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What is a Big Data Engineer?

Every second of the day new data is created. When you open many websites, for example, visitation data is created. That data gives the company who owns the website an insight into how many people are viewing their web pages.

There are a lot of jobs in data science, which has become part of every major industry that uses technology. One of these jobs is big data engineers, who are responsible for working with massive data sets, the kinds that social networks and big shopping sites create.

What does a big data engineer do? What skills do you need to become a big data engineer? These are the sorts of questions we’re going to answer in this article. By the end of reading this piece, you will have a good understanding about the career path of a big data engineer.

What is a Big Data Engineer?

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Big data engineers are responsible for working with so-called “big data” sets in organizations. These are datasets which are massive and may be constantly changing. A big data engineer will help create the means of storing big data and they will also help analyze the data that has been collected in a big data set.

Here are a few example use cases of big data analysis:

  • Figuring out when online shoppers tend to make purchases.
  • Learning what genres of movies are most popular at particular times of the year on an online streaming website.
  • Deciding what sorts of adverts to show on a shopping website.
  • Using data to predict the weather in a particular location.

All of these tasks require large amounts of data to complete. Working with the large amounts of data that would be needed for these tasks requires special skills. This is because big data is stored and thus accessed in different ways to regular data.

Big Data Engineer Job Responsibilities

Big data engineers manage big data infrastructure and help to keep track of big data. This involves designing policies to track big data and writing code to build the necessary infrastructure. Big data engineers may also be asked to advise on other data tasks in a business.

Here are the the responsibilities you can expect to have as a big data engineer:

  • Deciding how long data should be stored and how that data should be stored.
  • Developing ways of storing new datasets.
  • Evaluating big data tools for use and introducing them into an organization.
  • Working with data analysts to derive insights from a big dataset.
  • Setting up means of tracking big data tools and ensuring those tools work as expected.

It is likely that you will work with other big data engineers if you join a larger company. This is because big data tends to play a significant role in the businesses who work with this type of data.

Think about an online shopping site that uses big data, for instance. Big data may help them massively increase profits by identifying patterns in consumer spending and using those to make better recommendations to consumers.

Big Data Engineer Skills

Overall, you will need a strong understanding of data analysis, data engineering, and big data to become a big data engineer. You will need to study all of these areas extensively before you will be ready to work on a real-world big data project for a business.

But what else can I expect employers to look for in a big data engineer? Here are a few skills employers often expect from prospective big data engineers:

  • Experience working with big data sets.
  • An understanding of data science theory and best practices.
  • Managing data using a big data tool like Hadoop or Apache Spark.
  • Experience using SQL.
  • Experience using NoSQL tools such as MongoDB.
  • The ability to derive insights from a dataset.
  • Experience in at least one programming language.

These are the sorts of requirements you can expect to see in a job advertisement. Not all of these may be required by some businesses, especially for entry-level positions. Every business has their own requirements and not every business uses the same big data tools.

How Much Do Big Data Engineers Earn?

Glassdoor reports that the average big data engineer in the United States earns $102,864 per year. Senior big data engineers, who typically have more industry experience in the field of big data, earn an average of $129,032 per year. These statistics show that big data is a career path that pays well, especially if you advance to more senior positions.

How Do I Become a Big Data Engineer?

Big data engineering is not a job into which you can fall with some basic data science skills. You will need extensive knowledge of data science, data analysis, and big data in order to pursue a career in this position. There are three main ways you can become a big data engineer:

  • Pursue a college degree in computer science or a related field.
  • Ask to join an in-house training program, assuming you already have a job where you may be able to move into big data engineering.
  • Learn about data science by yourself and work your way up to the title of big data engineer.

There is no right path to become a big data engineer. Having a college degree is not a requirement for big data jobs, although in many cases degrees are preferred.

Some people work their way up to a job in big data either through self-study and learning at work or pursuing a professional training program at work. These paths are preferable if you would prefer to learn on-the-job rather than through college and will give you real-world industry experience to which you can point in an interview.

Should You Become a Big Data Engineer?

Big data is an important part of the data science field. Companies that collect — or plan on collecting — large amounts of data need talented professionals who can help them build and maintain robust infrastructure for their big data projects. This is where the role of big data engineer comes into play.

Becoming a big data engineer will take a lot of work as big data engineering is usually a field you will enter into after getting some data science work experience. But if you are willing to put in the time, becoming a big data engineer may be a great choice for you. Big data engineers are paid well and get to work on challenging problems.

The only way to know if big data engineering is for you is to do research and think about if you can see yourself doing the sorts of things you would in a big data engineering job. If you do decide to pursue a job in big data, you have strong job prospects ahead of you.

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