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How to Become a Big Data Engineer

If you have excellent engineering skills and are looking for a career creating technical and innovative solutions for a highly data-driven organization, a position as a big data engineer might be perfect for you. Big data engineers develop data processing applications across all stages of the life cycle. 

As a big data engineer, you will be responsible for transforming data into formats that can be easily analyzed and used by numerous departments. To become a big data engineer, you will need extensive engineering experience, preferably in Python or Java, as well as strong statistical and design skills. You should be highly skilled in data mining, processing large amounts of raw data, and developing and maintaining relational databases for storage and data acquisition.

Sample job description

Big data engineer needed at [Your Company Name]. As a big data engineer for [Your Company Name], it will be your duty to engineer data collection pipelines and manage the daily collection processes of our company. You must have experience with coding languages that are common in the big data collection field, as well as computer software, basic networking, and engineering. You will be responsible for the management and implementation of our systems, so you must be extremely confident in your ability to self-manage and produce results effectively. If you are a qualified candidate, you will have the required degrees and certifications for this position.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Develop and improve software systems 
  • Design experiments to test system operations
  • Analyze results 
  • Perform data mining to meet business objectives
  • Research, develop, and implement innovative techniques for the organization’s data
  • Work with large and complex sets of data 

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or applied math, preferably with certifications such as IBM Certified Data Engineer or Google’s Certified Professional. Many employers prefer candidates who have a master’s or doctorate.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience with object-oriented design, coding and testing patterns 
  • Robust project management and organizational skills 
  • Experience performing root cause analysis on internal and external data 
  • Strong analytical skills related to unstructured datasets 
  • Strong aptitude for business, technology, mathematics, and statistics 
  • Expertise in written and verbal communication
  • Ability to work with a team to examine and solve complex issues 
  • Proficient in computer programming and language

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience with Big Data technologies
  • Technical Data Engineering experience
  • GCP Data Engineer certification
  • Experience in handling data security and governance
  • Experience in Google Cloud Platform

Typical work environment

A big data engineer is in charge of managing the data collection processes through a variety of fields. This engineer will be in charge of the development of the pipelines needed for data collection and similar duties. Big data engineers must have proficiency in a variety of fields and skills, including coding, computer software, and engineering. Because of this, a big data engineer may have a degree in a variety of fields and expand to the big data engineering field or have a more specified degree related to this job. As a big data engineer, you must have a competent understanding of NoSQL options, as well as big data knowledge and systems which are relevant to the position. Some of your common daily duties may include the implementation of new big data collection systems, the management and upkeep of existing systems, and the successful communication of data to systems managers.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a Big Data Engineer are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, in an office setting.

Available certifications

A big data engineer is oftentimes required to have a certification or relevant certifications due to the nature of the position. Big data engineers may have a variety of degrees or certifications, but to ensure legitimacy some of the commonly recognized and widely accepted certifications include the following:

  • Cloudera Certified Professional. As a Cloudera certified professional, you will be industry-recognized and will receive training in pipeline engineering and production. Because of this, this certification can be immensely useful to a big data engineer.
  • Microsoft’s MCSE: Data Management and Analytics. If your position requires the use of Microsoft products or similar systems, then the Microsoft Data Management and Analytics certification can be immensely useful. This certification also helps demonstrate broad competency in SQL and similar database and big data systems.

Career path

The path to becoming a Big Data Engineer begins with earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or applied math, preferably with certifications such as IBM Certified Data Engineer or Google’s Certified Professional. A candidate who goes on to receive a master’s degree may have expanded career opportunities. Most employers look for candidates who have relevant technical skills in high-tech tools and programming languages, including experience in Java, Spark, SQL, cloud programs like AWS, and UNIX.  

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1256

2020 Employment1,847,900
Projected Employment in 20302,257,400
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 22% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift409,500 increase

According to industry website Computer Science Online, big data is now a significant component of the infrastructure, products, and services of organizations. Big data should be a $125 billion industry by the International Data Corporation, introducing a plethora of innovative processes, terms, and technology. This trend necessitates data management and interpretation skills, significantly increasing the demand for Big Data Engineers.