what is a data engineer?

A data engineer is responsible for designing, storing, and maintaining the data within a company. As a data engineer, your job is to gather data, organize it, and make it accessible to employees and consumers. You are also responsible for converting raw data into readable files. Many companies need to make their data accessible for data analytics. It's your job as a data engineer to make the data manageable and readily accessible for management. You may also need to develop data tools for analysis.

Your responsibilities also include building the data library, improving the system so there aren't any crashes, and implementing programs to ensure data privacy. As data builds within a company, you also need to manage the speed and performance of the company's data system. This means constantly cleaning and updating the data system software. As some data systems are online or stored in the cloud, one of your key responsibilities is to prevent hackers from infiltrating the system. Finally, your job is to work with the rest of the management company to determine how your data can improve the company's goals or to solve problems. These responsibilities make your data engineering skills valuable to a company.

Would working as a data engineer suit your interest? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a data engineer role.

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average data engineer salary

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, data architects have an average salary of $136,540 while Dice Tech Job Report shows data engineers had a 50% year-over-year growth in 2019. The average salary depends on location, your industry, and your experience. Data engineers coming in with experience and more programming skills may command a higher starting salary, and data engineers working in the private sector tend to have higher salaries. Companies in tech typically have a high demand for data engineers, but other industries - such as healthcare and finance - are showing a high need for data engineers as well.

Although an entry-level position often commands lower compensation, there is tremendous growth potential. Data engineers can become senior data engineers or managers, leading teams on data system projects. Data engineers may also become data architects or data scientists, depending on their skills and interests. Or, they may choose to pursue their education further.

Wondering what you can earn as a data engineer? Find out immediately with the Randstad salary checker! You can quickly and easily see what the average salary of a data engineer is.

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two men on a meeting

types of data engineer

There are different types of data engineers, such as big data engineers, cloud data engineers, and data architects. A big data engineer typically focuses on large amounts of data, while cloud data engineers focus on cloud-based platforms. Data architects implement the data system, build stacks, and develop data pipelines. They are also responsible for data diagrams and models. Another type of data engineer is a data integration engineer. Their focus is to integrate data from various sources into one data system. There are specializations, too, such as data security engineers, who specialize in protecting sensitive data.


working as a data engineer

When you work as a data engineer, you're essentially a gatekeeper to the company's data. From creating a data system to ensuring its privacy, your job is to create an effective organization system for the data and to ensure the company's data is safe.


data engineer skills and education

Having a well-rounded coding and software education is crucial if you want to be a data engineer. Here are some of the education and programming skills requirements:

  • bachelor's degree: A data engineer should have a bachelor's degree in a major such as computer science, math, software engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering, or a related field. An advanced degree is optional, but you may pursue a master's in fields like data engineering or computer science.
  • certifications: The GCP Data Engineer Certification is an important addition to your resume.
    programming skills: As a data engineer, you must be fluent in SQL. You should also have an excellent grasp of programming languages.
  • databases: It's important to gain knowledge of different types of databases. You should also have skills in database design and database management.
  • ETL frameworks: ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) frameworks are an important part of data engineering. Knowing frameworks such as Informatica, Apache Spark, and Talend can be helpful.
  • big data technologies: Many companies have large data systems, which means big data engineers are in growing demand. Having an in-depth knowledge of data technologies like Apache HBase and Hadoop can be beneficial.
  • cloud-based technologies: Many companies are moving their data storage to the cloud. Knowing cloud-based technologies and platforms, such as Azure and Google Cloud, may help you land a job faster.
  • data store and warehousing: You should be familiar with platforms like Snowflake, Google BigQuery, and Amazon Redshift.
  • version control: It's important to have diverse skills in version control systems. This can be useful for code-based projects.

skills and competencies

In addition to fulfilling the right education requirements, you should have the following skills:

  • attention to detail: Data engineering involves a lot of coding and detail-oriented work. It's important to not only build your coding skills but to improve your attention to details.
  • problem-solving skills: As a data engineer, you may need to ensure the safety of sensitive data as well as troubleshoot any issues the data systems have. This means you need to resolve issues quickly. You also need to find security patches to prevent hackers from entering the system.
  • industry knowledge: If you are a data engineer in a specific industry, it's always beneficial if you learn as much as possible about that industry so that you can tailor your data solutions to the company's specific needs. Healthcare data system needs will differ from an education institution or a bank, for example.
  • communication skills: As a data engineer, you work with codes and software. However, it's important to have the skills to effectively communicate any data system issues with management.
  • adept at managing projects: Large companies may have a team of data engineers, which could necessitate collaborating on large projects. You may need to be efficient at managing projects from start to finish, ensuring they come in on time and budget.
smiling man working alone
smiling man working alone

FAQs about working as a data engineer

Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about data engineers.

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