What does a data engineer do?

Learn more about one of 2018’s most in-demand job roles

As companies grow to understand the importance of the ever-increasing amounts of data they generate, they will increasingly need to hire people who can harness this data and turn it into actionable insights.

A 2017 Gartner study found that organisations were losing an average of $9.7 million annually as a result of poor data quality. Unreliable data can also be incredibly time consuming for data scientists and analysts to sort through, with TechRepublic estimating that they can spend as much as 80% of their time cleaning and preparing data; not a good use of their skills.

But how can organisations feel confident that their data source is reliable without first understanding the type of data that goes into the system and how to get it out?

This is where a data engineer comes in. The role will be an increasingly integral part of an organisation's efforts to use data to make better decisions about their business.

What does a data engineer do?

The data engineer is responsible for designing, building and managing a business's operational and analytics databases. In other words, they are responsible for extracting data from the foundational systems of the business in a way that can be used and leveraged to make insights and decisions.

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As the rate of data and storage capacity increases, someone with deep technical knowledge of the different systems, architecture, and the ability to understand what the business wants or needs starts to become ever more crucial.

The data engineer role requires a unique skillset. They need to understand the backend, what's in the data and how it can serve the business user. They also need to be able to develop technical solutions to make sure the data is usable.

Growing demand

Between 2013 and 2015, the number of data engineers more than doubled. As of late 2017, there were over 2,500 open positions with "data engineer" in the title on LinkedIn, indicating the growing and continued demand for this specialty.

The median pay for a data engineer in the UK is 33,971 according to PayScale, but senior data engineers can expect to earn between 70,000 and 100,000 a year, with demand expected to grow as more businesses look to invest in big data solutions and advanced analytics.

Picture: Shutterstock

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