How (And Why) to Become a Data Engineer in 2019
March 10, 2021
The more tools you master—think like Redshift and Bigtable—the easier it will be to adapt to any database environment.
Forecasts for 2019 indicate that this will be a promising year in data science. And with the rise of AI and machine learning, data engineers have become even more prominent. As one expert predicted to Techopedia, 2019 will be "the year of the data engineer."
Are you ready to pursue your future in this hot field? Here’s what you should know about launching a career as a data engineer.
What does a data engineer do? A data engineer oversees the infrastructure and architecture of a company's databases, with duties including construction and management. This professional also extracts information from a company's systems and prepares them for analysis by another member of the data team, such as a data scientist.
_(Consider this: Business Analytics vs Data Science: What is the Best Career Path for You?_
Data engineers are often soley responsible for distilling trends from large sets of information, particularly if their employer doesn't have a data scientist on the team. Data engineers may write algorithms to allow companies to access, understand, and apply information more easily—often by creating a dashboard.
What skills does a data engineer have? To be successful as a data engineer, you need a broad range of skills. It is essential to know the SQL programming language and to become familiar with data warehousing and database solutions, like Redshift and Bigtable. The more tools you master, the easier it will be to adapt to the database environment of your future employer.
As a data engineer, your skill set should include knowledge of extract, transform, load (ETL) tools, as these are increasingly used by engineers when moving data or updating databases. You should also become familiar with a programming language that supports scripts so that you can learn scripting, or the use of automated scripts, to execute processes.
While beefing up your tech chops, don't overlook the need to focus on soft skills. Employers want data engineers to be well-rounded people who can meaningfully interact with colleagues while supporting the organization at large.
What education do data engineers need? Although there are data engineers who started their careers without earning a degree or even knowing how to code, today that route is rare. It may be challenging to get a potential employer to take you seriously if you haven’t earned the appropriate credentials.
Fortunately, there are many educational programs in computer science that can help you learn foundational knowledge before specializing in data engineering.
A degree in computer science will train you for jobs that pay anywhere from from $60,000-$80,000 on average. That range, which is appealing in itself, is due to the general and continual demand for people who have computer science degrees. Your salary could be even higher if you continue your education to become a data engineer.
_(Food for thought: Is a Master's Degree in Computer Science Worth It?)_
If you're considering training options outside of a traditional degree, a boot camp program might be a good option. While many bootcamps are targeted at wider topics such as data science, some cater their learning material to data engineering.
It’s important to note, however, that the content of your classes will be designed for people who have pre-existing knowledge of data science. You should consider enrolling in a bootcamp only after you've grasped the basics, either through college courses or through independent study.
Where do data engineers work? A press release forecasting the big data and data engineering market from 2018 through 2023 expects the market worth to grow from $34.47 billion to $77.37 billion throughout the projection period. One of the cited reasons for this growth is that the amount of unstructured data in existence is increasing at a rapid rate. This is due to social media content and the data generated by connected devices.
As companies continue to realize that their collected data has value and can drive business operations, they also understand that data engineers are suitable for almost any enterprise requiring information and storage solutions.
A search for open data engineer positions on Glassdoor generated over 87,000 results, with companies ranging from Coca-Cola to Liberty Mutual. Based on that level of variety, you shouldn't necessarily assume you'll work at a technology business as a data engineer. If you narrow the field to find jobs in industries that are particularly interesting to you, you may find the work even more rewarding.
How much do data engineers earn? As a data engineer, your salary may surpass that of a typical computer scientist. According to PayScale, the entry-level salary for a data engineer is $84,908 on average. Of course, your earnings potential is likely to increase the longer you stay in the field and gain experience; the median pay for data engineer is $90,963.
You could also position yourself for a higher salary by earning data engineer certifications. Unlike the people who work in some other fields, data engineers don't need licenses. However, there are certain exams which, when passed, could earn you a higher salary. For example, Google has a data engineer certification test that assesses your ability to design databases for reliability, build them, and maintain them.
Since today’s business are increasingly concerned with utilizing their information, your skills will be in demand for the foreseeable future. Your work as a data engineer may lead to being employed in a wide variety of industries and companies.
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