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Technical architect

Find out what a technical architect in government does and the skills you need to do the job at each level.

Last updated 31 July 2023 — See all updates

What a technical architect does

A technical architect provides technical leadership and architectural design.

Technical architect role levels

There are 5 technical architect role levels, from associate technical architect to principal technical architect.

The typical responsibilities and skills for each role level are described in the sections below. You can use this to identify the skills you need to progress in your career, or simply to learn more about each role in the Government Digital and Data profession.

1. Associate technical architect

An associate technical architect supports technical architects in putting forward designs as solutions to technology challenges, usually under supervision.

At this role level, you will:

  • work closely with developers when designing appropriate solutions
  • have an understanding of the overall strategy and how your work supports it

This role level is often performed at the Civil Service job grade of:

  • HEO (Higher Executive Officer)
  • SEO (Senior Executive Officer)
Skill Description

Communicating between the technical and non-technical (technical architect)

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • speak on behalf of technical teams and facilitate relationships with indirect stakeholders

Governance and assurance

Level: awareness

Awareness is the first of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand technical governance
  • participate in the assurance of a service

Making and guiding decisions

Level: awareness

Awareness is the first of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • recommend decisions and describe the reasoning behind them
  • identify and articulate technical disputes between direct peers and local stakeholders

Strategy

Level: awareness

Awareness is the first of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • describe the purpose and application of strategy, standards, patterns, policies, roadmaps and vision statements

Turning business problems into technical design

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • design systems characterised by managed levels of risk, manageable business and technical complexity, and meaningful impact
  • work with well understood technology and identify appropriate patterns

Understanding the whole context

Level: awareness

Awareness is the first of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand how your work supports the team
  • identify wider influences and how they apply
  • keep an open mind and understand the broader context

2. Technical architect

A technical architect is responsible for the design and build of technical architecture.

At this role level, you will:

  • undertake structured analysis of technical issues, translating this analysis into technical designs that describe a solution
  • be consulted about design and provide design patterns
  • identify deeper issues that need fixing
  • look for opportunities to collaborate and reuse components, communicating with both technical and non-technical stakeholders

This role level is often performed at the Civil Service job grade of:

  • SEO (Senior Executive Officer)
  • G7 (Grade 7)
Skill Description

Communicating between the technical and non-technical (technical architect)

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • speak on behalf of technical teams and facilitate relationships with indirect stakeholders

Governance and assurance

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand how governance works and what governance is required
  • take responsibility for the assurance of a service and know what risks need to be managed

Making and guiding decisions

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • make decisions characterised by managed levels of risk and complexity, and recommend decisions as risk and complexity increase
  • resolve technical disputes between wider peers and indirect stakeholders, considering all views and opinions

Strategy

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • apply strategy, using and challenging patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements
  • provide guidance

Turning business problems into technical design

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • design systems characterised by managed levels of risk, manageable business and technical complexity, and meaningful impact
  • work with well understood technology and identify appropriate patterns

Understanding the whole context

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand trends and practices outside your team and how these will impact your work
  • see how your work fits into the broader strategy and historical context
  • consider the patterns and interactions on a larger scale

3. Senior technical architect

A senior technical architect works on large or multiple pieces of work that are complex or risky.

At this role level, you will:

  • define strategy and be central to assuring services
  • regularly collaborate and find agreement with senior stakeholders, providing direction and challenge
  • be proactive in identifying problems and translating these into non-technical descriptions that can be widely understood
  • mentor and coach junior colleagues

This role level is often performed at the Civil Service job grade of:

  • G7 (Grade 7)
Skill Description

Communicating between the technical and non-technical (technical architect)

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • identify the needs of business and technical stakeholders
  • effectively manage stakeholder expectations
  • demonstrate excellent communication skills and can manage difficult conversations or negotiations

Governance and assurance

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • evolve and define governance
  • take responsibility for working with and supporting other staff in wider governance
  • assure services across sets of services
  • use tools such as standards, guardrails and principles to effectively govern delivery

Making and guiding decisions

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • make decisions characterised by managed levels of risk and complexity, and recommend decisions as risk and complexity increase
  • resolve technical disputes between wider peers and indirect stakeholders, considering all views and opinions

Strategy

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • apply strategy, using and challenging patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements
  • provide guidance

Turning business problems into technical design

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • design systems characterised by medium levels of risk, impact, and business or technical complexity
  • work across multiple services or a single large or complicated service

Understanding the whole context

Level: working

Working is the second of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand trends and practices outside your team and how these will impact your work
  • see how your work fits into the broader strategy and historical context
  • consider the patterns and interactions on a larger scale

4. Lead technical architect

A lead technical architect works with multiple projects or teams on problems that require broad architectural thinking.

At this role level, you will:

  • be responsible for leading the technical design of systems and services, justifying and communicating design decisions
  • assure other services and system quality, ensuring the technical work fits into the broader strategy for government
  • explore the benefits of cross-government alignment
  • provide mentoring within teams
  • provide leadership to other architects

This role level is often performed at the Civil Service job grade of:

  • G7 (Grade 7)
  • G6 (Grade 6)
Skill Description

Communicating between the technical and non-technical (technical architect)

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • mediate between people and mend relationships, communicating with stakeholders at all levels

Governance and assurance

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • evolve and define governance
  • take responsibility for working with and supporting other staff in wider governance
  • assure services across sets of services
  • use tools such as standards, guardrails and principles to effectively govern delivery

Making and guiding decisions

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • make decisions characterised by medium levels of risk and complexity, and recommend decisions as risk and complexity increase
  • build consensus between services or independent stakeholders

Strategy

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • define and challenge strategies, patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements
  • provide proactive advice and guidance for their definition across the organisation

Turning business problems into technical design

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • design systems characterised by high levels of risk, impact, and business or technical complexity

Understanding the whole context

Level: practitioner

Practitioner is the third of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand trends and practices within the broader organisation and how these will impact your work
  • look for deeper underlying problems and opportunities
  • anticipate problems before they occur
  • identify the impact of changes to policy

5. Principal technical architect

A principal technical architect leads at the highest level and is responsible for making sure the strategy is agreed and followed.

At this role level, you will:

  • network and communicate with senior stakeholders across organisations
  • proactively seek opportunities for digital transformation
  • support multiple teams, finding and using best practice and emerging technologies
  • inspire other architects and help them understand how to deliver the goals of the organisation
  • be responsible for governance, solving complex and high risk issues or delivering architecture design

This role level is often performed at the Civil Service job grade of:

  • G6 (Grade 6)
Skill Description

Communicating between the technical and non-technical (technical architect)

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • mediate between people and mend relationships, communicating with stakeholders at all levels

Governance and assurance

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand how technical governance works with wider governance (such as budget)
  • assure corporate services by understanding important risks and mitigating them through assurance mechanisms

Making and guiding decisions

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • make and justify decisions characterised by high levels of risk, impact and complexity
  • build consensus between organisations (private or public) or highly independent and diverse stakeholders

Strategy

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • shape and influence government strategy
  • own and be responsible for setting strategies, patterns, standards, policies, roadmaps and vision statements

Turning business problems into technical design

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • design systems characterised by high levels of risk, impact, and business or technical complexity

Understanding the whole context

Level: expert

Expert is the fourth of 4 ascending skill levels

You can:

  • understand trends and practices outside your organisation and how these will impact your work
  • anticipate changing policy
Role Shared skills
Enterprise architect

Governance and assurance

Making and guiding decisions

Business architect

Making and guiding decisions

Network architect

Governance and assurance

Updates

Published 7 January 2020

Last updated 31 July 2023

31 July 2023

  • Technical architect was moved to the new architecture role group.

7 January 2020

  • First published.