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IN THIS SECTION, YOU WILL: Get ideas and tips about developing architects’ career paths.


  • Architects’ career paths ideally stem from a strong engineering background.
  • Hiring architects requires constantly raising the bar to ensure a strong and diverse team structure.

Hiring and developing architects will differ significantly per organization. Nevertheless, here I share some of the ideas and lessons learned.

My view of architecture has a strong engineering bias. Architects’ career paths ideally stem from a strong engineering background. While there may be exceptions, an architect without significant real-world exposure to software engineering challenges cannot obtain enough practical knowledge to make technology decisions and build relations with developer teams.

My view of architecture has a strong engineering bias. Architects' career paths ideally stem from a strong engineering background.

Typical Architect’s Career Paths

Regarding career progression, Figure 1 shows an example of architectural career paths in relation to engineering, which I used to define architectural career paths.

Figure 1: An example of an IT architect career paths in relation to engineering.

Stepping from an engineering position to an architecture requires three changes:

  • Getting a broader scope of work,
  • Having a higher diversity of work, and
  • Changing skills, as communication and influencer skills become crucial to success.

All architects are responsible for the direction, quality, and approach within some critical area. They must combine in-depth knowledge of technical constraints, user needs, and organization-level leadership.

After the role of an Architect, I usually envision three tracks of progression:

  • Senior Architects, generalists with broader responsibilities who can dig deep into complex issues and identifies a suitable course of action. They often navigate from one critical area to another, guided by the organization’s direction.
  • Principal Architects, senior architects with a particular focus on some area of strategic interest for an organization (e.g., data, distributed systems, frontend).
  • Enterprise Architects, being closer to product, management, strategy, and business functions, frequently serving as senior engineering leaders’ right hand.

But an architect’s path can take many different directions and have many other names. More important than a formal title is a continuous search for staying relevant and making an impact.

Hiring Architects

Developing and hiring architects requires constantly raising the bar to ensure a strong and diverse team structure. Having more architects does not necessarily leads to a better team. Having good alignment and diversity of perspectives is even more important for an architecture team than for other groups.

It is vital to take more active ownership of hiring architects. Due to the vast diversity of how companies define the architect's role, recruiters may need help understanding the role's requirements.

It is vital to take more active ownership of hiring architects. Due to the vast diversity of how different companies define the architect’s role, recruiters may need help understanding the role’s requirements.

While you will need to design your hiring process, the hiring process should ensure a solid evaluation of the candidates:

  • Technical skills: An architect must possess a solid technical background in the relevant areas, such as software development, infrastructure, cloud computing, and security. The process can assess their expertise through technical questions, tests, or case studies.
  • Communication and collaboration skills: Architects often work with stakeholders, including business leaders, developers, and project managers. Therefore, the process could evaluate the candidate’s ability to communicate effectively, work in a team, and manage stakeholders.
  • Leadership and problem-solving abilities: As a senior team member, an architect should have strong leadership skills and the ability to solve complex problems. The process could assess the candidate’s experience leading teams, making critical decisions, and resolving technical challenges.
  • Cultural fit: The process could also evaluate the candidate’s fit with the company’s culture, values, and mission. The cultural fit is vital to ensure the candidate shares the same vision and will likely thrive in the organization.

In terms of steps, I typically work with some version of the following process (after standard recruitment screening):

Step 1: Initial Screening Interview with Chief Architect

  • Typical duration 60 min
  • In this step, assessing the candidate’s overall fit for the role is crucial, determining whether they possess the necessary skills, experience, and qualifications.
  • Overall, the initial screening aims to identify the most promising candidates who possess the necessary skills, experience, and fit for the role of a senior solutions architect and who should proceed to the next stage of the interview process.
  • Extra focus on:
    • Cultural fit
    • Leadership and problem-solving abilities

Step 2: In-Depth Interview with Senior/Principle/Enterprise Architects

  • Typical duration 90 min
  • Extra focus on:
    • Evaluating the candidate’s technical skills
    • Assessing the candidate’s communication and collaboration skills
    • Understanding the candidate’s leadership and problem-solving abilities

Step 3: In-Depth Interview with Architects and Senior Engineers

  • Typical duration 90 min
  • Preparation:
    • A document describing a recent solution architecture of a candidate, providing the content for discussion and helping estimate the candidate’s written skills.
    • (Optional) open-source code review of a candidate
  • Extra focus on:
    • Any topics identified during Step 2 as areas that needed to explore further.

For senior positions, I typically introduce an additional step of meeting senior leadership:

Step 4: Non-technical stakeholders evaluation

  • Interview with Engineering Leaders
  • Interview with Product and Business Function Leaders (e.g., CPO, CMO, CFO)
  • Interview with a CTO
  • Extra focus on:
    • Leadership abilities
    • Communication and collaboration skills

With the described steps, you can get a solid overview of all critical aspects of superglue architects. In particular, the involvement of people outside architecture or engineering is crucial to minimize risk related to a lack of interest and ability to engage with all relevant stakeholders.

Questions to Consider

  • Reflect on career paths in architecture. How can an engineering background impact effectiveness of an architect?
  • Reflect on your career progression in architecture. How can you continuously stay relevant and make an impact in your role?
  • If you were involved in the hiring process for architects, how would you assess a candidate’s technical skills, communication and collaboration skills, leadership and problem-solving abilities, and cultural fit?
  • What strategies would you implement to ensure you continuously raise the bar in developing and hiring architects in your organization?
  • How could you demonstrate your communication and collaboration skills as an architect? Can you share an instance where these skills are crucial?
  • How would you describe your leadership and problem-solving abilities? Can you share an example of how you’ve used these skills in your work?
  • Reflect on the cultural fit between you and your organization. How do your values align with those of the company?
  • What steps would you include in your hiring process for architects to ensure a solid evaluation of the candidates?
  • How would you ensure diversity of perspectives within your architecture team, and is this important?
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