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How to Become a Big Data Engineer

Big data engineering is one of the most important and most talked about careers in the tech industry. The job involves storing data safely and correctly by building and managing reservoirs for the data. This makes them important to most companies, especially ones that deal with large amounts of data.

Keep reading this guide to learn how to become a big data engineer. You will get all the necessary information to start your career in tech, including ways to learn big data, your potential salary, and the necessary skills, qualifications, and job requirements.

What Is a Big Data Engineer?

A big data engineer is a professional who develops, manages, and maintains a company’s data infrastructure. They work to collect, transform, and store data in databases to make it easier for others to use. This benefits the growth of an organization.

Big data engineers work with managers, data analysts, and data scientists to provide the company with analyses that help them assess their performance, identify market demographics, and predict business changes and trends. They work in a variety of industries, including business, finance, healthcare, science, and the public sector.

Big Data Engineer Job Description

The job of a big data engineer is to gather large amounts of data from multiple sources and design, maintain, evaluate, and test big data solutions. They ensure that the data can be quickly, easily, and efficiently accessed by other professionals.

They work to make sure that a company’s database architectures and data pipelines are scalable, secure, and able to serve multiple users. A big data engineer should be skilled in Hadoop-based technologies like MapReduce, Hive, MongoDB, and Cassandra.

Big Data Engineer Salary and Job Outlook

According to PayScale, the average annual salary for big data engineers is $89,838. There are more people considering a career in big data, with the demand for them increasing as technology advances. There is a huge potential in the field, as more companies are getting more enlightened on the need for data engineers, which will also increase the demand for them.

Top Reasons to Become a Big Data Engineer in 2021

There are several reasons to consider starting a career as a big data engineer. Various industries have a high demand for big data engineers, which leads to high pay and a wide range of job opportunities.

  • High Demand. As more companies realize the need for effective and safe storage for their data, the need for big data engineers grows. This may not be stopping anytime soon, as technology is only getting more advanced.
  • High Pay. Big data engineers are of high value to the many industries where they are needed, and this results in higher pay. The average salary of big data engineers is much higher than the average for all occupations, which is $56,310 according to BLS.
  • Low Competition. A lot of people have been transitioning to data-related careers in recent years. However, the majority are pursuing other careers like data scientist, software engineer, and data analyst. This makes the competition for big data roles low and puts those already in the field at an advantage.
  • Job Opportunities. There are various industries that a big data engineer can work in, such as finance, science, healthcare administration, and the government. This allows for various job opportunities for professionals in the field and is another reason to consider becoming a big data engineer in 2021.

Big Data Engineer Job Requirements

To get a job as a big data engineer, you need to meet certain requirements. Below are a few things that potential employers will be looking out for.

  • Bachelor’s degree. The first and most important requirement for a big data position is an education. The minimum is usually a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or a related field.
  • Job experience. Many employers look for candidates with the right level of job experience, with the average requirement being at least two years of work experience.
  • Programming skills. A good big data engineer should have experience with the programming languages R, Python, Java, SQL, Perl, and SPARK.
  • Data Skills. A big data engineer needs to have excellent data skills, including knowing about things like data mining, machine learning, and data management.

Types of Big Data Engineer Careers

As a big data engineer, there are multiple careers you can pursue. You could choose to be a data analyst, security engineer, or big data engineer.

Data Analyst

Data analysts examine data systems using analysis tools and interpret the data to help businesses make well-informed decisions for the growth of the business. Acquiring data analyst skills is a great starting point for a career in big data.

Security Engineer

Security engineers are in charge of testing and securing the software and network systems of organizations to reduce and prevent security threats. Their job is to monitor, identify, and reduce all threats to a company’s network and systems.

Big Data Developer

Big data developers are in charge of application coding and programming. They use popular programming languages like Java, Python, Ruby, and C++, as well as several databases. They design and build pipelines that extract, transform, and load data.

Big Data Engineer Meaning: What Does a Big Data Engineer Do?

A big data engineer creates and maintains data systems. This involves collecting, storing, and processing data for later use. Big data engineers are essential for the collection and conversion of data.


Big data engineers must learn Hadoop so that they can develop Hadoop systems, finalize their scope, and deliver big data solutions. They load various data sets and provide pre-processing services using Hive, Pig, and CouchDB. They also meet with managers to assess the company's big data requirements.

Data Analysis

Big data engineers conduct extensive data analysis. They research how to improve data quality, accuracy, and efficiency in addition to developing new validation methods and data analysis tools.

Data Mining

The primary responsibility of big data engineers is to create data set processes to be used for data mining. They extract relevant data from multiple sources to build efficient business models.

Essential Big Data Engineer Skills

There are certain skills required to become a professional big data engineer. Having these skills shows that you are well-versed in the field and can efficiently perform any task you’re given. These skills vary, from technical skills to soft skills, interpersonal skills to critical-thinking skills, and more.

Programming Skills

It is essential to have vast programming knowledge since most of the job requires the use of popular programming languages like Java, SQL, C++, R, and Python.

Database Programming and SQL Skills

A big data engineer with solid database programming and SQL abilities can help you understand how data is stored and managed. You must be able to write SQL queries for any relational database management system (DBMS) to be considered for this position.

Machine Learning

To excel as a big data engineer, you need to have excellent machine learning skills as well as data mining skills as they are an important part of the industry. Very few people are skilled in machine learning, so having this skill helps you stand out in the field.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Big Data Engineer?

It can take four or more years to become a big data engineer. The duration depends on the educational and career path you choose. If you choose to go to college for a bachelor’s degree program, then it will take about four years. If you choose to enroll in a coding bootcamp, then it will take a much shorter time to complete the program.

Coding bootcamps usually take between three months and a year depending on the bootcamp and the program you choose. If you choose to take online classes, then it will take about three months to complete a program. Regardless of the path you choose, you may still need to apply for an internship or entry-level position to gain crucial work experience.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Big Data Engineer?

Definitely. A coding bootcamp can help you become a big data engineer. Coding bootcamps provide training in specific areas, including big data. They are designed to equip students with the necessary knowledge to start a career after completing the program. They teach students relevant and specialized skills required to succeed in a specific field.

Coding bootcamp graduates are hireable because their training focuses on hands-on experience and practical skills, not just academic knowledge. Coding bootcamps also offer financing options, career services, and job assistance to their students. This makes education more affordable and helps students land good jobs upon graduation.

Can I Become a Big Data Engineer from Home?

You can become a big data engineer from home if you enroll in an online bootcamp or register for online courses. They offer the same education as in-person classes, but you can often find self-paced programs. However, you may need to get further education after completing the program, especially in the case of online courses.

How to Become a Big Data Engineer: A Step-by-Step Guide

To become a big data engineer, you need to go through certain processes. It requires more than just getting an undergraduate degree. Although there’s no set course for becoming a big data engineer, the steps below can help point you in the right direction.

Step 1: Education

The first step to take after deciding to become a big data engineer is to pursue higher education. You can choose to go to college for a degree in computer science or a related field, or enroll in a coding bootcamp.

Step 2: Job Experience

After getting your degree or completing your coding bootcamp program, you should apply for a big data engineering role with a company that offers internship opportunities. This helps you get the real-world experience needed to land a full-time big data engineering job.

Step 3: Certification

It is recommended to consider getting certifications, which give you an advantage in the job market. They help to showcase and prove your knowledge and skills in the field.

Step 4: Portfolio

While learning and getting experience, you should work on building an impressive portfolio to showcase your big data skills. This proves to employers that you have the key skills and can do the job effectively.

Step 5: Entry-Level Roles

After building a portfolio, you can now begin to apply for entry-level positions that fit your skills and career path. With all the knowledge accumulated over time, you will have higher chances of landing fulfilling jobs and having a rewarding career as a big data engineer.

Best Schools and Education for a Big Data Engineer Career

There are several education options for people who would like to start a career as a big data engineer. You can choose to join a coding bootcamp, earn a bachelor’s degree, or attend a vocational school or community college.

Big Data Engineer Bootcamps

The best big data bootcamps are designed to train students in technical, in-demand skills so that they can start a career immediately after graduation. They offer different formats to suit the schedules of various types of students. There are full-time, part-time, self-paced, online, and in-person courses.

Some examples of these bootcamps include Le Wagon, Springboard, Asigmo, and Dataquest. The majority of these schools offer data science and data engineering programs to equip you with in-depth knowledge for big data engineering careers. They are also mostly short-term and affordable, and they offer job assistance or guarantees to their students.

Vocational School

Vocational schools are post-secondary occupational programs that offer specialized training to students to start a specific job. They offer courses in agriculture, home economics, health, marketing, and computer and information technology.

Community College

Community colleges are two-year colleges that offer academic training to students in many fields. The certificate or associate degree conferred can be used to transfer to four-year degree programs if the student meets certain criteria. They also offer data science, data analytics, and data management courses. Students have to have a high school diploma to attend.

Big Data Engineer Degrees

Applying to college for a bachelor’s degree is a popular option for anyone who wants to start a career in tech. They can choose to study computer science, computer engineering, data engineering, software engineering, data science, data analytics, or systems engineering.

Most colleges offer computer science and engineering programs. You can search for schools that specifically offer data or software engineering programs. The programs typically last four years. After earning a bachelor’s degree, you can proceed to earn a master’s degree in any of the aforementioned fields.

The Most Important Big Data Engineer Certifications

There are several certifications in data engineering to help showcase your knowledge and skills to employers. Below are three of the most important ones.

IBM Certified Data Engineering – Big Data

The IBM data engineering certification is for big data engineers. To earn this certification, candidates must pass one test. IBM offers tools for students to prepare for the test. The test objectives are to certify candidates who already have adequate knowledge and experience in data engineering.

Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer

This certification is offered by Google and tests a candidate’s ability to design and build data processing systems, create machine learning models, and ensure solution quality. To be eligible for this certification, candidates must have over three years of experience with the Google Cloud platform and one year of experience designing and managing solutions using GCP.

SAS Big Data Professional

This certification is to prove your credibility, validate your skills, maximize your investment, and earn you an SAS badge. Successful candidates will be able to work with SAS, Hadoop, and Hive, apply statistical techniques, and solve big data problems. The certification requires candidates to pass two exams.

How to Prepare for Your Big Data Engineer Job Interview

A typical job interview will consist of different questions covering technical topics and personal information. Interviewers are looking to assess your big data skills and your ability to communicate. Below are some job interview practice questions.

Big Data Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • Why did you choose a career in data engineering?
  • What are the fundamental characteristics necessary for a data engineer?
  • What are the non-technical or soft skills that are the most invaluable for data engineers?
  • What frameworks or tools are necessary for successful data engineering?
  • As a data engineer, how have you handled a job-related crisis?

Should I Become a Big Data Engineer in 2021?

You should become a big data engineer in 2021 because the career has a high rate of growth, high demand, high salary, and job opportunities in a wide variety of fields. It is a good career for anyone with a background in mathematics and an interest in data, statistics, and information technology.


Can You Become a Big Data Engineer Without a Degree?
You can become a big data engineer without a degree if you attend a coding bootcamp. They are an alternative to colleges that are inexpensive, short-term, and career-focused.
Is It Hard to Become a Big Data Engineer?
It is not hard to become a big data engineer as long as you go through the right processes. With effort, time, and dedication, you can become a successful big data engineer.
What Are The Skills Required for a Big Data Engineer?
To become a data engineer, you need to have analytical skills, programming skills, Hadoop skills, database and SQL skills, machine learning skills, project management skills, and engineering skills.
What Degree Do You Need to Become a Big Data Engineer?
Typically, you need to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Data Engineering, Systems Engineering, Statistics, or another IT-related field.
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