"My favorite part is having the ability to work with so many different groups on a regular basis," says Tom Thomas, a software architect at Costco Wholesale in Seattle. "Each day I have the opportunity to make [a] customer's life that much easier."
Median pay: $121,000 Top pay: $161,000 10-year job growth: 27.6% Total jobs*: 520,800
What they do all day? Software architects play a pivotal role as bridge-builders between technical teams and management. More than just great software engineers, they understand how to solve business problems with technology and are responsible for designing a system that fulfills those needs.
How to get the job? Good architects are big-picture thinkers who understand how an organization's software system works as a whole, so it helps to be familiar with help desk, data center or other IT operations beyond software development.
What's great? What's not? Architects make vital decisions that drive a business technologically, so it's a high-pressure job. On the plus side, since software is an integral part of nearly every industry these days, architects who stay sharp technically have the opportunity to work in practically any sector in the world. --G.W.