Data Engineer

With the constant rise of big data, businesses are constantly on the lookout for data engineers who possess desirable attributes that enable them to work with data at scale. This makes a career in data engineering highly lucrative, as technology keeps rising and more businesses are recognising the importance of this role in helping them make optimal use of their data findings. 

The role of a data engineer

A data engineer designs, builds, and maintains systems for companies to manage and analyse data effectively. This raw data is then converted into accessible, actionable insights for data analysts, data scientists, and business analysts to interpret. This provides organisations with useful data that can help them evaluate and improve their performance, making data engineers a key part of an organisation's success.

Data engineer job duties & responsibilities - What does a data engineer do?

The daily responsibilities of data engineers focus on constructing and maintaining a company's data infrastructure. This would involve developing and managing data pipelines, databases, and data warehouses to enhance the efficiency of data processing and analysis.

Typical job duties will focus on:

  • Collecting datasets: Data engineers need to identify and retrieve data from a variety of different sources, such as a data warehouse. Doing this will also involve working with members of other IT teams, such as data analysts and software developers. 
  • Planning, creating, and maintaining data architectures: This is one of the main responsibilities of a data engineer. In addition to designing and implementing these architectures to enable effective data analysis, data engineers will also need to make sure the organisation’s data infrastructure is streamlined for peak performance, security, and flexibility. 
  • Creating new data analysis tools, methods, and models to identify patterns: Data engineers will need to develop accurate and reliable algorithms and statistical analysis models to efficiently analyse data on a large scale. With these data modelling tools, it becomes easier for different IT team members, including data analysts and data scientists, to identify insights that can help inform business decisions. 

What qualities are needed to be a successful data engineer?

By nature, data engineering requires critical thinking and good problem-solving capabilities, as a vital part of the role involves troubleshooting any issues and staying on top of data optimisation even in the face of challenges. They should also have strong attention to detail, which is pivotal for spotting inconsistencies in raw data.
Data engineers should also possess good communication skills in order to work collaboratively and effectively with other IT teams when passing on data information. They also need to be able to simplify any complicated technical information in order to communicate findings with stakeholders who may have non-technical backgrounds.

Curiosity is also a good quality for data engineers to have, as they will constantly be learning new methods and trying out new data processing systems on the job. It is also advantageous to take initiative when staying updated with all the ground-breaking technologies and insights in the field, such as the latest developments in machine learning models, data science, computer science, data management systems, and more.

What technical skills are needed to become a data engineer?

As this role is highly technical, data engineers require a firm understanding of many technical skills. Knowing how to navigate programming languages such as SQL, Python, and Java is essential for data processing and data analytics. Being a confident coder is also one of the most important data engineering skills.
Another crucial skill is having adequate knowledge of different operating systems, as data engineers work across a variety of these systems. This includes the likes of Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Solaris, and Linux.
Data engineers should also be familiar with relational database management system programs, and analytics software such as Apache Hadoop, Apache Spark, MySQL, Pandas, and Tableau. 

Do I need any qualifications or certifications to become a data engineer?

Obtaining a bachelor's degree in a related field is recommended if one wants to successfully move into a data engineering job. Most companies will look for candidates with a degree in computer science, information technology, data science, software engineering, or computer engineering. 
Certifications obtained from universities or professional organisations could also increase chances of landing a data engineer role by further showcasing these abilities.

Career development - What is the next step after becoming a data engineer?

Becoming a data engineer offers many fulfilling career prospects. Data engineers could advance onto more senior roles such as a Senior Data Engineer, Chief Data Officer, Systems Engineer, Data Architect, or Software Architect. These are all highly sought-after positions that offer attractive renumeration and opportunities for career advancement. 

Data engineer salary and remuneration

Data engineers are high in demand, and the specialised skills required for this role ensure the salary and benefits packages are very competitive.