Principal Architect Salary
Job Description for Principal Architect
Principal architects are the subject matter experts for information technology projects, helping guide these projects to completion. They must be able to handle multiple projects, be innovative, and be able to communicate effectively across multiple departments in different degrees of technical detail. When dealing with software, they code new projects, maintain existing ones, and ensure information technology policies are adhered to. They serve as a team leader and are the main point of contact for many major architectural issues. For subordinates, principal architects provide guidance, support, and discipline as needed.Read More...
Principal architects often work in a team setting to resolve complicated issues. They may also work alone, gathering information on industry standards, software, technologies, and tools. Principal architects generally work full time during regular business hours; however, they may also need to be available on-call and work overtime as required by their employer.
Principal architect positions usually require at least 15 years of experience in software development or architecture, as well as at least a bachelor's in computer science. Some principal architects have only a high school degree but many years of software development experience. These professionals often need to be fluent in a computer scripting language as well.
Principal Architect Tasks
- Responsible for all architectural design aspects of large or complex projects.
- Ensure project deliverables are met on time and on budget.
- Delegate work and provide oversight of group work plans.
- Manage an architectural team of junior and senior architects as well as administrative personnel.
Common Career Paths for Principal Architect
Principal Architects sometimes move into a Senior Principal Architect role, where the salary is similar. Many Principal Architects choose to become Design Architects and Senior Project Architects as their careers advance. However, folks in those positions report median salaries of $86K less and $55K less, respectively.
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Popular Skills for Principal Architect
Principal Architects report using a diverse set of skills on the job. Most notably, facility with Enterprise Solutions, System Architecture, and Java are correlated to pay that is significantly above average, leading to increases of 35 percent, 21 percent, and 18 percent, respectively. Skills that pay less than market rate include Design and Project Management. Those proficient in Design are, more often than not, also skilled in Software Architecture.
Pay by Experience Level for Principal Architect
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Respondents with less than five years' experience take home $131K on average. In contrast, those who have been around for five to 10 years earn a noticeably higher average of $145K. For Principal Architects, 10 to 20 years of experience on the job amounts to an average salary of $141K. Principal Architects who have spent more than 20 years on the job report earning a significantly higher median of $145K.
Pay Difference by Location
San Francisco offers some of the highest pay in the country for Principal Architects, 26 percent above the national average. Principal Architects can also look forward to large paychecks in cities like Seattle (+17 percent), Boston (+16 percent), Chicago (+5 percent), and New York (+4 percent). Falling short of the national average by 17 percent, the area with the worst salaries is Irvine. Los Angeles and Washington are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 16 percent lower and 9 percent lower, respectively.
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