How to become a big data engineer

How to become a big data engineer

Claudia Roca

Dec 22, 2022

Dec 22, 2022

Dec 22, 2022

How to become a big data engineer
How to become a big data engineer
How to become a big data engineer

Have you ever had any doubts about what career you will pursue in the future? Surely the pressure has got to your head... That's why we think it's a good idea to look at what big data engineering has to offer.

It's one of the fastest growing careers. You'll be in charge of one of the treasures of the 21st century: information. 

Just as you read it, your job will be to prioritise and filter all the data that can affect or improve your company's processes. Now there will be no secrets in the market if you do things right. 

Would you like to see how you can become one of the most in-demand professionals in the upcoming years?

What is a big data engineer?

Information is the new treasure of companies, which is why they fight until the last minute to access it. The big data engineer is a professional who is in charge of building, designing and accessing the data obtained by a company in order to process it properly. 

With this data, the aim is to improve the customer experience through new products or services that meet the user's needs. 

Within the sea of information that you will have in your hands, the idea is to detect failures, trends and new business opportunities that the company can take advantage of in the coming months. 

Therefore, data engineers are in charge of organising all the information that comes into the organisation. Their job includes collecting, normalising and modelling in order to predict the future in a specific aspect. 

From there, they design technological solutions through algorithms that facilitate the work of all the members of the team. 

What are the functions of a big data engineer?

There are many functions that a big data engineer has. Some of them are: 

1. Determines the sources of data extraction

The first thing a data engineer does is determine the appropriate sources for extracting information. 

The idea is that they are reliable sources so that you can retrieve them if necessary and build algorithms to keep access to the information as simple as possible for everyone in the company. 

In today's highly competitive world, you can't waste time searching for a number when you can get it elsewhere in less than 0,5 seconds. This could make the difference between the success or failure of a strategy. 

2. Maintains the data architecture

Once you get a large amount of information, it is transformed into data architecture. Well, the job of the big data engineer is to test and maintain it so that it works perfectly. 

The idea is that everything is organised and in good shape so that when the time comes to search for information, this information is found in the shortest possible time. All of this is done by the data engineer.

3. Improves the quality of the data used by the organisation

There's no point in having a large amount of data in the company if this data is not what the project needs. Therefore, you have to focus not only on the quantity but also on the quality of the information. 

In this sense, you should check all servers from time to time to discard data that is no longer useful for the company. Clear this space to get real quality information later. 

4. Identifies hidden patterns that can affect the company

One of the most important functions of a big data engineer is to monitor the data for hidden patterns that may affect the company's results. 

5. Determines which tasks can be automated

A big data engineer must identify areas that can be automated to optimise a company's resources. 

It is very likely that in the analysis you will find that there are many activities that can be delegated to a software or algorithm. 

Therefore, your job is to provide this information to management so that they can make these kinds of decisions that will help improve product and service development. 

data engineer

How does a big data engineer work?

As you will see, a data engineer has many day-to-day functions that will depend exclusively on the size of the organisation, since it is not the same to work in a start-up with 10 employees as in a multinational with 2,500 employees

However, there is one essential mission that is the basis of all their work. Discover it below: 

1. Extract

The data you collect on a daily basis comes from many different sources, from customer databases, point of sale, user behaviour history and security incidents. 

This means you will have a large amount of heterogeneous information in your hands in a variety of formats that you will have to structure. You can't just present everything as it comes to you, you have to organise it at an early stage in order to move the process forward. 

2. Transform

In this stage you add value to the information so that it is 100% homogeneous and useful to the organisation. For this, a work standard is followed, such as the elimination of duplicates, verification and classification of the data. 

3. Upload

Once you have completed the first two steps, the information is loaded into a large database or, alternatively, into the cloud. This has to be done gradually depending on the amount of information you get, so you have to focus on extraction and transformation first to increase the chances of success. 

What should you study to become a big data engineer?

Are you determined to have a solid and bright future? If so, it's time to take a look at all the opportunities big data has to offer. 

To study this career you will have to follow a series of steps as well as learn various skills so that you can be competitive in a world where there are more and more offers for professionals. 

Let's take a look at what you need to do to make this dream come true: 

1. Go to university 

And yes, we couldn't start any other way. To become a data engineer you need to go to university to learn the basics of the career. 

The good news is that both in Europe and in the United States there are different universities and institutes that give you the possibility to study this profession. 

The University of Chicago, Harvard and private academies are already offering data engineering. So, log in to their platforms and see what requirements you have to meet to start studying. 

2. Learn how to program

Data and programming go hand in hand, in fact we dare say they are first cousins, so you should make them a priority if you want to become a big data engineer. 

It is essential that along the way you learn to program, and we don't just mean the basics, but that you become a coding specialist so that you can handle all kinds of information. 

Python, C++ and Spark are some of the languages used in this area. Search for tutorials on youtube, download the necessary software and make steady steps towards success. 

3. Take a master's degree

Doing a Master's degree in big data is one of the best things you can do if you want to improve your chances of employment. 

In addition to undergraduate offerings, many institutions now offer programmes for you to specialise in data engineering. Choose the best one for you and learn how to properly prioritise and manage data to be a valuable professional in the marketplace. 

Competition is brutal, so you can no longer be satisfied with just a university degree. You need to go one step further to have a promising future. 

4. Specialise in databases

If you want to become a big data engineer, you need to be a master of databases, right? Information will be to you like a scalpel to a doctor, a close relationship until the end of your days. 

It is essential that you not only know how to organise and structure data, but that you understand the workings of database management systems such as Mysql and the relationships they have with NoSQL, Cassandra and Redis. 

5. Manage tools to process large amounts of information

In addition to all this, you will develop the ability to handle large amounts of information without losing your sanity. 

Yes, the truth is that it is not easy as the data brings numbers, codes and symbols with it that you have to interpret perfectly to help your company. 

However, the good news is that nowadays there are programs like Apache or Kafka that will help you in the process. 

Soft skills that a data engineer must have

It's true that a data engineer needs very specific technical skills to perform at his or her best. However, there are a number of soft skills that will make your work of higher quality. 

Grab pen and paper and discover some of the skills that will increase your employability by a large percentage: 

1. Assertive communication

How do you picture a big data engineer? Maybe you're imagining a person wearing glasses, well-dressed and cooped up all day in their room or office while they code non-stop. 

Yes, it's a common stereotype that is sometimes true, but the reality is that the data engineer must be open to others in order to achieve his or her goals. 

This professional must communicate not only with colleagues, but with multiple departments such as software development, programming, marketing and human resources. 

In this regard, it is essential that he/she expresses him/herself clearly and concisely to others so that everyone understands what he/she wants at all times. Technicalities should be left out so that neophytes understand every last point. 

2. Analytical skills

This does develop in private, because a data engineer must have the ability to analyse large amounts of information to find hidden patterns that can affect your company's operations. 

From there, you have to find solutions or alternatives that help the company achieve the results that were proposed at the beginning of the process. 

Tips to be a good big data engineer

Do you want to fulfil your dream of becoming a big data engineer? Well, it's not just a matter of studying non-stop, you need to follow these tips to find the right opportunity for you. 

Let's take a look at some tips to help you along the way: 

3. Make your portfolio

Building your portfolio is a great way to increase your employability, because while you are getting your dream job you can do different activities that will give you experience. 

You can help an organisation manage and optimise their databases or fix any bugs you spot. 

In this way, by working as a freelancer you will build up a portfolio that you can show to recruiters and HR managers. Start from scratch and you will see the results sooner rather than later. 

4. Look for traditional and non-traditional places to find work

Of course, in addition to nurturing your portfolio, you can never stop looking for a job. The problem is that many professionals focus on the traditional alternatives and neglect the opportunities offered by the internet. 

So, knock on doors and hand out CVs, but also get on social media, create your personal brand and show the world the experience you have.  Also, pay attention to Linkedin, that's where the real job opportunities are. 

5. Stay updated

Last but not least is professional updating. 

It was once said that doctors must be constantly learning in order to apply new techniques to care for people. Well, data engineers need to keep up to date in order to detect new techniques for extracting and analysing information. 

All this will help you to fulfil your dream of being one of the best big data engineers in the world. 

This career is increasingly in demand, so it's time to get to work to achieve your goal. 

What other tips would you give to someone who wants to become a big data engineer?