become a big data engineer

What does a Big Data Engineer do?

A big data engineer is the mastermind that designs and develops the data pipelines that essentially collect data from a variety of sources. These large sets of data are then organized by a big data engineer so that data scientists and analysts find it useful. A big data engineer is considered an in-demand career.

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How to Become a Big Data Engineer

Big data engineers have years of experience and a vast technical knowledge. To start your journey as a big data engineer, you would gain a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, software engineering, or a related IT degree. In addition to earning a degree, essential software development and knowledge in SQL, Python, various cloud platforms, SQL, and NoSQL are necessary. However, more prominent companies such as Amazon, Google, or Facebook, for example, require big data engineers to know Python, Java, Scala, Hadoop, Spark, Kafka, Tableau, or Elastic Search. 

There are also numerous certifications that you can earn once you have gotten your degree or continuing seeking education; a big data engineer will always be learning throughout their career. A few are organizations that offer certifications are Cloudera, they teach necessary foundational skills, and you can earn a Cloudera Certified Associate certificate. The Data Science Council of America (DASCA) allows you to earn certifications in Associate Big Data Engineer (ABDE) or Senior Big Data Engineer (SBDE) based on your learning mastery skills. These are only a few; however, you may find that there are more after doing your own research. 

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Job Description of a Big Data Engineer

become a big data engineer

I am sure you are wondering what big data engineering is. However, let’s first talk about what big data consists of to get a better understanding. Big data is a massive collection of information that cannot be handled by traditional software. Big data is usually defined by the variety, volume, and velocity of data sets. Volume is the amount of data and can come from various places such as social media, databases, and information from sensors and machines. Then there is the rate data received, which is the velocity. Variety looks at the many different available types of data. While traditional collection of data can be well structured, big data usually comes in new unstructured forms and needs additional help to get sorted for others to use. This is where big data engineers come in to play.

Big data engineers use a variety of highly technical skills to accomplish their job. They are skilled software developers (meaning they must be a proficient coder), data scientist, and engineer – all in one. This means you could find yourselves doing a variety of tasks on any given day. Big data engineers must use all of these skill sets to identify, extract data, and deliver the data in a usable format for others to evaluate.

Big data engineers must also ensure they have collected valid data, so they also test their data and identify any issues that must be resolved. Mark van Rijmenam is the founder and CEO of Datafloq and a Big Data and Blockchain Strategist. In his post titled, Big Data Engineer Profile, he mentions a few of these qualifications that big data engineers should possess:

  • proficiency in designing efficient and robust ETL workflows
  • work with cloud computing environments
  • assist in documenting requirements as well as resolve conflicts or ambiguities
  • tune Hadoop solutions to improve performance and end-user experience

So far, this job description seems very technical. However, big data engineers must also possess excellent communication skills as they routinely report out to all levels of an organization. They usually work with a large group of individuals and a corporation or organization with technology as part of their work model. It is essential to know various software systems and programs. Other careers to explore are: MathematicianEconomistSurvey ResearcherSoftware EngineerComputer Engineer, or a Data Architect.

Free Teacher and Student Resources

Microsoft offers a free Introduction to Big Data course on (opens in a new tab). This course offers an introduction to data formats, technologies and techniques, the fundamentals of databases, and basic principles for working with Big Data. There is a cost option if you wish to earn a verified certification after taking the course.

Article Citations

For Salary Information: Glassdoor Big Data Engineer Salaries.