Big Data Engineer in 2020: Becoming One


Big data engineers, the professionals that work behind the scenes in every AI project, the backbone of every successful brand in the current times of intense competition in the global markets. They collect, develop, test, and maintain data all throughout the project lifecycle. Similar to what real estate contractors during the construction of a building that is taking care of the supply of essential raw material, a big data engineer makes sure that a continuous flow of filtered data gets provided to the analysts and scientists in the said domain.

Educational Background of a Data Engineer

Generally, they are equipped with an undergraduate degree in maths, statistics, or computer science. However, it doesn’t mean that graduates from other fields cannot become a data science engineer. People do come from different backgrounds other than the mentioned above, which includes economics, social sciences, business studies, among many other such fields.

Individuals with a programming background enjoy the best chance to succeed in the data engineering domain. 

4 Things If Kept in Mind Can Help You Become a Talented Data Engineering Professional 

  • Get a bachelor’s degree and seek an internship in the data science domain.
  • Work on your analytics skills, learn data-storage and structuring tools.
  • Data certifications would be a great help in securing your first job. 
  • Higher education in the fields of engineering, mathematics, computer science, IT, Physics, or a related field would be perfect.

Who is a Big Data Engineer and What Exactly is Meant by Data Engineering?

Data engineering is a field that focuses on building a reliable mechanism to store and synthesize data for business-use.

A data engineer is someone who has the capability and skills to act as a facilitator for the collection and movement of data throughout the project pipeline. He is the one responsible for transforming raw data into a refined form that can be put to use in a data analytics project. To perform the same, the engineer needs to construct, design, test, install and upkeep highly scalable DMS (data management systems). In simple language, he needs to maintain the database using a software tool.

Step-by-Step Process to Start a Big Data Career

Get Yourself a Bachelor’s Degree and take Up a Big Data Project to Work Upon

Any person interested in making a career in data science will need to get himself a bachelor’s degree in fields of study such as computer science, applied mathematics, statistics, engineering, or a related field. An internship experience would be even better. Most entry-level positions in data science domain require you to either have an internship in the domain, or a certification that proves your suitability for the role.

For individuals having majored in fields of study other than the ones mentioned above, an online course in algorithm development, data structures, coding, or database management would prove to be extremely helpful. Learn as much about the domain as possible.

Try joining a study group with friends, attend hackathons, build a project-portfolio that you can demonstrate before potential employers.

Refine your Skills in Data Analytics, Coding, Statistical Analysis, and most Importantly – Database Management

Hone your SQL skills. It is critical as the raw data first gets collected in a database management system to later structure it for further processing in the project. One must be familiar with programming languages that help perform statistical analysis, such as R and Python. Expertise in Hadoop, Kafka, or Spark will further strengthen your profile as a potential data engineer.

Other useful skills comprise understanding of database architectures, machine learning, construction of data pipelines, the usability of cloud platforms like AWS, and data mining.

Secure Your First Job in Data Engineering Domain

Most probably, your first job will not involve engineering, but it’s okay. Just get your foot inside, even if you get an IT-related profile initially. At least, you will get to know about approaching a data organization’s challenges. The first job will allow you to think innovatively, and learn to find ways to solve issues.

During the duration of your first job role, you will find out that data engineers don’t do everything by themselves. Instead, it’s a collaborative effort where analysts, scientists, and engineers perform and work in collaboration with each other. An understanding will be built around collecting data, analysing it, and ultimately utilizing it in a project.

Go for as many data science certificate courses as possible to further strengthen your base 

To further take your career to new heights, consider enrolling yourself in data certifications and courses. If you seek to develop specific skills, choose a vendor-specific certification such as IBM, Oracle, Cloudera, Microsoft, etc. A vendor-neutral professional certification in data science can be obtained from Dasca (Data Science Council of America).

With the availability of a plethora of options in data engineering certifications and courses, speaking to industry mentors and leaders can help you make the right choice. 

Pursue a Higher Education Degree Course in Disciplines such as Computer Science, IT, Engineering, Statistics, among other Related fields of Study

Data engineers do succeed without possessing a master’s degree in the above-mentioned fields of study, but having one could only prove to be beneficial in the long run. It will help dive deep in the related subjects. Remember, it’s not a pre-requisite to hold a master’s to qualify for a coveted job role as a data engineer, as most employers prefer relevant experience and technical prowess over higher education.


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