How do I become a Data Engineer?

You want to become a Data Engineer, but don’t really know where to start? Find out what skills you need to acquire and what training is available.

The job of Data Engineer is more and more in demand in companies. If you want to work in this profession, here are the skills you will need to acquire first.

What are the skills to be acquired?

The data engineer must be proficient in computer programming, and more specifically in the Python and Scala languages. He must know how to write a script in Python, but also how to create software with this language. From many Data Engineering tools are based on Scala. The software is compatible with the open source Java libraries.

The Data Engineer must also master automation tools in order to save time on the most repetitive and tedious tasks in his schedule. In particular, he must master Shell scripting to communicate with UNIX servers, or the CRON scheduler.

You must also perfect your expertise in the SQL language to manipulate database systems. This language is at the heart of the Data Engineer’s job. In particular, PostreSQL and MySQL must be mastered.

You also need to know data modelling techniques. The aim of the project is to develop a database standardization tool, and to distinguish between OLTP and OLAP databases. The same applies to the different data processing techniques.

More than anything else, the Data Engineer must know how to use database architectures, Data Warehouses, and how to create Data Pipelines to transform the data and prepare it for Data Scientists.

In the age of the Cloud, he must also master platforms such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Specifically, Data Engineering Cloud Services are storage services (AWS S3, Azure Storage…), calculation services (AWS EC2, Google Compute Engine…), cluster management, MPP databases (AWS Redshift, Google BigQuery…) and data processing services (AWS Data Pipelines, Azure Data Factory, Google Dataflow…).

Finally, the engineer must perform constant monitoring of emerging technologies. New tools are constantly appearing, and it is important to keep up with the latest developments to remain at the forefront of performance and efficiency .

University training

There are several possibilities for you to become a Data Engineer. First of all, you can turn to a Bachelor level diploma or higher in computer science, software engineering, applied mathematics, physics or statistics.

However, you will have also need professional experience. At the very least, you must do internships. If your academic background is not in the above-mentioned disciplines, take additional courses in data structures, algorithms, database management or programming.

During your studies, don’t hesitate to carry out personal projects alongside your classmates or to participate in events such as hackatons. This will allow you to develop a portfolio to present to your potential future employers.

After a bachelor’s degree, you can of course continue with a Master in the field of computer engineering or computer science. Such training will allow you to perfect your skills, expand your knowledge, and eventually become a Data Scientist directly.

Keep in mind, however, that the job of Data Engineer does not require not necessarily a diploma at Bac+5 level. Relevant work experience or concrete proof of technical expertise can be enough to convince many employers.

A first experience in engineering can be a valuable asset. It will give you an understanding of how to approach the exploitation of enterprise data, and will teach you how to use creativity to solve problems in innovative ways. This is an essential characteristic of the Data Engineer’s job.

Likewise, the Data Engineer must know collaborate with business leaders, Data Scientists and Data Architects. A first experience in the sector of activity that attracts you can help you understand how this sector works and how data can be collected and used through analysis.


Even after you begin your career as a data engineer, you can continue to learn new skills through certifications. Several major vendors and industry players such as Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and Cloudera offer such certifications.

By obtaining these certifications, you will be able to demonstrate your mastery of the solutions offered by these vendors. To choose the ones that can really bring an advantage to your CV, review job postings that interest you and check which certifications or skills are required.

To begin, you can turn to Certified Data Management Professional” or CDMP certification developed by the Data Management Association International (DAMA). This generalist database professional certification will be directly recognized by most employers.

Distance learning

There are numerous distance learning courses to become a Data Engineer. You can acquire the required skills via platforms such as Open Classrooms, Coursera or Simplilearn.

In France, the leader in distance learning in Data Science is DataScientest. The diplomas it delivers are co-certified by the University Paris La Sorbonneand are therefore fully recognised by companies. The Data Engineer diploma will soon be validated by the RNCP and will be considered as a Bac +5 level diploma.

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