what is a data engineer

According to MIT Sloan School of Management, data engineers collect, manage and administer data. They are a critical part of any data operation by creating the architecture for acquiring and processing raw data and then preparing it for data scientists to analyze this information and create insights from it. Data engineers identify trends in data sets and develop algorithms as part of the prep work. Like many IT roles, data engineers possess very deep and specific technical skills, such as SQL database design, multiple programming languages and cloud services. 

In addition to the need for technical skills, they are part of a team that must deliver critical insights needed by business leaders to guide their day-to-day and long-term strategic goals. By enabling these executives to quickly understand and react to immediate and emerging trends, analytics teams play an important role in facilitating outcomes for their organizations.

frequently asked questions

average salary of a data engineer

According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, data engineer is ranked 8th among the top 15 jobs in the U.S., with an annual growth of 33%. According to Dice, data engineers in the U.S. are paid an average salary of $113,240, a growth of 9.3% in 2019, driven in part by a 50% increase in job postings. 

working as a data engineer

types of data engineers

Data engineers typically fall into one of three types: generalists (oversees all data tasks within an organization including analytics), pipeline-centric (manages all the data flow into the company) and database-centric (works with multiple databases). The size of the organization often dictates the type of data engineer employed since smaller ones may be limited to a small team or even just one individual managing the data. Companies with more resources may be able to deploy more engineers to support a higher volume and broader analytical needs.

daily work routine

From one day to the next, data engineers work with business and IT colleagues to develop architecture and create interfaces (APIs) that improve the usability of data. Whether they are preparing the information for use in a dashboard, to be imported into a database or extracted for other purposes, the engineer is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the data and pipelines. Other regular tasks include combining different data sets, determining how to store the information and working with data scientists and analysts to acquire the needed insights.

work environment

While they do work within a team, data engineers can perform their jobs on-site or remotely. The tools and datasets utilized for the job are all digital so there are no limitations to where they physically sit as long as they have secure access to their servers. Only company culture and policies dictate whether the work is performed on-site or virtually, but considering the current broad adoption of working from home, many data engineers are likely to continue to perform their duties remotely.    

duties and responsibilities

work schedule

pressure on data teams

With so many companies generating massive amounts of data and accelerating their digital operations, the need for business insights has never been greater. This is putting tremendous pressure on data teams to rapidly collect, extract and process information more expeditiously. 

length of workday

For data engineers, this can mean long days behind the desk as they face more projects. For generalists that work at small and mid-sized companies, they may be asked to work long hours to meet growing demands. The hours are dictated by a number of factors, including company culture, type of business, staff size and growth trajectory.

opportunity for a variety of projects

Increasingly, companies are deploying data engineers on a contingent or contract basis to meet their growing data needs. This allows some workers to take on various projects and gain valuable experience in different technologies to meet a variety of business needs. These arrangements also allow non-permanently hired data engineers to move from one client to another to gain more exposure to new challenges and opportunities. 

education and skills

job outlook

boundless opportunities

As one of the highest in-demand roles in the world, a career in data engineering is expected to offer boundless opportunities due to rising demand for the foreseeable. According to Bain & Company, the global advanced analytics talent pool, which includes data engineers among other roles, will reach one million. This number has doubled since 2018. Even so, the consulting firm also predicts that in the U.S., a shortage of data engineers may remain, despite an anticipated surge among the ranks of data scientists.

increasing demand

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer and information research scientists (a profession in which data engineers are grouped) is growing at a much faster rate than most jobs – a 15% increase is expected from 2019 to 2029. In the EU, one study estimates the market there faces a shortage of nearly a half-million data workers in 2020.  

top tech job

Dice in 2019 reported that data engineer employment postings rose 88.3% in 12 months and remained the top tech job. With the pandemic forcing many companies to accelerate their digital transformation, demand for data professionals are likely to witness further double-digit growth in the months and years ahead. 

work for randstad

advantages to work for randstad as a data engineer

As the largest HR services business in the world, Randstad works with some of the most experienced and talented data engineers and leading companies that employ them. As a provider of talent to most of the Fortune 500 companies, our candidates have access to the most admired businesses in their field, including leading IT&C companies, life sciences, financial services, manufacturing and others.

Randstad ‘s experienced recruitment teams around the world leverage the latest talent technologies to create strong matches of candidates to available job openings. Our recruiters also spend significant one-on-one time with job seekers to understand their professional desires and connect them with the right employers.  

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