Architect or Engineer — you decide

Andy Powell
Dec 20, 2017 · 2 min read
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I’m interested in your thoughts on the following questions…

Given a set of job titles like AWS Solution Architect, Azure Solution Architect, AWS Engineer, Azure Engineer is there a generally held perception that architects are more highly perceived than engineers?

This is not a view that I hold by the way, so my follow-up question would be that if this perception does exist, what can be done to displace it?

As I say, any views on either question would be welcome.

By way of background… we are currently advertising for all 4 roles. Internally-only at the moment but in all likelihood externally at some point. I’m getting the sense that some people feel that the SA roles are ‘better’ in some way (which might mean some combination of more interesting, more valued or better for career progression I suppose) than the engineering role.

We have a pay structure that is equivalent for both (based, in part, on certification) so in terms of financial value, it is clear that we value both equally.

In my view both roles are closely related. The SA roles are more customer-facing, more about translating customer requirements into solutions. The engineering roles are more about optimisation, cost-control and reliability. But many of the skills are highly interchangeable — as reflected in the relevant certifications. And we’ve made it clear to people that we expect a lot of cross-over in the two roles and that both will be expected to engage heavily with customers.

I suppose historically, one might have seen architects (in a construction sense) as being more highly qualified than engineers. But I don’t even know if that view of the world the distinction holds up. If I’m driving over a bridge, I want it to have been designed and built by the best architects and engineers — so I’m not sure I’d draw a distinction in terms of status.

I know that some people who have historically been labeled as Solution Architects feel that AWS and Azure have hijacked that job title by using it in AWS Solution Architect and Azure Solution Architect. Again, I don’t really subscribe to this view — though I can see where it comes from. But, possibly, that usage implies some additional weight to the SA role?

Just interested really… it may be nothing.

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