Job Profile: Data Engineer

data engineer

In recent years, data engineers have become highly sought after because of the incredible value they bring to organizations regarding data mining, analysis and implementation. They help create and maintain analytic infrastructures and monitor the functions of almost any data system. They design, develop, test, monitor and maintain databases and large-scale processing data systems. They also create the processes to be used in the acquisition, mining and verification of data. With the advent of big data analytics, data engineers continue to hold a key role in any organization. There are currently about 11,000 active data engineers across the world. Most of them work for multi-national corporations that handle large-scale data. Others work as consultants and independent contractors. This post will shed more light on what exactly data engineers do, their annual income, future career outlook and qualifications.


Based on a report posted by PayScale, data engineers earn an average income of $90,885 per year. Their pay largely depends on the level of experience, location and company.

Beginning Salary

The beginning salary for data engineers is $62,321 per year. This is far better than other professions, considering it is a remuneration for an entry-level position.

Key Responsibilities

Data engineers extract data from different databases and store them in data warehouses. They design the scripts, codes and techniques used to extract and store such data and create data reports using various tools. Other responsibilities include:

  • Ensure all data systems meet industry practices and business requirements.
  • Research new uses for existing data.
  • Design, develop and install data recovery procedures.
  • Recommend ways to improve quality, efficiency and reliability of data.
  • Work together with modelers, IT team members and data architects on data project goals and objectives.

Necessary Skills

Data engineers possess certain skills set. They have a deeper understanding of SQL and other database solutions such as Bitable and Cassandra. They have a lot of experience in data warehousing, ETL tools such as Segment and Stitch Data, Hadoop-based analytical tools and Apache Spark interfaces. They are also able to conduct statistical and quantitative analysis and prepare presentations to management and stakeholders. Knowledge of coding and data machines is also a necessity.

Degree and Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, computer engineering or software engineering is the first step toward a job in data engineering. These degree programs feature courses such as data structures, computer programming, database management, mathematics, data mining, information security and software design. The coursework also features one final year project and an internship program from a recognized company. All these programs take four years to complete. However, there are some institutions with accelerated programs that can be finished in three years.  Career prospects can be improved by pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree. This is vital to qualify for a management position.

Related Resource: 30 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Degree Programs

Pros and Cons of Being a Data Engineer

There are some advantages and disadvantages of working in data engineering. Working as a data engineer will open up a lot of job offers and increase contributions towards satisfying the big data needs of the company. The job offers plenty of room for exploration, allowing the data engineer to interact with a wide variety of data coming from different sources and expand their knowledge base.  Other advantages include a peaceful work environment, good salary and increased opportunities for career growth. The disadvantage of being a data engineer is that they may work very hard but fail to get the desired results within a considerable amount of time. Big data tools are still emerging, which might make it difficult to mine, analyze and monitor data properly. The job can also be boring, especially if the data engineer is the type of person who loves to interact with people.

Getting Started as Data Engineer

The first step needed to become a data engineer is to look for some work experience immediately after graduating from college. A majority of employers want applicants who have at least three years of experience working with database systems and analytics. Data engineers can work for a startup for a lower salary, be a freelancer or handle their own projects. They can also work as a volunteer in a big data company or nonprofit institution. In addition to experience, data engineers may need to get proper certifications. They can choose IBM Certified Data Engineer, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, CCP Data Engineer and Google Certified Professional certifications. All these certifications focus on the application of data engineering skills and ETL tools.

Future Job Outlook for Data Engineers

Data engineering is a growing profession, with many opportunities for employment and career growth existing across all industries. According to a research done by IBM, the demand for data engineers and scientists will increase by 28 percent in the next three years. This represents good prospects to those who want to pursue a career in data engineering or science. About 59 percent of the jobs in demand will be in the field of finance, insurance, IT and professional services. The research also found out that the demand for data engineers has surpassed that of data scientists. The main reason for this is that data engineers develop and maintain the infrastructure that keeps data secure and moving smoothly. Hence, companies are increasingly looking for professionals who can help them facilitate a secure and smooth movement of data across all networks.

A data engineer works to design, develop and monitor a company’s data systems. The job is highly specialized, attracts good salaries and provides a great room for improvement. If you are passionate about mathematics and programming and enjoy working with computers, a data engineering job can be a perfect choice for you.

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