Architects / Career / Consultants

Can You Become an Architect Without Joining a Consultancy?

By Lucy Mazalon

Salesforce Architects are some of the most in-demand professionals in the Salesforce ecosystem. Using their expertise, they map out the structure and function of your Salesforce solution – ensuring it remains functional, safe, and economical, as well as suitable for the specific needs of the business.

Architects apply their extensive knowledge and intuition every day. They are ‘reserved’ for projects/orgs that – simply put – actually require an architect. Here are some signs that a project/org requires an architect: it’s multi-cloud, multi-platform, and involves movements of large data volumes.

These types of projects are most commonly managed by Salesforce consultancies, who pool the knowledge of multiple experienced professionals to deliver successful projects. That’s why the sentiment that you have to work for a (large) consultancy in order to truly become an architect exists… whether there is any truth in that is something else. Let’s take a closer look.

Becoming a Salesforce Architect: Chicken and Egg?

Becoming an architect can feel very much like a ‘chicken and egg’ exercise – how can you become an architect without hands-on experience, and how can you gain hands-on experience in order to learn the ways of the architect?

There’s been plenty of conversation in the Salesforce community around how certifications alone won’t enable you to become an architect, with an emphasis on experience as the key to entering the architect realm. 

READ MORE: Can You Become a Salesforce Architect with Only Certifications?

Busting the Myth

The good news is that there are definitely architect thought leaders who do believe you can become an architect without working for a consulting partner. Their thoughts come with considerations, such as acknowledging your limited frame of reference, reaching out to the community, and using your own initiative as a self-starter. 

Lilith Van Biesen, a 26x Certified Salesforce Architect, says that learning about a mixture of in-house practices and external ones is the key to progression as an architect.

“I see a bright future for in-house architects. You do, however, have to acknowledge that the projects that you’ll have the chance to work on, in-house (working for a Salesforce customer), will give you experience in one industry, one organization’s way of working. This becomes your frame of reference. Other industries will have different ways of working, and standards. Keep in mind that there is a whole lot of world out there.”

Lilith Van Biesen, Salesforce Principal Architect

Alongside this, she also believes that, for further learning, the power of the community is a force to be reckoned with. “Asking questions to your peers will definitely help you grow”, she said.

Ankit Taneja, Salesforce freelancing architect, agrees with this notion and talks about how using your own initiative is sometimes more important than just relying on what in-house work (through a consultancy, etc.) will teach you.

“Working at a consultancy does help if the consultancy has won projects in a variety of industries, and you are lucky to be assigned to every project. Honestly, that’s rare. So, I think it’s more important to take your own initiative to create a broader experience for yourself.”

Ankit Taneja, Salesforce Freelance Architect

“Maintain the balance between the breadth and the depth – it will not help you to know all of Salesforce’s ‘clouds’ without knowing how to implement them”, he said.

Understanding Different Business Models

Exposure to different industries that use different business models is perhaps the most important part of making sure your skill set as an architect is as diverse as possible. This becomes particularly important when aiming to become a Certified Technical Architect – the pinnacle architect credential holder. 

Lilith reflects on this further, stressing that the more context you have from the field, the easier you will find relating to the situations in CTA exams.

“As an architect, usually, you have some time to acquaint yourself with a customer’s context, and maybe do some research. You don’t have that time in the CTA exam.”

Lilith Van Biesen, Salesforce Principal Architect

“So, the more context you have around different industries, in different situations the better – including a variety of issues and conflicts. That baggage of ‘tough times’ is so valuable, keeping you on your toes (think quickly) for the CTA exams”, she said.


According to Lilith and Ankit, both experienced Salesforce Architects, it is possible to become an architect without joining a consultancy – but with more effort required from you. Acknowledge that you will have a limited frame of reference – and do something about it! Reach out to the community, spin up tons of fictional scenarios for different industries, be able to think fast, and use your own initiative as a self-starter. 

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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