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Software Architect: Top Best Job in America 2010

Staff - Faculty of Informatics

Start date: 5 November 2010

End date: 6 November 2010

CNNMoney and PayScale.com rate the top 100 careers with great pay and growth prospects.

Top 100 rank: 1
Sector
: Information Technology

What they do: Like architects who design buildings, they create the blueprints for software engineers to follow -- and pitch in with programming too. Plus, architects are often called on to work with customers and product managers, and they serve as a link between a company's tech and business staffs.

What's to like: The job is creatively challenging, and engineers with good people skills are liberated from their screens. Salaries are generally higher than for programmers, and a typical day has more variety.

"Some days I'll focus on product strategy, and other days I'll be coding down in the guts of the system," says David Chaiken, 46, of Yahoo in Sunnyvale, Calif., whose current projects include helping the web giant customize content for its 600 million users. Even though programming jobs are moving overseas, the face-to-face aspect of this position helps cement local demand.

What's not to like: You are often outside the management chain of command, making it hard to get things done.

Requirements: Bachelor's degree, and either a master's or considerable work experience to demonstrate your ability to design software and work collaboratively.