Iasa Recommended Career Path

Hiring and managing a team of architects is a difficult challenge, but not nearly as difficult as wanting a stable career path as an architect. How do you get that first job as an architect? What skills do you need? After 10 years at it, how do you move to the enterprise level or architecture management level? How many OTHER roles do you have to have before someone will hire you as an architect?

In most professions these kinds of questions simply don’t exist. The profession has a clear path that an individual may traverse up to the highest levels of the field. While they don’t guarantee that you have the capability to make it all the way down that path, the tools, infrastructure, education, certifications and jobs exist to help you along the way.

Iasa is the ONLY organization in the world providing the entire infrastructure, regardless of whether you are an aspiring architect or have 15 years of experience. Iasa can work with you to move you to the next level of your career.

CITA-Foundation and CITA-Associate levels represent architects with knowledge but no experience through rigorous test-based certifications. CITA-Specialist and CITA-Professional are those who have demonstrated their skills, experience and thought leadership through in-depth board reviews. 

The Iasa Recommended Career Path is based off of thousands of hours of research, discussion and debate among our membership and the board of education. On average, most architects go through 5 phases of their career. Currently no one starts their career as an architect. So the first phase is currently, doing something else (normally an technology role). At some point these people heard about architecture and began researching if they wanted to become one. This ‘research’ normally involves websites, books, events and in many cases working with a practicing architect. 

Each of the recognized career phases come with two components; preparation and achievement. For example, taking classes in associate architecture represent the preparation for the achievement of the Associate Certification. Working through an architecture internship early in your career prepares you for the experience based Certified IT Architect Professional certification.


The foundation phase of an architects career is focused on understanding the skills, capabilities and knowledge a practicing architect possesses. Although many architects have already reached significantly higher phases in their career, very few did so in a standard way. Most learned through trial and error, often in the most difficult ways. The foundation phase of an architects career will be a time of discovery to understand how an architect practices, what it means to specialize, and what an architect will need to know to be successful.

Iasa calls those that are looking to become architects, Aspiring Architects. Whereas, the first full phase in an architects career is marked by reaching the Foundation Certification. It represents individuals who have demonstrated awareness of the Foundation ITABoK through a multiple choice exam. More importantly the Iasa certification represents a personal awareness of all of the required skills and associated knowledge for a practitioner. Even seasoned professional architects who have attended the Iasa Core training, which prepares architects for the exam, have stated how valuable this kind of comprehensive approach is to them.

Iasa Offerings for Aspiring Architects:

  1. Iasa Core Training - learn how to map you career and skill set regardless of how many years you've been practicing
  2. ITABoK - download the IT Architect Body of Knowledge free as an Iasa member to prepare for the Foundation Certification
  3. Content Repository - thousands of presentations, webinars, videos, and articles to help architects acquire industry best practices
  4. Events - attend both chapter and global events and conferences to network and learn
  5. Membership - latest information and offerings including discounts and education materials for aspiring architects. 

Associate is the primary education phase for architects. The goal of associate is to gather depth in the 5 pillars of architecture and the 4 specializations (see Skills Taxonomy). Architects hoping to achieve the Iasa Associate Certification will have to demonstrate a significant depth in understanding and application of ideas in the pillars and their chosen specialization (Business, Information, Infrastructure, and Software). This is demonstrated through an in-depth multiple choice, short answer and design challenge practicum based exam.

Over time it is expected this period of time will be associated with degree programs in technology architecture. Although there are a few interesting early entrants in the area of architecture degrees, this aspect often takes decades to be fully matured. Iasa is working with a number of international universities on the appropriate levels (degrees) and structures for an effective higher education offering in technology architecture.

Iasa Offerings for Associate Architects:

  1. Iasa Associate Training - Iasa provides 6 five day training sessions which support the associate depth learning program
  2. Chapter study groups - work with others in select chapters to achieve the associate credential
  3. Content Repository - thousands of presentations, webinars, videos, and articles to help architects acquire industry best practices
Specialist to Professional

Full professional architects require significant experience to be able to practice without oversight. The Iasa career path requires numerous years of practice before an architect can reach their professional certification. That time is known as the internship.

Most architects in practice today went through their 'internship' the hard way. They worked at another job until they finally achieved the title architect. Then through numerous years of practice they reached a degree of capability.


The Specialist phase of an architects career recognizes that an architect needs to apply their knowledge in practice before they can truly claim to be a professional architect. The Specialist phase provides three significant benefits to the field; a) it provides a first opportunity for an associate architect to apply their knowledge, b) it drastically increases the number of architects available to employers and c) it reduces the overall cost to employers in satisfying their technology strategy. Think of a working architecture team. In today's world employers must struggle to find only the most experienced architects. However, if they were to marry fewer of these professional level architects with a larger body of interns they would achieve higher returns without the massive payroll expenses. At the same time architects within the organization would have a structured and achievable career path.


The professional architect has reached the degree of skill necessary to deal with the vast majority of architecture opportunities. They have taken the learning from associate and transferred that into knowledge through practical application. They have worked with mentors to achieve a significant level of sophistication within their specialization.

Iasa recognizes 5 primary specializations in architecture professional practice today. The specializations are focused areas of practice which can be equated to the specializations in medicine such as surgery. New specializations and categories of certification may be added through the Board of Education. For example, Iasa is considering the CITA-P for enterprise architects which would require a professional certification in one of the primary specializations due to the requirements of the enterprise architect role. 

  1. The 4 specializations recognized by Iasa are Business, Information, Infrastructure, Solution and Software Architects

Iasa Offerings for the Intern and Professional

  1. Internship Accreditation - Iasa will accredit your organization to provide a rigorous internship to architects which includes mentoring and practice for a drastic increase in the quality of your programs
  2. Iasa Professional Training - Iasa offers depth courses to aid the intern-level and professional-level architect in specific topics
  3. Chapter leadership and speaking - key to developing your own capability is working with other architects to develop theirs
  4. Iasa Perspectives - the publication for architects draws on the best practices of thousands to help you in your practice