What Does a Data Engineer Do?

What exactly does a Data Engineer do and what does their role look like in the world of big data?

Nowadays there is an enormous amount of big data available, coming from various sources such as Google Analytics, CRM systems, databases, emails and social media. This data contains valuable insights, but its enormous diversity and size make it challenging to use it effectively. The Data Engineer plays a crucial role here. In this article we tell you more about the tasks and responsibilities of a Data Engineer.


What is Data Engineering?

Data engineering is a versatile field that is essential for using large amounts of data effectively. But what exactly does it mean? In essence, data engineering combines various expertise to not only collect and store data, but also make it usable for analyzes that support decision-making. This field can be divided into six core areas of expertise:

  • Database and data stores: this involves setting up and managing systems in which data is stored.
  • Data modeling: This involves designing data structures that enable efficient analysis and access.
  • Development: developing software and systems to collect, process and make data accessible.
  • Containerization: the use of container technologies such as Docker to improve the deployability and scalability of applications.
  • Support for Machine Learning: preparing and structuring data for machine learning models.
  • The Cloud: Using cloud-based storage and processing services to increase flexibility and scalability.

In addition to these technical expertise, there are disciplines within data engineering that focus on the quality, governance, security, privacy and ethics of data. These aspects are crucial to ensure data integrity and security and to comply with legal standards.

Every organization applies data engineering in a unique way, depending on its specific needs and goals. Not all expertise and disciplines are needed at every company; many organizations choose to focus on specific aspects that are most relevant to their business operations.


What is a Data Engineer?

A Data Engineer plays a crucial role in modern business where more and more digital workflows are used and enormous amounts of data are collected. This professional is responsible for linking, organizing and making accessible data from various sources such as CRM systems, databases, social media and emails. The main goal of a Data Engineer is to structure all these data sources in such a way that they are useful for in-depth analysis.

Due to digitalization and the explosive increase in data, the demand for data professionals such as Data Scientists, Data Analysts and Data Engineers has increased significantly in recent years. These specialists are essential for organizations because they not only make the data accessible, but also transform it into valuable information that can be used for strategic decision-making and the optimization of business models.


What does a Data Engineer do?

A Data Engineer is an essential link in the management and processing of large amounts of data from various sources. They write scripts and visualize data to collect 'raw data', process it and prepare it for analysis by other data specialists such as Data Analysts and Data Scientists . A Data Engineer ensures that all required data is accessible and analysable, and provides the necessary technical infrastructure such as servers or analysis tools.

The exact role of a Data Engineer can vary depending on the specific needs of the organization and the engineer's expertise. This can range from managing all data within an organization, dealing with external data flows, to focusing on specific aspects such as development or data modeling.

Despite this variation in roles, there are common tasks and responsibilities that every Data Engineer will recognize:

  • Managing and collecting data: setting up systems to efficiently collect and manage data.
  • Processing data: processing and preparing data for further analysis.
  • Trend identification and algorithm development: recognizing patterns in data and developing algorithms to exploit these patterns.
  • Developing APIs: creating interfaces to improve the accessibility and usability of data.
  • Ensuring data integrity: ensuring that data flows are correct and secure.
  • Combining data: merging data sets to get a more complete picture.
  • Evaluate and clean data: Check and clean data to ensure quality.
  • Storage and use: determine how data can best be stored and used for analyses.


What should you be able to do as a Data Engineer?

As a Data Engineer, it is essential to possess a number of fundamental skills that are crucial to performing your duties effectively. This includes the ability to:

  • Gaining data insight: you must master the entire data development process, from designing and building to testing various data feeds.
  • Producing data models: It is important that you are able to create, maintain and update data models that meet specific business needs.
  • Technical insight and problem-solving skills: Strong technical insight combined with the ability to solve problems effectively is essential. You must also be able to work well within teams.
  • Communication: you must be able to translate technical concepts into understandable language for non-technical stakeholders and know how to use this communication effectively.
  • Moreover, it is important that you constantly stay informed of new innovations and the latest tools in the industry. Knowledge and experience with programming languages ​​and software such as SQL, Python, R, SAS, Excel or Matlab are essential, although specific requirements may vary depending on the organization you work for.