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Storage Engineer Career Guide

What is a storage engineer?

A storage engineer is a specialized IT professional who designs, implements, and maintains data storage solutions. As the amount of digital data increases exponentially, the role of a storage engineer becomes increasingly critical. Their expertise is used to devise efficient data storage, retrieval, and backup strategies.

Storage engineers are vital to large enterprises that rely on massive databases. These professionals ensure the secure, efficient, and reliable storage of data, which contributes significantly to a business’s functionality and success. Their work enables organizations to handle large volumes of data effectively, ultimately facilitating smooth business operations, strategic planning, and decision-making processes.

Duties and responsibilities

A storage engineer’s duties revolve around designing and implementing storage systems, managing data backup and recovery processes, and ensuring data integrity and security. They are responsible for routine system checks, performance tuning, and troubleshooting storage-related issues.

Storage engineers are often expected to manage both on-premises and cloud-based storage solutions. Engineers in this role work on system upgrades, develop storage management procedures and standards, and often collaborate with other IT professionals to integrate storage solutions with existing infrastructure. They also play a role in disaster recovery planning, creating strategies to ensure data is not lost during system failures or cyber-attacks.

Work environment

The work environment of a storage engineer is typically office-based. However, with advancements in remote technologies, many professionals now have the option to work from home. They usually work in a team setting, collaborating closely with other IT professionals such as network engineers, systems administrators, and IT managers to ensure the company’s data storage needs are effectively met.

Given the fast-paced nature of technology, a storage engineer’s work environment can be dynamic and might demand quick problem-solving and adaptability. These professionals may need to respond promptly to data storage and retrieval emergencies, ensuring minimum downtime.

Typical work hours

Storage engineers generally adhere to a standard workweek, Monday to Friday, during business hours. However, they may occasionally need to work outside these hours for system upgrades, maintenance activities, or to respond to emergencies. These instances often occur during periods of low system use to minimize disruption. As IT environments evolve, flexible and remote working arrangements are becoming increasingly prevalent.

How to become a storage engineer

Becoming a storage engineer requires a combination of educational attainment, technical acumen, and industry-specific knowledge. To qualify for this position, you must navigate through several essential steps, from gaining a solid foundational education in computer science or related fields to acquiring relevant certifications and industry experience.

Step 1: Obtain a bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field is typically the minimum educational requirement for becoming a storage engineer. These programs provide foundational knowledge in computing principles, programming, data structures, and algorithms, forming the bedrock of the storage engineer’s skill set.

Step 2: Gain relevant experience

While still in school, aspiring storage engineers should seek internships or entry-level jobs in IT, system administration, or related fields. This hands-on experience is invaluable for understanding the practical applications of theoretical knowledge and gaining familiarity with different types of data storage solutions, network configurations, and security protocols.

Step 3: Earn industry-specific certifications

After obtaining a degree and gaining practical experience, it’s time to seek industry-specific certifications. These can help you stand out in the job market and demonstrate your expertise in storage systems. Options include certifications like the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Data Center, EMC Proven Professional Certification Program, or the IBM Certified Systems Expert.

Step 4: Develop a specialization

Over time, many storage engineers specialize in a specific type of system or industry. This could be anything from cloud-based storage solutions to data warehousing in finance or healthcare. Focusing on a particular area can deepen your expertise and make you more attractive to employers in your chosen field. If you’re interested in this route, consider taking one of these online courses to begin familiarizing yourself with these areas: 

Step 5: Stay current with emerging technologies

The field of data storage is continually evolving with new technologies and methodologies. A storage engineer needs to stay up-to-date with these changes through continuous learning, accomplished through attending industry conferences, enrolling in online courses, or reading industry publications. Many professionals have found the following online courses to be helpful:

Step 6: Apply for jobs

With your degree, experience, certifications, and specialization, you’re ready to apply for storage engineer positions. Prepare a compelling resume that highlights your skills, knowledge, and experience. Tailor each application to the specific job description, and remember to prepare thoroughly for interviews by researching the company and the job requirements.

How much do storage engineers make?

The compensation for storage engineers can vary greatly depending on several factors. Their level of education, experience, and certifications in relevant technologies can significantly impact their earnings. For instance, storage engineers with advanced degrees or professional certifications, such as EMC Proven Professional or NetApp Certified Data Administrators, tend to earn more than their counterparts without these qualifications.

Geographical location is also critical in determining a storage engineer’s salary. Major metropolitan areas and tech hubs typically offer higher compensation due to the high cost of living and the demand for such skills. Similarly, industry sector and company size can influence salary ranges, with larger corporations and high-tech industries often paying more.

Highest paying industries

  • Telecommunications: $125,100
  • Information Services and Data Processing: $121,570
  • Finance and Insurance: $120,940
  • Computer Systems Design: $119,570
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises: $117,670

Highest paying states

  • California: $141,220
  • New Jersey: $131,400
  • Virginia: $129,530
  • Maryland: $128,420
  • New York: $127,210

Browse storage engineer salary data by market

Types of storage engineers

In this career guide section, we explore the dynamic profession of storage engineering. Different types of storage engineers focus on designing, implementing, and maintaining systems that store, manage, protect, and facilitate access to data.

SAN engineer

A Storage Area Network (SAN) engineer specializes in managing and maintaining a SAN — a high-speed network of storage devices that multiple servers can access. Their tasks typically involve installing, configuring, and supporting SAN infrastructure to ensure optimal performance and reliability.

NAS engineer

A Network Attached Storage (NAS) engineer focuses on managing NAS systems. These systems are file-level data storage servers connected to a computer network, providing data access to different network clients. A NAS engineer’s tasks often include system installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and routine maintenance.

Backup engineer

Backup engineers are tasked with the vital role of ensuring data backup systems function effectively. They develop, implement, and oversee data backup and restore procedures, guaranteeing the preservation and recovery of data in the event of system failure or data loss.

Disaster recovery engineer

Disaster recovery engineers develop, coordinate, and execute plans for recovering data and resuming system operations during a disaster or data loss. These engineers establish disaster recovery protocols and procedures to minimize data loss and system downtime, ensuring a swift return to normal operations following a disaster.

Storage architect

A storage architect designs data storage solutions tailored to an organization’s specific needs. They determine the best storage strategies and technologies, then oversee the implementation of these storage systems. Their designs must consider various factors like scalability, performance, reliability, and cost.

Top skills for storage engineers

Proficiency in managing and implementing storage solutions, analytical thinking, a solid grasp of various storage technologies, and robust problem-solving abilities are crucial for success in this role. A competent storage engineer is adept at tailoring storage solutions to an organization’s unique requirements, analyzing system performance, and swiftly resolving any issues.

Storage engineers must possess comprehensive knowledge of storage system design and management. This expertise includes understanding how to create efficient storage architectures, carry out data backups and recovery, and implement disaster recovery solutions. 

Proficiency in these areas ensures that an organization’s data is safely stored and quickly accessible when needed. Also, it guarantees that the data remains safe and recoverable even in an unforeseen disaster.

The ability to analyze and optimize system performance is another vital skill for storage engineers. They must continually assess the storage infrastructure, identify potential bottlenecks, and make adjustments to ensure optimal performance. 

This often involves tracking system metrics, interpreting complex data, and adjusting configurations to enhance efficiency. By employing analytical thinking, a storage engineer can ensure that a company’s storage systems are reliable, performant, and scalable.

The world of data storage is diverse, with various technologies and systems available. A storage engineer should be well-versed in various storage technologies, including Direct Attached Storage, Network Attached Storage, and Storage Area Network, among others. Familiarity with these technologies enables the engineer to select and implement the most suitable solutions for the organization’s needs.

In the realm of data storage, problems are inevitable. These can range from hardware failures to capacity issues or data losses. Effective problem-solving abilities are vital for a storage engineer to diagnose and rectify such issues quickly. 

This skill often involves understanding system troubleshooting, data recovery techniques, and a knack for thinking on one’s feet. The ability to resolve problems efficiently minimizes downtime and ensures the smooth running of an organization’s data storage infrastructure.

Storage engineer career path

The career path of a storage engineer typically starts with an entry-level role in IT operations or system administration. Exposure to various technologies and systems during this phase, especially data storage and management, is vital for building a solid foundation.

As the individual gains hands-on experience and earns additional certifications, they may progress to a position as a junior storage engineer. In this role, they are often tasked with managing and supporting the organization’s storage systems under the supervision of more experienced colleagues.

They can advance to senior storage engineer with several years of experience, a proven track record, and a solid understanding of storage technologies. This role demands responsibility for designing and implementing storage systems, optimizing storage performance, and ensuring the integrity and security of data. They may also supervise junior team members and take the lead on larger projects.

Ultimately, storage engineers may transition into roles like storage architect or IT manager, where they devise storage strategies, manage teams, and align the storage infrastructure with the organization’s business objectives. Those with an interest in strategic leadership might pursue roles such as IT director or chief technology officer (CTO), where they oversee the organization’s entire technology strategy.

Storage engineering, a vital technology sector component, has recently seen transformative shifts, driven mainly by the continued surge of data generation and consumption. The advent of technologies like cloud computing, big data, machine learning, and AI has placed a high demand on efficient and effective data storage systems. 

In response, storage engineers are increasingly focused on cloud storage solutions and distributed storage systems, allowing organizations to store and access their data more flexibly and efficiently.

In addition, there’s a growing trend toward automation in storage management. New software and tools are being developed to simplify and automate tasks traditionally carried out by storage engineers, like data backup and recovery, replication, deduplication, and compression. As a result, storage engineers are expected to acquire skills in managing and leveraging these automation tools.

With the escalation of cybersecurity threats, storage engineers must also be well-versed in data security protocols and tools. This includes understanding encryption techniques, access controls, and the latest security standards to protect sensitive information.

Employment projections for storage engineers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes storage engineers under the broader “Network and Computer Systems Administrators” category. Employment for this group is projected to grow 8% though 2031, about as fast as the average for all occupations. 

Demand for storage engineers, specifically, is expected to be driven by organizations’ need to manage and store data securely and efficiently. Given the rising trend of cloud-based storage and the constant need for robust cybersecurity, storage engineers with skills in these areas will likely have good job prospects.

Storage engineer career tips

Develop a deep understanding of storage technologies

As a storage engineer, you must possess a deep understanding of various storage technologies, such as Network Attached Storage, Storage Area Networks, Direct Attached Storage, and cloud storage solutions. This knowledge is essential to effectively design, implement, and manage the storage infrastructure to support your organization’s data needs.

Strengthen troubleshooting abilities

Troubleshooting forms a significant part of a storage engineer’s job. When storage issues arise, you need to quickly diagnose and resolve them to prevent data loss and maintain the continuity of business operations. Improving your troubleshooting skills will help you efficiently address storage problems, enhancing your effectiveness in the role.

Maintain data integrity and security

Maintaining the integrity and security of stored data is a crucial responsibility for a storage engineer. You should be well-versed in data protection principles, backup and recovery processes, and security protocols. You can protect your organization’s valuable information and comply with data protection regulations by ensuring data integrity and security.

Master storage optimization

Storage optimization involves organizing and managing data storage to maximize capacity, performance, and efficiency. Mastery of storage optimization techniques like data deduplication, compression, and tiering can help you get the most out of your storage infrastructure and reduce costs.

Continuous learning

In the fast-paced field of storage engineering, continuous learning is vital. To stay up-to-date with the latest developments, consider the following:

  • Attending industry conferences and workshops
  • Enrolling in advanced courses on new storage technologies
  • Earning certifications from vendors like IBM, Dell EMC, or NetApp
  • Regularly reading industry publications and forums

Build a professional network

Building a professional network can offer immense benefits, from sharing knowledge and best practices to exploring new opportunities. Here are some professional associations and networks for storage engineers:

  • Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA)
  • Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communication (SIGCOMM)
  • IEEE Communications Society
  • Data Storage Networking Group on LinkedIn

Understand business needs

It’s necessary to understand your organization’s business needs. This understanding allows you to align your storage solutions with the organization’s goals and requirements, leading to more effective and relevant storage strategies.

Stay ahead with automation

Automation can significantly enhance the efficiency of storage operations. By automating repetitive tasks such as data backup, system updates, and storage allocation, you can save time, reduce errors, and focus more on strategic tasks. Familiarity with automation tools and scripting languages can significantly enhance your effectiveness as a storage engineer.

Where the storage engineer jobs are

Top companies

  • Amazon
  • Dell
  • Wells Fargo
  • AT&T
  • Mayo Clinic

Top states

  • California
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Virginia
  • New York

Top job sites

  • zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Dice 
  • Upwork 


What qualifications are needed for a storage engineer role?

Most employers look for candidates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field for a storage engineer role. Additionally, professional experience with data storage solutions and systems, including network attached storage (NAS) and storage area networks (SAN), is usually required. Certifications from leading storage vendors like Dell EMC, NetApp, or IBM can also be beneficial.

What skills are particularly beneficial for a storage engineer to possess?

Storage engineers should have excellent problem-solving skills and a thorough understanding of data storage principles. Familiarity with various storage technologies, systems, and protocols such as Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NFS, and CIFS is vital. 

They should also understand backup and recovery principles and disaster recovery planning well. In addition, they should be proficient in using storage management software and have strong communication and documentation skills.

What are the typical duties of a storage engineer?

A storage engineer is typically responsible for designing, implementing, and managing an organization’s data storage infrastructure. This includes capacity planning, performance analysis, and troubleshooting. They also ensure that data integrity, backup, and recovery processes are in place. 

In addition, they often work closely with other IT teams, such as network engineers and database administrators, to optimize the storage infrastructure.

What is the role of a storage engineer in data protection?

Storage engineers play a critical role in data protection as they design and manage systems that ensure the integrity and security of data in storage. This includes developing and implementing backup and recovery processes, managing redundancy, and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations.

How does a storage engineer collaborate with other IT roles?

A storage engineer often works closely with other IT professionals within an organization. They may collaborate with network engineers to ensure optimal storage network performance, work with database administrators to design storage solutions that meet database needs, and coordinate with security teams to ensure the storage infrastructure is secure.

What does a storage engineer need to consider when designing a storage solution?

When designing a storage solution, a storage engineer must consider the organization’s storage capacity needs, performance requirements, budget, and future growth. It’s also vital to consider data protection requirements, including backup, recovery, and compliance considerations. The choice of storage technologies and architecture will depend on these and other factors.

What are the most common storage technologies a storage engineer should know?

A storage engineer should be familiar with a variety of storage technologies, including Storage Area Networks, Network Attached Storage , Direct Attached Storage, and various storage protocols such as iSCSI, Fibre Channel, and NFS. 

They should also understand RAID configurations, data deduplication, storage virtualization, and emerging technologies like software-defined storage and hyper-converged infrastructure.

How does a storage engineer ensure that data is accessible to users?

A storage engineer works to ensure data is accessible to users by maintaining the performance and reliability of the storage infrastructure. This includes managing the network connections between storage systems and users, ensuring the systems are correctly configured and running smoothly, and promptly resolving any issues. Engineers in this role may also set up and manage access controls to ensure data is accessible to authorized users only.

What is the difference between a storage engineer and a storage administrator?

While both roles deal with storage systems, a storage engineer focuses more on designing and implementing storage solutions. In contrast, a storage administrator is primarily responsible for managing, monitoring, and maintaining existing storage infrastructure. 

Storage engineers often work closely with architects and other IT professionals to develop new storage solutions. On the other hand, storage administrators focus on ensuring optimal performance and availability of the storage systems.

How important is cloud storage knowledge for a storage engineer?

Cloud storage knowledge is becoming increasingly crucial for storage engineers as more organizations adopt cloud-based solutions for their storage needs. Familiarity with cloud storage platforms like Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, and Google Cloud Storage, as well as an understanding of cloud storage security and best practices, can be valuable assets for storage engineers in today’s job market.