Who is a Data Engineer and what are the crucial skills for the role?

data engineer studies skills

Extract and integrate datasets for data scientists, business analysts, and, in general, Data Consumers within the company to analyze. Help these professionals better understand the data and manage it. Use the corporate Data Catalog (if any) to identify the data to extract. Bring together the IT and the business language to improve communication between the units on any subject related to using data.

All these skills, not only technical, form the baggage of a Data Engineer, a crucial role for companies that want to become data-driven, whether they have already embarked on this cultural and organizational path or are still considering it.

Providing maximum support to data professionals and the conditions for them to work at their best is one of the founding objectives of Irion EDM®. Discover our proprietary Enterprise Data Management platform and the current carrier opportunities!

Data Engineer vs Data Analyst vs Data Scientist

The main difference between these three roles is that the Data Engineer acts most in the preparatory phase before the subsequent use of data for the analysis. An essential concept to define this role is a data pipeline – a set of activities, as the name pipeline suggests, that enable receiving datastreams from different sources. Data Engineer has the task of developing, managing, and updating the data with the necessary maintenance.

Thus, the role of a Data Engineer is at the crossroads between software engineering and mathematical and statistical algorithms and models. Meanwhile, a Data Analyst (in addition to knowing how to use the latter) plays a key role in communicating with the business, including via data visualization. They are the experts in extracting value from the data previously structured for the analysis.

As a rule, a Data Scientist – like the Engineer – also works with unstructured data while sharing with the Analyst the ability to present the analysis results to non-technical interlocutors, often business managers. The specific skills of a Data Scientist include the knowledge of machine learning algorithms for predictive analysis.

Crucial skills and university courses

Working as a Data Engineer, like a Data Scientist, usually requires a degree in Computer Science, Engineering, or, at any rate, the mathematical or scientific disciplines commonly referred to by the acronym STEM.

The master’s degree course at the Politecnico di Torino, Data Science & Data Engineering, thus defines the daily tasks of a Data Engineer: “[…] designing systems and processes for the extraction, storage, and analysis of large volumes of heterogeneous data; developing processes for the implementation of data analysis processes; developing and using machine learning algorithms for data analysis”.

To work at their best, as the university explains, a Data Engineer must have “advanced analysis and abstraction skills for resolving data-driven problems” in addition to knowing mathematical and statistical models and programming languages (the most common examples: SQL, R, Python, and Scala) necessary for collecting, storing, and analyzing the data.

The University of Modena and Reggio Emilia has a new three-year degree in Data analysis for business and finance focused on statistics and a second-level degree in Data analysis for economics and management. La Sapienza in Rome and the University of Pisa offer master’s degrees in Data Science and/or Engineering. In Pisa, special attention is paid to Artificial Intelligence.

The program includes such subjects as Large-Scale and Multi-Structured Databases and Computational Intelligence and Deep Learning, while at La Sapienza Cloud Computing and Data-Driven Economics are on the curriculum. The University of Bergamo has also launched new courses for future Data Scientists and Engineers.

What does an Irion Data Engineer do?

In our company, a Data Engineer takes part in realizing, managing, and implementing Enterprise Data Management solutions. Their tasks include data acquisition from different sources, data integration, normalization, validation, transformation, and preparation for further use in analysis and operations.

A Data Engineer analyzes the customer’s needs as well as the expected input and output data, control rules, and architectures that ensure Data Quality and Data Governance.

To work with Irion EDM, they must develop an advanced knowledge of both the platform and the SQL language. They also manage the mentioned tasks in all phases of the product lifecycle, from development to testing, up to deployment and maintenance.

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