become a big data engineer

What does a Big Data Engineer do?

A big data engineer is the mastermind that designs and develops data pipelines. Essentially, they help collect data from a variety of sources. Next, this data is then organized by a big data engineer so data scientists can use it. Because of this, a big data engineer is considered an in-demand career. Watch a video to learn more about what a data engineer does.

How to Become a Big Data Engineer

Big data engineers have years of experience and a vast technical knowledge. To start your journey, gaining a bachelor’s degree in computer science, mathematics, or software engineering, is helpful. Though knowledge in SQL, and Python languages may be helpful, large companies may require others. It’s useful to review job descriptions of companies to learn about their requirements.

There are also numerous certifications that you can earn once you have gotten your degree. For example, Cloudera will teach the necessary foundational skills, and you can earn a Cloudera Certified Associate certificate. Alternatively, the Data Science Council of America has certifications in Associate Big Data Engineer and Senior Big Data Engineer (SBDE). Though these are just a few examples, you may find many more after conducting your own research. 

Job Description of 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. For example, volume is the amount of data that comes from various sources like social media, databases, 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 data collection can be well structured, big data usually comes unstructured and must be sorted for others to use. This is where big data engineers come in to play.

Technical skills of a Big Data Engineer

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 their skills to identify, extract data, and deliver the data in a usable format.

Big data engineers must also ensure they collected valid data, so they test their data and identify issues. 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, Mark also mentions qualifications that big data engineers 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. In fact, they routinely report out to all levels of an organization. Though they usually work with a large group of individuals, they may also work independently and at home. 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 edX.org (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.

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