What is a Data Engineer and How Do I Become One?
Data Roles

What is a Data Engineer and How Do I Become One?

Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson

“Data engineering” can sometimes feel like an all encompassing term for data teams, and in some respects that’s true. Data engineers are the people who build systems to store, manage, and analyze data. It’s an essential role to any organization, where the engineer works to ensure data is available and understandable for not only the data team, but for other stakeholders in the business as well.

You can look at the data engineer as being the foundation of a data team. In order for some of these other functions like analysts and data scientists to, well, function, there needs to be data ready for use.

Becoming a data engineer can also serve as a “gateway role” - opening doors for you to further your career in the space. Because data, and technology in general, is evolving so quickly, it’s a great way for you to get your feet wet and discover what you find the most interesting and rewarding.

What is a Data Engineer and How Do I Become One?

To get started in data engineering, take a look at our top learning resources.

1) Learning Resources from the Data Engineering Wiki

Our first resource is really just a list of other resources, but we can’t help it -  the Data Engineering Wiki really is the best place to start. This wiki is built by the data engineering community on Reddit, so all the learning resources and guides are brought to you by people actually in the field. What really stands out here is you’ll find a number of different options: courses, videos, websites, and even books.

2) learnpython.org supported by DataCamp

To continue your self learning journey, you’re going to want to dive into Python. While this recommendation is a bit more specific and focuses just on the Python programming language, it’s something you’re going to want to know to break into the field.

This site gives you a number of interactive learning tutorials from the very basics to more advanced functions. It’s a fun way to learn, and because it’s self guided and self paced, you can learn as little or as much as you’d like every day.

3) IBM Data Engineering Professional Certificate by Coursera

If you’re seeking a beginner level, self-paced course taught by one of the biggest names in tech, you’ve come to the right place. In this program offered by IBM, you’ll spend approximately five months working through thirteen courses giving you an introduction to data engineering and helping you learn common data tools.

Upon completion of your capstone project, you’ll get a professional certificate and be ready to update your resume to jump start your new career.

4) Data Engineer Learning Path and Professional Data Engineer Certification from Google

Another option for learning from one of the biggest names is tech is working through the Data Engineer Learning Path from Google Cloud, and ultimately taking the Professional Data Engineer certification exam at the end of your learning journey.

This learning path will take you through 13 courses and other activities to give you practical experience using, you guessed it, Google Cloud. Once you’ve completed your certification, you’ll have a great way to stand out from other candidates as you seek your new data engineering role.

5) Data Engineering with AWS course by Udacity

AWS is all around us. Even if you’re new to the space, you likely already know AWS stands for Amazon Web Services. AWS powers well over a third of the cloud computing market. And if you’re looking to learn the most up to date skills for working with data and AWS, this might be the course for you.

You’ll spend about four months learning intermediate skills in four key areas of data engineering. Note that to jump into this course, you should know the basics (and even have an intermediate understanding) of Python and SQL.

There are a number of different paths you can take in the data engineering field. As you can see from this selection, you should be able to find the right fit for you regardless of if you’re looking for a guided instructor-led course, or tools you can use for self learning.

In the meantime, please consider subscribing to our guided tour through data roles led by people doing the jobs. The series is called "Captain's Compass" and you can learn more about it and sign up for alerts by following this link.

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