what is a data engineer?

As a data engineer, you are responsible for designing and building systems for collecting, storing, and analysing data. Businesses have a wealth of information at their fingertips, but data needs to be collected before it is useful. Even collecting it presents problems as there is so much of it. Your job is to take care of these problems. You build systems and methods to effectively collect the raw data that your organisation needs to draw valuable insights. You then develop ways to extract insights from the data so the organisation can benefit from them. The data in question comes from a wide variety of sources. You access and organise it appropriately.

Being a data engineer requires confidence in your ability to design systems and a tendency towards perfectionism. Small problems at the design stage can lead to much bigger problems once your systems are in use. Your technical skills enable you to create these systems. You could find yourself dealing with sensitive data, such as customer details and other information protected by various laws and regulations.

If working as a data engineer sounds like the role for you, keep reading to learn more about the skills, qualifications and pay you can expect in this profession.

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average salary of a data engineer

According to Payscale, the average data engineer in India earns approximately ₹869,893 per year. The range is wide, however, as the lowest earners in the profession can earn as little as ₹393,000 per year, while the highest earners can take home as much as ₹2,000,000 per year. There are several factors that affect how much you earn as a data engineer.

factors that affect data engineer's pay

The most significant factor in how much you will earn as a data engineer will be your qualifications and previous professional experience. Coming into the role fresh out of education will likely result in an entry-level salary, while years of experience will see you move higher up the pay scale.

The geographical location of the role can also impact your pay. For example, in Bangalore, Karnataka, data engineers earn, on average ₹100,000 more per year than data engineers in Pune, Maharashtra. It's also worth noting that there are variables to factor into your total pay. For example, commission, bonuses, and profit-sharing agreements can all affect how much you make from one year to the next.

data engineer roles
data engineer roles

types of data engineer

Most data engineers perform the same type of function across different industries. However, some data engineers specialise in the type of work they do. It's worth noting that this is more of a preference than a specialism. Employers may be looking for a certain expertise when hiring, but the underlying technical skills are required regardless of the type of data engineer. Here are some of the main types:

  • Big data engineer: as the name suggests, big data engineers work more with huge volumes of data. All data engineers work with a lot of data, of course, but big data engineers typically work with data on the scale of millions or even billions of people.
  • Data analyst: a data analyst is technically a whole different profession from a data engineer, but there is some overlap, and the two jobs are often confused with one another. Data analysts are more business-oriented and approach data from the perspective of how it can help an organisation achieve its goals. Data engineers approach data from the technical side of handling the fundamental aspects of data collection and storage.
  • Data architect: data architects specialise in data storage architecture. This aspect of data engineering is important in making efficient use of the data, which is a critical aspect of dealing with data in such large volumes.

working as a data engineer

As a data engineer, you design and create the tools used to collect, store, and analyse large volumes of data, but this role has many specific components.


education and skills

Some of the academic qualifications for data engineers include:

  •  bachelor's degree: to get into this profession, you should have at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant subject, such as computer science.
  •  master's degree: as with many tech jobs, having a master's degree is not necessarily a requirement, but it can boost your chances of being hired.
  • proficiency with relevant systems: proficiency in coding languages like Python will help your chances of being hired.

skills and competencies

Some of the qualities of a data engineer include:

  • attention to detail: small mistakes early on in the process can cause big problems later on, so excellent attention to detail is important when you are modelling, designing, and building your data systems.
  • communication skills: you work closely with your team and liaise with other departments in your organisation. Your communication skills enable you to share information with specialists and non-specialists.
  • problem-solving: great problem-solving skills serve you well in finding your way around the challenges of this job. For instance, identifying the correct system structure to meet your company's needs relies on working out which issues your design should address.

FAQs about working as a data engineer

FAQs about working as an data engineer:

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