What Does A Data Engineer Do? JD, Requirements & Salary

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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There’s a lot of development in the discipline of data engineering, which supports the notion that it’s the new data science. To successfully use data science and analytics, businesses increasingly understand how important it is to hire data engineers to design, develop, and manage the architecture.

Data Engineer

If you want to pursue a data engineer career, let’s learn more about this crucial role!

The Duties Of A Data Engineer

Data engineers create systems that gather, organize, and transform unprocessed data into information that business analysts and data scientists can interpret in various contexts. Making data available is their ultimate objective so businesses can use it to assess and improve their performance.

Working for smaller businesses, it is common for data engineers to take on a wider range of data-related responsibilities in a generalist job. While some data engineers at larger firms specialize in establishing data pipelines, others manage data warehouses, generating table schemas to monitor data storage locations and adding data to the warehouses.

What Is A Data Engineer Role?

  • Generalists: General-purpose data engineers usually operate in small teams and handle all aspects of data intake, processing, and gathering from start to finish. A data scientist interested in data engineering might make a good generalist.
  • Pipeline-centric engineers: These data engineers work on more complex data science projects involving distributed systems and are usually part of a data analytics team. The function is more likely to be required by big and midsize enterprises.
  • Database-centric engineers: These data engineers set up, manage, and add information to analytics databases. In larger firms with several databases where data is dispersed, this job is usually present.

Data Engineer Job Description

You should be able to mix data from many sources and possess excellent analytical abilities to thrive in this profession. Here are some repetitive tasks and responsibilities you need to complete.

  • Assess and arrange unprocessed data
  • Construct pipelines and data systems
  • Analyze the goals and demands of the business
  • Analyze patterns and trends
  • Analyze complicated data and present your findings
  • Get data ready for predictive and prescriptive modeling
  • Create prototypes and algorithms
  • Assemble unprocessed data from several sources
  • Find strategies to improve the dependability and quality of your data
  • Find chances to collect data
  • Create programs and tools for analysis
  • Work on many projects in tandem with architects and data scientists

Is Data Engineer A Good Career?

Overall, data engineering is a great job title to pursue. Data engineering is at the vanguard of the digital revolution and is essential to the decision-making and analytics that power contemporary companies. Still, similar to other jobs, this profession is not always flowers and rainbows; it comes with its pack of pros and cons.


  • Working with cutting-edge tools platforms: Data engineers often embrace and grasp emerging technologies before others do due to the dynamic nature of their industry. This may be extremely gratifying and thrilling for those passionate about digital innovation.
  • Adaptable career path: Experts in this domain are not limited to a single sector or business. They can opt to work for major multinational organizations operating in several industries, well-established tech companies, or start-ups.
  • Remote job opportunity: Since digital tools and systems are the main tools used by data engineers, they may work efficiently from any location with a reliable internet connection. Because of this flexibility, engineers may improve their work-life balance by reducing stress, saving time and money on their commute, and even working in a more comfortable and customized setting.


  • Deadlines and work pressure: The timely and correct supply of data insights is crucial for businesses to make strategic decisions. Long workdays and stress can result from this high-pressure workplace, especially when unforeseen issues must be addressed immediately.
  • Non-stop learning requirement: Data engineers must commit to lifetime learning and ongoing skill development to stay current and productive. This mandate entails setting aside time outside of work on a regular basis to research and comprehend new instruments, computer languages, and business procedures.

6 Steps To Become A Data Engineer

women Data Engineer

Step 1: Get Relevant Education

A Bachelor’s Degree: Obtain a bachelor’s degree in engineering, information technology, computer science, or a similar discipline to get started. A strong basis in important ideas like databases, computer systems, and programming is therefore provided.

Certifications And Courses: Engineering roles always require many certifications. You should think about enrolling in certain database management, cloud computing, big data technologies, and data engineering courses. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud certifications as well as those from particular technologies like Spark and Apache Hadoop might be beneficial.

Step 2: Develop Your Engineering Skills

Pick Up Some Programming Languages: Training to be proficient in Java, Scala, and Python is essential. Python is very popular for data engineering jobs.
Recognize Database Systems: Learn everything there is to know about designing, querying, and managing NoSQL and SQL databases.

Frameworks For Master Data Processing: Learn how to deal with tools such as Spark, Kafka, Apache Hadoop, and other data processing frameworks.

Learn About Cloud Platforms: Recognize how cloud services are used in data engineering. Being knowledgeable with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and AWS is becoming more and more crucial.

Step 3: Create Practical Experiences

Projects: Utilize your knowledge in real-world situations by working on open-source or personal projects. Large dataset collection, archiving, processing, and analysis projects might be very helpful.

Apply For Internships: This offers networking opportunities and exposure to professional settings.

Participate In Open Source Projects: Adding to open-source initiatives will help you obtain real-world experience and attract the attention of prospective employers.

Step 4: Build Soft Skills

Ability To Solve Problems: To debug and optimize data pipelines, one must possess strong problem-solving and analytical skills.

Communication Skills: Technical topics must be explained intelligibly to stakeholders who are not technical.

Collaboration: Data engineers frequently contribute to a broader engineering team that includes analysts, business experts, and data scientists.

Step 5: Continue To Learn And Connect

Keep Up: Data engineering is a rapidly developing discipline.Subscribe to forums, blogs, and professional associations to remain current on the newest trends, technology, and best practices.

Networking: Attend workshops, conferences, and meetings. Through networking, you can make relationships that may result in employment offers and worthwhile educational possibilities.

Step 6: Apply For a Data Engineering Job

Entry-Level Positions: To start out, search for positions in similar sectors like software development or database administration, or positions like Junior Data Engineer.

Construct A Portfolio: Present your accomplishments and achievements to prospective employers as evidence of your abilities and educational background.

Data Engineer Certification & Requirements

The following are a few well-liked engineering certifications that you might want to take.

  • IBM Data Engineering Professional Certificate: You may complete IBM’s flexible online course in 15 months or fewer, giving them the tools, abilities, and portfolio needed for the workforce. The goal of the course is to prepare you for a role as an entry-level data engineer.
  • IBM Data Warehouse Engineer Professional Certificate: This course, which is intended for novice data warehouse engineers, will teach you the fundamentals of working with various databases and technologies to design, implement, and oversee corporate data warehouses. You will learn how to create data pipelines for ETL data using Apache Airflow and Kafka.
  • Database Engineer Professional Certificate: Designed with novices in mind, you will master the fundamentals of programming languages and technologies, including SQL, Python, and Django, as well as the abilities needed to construct, administer, and modify databases.

Entry-Level Data Engineer Salary

According to ZipRecruiter, as of April 30, 2024, a good salary for an entry-level data engineer in the United States is about $130,000 annually, translating to about $62.36 per hour.

Berkeley data engineers make approximately $169,000 a year, which is the highest annual salary for data engineer entry-level jobs in the nation (as of April 30, 2024). Daly City offers earnings that are slightly lower for entry-level roles, with an average of $159,929 annually.

Of course, the salary will depend on your experience level. Data engineers often begin their careers as business intelligence analysts or software engineers. As your career progresses, you may take on administrative responsibilities or work toward becoming a machine learning engineer, data architect, or solutions architect.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Data Engineering Require Coding?

Yes. Coding is an essential ability for data engineers, just like it is for other data science positions. Data engineers utilize a variety of programming languages in addition to SQL for a variety of jobs. While there are different computer languages available for use in data engineering, Python is unquestionably the finest choice.

Is Data Engineer A Tough Job?

Yes. The position of data engineer requires extensive technical knowledge. You must possess a solid foundation in computers, data processing, and, in some situations, machine learning and cloud computing. Developing a solid theoretical base and gaining real-world experience through networking, internships, and personal projects are crucial.

Is Data Engineer Still In Demand?

Yes. Data engineers are in high demand, and demand is rising quickly. Nowadays, data is abundant for all businesses, regardless of size. Organizing and interpreting this deluge of data is an essential requirement. Here’s where data engineers come in, turning into important figures in the tech-driven corporate world.

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The Bottom Line

A data engineer may be a tough yet rewarding profession to pursue. Being a data engineer not only makes you highly sought after, but it also allows you to solve issues, experiment with big datasets, and recognize patterns in the world around you. However, remember to equip yourself with fundamental skills and qualifications before landing a job in this field.

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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