Aug 23, 2023

How to Become a Data Engineer: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Are you intrigued by the world of data? Do you find joy in turning raw information into valuable insights? If so, you might just be cut out to become a data engineer. In this guide, we'll take you through the essential steps to kickstart your journey into the exciting realm of data engineering. Let's dive in!

1. Develop Foundation Skills (Duration 3-4 months)

Before you start your data engineering journey, it's crucial to lay a solid foundation. Start by becoming well-versed in two key programming languages: Python and SQL.

Python: Python is your gateway into programming. Its beginner-friendly nature makes it a fantastic starting point. To get started, consider taking the "Python for Everybody" course on Coursera, or explore tutorials from Programming with Mosh. For more in-depth learning, "Python Crash Course" by Eric Matthes is an excellent resource.

SQL: Structured Query Language or S-Q-L is the language of databases, and mastering it is essential. Acquaint yourself with querying and manipulating data using resources like the "Introduction to SQL" course on Coursera.


2. Learn About Data Storage (Duration 2  months)

In this phase, familiarize yourself with various data storage solutions, as they'll be your playground as a data engineer.

Relational Databases: A relational database is a structured method of storing and managing data using a set of tables with rows and columns. Each table represents a specific entity, and the columns within the table define the attributes or properties of that entity. Popular examples of relational databases include MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle Database, and Microsoft SQL Server.

NoSQL Databases: NoSQL databases (which stands for "Not Only SQL") are a group of database systems designed to handle a wide range of data types and storage models that might not fit well within the rigid structure of traditional relational databases. Examples of NoSQL databases include MongoDB, Cassandra, Redis, and Neo4j.

Data Warehousing: Data warehousing is a strategy for collecting, storing, and managing large volumes of data from various sources in a single repository, known as a data warehouse.

Popular data warehousing solutions include Snowflake, Amazon Redshift, and Google BigQuery.


3. Master Data Processing (Duration 1-2 months)

As a data engineer, you'll work with tools that extract, transform, and load data. These tools are essential for data processing.

ETL Tools: Get comfortable with tools like Apache NiFi, Talend, and Apache Spark. These documentation and tutorials for Apache NiFi and Talend can help you grasp the basics.

Batch and Streaming Processing: For batch processing, delve into Apache Spark. To explore streaming, familiarize yourself with Apache Kafka, Apache Flink, and Apache Storm


The book "Streaming Systems: The What, Where, When, and How of Large-Scale Data Processing" by Tyler Akidau can be your guiding light.

4. Explore Cloud Technologies (Duration 2-3 Months)

In this era of technology, the cloud plays a vital role in data engineering. Begin your journey into cloud platforms and data lakes.

Cloud Platforms: A cloud platform is a virtual space on the internet where you can rent and use computing resources like servers, storage, and databases. It's like renting a super powerful computer that's available online. Choose one cloud platform to specialize in, such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The respective documentation and "Getting Started" guides are your friends here.

Data Lakes: A data lake act as a huge digital storage pond where you can throw in all sorts of data, like pictures, videos, documents, and more. Instead of carefully organizing everything like you do in a neat file cabinet, you just toss everything into the lake. So you need to learn about setting up and managing data lakes using services like AWS S3, Azure Data Lake Storage, or Google Cloud Storage. 


Data Lakes:

5. Learn Big Data Technologies (Duration 2 months)

Big data technologies are the backbone of data engineering. Things to focus here are Hadoop ecosystem and Apache Spark.

Hadoop Ecosystem: In this ecosystem explore HDFS, Hadoop MapReduce, and Hive. "Hadoop:

Apache Spark: Delve into Apache Spark for distributed data processing. "Learning Spark" by Holden Karau is a helpful guide for this journey.


6. Develop Data Pipeline Skills (Duration 2-3 Months)

Data pipelines are at the heart of data engineering. Learn techniques for data ingestion, transformation, and workflow automation.

Data Ingestion: Data ingestion is the process of collecting and importing data from various sources, like databases, files, sensors, and more, into a storage system or database. It's like gathering information from different places and bringing it all into one central location.

Data Transformation: Data transformation involves changing, cleaning, and organizing raw data into a more useful and structured format. It's like taking a messy pile of puzzle pieces and putting them together to create a clear picture.

Workflow Automation: Workflow automation is using technology to automatically perform tasks and processes in a specific order, without manual intervention. It's like having a virtual assistant that follows a set of instructions to complete tasks, making things more efficient and consistent.


7. Build Practical Experience and Apply

Finally, put your skills into action by building a portfolio of projects. Here are some project ideas to get you started:


  1. Building Data Model and Writing ETL Job
  2. Stock & Twitter Data Extraction


  1. Music Applications Data pipeline
  2. Financial Market Data Pipeline


  1. Smart Cities Using Big Data
  2. Stock Market Real-Time Data Analysis

By following these steps and immersing yourself in the world of data engineering, you'll be well on your way to becoming a proficient data engineer. Remember, the journey might be challenging, but the insights and knowledge you gain along the way are truly rewarding.

We at Alphaa AI are on a mission to tell #1billion #datastories with their unique perspective. We are the community that is creating Citizen Data Scientists, who bring in data first approach to their work, core specialisation, and the organisation.With Saurabh Moody and Preksha Kaparwan you can start your journey as a citizen data scientist.

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