What is a Data Engineer?

By Matt Hayes | 30th January 2023

This month, we’ll be asking, what is a Data Engineer? What do they do and is it a great career choice?

In the second of our technology jobs series, we’re focusing on Data Engineers. That is, the role, the skills, earning potential and the career potential of a Data Engineer.

What is a Data Engineer?

A data engineer designs, builds, maintains, and troubleshoots the infrastructure to store, process, and analyse data. They focus on optimising data pipelines for performance and scalability, ensuring data reliability and security, and creating data storage solutions.

Translation: A data engineer is the person who builds and maintains the systems that store and process data. They make sure data flows smoothly from sources to databases and analytics tools, and that it’s accurate and secure. They help ensure data is available for data scientists, analysts, and others to use.

Why is being a data engineer a great career choice?

Being a data engineer can be a great career choice for several reasons.

The first one being that data engineers are in high demand. The need for data engineers is growing rapidly because businesses want to leverage data to drive their business decisions to help them grow. And with data showing no signs of slowing down, Data Engineers look likely to be in demand for years to come.

But there’s more:

  1. Great salaries: Data engineers are well-compensated, with salaries often higher than those of other tech jobs and positions.
  2. Career growth: Your career trajectory is on the up for the foreseeable if you’re a Data Engineer. That’s because, as data becomes increasingly important to organisations, data engineers have the opportunity to advance their careers and take on leadership roles.
  3. It’s exciting: Yes, this is a great reason. You want to love what you do as well as be compensate for it, right? Data engineering involves solving complex problems and working with cutting-edge technology, making it a challenging and engaging.
  4. Working across multiple divisions: Data engineers work with teams from different departments, including data science, product, and business, giving them a broad understanding of an organisation and the opportunity to drive cross-functional initiatives.
  5. Leave your mark: Data engineers play a critical role in enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions, which can have a significant impact on business outcomes. Which means, what you do has clear impact. That’s pretty darn rewarding.

Why are companies hiring data engineers?

Companies are hiring data engineers to give them the competitive edge. But, how do data engineers do that and why are companies hiring them? Well, for the following reasons:

  1. Big data: Companies are generating and collecting large amounts of data and need engineers to manage, store, and process it effectively.
  2. Data-driven decisions: Companies want to leverage data to make informed business decisions, and data engineers are critical to this process.
  3. Improved efficiency: Data engineers help automate data processing and create efficient data pipelines, leading to improved efficiency and cost savings.
  4. Competitive advantage: Companies want to stay ahead of the competition by leveraging data to gain insights and make strategic decisions.
  5. Compliance (and this is a biggie): Companies must comply with regulations around data privacy and security, and data engineers help ensure they are adhering to these regulations.

What can you earn as a Data Engineer?

The salary of a data engineer in the UK can vary based on several factors such as experience, company size, and location. On average, a data engineer in the UK can expect to earn a salary of around £50,000 to £80,000 per year.

However, senior data engineers or those with specialised skills can earn even more. It is important to note that salaries can also vary based on the industry and company size, with larger companies and those in high-demand industries typically offering higher salaries.

Here’s a guide on average salaries for data engineers by experience.

  1. Junior/entry-level: £30,000 to £50,000 per year
  2. Mid-level: £50,000 to £70,000 per year
  3. Senior-level: £70,000 to £100,000 per year
  4. Lead/Principal: £80,000 to £120,000 per year or more

Data Engineers are important

Yes, data engineers are important because they play a crucial role in enabling companies to effectively store, process, and analyse data to keep them growing.

The are instrumental to key areas that help drive company growth, such as:

  1. Data Management: Data engineers design and build the infrastructure to store and manage large amounts of data, making it accessible to other teams.
  2. Data Analytics: They also help ensure data is clean, organised, and easily accessible for analysis, allowing organisations to make data-driven decisions.
  3. Business Insights: By processing and analysing data, data engineers enable organisations to uncover valuable insights that can inform business strategy and decision making.
  4. Improved Operations: Data engineers help automate and optimise data processing, leading to improved efficiency, cost savings, and increased productivity.

In short, data engineers play a critical role in enabling organisations to leverage data to drive their business goals, and their work is essential to the success of data-driven initiatives.

One thing we haven’t mentioned is that the world is your oyster as a Data Engineer. And we mean that literally. Here’s a classic example of an amazing job in Luxembourg for a Data Engineer.

As a result, many companies are actively seeking skilled professionals to fill open positions. Talk to your Devonshire Hayes team of recruiters today to find out who’s hiring.

We hope we’ve given you great insight into what is a Data Engineer? And also, why it is a great career choice.

Matt Hayes