What is Data Engineering? Why is it a Popular Career Path?

What is Data Engineering? Why is it a Popular Career Path? | Data Analytics | Emeritus

Data has become a pivotal asset for all businesses but it can prove useless if it isn’t leveraged effectively. That’s where data engineering comes in. It lays down the foundation for data science applications by preparing raw data for collection and analysis. Specialized in a practice that mainly focuses on the end application of data analysis, they are instrumental in automating the data flow process. Let’s dive further into what is data engineering and how it plays an important role in transforming a company’s big data ecosystem. 

What is Data Engineering?

Simply, it involves building useful systems that help collect and store data from various sources. This can include anything from fixing errors in a database to making it look presentable. It is the backbone of holistic business process management. This is why data engineering finds various applications across multiple industries, such as retail, healthcare, finance, education, manufacturing, and banking. 

It comprises a set of operations aimed at building algorithms, developing interfaces, and utilizing software engineering principles to enable the easy flow of information. Dedicated specialists, known as engineers, implement relevant database techniques to prepare data for further analysis by data scientists. 

Why is It Important?

This role plays an important role in the era of big data. Companies have access to so much information from the real and digital worlds. While this can be a great boon to businesses, multiple data sources can lead to information overload. This results in scattered data, which restricts the organization from drawing relevant insights and seeing a clear picture of its business functions. That is where data engineering plays an integral part.   

It simplifies data and makes it more reliable and useful for data scientists. Also, the data infrastructure built through data engineering allows organizations to leverage the valuable benefits of data analytics. 

what-is-statistical-modelingRoles and Responsibilities

Such engineers are primarily responsible for preparing and organizing data. Their main responsibilities can be grouped into two categories. 

Database Management

  • Designing infrastructure for generation, transmission, storage, and processing
  • Maintaining privacy and accessibility
  • Shaping efficient pipelines
  • Building accurate warehouses and reporting systems  

Data Insights

  • Developing tools for analysis
  • Establishing machine learning algorithms 
  • Collaborating with data scientists and other engineers to streamline and meet business goals 

A good professional ensures the final data is relevant, high quality, reliable, and ready for further use.   

What Roles are in Demand?

Data engineering is not necessarily an entry-level job role. Most of them kick-start their careers as software engineers or Business Intelligence (BI) analysts and gain experience before moving into managerial roles. 

Some of the most popular job titles within the field are data architect, big data specialist, Machine Learning (ML) engineer, cloud engineer, data warehouse expert, technical architect, solutions architect, and Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) developer. 

Since it is a specialized field of study, it becomes imperative for IT professionals to have hands-on experience as well as theoretical knowledge of data engineering processes. 

Why is It Critical to Digital Transformation?

The exponential advancement of data in the modern business world has made it a necessity and growth enabler. Working with huge volumes of data, especially in the digital world, requires an automation process that can benefit an organization. This field helps with that and more. 

Here’s how: A key aspect of digital transformation is data quality, and skilled professionals help segregate data and boost efficiency. There will likely be a stronger emphasis on improving everything from operations to analytics. This demands improvements in data architecture, infrastructure, and systems. The data engineering team helps facilitate these changes that serve business needs by building efficient data pipelines.

How Do Data Scientists and Data Engineers Work Together?

A good way to explain how these roles function is by using the analogy of civil engineers and architects. Architects are responsible for developing initial plans, while civil engineers work on finding structural limitations and implementing these plans. Similarly, in the world of data, data scientists direct analytical plans while data engineers focus on the technical implementation of core solutions.  

Both are required to work closely to integrate and streamline data to enable business solutions. Once a data scientist has worked on developing a model to process data, a data engineer will figure out how to incorporate this within the overall data processing pipeline. Through each step, both professionals must have good communication skills to consolidate ideas easily. 

What Skills Do Data Engineers Need?

Let’s understand the skills needed to become a data engineer. To begin with, since data engineers use software programs to conduct performative analyses of databases, a software development or programming background is essential. They must be experienced in coding languages like Python, Java, and Scala. They must also be hands-on with technical tools such as SQL database design, Hadoop, Spark, and Hive. 

The most sought-after skill for a data engineer is the ability to design, build and maintain a data warehouse. Pipeline design and data architecture are other essential skills that every professional data engineer should have a conceptual and practical understanding of. 

Is It a Good Career?

According to the DICE tech job report 2020, these jobs saw the highest year-on-year demand and the fastest-growing tech occupation, beating data scientists. Simply put, as long as businesses continue to use data to draw insights and make strategic decisions, there will always be a demand for them in one form or the other. 

Rapid digital transformations, especially post-pandemic, have resulted in an explosion of information. This has given rise to a hike in demand for competent folks. Some notable tech companies that hire data engineers are Amazon, Accenture, and Capital One. And since they make more than $110,000 a year, as per Glassdoor, it also emerges as a popular and well-paying career choice. 

In conclusion, integrating principles will likely be the solution if you aim to target a complex business problem. Digital automation and data-driven insights are the future of business, and it is only a matter of time before every organization learns how to use data and harness optimum business solutions efficiently. 

If you are keen to learn more, explore the extensive range of courses on data sciences on Emeritus offered in collaboration with globally renowned universities. 

By Neha Menon

Write to us at content@emeritus.org 

About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Sneha is a content marketing professional with over four years of experience in helping brands achieve their marketing goals. She crafts research-based, engaging content, making sure to showcase a bit of her creative side in every piece she writes. Sneha spends most of her time writing, reading, or drinking coffee. You will often find her practicing headstands or inversions to clear her mind.
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