How to start a career in data engineering

How to start a career in data engineering

Wondering how to start a career in data engineering?

Perhaps you’re a graduate looking at your options, or a data professional exploring your next career move?

Whatever your circumstances, there is no better time to get to grips with the roles and responsibilities of a data engineer. With demand for this role at an all time high, it can be a great career for tech professionals to move into.

In this article we’re unpacking the ways to start a career in data engineering, what the role entails, and why now is a great time to take the next step.

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What does a data engineering career entail?

Big data is growing at a rapid rate, and in turn is creating a need for data engineers. A career in data engineering involves interpreting, transforming and managing large data sets. 

Businesses need data professionals to help them assess raw data and turn it into easily digestible datasets for business use. Data professionals help you ensure that data is not lost, misinterpreted or a legal risk. 

With so many regulations and laws around the management of data, businesses need guidance from a compliance perspective. Data engineers can advise on all aspects of managing data, and put measures in place to minimise risks.

A career in data engineering will involve designing and building frameworks on data platforms that allow the secure and effective management of big data. While data analysts purely analyse data, data engineers build these data platforms that allow raw data to be ingested and transformed.

Roles of a data engineer include:

  • Collaborate with key stakeholders to understand data needs
  • Create and manage large datasets
  • Interpret data and feedback to the wider business
  • Develop algorithms that make data easy to understand
  • Assist with compliance and put measures in place for effective data management

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Starting out: Skills and qualifications

If you’re new to data engineering, you will need some specific skills to get you started. There are various pathways to gaining those skills. These include:

  • University courses

There are plenty of graduate courses on data engineering that are ideal. Once you have these vital qualifications you can build your skills, and even start a graduate role upon completing your degree which will help you learn and grow on the job. 

  • Cloud computing courses

Understanding cloud storage and cloud computing is vital to a role as a data engineer. You can learn these skills via a degree, online training provider, on the job, or by going directly to Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud to complete their training.

  • Coding bootcamps

Knowing how to code is an essential skill to become a data engineer. Coding bootcamps, courses and degrees will help you become proficient in the coding languages needed like Java, SQL and Python.

  • Database training 

You will need training on databases, which can be learnt on the job or via an online course or degree. Having a good grounding in data storage and data management is essential to a career in data engineering.

  • Big data tools

Online training providers can help you upskill in this area, but often the best training will be when you’re working the job. Each business will use different tools, so learning as many platforms as you can and completing company training when it’s offered is essential to growth as a data engineer.

person using MacBook

3 top tips for starting a career in data engineering

  1. Continuous learning 

While gaining the hard skills is vital for the role, continuous learning cannot be underestimated. This may be through formal training and education, and also on the job learning.

With the data industry always evolving and changing, it’s important to keep your finger on the pulse. It is recommended to find an employer who respects continuous learning, and offers the time and perhaps even budget to help you continuously grow. 

  1. Balance hard and soft skills

Hard skills like knowledge of coding languages, cloud computing, and data management platforms is essential. But soft skills are what will really make you stand out and help you develop your career in data engineering. 

Being able to communicate, collaborate  and work well within a team is an important skill, and one that is often  with mentoring, guidance and support from your manager.

  1. Find a mentor

Finding a mentor is a great way to accelerate your career, and ensure that you stay on track. If you can find one within your current company, that is ideal. 

If not, you can always use platforms like GrowthMentor, MentorCruise and Mentoring Club to find someone in the data engineering space. 

Why is it a great time to pursue a career in data?

Careers in data have skyrocketed in recent years. To grasp how rapidly data roles have risen, we only need to look at statistics that highlight the extreme level of market growth in the past few years.

In 2019, the size of the global data science platform market was valued at $3.93 billion USD. This refers to the value of data software platforms and integrated technologies that help individuals and businesses manage data. Meanwhile, in 2019, the size of the global data market was valued at $34.61 billion USD.

In 2021, this value of the global data science platform market had grown to a whopping $43.3 billion USD, and the overall value of the global data market had skyrocketed to $64 billion USD.

As you can see, the global data market is thriving. The rapid growth has caused an even greater demand for data professionals, including data engineers.

Are you ready to explore your career options? Why not get in touch with InfoCentric? We have a variety of open roles that could be perfect for you.

Head to Our Careers Page for more information and to register your details. Or, check out our latest article on Power Bi Dashboard Design.