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In demand: Data engineers

It’s been said that the modern world runs on data. That is true, but increasingly, our world also generates data, and massive amounts of it at that. According to some estimations, humanity produces around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data a day. (Helpful tip for envisioning that amount: it’s about 10 million Blu-Ray discs worth of data.) So, in this new era of Big Data, how can businesses hope to properly aggregate and interpret all of this information? Simple — they rely on data engineers.

Data engineers are experienced technical professionals who create, maintain, and work within the systems that help companies securely store massive amounts of information. If this information isn’t usable by the company’s analysts and internal teams, it’s worthless to the company, so Big Data engineers step in to curate it. Data scientist and engineering jobs are important positions that are needed at many different companies; let’s explore some of the amazing places a data engineer job might take you!

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Life at work as a data engineer

If you’re a ‘numbers person’ or a ‘math person,’ you’ll find a lot to like working as a data analytics engineer. These roles are highly quantitative in nature, and the majority of the work takes place within very large databases or subdivided data sets. As far as the rest of the work environment goes, you’ll be able to choose between on-site and remote work.

Data engineer jobs: On-site

There are still plenty of data analyst and engineer jobs where you can work on-site or in a hybrid capacity. Many professionals find that proximity to the company’s physical infrastructure is a boon in creating a given database architecture — and of course, the best networking always happens face-to-face.

Data engineer jobs: Remote

As technology continues to advance, more and more jobs are able to be done from anywhere in the world via telecommuting, and data engineer positions are certainly no exception. This work option lets your abilities shine while not insisting you commute or relocate when you don’t absolutely need to.

Grow Your Data Engineering Career

Have a passion for data science and analytics?
Apply now and take the next step in growing your data engineering career.

Apply Now

What technical skills do you need to work as a data engineer?

  • Data Architecture and Warehousing

    Just like a company’s physical products are kept in a physical warehouse, a company’s data will live in a data warehouse. Having data thus aggregated makes it easier for lead data engineers to manage and for others in the organization to access and use. Make sure you’re comfortable working in this highly technical context!

  • SQL and Programming Skills

    SQL is the language of choice when grappling with databases, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention nowadays — unless you happen to be an analytics engineer, in which case you’re going to use it and use it a lot. You’ll also want to pick up a few programming languages that complement SQL well, like Java, Python, and R.

  • Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) Systems

    The process that moves data from the system that it stems from into a single repository or source of truth runs via Extract, Transform, and Load systems. Without these specialty tools, a big data engineer’s job would take centuries! Some of the better known ETL tools available today are Talend, Alooma, and Xplenty.

  • Big Data-Specific Tools

    Sometimes when you’re working with Big Data, you’ll need to use special purpose-built tools that can tolerate the upsized workload. Platforms like Hadoop or Spark (both Apache products) are open-source frameworks that data scientists and engineers use to help speed up the time needed to process massive data sets.

  • Collaboration and Teamwork Skills

    Tech is a team sport! Although you’ll be responsible for the company’s database and the quality of all the data contained therein, data engineer positions should not turn you into a total hermit. Make sure that you can work with the rest of your team as easily and fluidly as they can with your data by keeping your communication and empathy skills strong.

What are the future prospects for data engineers?

As humanity invents, perfects, and adopts new technology, we also dramatically increase the amount of data we produce. Since there’s no putting this genie back in the bottle, that means the future outlook for most data engineering jobs is fairly bright. As higher levels of computing power continue to become more accessible via avenues like the cloud, not only will there be more demand for data analysts and engineers, but the work they do will become easier and faster to manage. Good data management practices become more standard every day, with high level specialists like data engineering consultants and senior data engineers available to evangelize them to the organization.

Since businesses must now cultivate a closer connection between data and business strategy, (especially when deliberating between crucial, yet costly, cloud workloads), a data analyst job, for example, will likely remain in demand for many years. Generally speaking, data analytics engineers are also well-compensated, and the skill set required is one that can easily pivot towards other tech specializations if you choose.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is data engineering a good career choice?

    Yes! Data engineer jobs are a great choice of career provided you are highly analytical and technology oriented. According to research sourced from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for database administrator and architect roles is rising at a rate of 9%, which is faster than most other careers. The median salary recorded is also quite comfortable, at just over six figures annually. Since the demand for data engineers is itself data-driven, career progression is typically stable and manageable.

  • What are some of the most common roles in data engineering jobs?

    Data engineering work helps organizations unlock the value of the data sets they in many cases already possess. In your career as a data scientist, you might get the chance to leverage data against all kinds of outcomes, from improving an eCommerce store’s ability to predict future demand to targeting various buyer persons, contributing to machine learning systems, and more. Here are some examples of early and mid-career data engineering roles you might want to explore further:

    • Junior Data Engineer: This early career position gives professionals with some data engineering experience a little more room to spread their wings. Projects they’re assigned are larger and more complex than at entry level — and more interesting, too!
    • Lead Data Engineer: An advanced role requiring lots of data engineering experience, the lead typically oversees a larger team of data specialists. Along with their team, they design and deploy data solutions wherever assigned.
    • Data Architect: These experts are charged with creating the entirety of the organization’s data architecture. Working closely with a cross-functional team drawn from the business and from IT, they make sure everything is reliable, scalable, and stable.
  • What are the job responsibilities of data engineers and analysts?

    The way humans work with data has changed dramatically, just as the amount of data we generate on a daily basis has risen exponentially. That means that even in junior data engineering jobs, there’s going to be a lot on your plate. Don’t get overwhelmed, though; while it’s not practical to try to list out everything you may be asked to do (since organizations all operate slightly differently from one another), below are a few generalized data engineer job duties to familiarize yourself with:

    • Create and maintain the company’s data architecture to identified specifications
    • Obtain and store data for later analysis
    • Create automations that speed up the data intake and storage process
    • Upskill in relevant technologies (e.g., AI/ML, creating data visualizations, etc.)
    • Devise predictive models for future data and discern prior patterns from past data
  • What are the qualifications required to become a software data engineer?

    When you look for a job as a software data engineer, you’ll see some similarities among the job listings. While no two companies have the exact same data storage and management requirements, the skill sets that candidates need will often overlap. Below is a list of some of the experience and qualifications you’re likely to see in the job description of a junior data engineer:

    • A bachelor’s degree in a STEM subject, or a quantitative discipline.
    • Relevant professional certifications (e.g., AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty or Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate).
    • Proven experience working on data engineering projects.
    • Database management abilities.
    • Strong communication, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities.
  • What are the industries that hire data engineering consultants?

    Many years ago, only very technology-oriented companies had a real need for a data systems engineer. Not so today; as more and more companies embark on digital transformations, and refine their existing ways of doing business online, the need for specialist roles to address Big Data grows more acute every day. Here are just a few of the industries where you’re likely to find data engineer consultant jobs aplenty:

    • Information Technology
    • Software
    • Telecommunications
    • Banking and Finance
    • Healthcare

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