The Role of a Data Engineer in the Information Technology Department of an Enterprise
A Career in Data Engineering in those Testing Times
Whenever the topic of IT companies and the roles that exist come up, some think that everyone who works for an IT company does similar jobs based on the company’s specialization. This is far from true. In reality, there is a whole set of roles present in an IT company which differ despite being of the same field. One of the roles is that of a data engineer. A data engineer’s role is not the same as a software engineer. It varies differently in terms of skills, knowledge, and roles. First, let’s understand what the role of a data engineer is.
What is a data engineer?
Generally speaking, a data engineer’s role is to transform big data into a format that can be easily analyzed and processed. A data engineer will develop, maintain, and test data infrastructure to generate data. At the same time, data engineers and data scientists work hand in hand as data engineers would be responsible for architecting solutions that are required by data scientists to perform their jobs properly.
When it comes to academic qualifications, a data engineer generally would and should have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, applied mathematics, or information technology. Additionally, a few data engineering certifications, such as Google’s Certified Professional or IBM Certified Data Engineer are also beneficial. Along with these qualifications, a data engineer would have a plethora of technical abilities and skills to approach problems and create a scalable solution in a creative manner. This is a general view of the qualifications; let’s go through a set of specific skills and qualifications of a data engineer.
How do you qualify to be a data engineer?
The best way to find out how to qualify to be a data engineer is to find out exactly what companies expect from a data engineer. A list of qualifications required by various IT companies around India in their data engineer job posting information is mentioned below that will provide insight into this job role.
- A graduate degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Informatics, Statistics, or another quantitative field.
- Advanced knowledge of working SQL, and experience in working with query authoring (SQL), relational databases, and being familiar with a variety of different databases.
- Experience in root cause analysis on both external and internal data and processes for answering specific business questions and identifying opportunities for improvement.
- Experience in handling, processing, and extracting maximum value from large disconnected datasets.
- A working knowledge of stream processing, message queuing, and highly scalable data stores.
- Experience in building and optimizing big data sets, data architectures, and data pipelines.
- Experience or knowledge in building processes that support metadata, data structure, data transformation, dependency, and workload management.
- Strong analytic skills and experience in working with unstructured data.
- Strong organizational and project management skills.
- Experience in working and supporting cross-functional teams in a dynamic environment.
Apart from the above qualifications, companies also expect a data engineer to have working knowledge and experience in using the following tools or software.
- Experience with object-oriented or object function scripting languages such as Java, Python, Scala, C++, etc.
- Experience with relational NoSQL and SQL databases, including Cassandra and Postgres.
- Experience with big data tools, such as Spark, Hadoop, Kafka, etc.
- Experience with stream-processing systems, such as Spark-Streaming, Storm, etc.
- Experience with data pipelines and workflow management tools such as Airflow, Luigi, Azkaban, etc.
- Experience with AWS Cloud Services, such as EDS, EMR, EC2, and Redshift
Now that the specific skills and qualifications required from a data engineer are clear, let’s see what exactly is the role of a data engineer in an IT department of a company?
Role of a data engineer
A data engineer can perform different work functions in an IT company. Few of them are:
1. Architecture: A data engineer as an architect is responsible for every step of the data process, such as identifying any business needs and building or maintaining data processing solutions to analyze big data. Usually, in this work function, a data engineer would work for a small project or at the MVP stage.
2. Pipelines: A data engineer working on data pipelines would work along with data scientists to help them use the gathered data. This work function would require an in-depth knowledge of computer science and distributed systems. In this role, a data engineer would work on medium-sized projects with data scientists.
3. Databases: A database-oriented engineer would focus usually on analytic databases. In this work function, a data engineer would be responsible to develop schemas and work with data warehouses in several data systems. In this role, a data engineer would work on larger projects where the data flow control would be a full-time job.
Responsibilities that data engineers usually have within an organization
There are multiple responsibilities that a data engineer would focus on in an organization. Some of them are mentioned below in no particular order.
- Working along with experts in analytics and data to enable greater functionality in the data systems
- Creating and maintaining optimal data pipeline architecture
- Building infrastructure needed to extract, transform and deploy data gathered from a variety of data sources using AWS and SQL technology
- Keeping big data separated and secure across the state or national boundaries through multiple AWS regions and data centers
- Assembling large and complex datasets to meet any functional or non-functional business requirements
- Building analytics tools utilizing the data pipeline to furnish valuable and actionable insights in operational efficiency, customer acquisition, and any other KPIs (Key Business Performance Metrics)
- Identifying, designing, and implementing internal process improvements, such as optimized data delivery, automated manual processes, and designing or redesigning scalable infrastructure
- Creating data tools for data scientists and data analytics team to support them in building and optimizing technical products
- Working with various teams, such as the product, executive, design, and data teams along with stakeholders to support any data infrastructure needs and assist with data-related technical issues
Now that the roles and responsibilities of a data engineer are clear, here comes the big question; how to become a data engineer. Read on to find out.
How to become a data engineer
If you want to become a data engineer, you need experience in computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, engineering, or any other IT-related areas. You also would require a minimum bachelor’s degree in the relevant discipline. You also should have a working knowledge of language programs, such as Java, Python, as well as SQL.
Some data engineering certificates that would look great on your resume and help you stand out in the competition would be:
- Google Cloud Certified Professional Data Engineer
- AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty
- IBM Certified Data Engineer – Big Data
- CCP Data Engineer Exam
- Databricks Certifications
Though it is not mandatory to have the above certificates, it would work to your advantage if you do have any one of these certificates. Other than these certificates, you can also complete an online certification course on data engineering that would benefit you equally. These courses are available at large and are specially designed for working IT professionals. These courses are usually over the weekends to not interfere with your current job.
One such course is the Professional Certificate Course in Data Engineering on Cloud Platform offered by AptusLearn. This 6-month weekend course will help you become an expert in data engineering, DevOps, cloud programming, and cloud computing. You will not only learn how to understand data platforms, but you will also learn to use the architecture framework in the AWS cloud platform. This course can help you better your data engineering skills and move up in your career. For more information,