Data Engineer (ˈdeɪtə/ɛndʒɪˈnɪə)
Noun. One who designs, builds and manages the information or data infrastructure. They develop the architecture that helps to analyse and process data in the way that the organisation needs and make sure those systems are performing smoothly.
Data Engineers are the cogs that keep the wheels turning in any data enterprise. They are the crucial components in any organisation, vital to the process of converting data into insight. So what are the five most important things that every data engineer needs?
A knowledge of programs
SQL, Python, Spark: These are the bibles of a data engineer, programs that they must know inside out. They should be able to stick up for the technologies which they are experienced with, and be open to learning from new ones as well. This is the technical knowledge which they must possess, translating into an ability to utilise a variety of programs in order to analyse, warehouse, transform and collect.
A love of code
The basis of any data engineer’s drive, lies in the language that they speak so fluently. This is the tool of their trade, and, like any good tradesman, they should eat, sleep and breathe their tool. This language is so infectious throughout their work by day that it will enter their dreams by night and it is not so rare for an engineer to wake from sleep having thought of a possible solution. They should always look to improve their code: cleaning it, adding to it, making new suggestions and optimising the existing code.
A passion for data
If code is the hammer, then data is the iron that goes under it. It is this passion for data — what it can be used for and why — that helps to determine the goals of a data engineer, as they use their own coding and knowledge to transform it into something practical. They are on the front line of data transformation, receiving raw, untouched data, which they must then clean and develop, the first in line in the process of converting data into knowledge.
A challenge to solve
Whether it is developing new methods to transform data or helping to build systems that will optimise code, data engineers are never happy unless they have a challenge to solve. In the course of converting raw data into something actionable, there are always challenges that arise and it is the engineers who must wrack their minds to develop a viable solution. To overcome the obstacles that they eternally encounter, they must ensure proactive cooperation with colleagues, demonstrate unshakable problem-solving capabilities, be entirely results focused, utilise internal efficiencies and prioritise those challenges that vex them most.
An ability to innovate
The world of data systems is constantly shifting as new technologies are introduced and more effective methods found for doing things found. A data engineer must be constantly willing and able to develop their skills and understandings in search of new frontiers and methods. In developing solutions to solve challenges, they must constantly adapt to new situations and, as a result, innovate fresh ideas to overcome unexpected obstacles.
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