Become a Software Architect in 5 Steps

Many developers find themselves doing the job of a software architect after years of coding, learning, and working on their expertise. For those who wish to grow into the role from a backend developer position – we’ll be sharing the rough roadmap.

What is a Software Architect?

A Software Architect is a person who has vast knowledge in developing every aspect of the project and uses that knowledge to design a high-level solution for the project. In addition to that, he is also in charge of the full software development lifecycle, from problem definition, and solution design all the way to the development and delivery of the software.

Having that in mind, he should apply best practices and constantly search for improvement possibilities in all areas, from tools, coding standards, frameworks, infrastructure, etc.
Unfortunately, technical knowledge alone is not enough for this role. It also requires soft skills to manage projects and people, representing a connection between product ownership, project management, and developers.

A backend software developer programming at the Bridgewater Labs office.
Bridgewater Labs backend developer

How does one become a Software Architect?

A Software Architect can not be someone’s first assignment or position. The reason for this, as previously mentioned, is that it requires extensive expertise. Therefore, one can most certainly evolve to become a Software Architect through experience and knowledge. It is something that should be built from the ground up without skipping any steps. Every step and every part of the dev process is important, and it exists for a good reason. Starting with low-level development all the way to being able to have a complete understanding of all of the steps required to build certain software and the whole ecosystem required for it to run.

Why does a backend developer need to become a Software Architect?

It is most certainly not something that must be done, it is simply one direction to continue improving and extending knowledge and expertise. It is definitely a healthy next step or a goal for a developer that wants to improve and advance in every possible way.
Backend development is a foundation for every non-trivial software. Almost every modern software requires some sort of an API, database, or system where all of the “heavy lifting” will be done.  Therefore, naturally, backend developers must already have a good understanding of the software infrastructure, which is the best possible base to start building expertise to eventually become a Software Architect.

Road to become a Software Architect

Choose a back-end programming language.

  • Learn OOP(object-oriented programming) principles, design patterns, and enforce good practices
  • Learn how to use and what are the pros/cons of at least one relational database (MySql) and one non-relational (NoSql) 
  • Read books about best practices and software architectures (for example, Clean Code by Robert C. Martin)

Learn a front-end programming language.

It is important to fit all of the pieces together, so learning javascript, HTML & CSS is a must. There are several good js frameworks, one of them is VueJS, and it’s a great benefit to have it in your arsenal.

Learn what is required and how to set up the entire environment for an app to run.

Docker & Kubernetes.

Now that you’ve learned how to set up your environment, you can learn how to containerize it.

Speak with non-technical people.

Find the best way to explain the technical parts to non-tech people so they can understand and feel more comfortable and involved in the process. This is crucial for your relationship with clients and other stakeholders.

Split responsibilities into multiple pieces.

Always look for a way to break down responsibilities into more manageable tasks. This goes a long way in planning tasks for multiple teams so that the development process can become as efficient as possible.

Written by Aleksandar Petrevski, Backend Team Lead