Principal Solutions Architect Ref. 2629

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IT / Information Technology
Cheltenham, Central London
£60,341 Including NSP plus skills payment from £7,500-£14,000 (subject to annual validation) depending on experience which will be assessed at interview. London Weighting of £5,500 is payable for London based roles.

About Us

We are GCHQ, we unlock the complex world of communications to make a real difference to the safety of the nation. We work closely with our partners in the intelligence community to safeguard Britain’s people, interests, and businesses from threats such as serious organised crime, people and drugs trafficking, terrorism, and cyber-attacks.

The Role                                             

We are looking for a senior technical leader to join our IT Infrastructure community as a Principal Solutions Architect.

Rather than being explicitly focused on a component of our IT infrastructure baseline or technical specialism you will be aligned with and deployed against a series of high profile / fast paced deliveries against specific mission outcomes. You will be part of a team surging to provide additional technical oversight to ensure a high-quality outcome.

You will be accountable for one or more high profile cross cutting tasks that transcend traditional technical boundaries and have complex integration points. You will be comfortable negotiating and trading against Information Assurance, risk, resource, cost, and mission policy at a total system level.

You will be part of a flexible and cross discipline team and you must be able to demonstrate the ability to adapt and provide technical leadership across a diverse delivery portfolio. You will be expected to adapt and evolve your focus area in response to changing priorities and investment decisions.

There are opportunities for line management duties with this role. As a principal solutions architect, you are expected to share your specific technical knowledge to help staff across the department develop technical skills.

There are opportunities to undertake work outside of the office depending on business needs. This can be variable and will depend on each particular assignment. There are also opportunities for UK and occasional overseas travel.

About You

You will be an experienced and talented technical principal who is enthusiastic, with an ability to work collaboratively and inclusively within mixed discipline teams. You will enjoy working with evolving requirements, cutting across technical boundaries and organisational uncertainty while delivering at scale and pace.

You will have a sound technical background and a track record of consistent delivery, and you will also be a clear communicator. As a leader, you will be confident in presenting technical and business arguments to seniors, peers and staff alike, often having to translate deep technical requirements and strategy into clear business outcomes.

The ability to develop creative and innovative solutions is key to solving some of our more unique challenges. You will be used to investigating problems and comfortable making decisions, sometimes where there is no precedent set.

Training and Development

We have a culture of supporting continuous personal development especially with technical knowledge and skills. There are plenty of opportunities in this role to develop or extend your skill set on-the-job or via online learning or in person courses. You will be encouraged to gain certifications in relevant topics. As a leader in your technical field attendance at technical conferences and research into future technologies is important to ensure that you have the knowledge and tools you need and that you can use your learnings to introduce, test and de-risk emerging technologies. There are also opportunities to develop leadership/management/interpersonal and other business skills alongside your technical skill set.

You’ll receive a starting salary of £60,341 Including NSP plus skills payment from £7,500-£14,000 (subject to annual validation) depending on experience which will be assessed at interview. London Weighting of £5,500 is payable for London based roles. plus, other benefits including:

  • 25 Days Annual Leave automatically rising to 30 days after 5 years' service, and an additional 10.5 days public and privilege holidays
  • Opportunities to be recognised through our employee performance scheme
  • Opportunities to work flexibly, subject to business needs
  • Interest-free season ticket loan
  • Excellent pension scheme
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • At Cheltenham, facilities such as a subsidised gym and restaurant, and on-site coffee bars (depending on location)
  • Paid parental and adoption leave.

Culture and Working Environment 

As part of our team, you’ll discover an inclusive workplace that’s welcoming, supportive and encouraging. You’ll be part of an organisation where people want to support one another and make a difference. Aside from fostering an open culture, we’ve got a range of growing affinity groups. For example:  

  • Ethnic Minority and gender equality networks
  • Groups supporting wellbeing, mental health, neurodiversity, and disability
  • Faith/No Faith communities for staff to come together
  • LGBTQ+ support networks

You’ll also find a variety of sports, activity, interest, and social groups to help you settle in and connect with people with similar interests. 

Before You Apply

To work at GCHQ, you need to be a British citizen. We do have a strict drugs policy, so once you start your application, you can’t take any recreational drugs and you’ll need to declare your previous drug usage at the relevant stage.

Honesty and integrity are really important if you want to work at GCHQ. Take some time to read about the vetting process and make sure you meet the criteria in the vetting pages of the ‘How to Apply’ section. The process can take some time, but this is just because it’s thorough. Giving misleading information and omitting or concealing information during the recruitment and vetting process is viewed very seriously.

The role is based in Cheltenham or Central London, so you’ll need to live within a commutable distance. Please consider any financial implications and practicalities before submitting an application.

Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application.

Equal Opportunities

At GCHQ diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodivergent conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce.

We’re Disability Confident

GCHQ are proud to have achieved Leader status within the DWP’s Disability Confident scheme.  This is aimed at encouraging employers to think differently about disability and take action to improve how they recruit, retain, and develop disabled people.  Being Disability Confident, we aim to ensure that a fair and proportionate number of disabled applicants that meet the minimum criteria for this position will be offered an interview where practicable; this is known as ‘Offer of an Interview’. To secure an interview for this vacancy, the minimum criteria (in order of application process) are:

  • Evidence of a range of technical delivery and experience as a technical specialist
  • Evidence of managing a portfolio of work with competing priorities
  • Evidence of making decisions as a technical leader, preferably in uncertain circumstances and/or where negotiation is needed or there was no easy answer

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply, you must be a British Citizen. One of your parents must be a British Citizen or must have the nationality or citizenship from our approved list of countries, for more information, please click here). If you hold dual nationality, of which one component is British, you will nonetheless be considered. For more information, please click here). Candidates must normally have been resident in the UK for seven out of the last ten years. This is particularly important if you were born outside the UK. You can apply at the age of 17 years, if successful you will not be offered a start date prior to your 18th birthday. Discretion is vital. You should not discuss your application, other than with your partner or a close family member. Please note, you should only launch your application from within the UK. If you are based overseas, you should wait until you visit the UK to launch an application. Applying from outside of the UK will impact on our ability to progress your application. Further information on our eligibility criteria can be found on the Applying section.

What to Expect

Our recruitment process is fair, transparent, and based on merit. Here is a brief overview of each stage, in order:



Drugs Testing


Please note, you must successfully pass each stage of the process in order to progress to the next. Your application may take around 6 - 9 months to process including vetting, so we advise you continue any current employment until you have received your final job offer.

Our Vetting

To work in this role, you will need the highest security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). It’s something everyone in the UK Intelligence Community has to go through and it can take some time. As part of the DV process you will be asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire and attend an interview with a vetting officer. In your interview the vetting officer will have a thorough, compassionate, and honest discussion with you about you as a person and your life experiences, to ensure holding a DV clearance is right for you. You don’t need to do any preparation for your vetting interview, just be honest and be yourself. All applicants for DV are treated impartially and consistently, irrespective of gender, race, disability, religion, age, sexual orientation, and other protected characteristics.

Right to Withdraw Statement:

Please be aware that we withhold the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment.

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.