be required to remain competitive*
Working over 40 hours per week may be required*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Robert Half International, ***O*NET, ****Salary.com.

Essential Career Information

Job Description and Duties

Data warehouses are a relatively recent addition to the arsenal of business intelligence tools used to efficiently access data from diverse sources. Data warehouse specialists are IT professionals who specialize in data management. They work with business leaders to determine specific business or client needs. This work may involve interfacing with a variety of departments within a company because a data warehouse is typically composed of diverse data sources; for example, it might combine data from the marketing department with data from production.

Data warehouse specialists use a variety of models, frameworks, and structures to design, test, and operate data warehouses that meet their companies' or clients' needs. Types of software you're likely to work with in this career include database management system software, database interface and query software, data mining software, and metadata management software.

Salary and Job Prospects

You can earn a very comfortable salary in this emerging field. In its 2015 salary survey of information technology professionals, Robert Half Technology reported that data architects earned between $119,750 and $164,750; overall, salaries for this profession increased by 7.2% over the previous year. The 2014 salary range for data warehouse managers was $115,250 to $154,250, and data warehouse analysts earned $99,000 to $133,750. According to Salary.com, cities paying above-average salaries to data architects in 2013 included San Jose, CA, New York, NY, and Boston, MA. As of early 2015, there were no reports of employers paying lower-than-average salaries.

Companies seek to get an edge over the competition by having superior business intelligence, which means they need data warehouse architects to put key data from varied sources at their fingertips. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide job projection data for this specialized field, but job growth figures for the related occupation of database administrator show projected job growth of 15% between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than average. The BLS predicted average growth of 18% for computer occupations in general through 2022.

What Are the Requirements?

Prospective data warehouse architects with a bachelor's degree in computer or information science meet the educational requirements for entry-level jobs in this career, though previous related work experience may be necessary, as well. Increasingly, database professionals get a graduate degree, such as an MBA with a specialization in management information sciences, to improve their competitiveness. Several degree programs in management information systems at the bachelor's and master's degree levels provide training in business intelligence and data warehousing.

Graduates from more general degree programs in IT might consider the variety of professional and continuing education certificate programs in data warehousing offered by several universities. These programs are typically designed for database administrators and other IT professionals who desire to gain or update their business intelligence and data warehousing skills. These short-term programs typically consist of 3-4 courses that cover the general principles of business intelligence and data warehousing as well as classes in designing and implementing data warehouses.

On the other hand, according to Salary.com data collected from user surveys in 2013, a significant portion of entry-level data architects don't have a college degree. Many job postings in the IT field provide a list of qualifications that includes relevant skills rather than degrees. A survey of job postings from 2013 on Monster.com revealed that knowledge and skills in the following areas are commonly sought:

  • Database languages, like SQL
  • Extract, transform and load (ETL) functions
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Metadata processes
  • Data modeling
  • Data mining

Job Postings from Real Employers

A data warehouse architect is typically expected to have prior warehouse-building experience. You may move in to this career through experience in related IT fields. Some employers look for applicants with previous experience as a database administrator. The architect needs conceptual and analytical skills, knowledge of the business domain and the ability to balance theory with practical reality. Some examples of what employers are looking for are found in these 2013 job postings from Monster.com:

  • A New York staffing company is looking to fill data warehouse architect role for the IT department of a global company. The incumbent will be responsible for services related to data warehouses, SQL analysis, and data cubes. The position requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum of three years as a database administrator. A Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) credential is preferred.
  • A staffing company seeks to fill a data warehouse architect position for one if its client companies in Minnesota. This senior position involves participation in all aspects of business intelligence development, including designing and testing data warehouse solutions. Experience in manufacturing is desired.
  • A California company that provides real estate information needs a data warehouse architect for their business intelligence team. The candidate is required to have a bachelor's degree, though a master's degree in information systems, computer science, or statistics is preferred. A minimum of eight years of designing and maintaining data warehouses of over five terabytes is required.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Success in this career hinges on the ability to combine business acumen and technical skill. You need to ensure that your technical skills stay abreast of innovations and trends. Because you need to work interdepartmentally and be able to efficiently determine business requirements, earning an MBA with a concentration in management information science can set you apart from the crowd.

Earning this degree can help you develop your skills in the business, communication, and technical aspects of this career. Some MBA programs offer coursework specifically in data warehousing. Internships, which are a common feature of MBA programs, can provide you with the hands-on experience and contacts that can lead to jobs.

Get Certified

In the IT world, several professional certification programs are available, generally provided by vendors of hardware and software products. As you work your way up in your career, earning these certifications assures employers that you can work effectively with industry-standard technology. To demonstrate your knowledge within the business intelligence/data warehousing community, you might consider becoming a Certified Business Intelligence Professional (CBIP).

TDWI, the organization that sponsors this certification, is partnered with many computing and big-data industry leaders, such as IBM, SAP, and Teradata. Benefits of membership in this professional organization include access to TDWI's global conferences, seminars, and other educational opportunities and resources, which can help you advance your career. Student memberships are available.

Alternative Career Paths

Several career options are directly associated with the business intelligence/data warehousing field, including database administrators, project managers, data modelers, and developers of various specific warehouse components. Expanding your scope outside the circle of the data warehousing team, you might find the following options of interest:

Operations Research Analyst

If you're more interested in analyzing business data than exercising the more technical skills required to create the warehouses that store it, you might consider a career as an operations research analyst. This position involves identifying business problems and collecting and analyzing varied forms of information to further define and solve them. This position has an educational requirement of a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions, though most employers prefer to hire candidates with a master's degree in operations management.

According to the BLS, the average salary for operations research analysts was $79,830 in 2012. Those working in the financial industry earned significantly more. The average salary among operations research analysts working for security or brokerage firms, for example, was $117,880. The BLS predicted about average job growth in this field of 15% between 2010 and 2020.

Software Developers

If you're looking for a job that fuses the creative with the technical, software development is a promising arena. Typically, entry-level requirements are a bachelor's degree in computer science and strong programming skills. The BLS projected explosive growth of 22% from 2012-2020 for this occupation. Consulting is a viable option in this profession, as well.

This is a well-paying job. According to the BLS, the average salary was $99,530 for applications developers in 2014 and $106,050 for systems software developers. Systems software developers working in wireless telecommunications, chemical manufacturing, and satellite telecommunications were among the highest paid, with mean salaries averaging between $110,940 and $114,790.

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Kaplan University

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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Louisiana State University Shreveport

  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Concentration
  • Master of Business Administration - Data Analytics Specialization

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American National University

  • Network Administration - Associate

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology

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Tulane University

  • Online Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Management

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South College

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Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Information Technology Management
  • Graduate Specialization - Information Technology
  • Graduate Certificate - Cyber Security

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