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Learn data engineering with online courses and programs

Every day, digital devices generate an incredible amount of data. Companies need data engineers to process and effectively use data. Learn how to start your data engineer career path with edX online courses.
Data Engineering | Introduction Image Description

What is data engineering?

Data engineering involves the design and building of architectures that harness, store, and analyze data so that companies can easily use it for their business objectives. Now that machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are integrated into many data and analytics platforms, there are many data engineering jobs for professionals to pursue. Many industries use data engineers, including retail, healthcare, public entities, the military, manufacturing, and entertainment.

It can also be important to distinguish data engineering from data science. Data scientists analyze data by creating and using different algorithms. Data engineers work with raw data and build the systems for the data scientists and analysts to use.Footnote 1 People can start as data scientists or analysts and then earn data engineering certifications.

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Data engineering course curriculum

Data engineering programs can cover the basics of data analytics, such as the knowledge of cloud computing, data security, and relational and non-relational databases. These topics may be included in undergraduate coursework, or you may take specialized courses separately at any point in your career. You may even be able to find a free data engineer course offered online. You can also explore required prerequisites for data engineering courses online.

Depending on the boot camp, course, or program you choose, you may encounter some of these data engineering concepts and learning objectives:

  • Designing and optimizing design storage using systems like data lakes and data warehouses

  • Creating a data mesh (the data architecture) used on various data and analytics platforms 

  • Learning the details and applications of a specific platform, such as Google Cloud or AWS

  • Building database systems or data pipelines

  • Mastering data modeling

  • Using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud technology, that allows for building large-scale data systems

  • Developing an understanding of data science, research practice, big data, machine learning, AI, and digital transformation

Explore data engineering jobs

There are a range of data engineer jobs that professionals interested in this field can pursue. Here are a few data engineer specializations to consider:

  • Big data engineer: In this generalist role, you’ll determine the best methods for your company to store, access, analyze, and manage large amounts of data, then create the architecture to do so. You may work directly with various teams across the organization to support their data objectives. You may also be responsible for creating a secure storage system that meets your company’s compliance requirements, and setting your company’s best practices and standards for data usage.Footnote 2

  • Machine learning engineer: Suitable for people who enjoy complex coding, machine learning engineers are responsible for creating and using machine learning algorithms.Footnote 3 This means you’ll likely spend a lot of time creating scalable code that improves results the more it runs its algorithms. You may also create systems for applications like facial recognition, search recommendation engines, and speech recognition.

  • Data warehouse engineer: A data warehouse engineer builds back-end data solutions. You’ll build and maintain a data storage method and delivery pipeline and create data tools for data scientists and other stakeholders to use. You may be assigned to a specific non-data team to help them achieve their project goals by building custom algorithms and creating data sets for them.Footnote 4

How to become a data engineer online

A bachelor’s degree in computer science, data science or software engineering all support a focus on data engineering. You may need a four year degree to compete for certain data engineering jobs.

However, if you majored in another subject, you can still develop a foundation for data engineering by taking coursework focused on topics such as:

  • Python

  • SQL basics

  • Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, two programs that provide a data processing framework

  • ETL (Extract, transform, and load) tools

  • C++

You can also enroll in online coding boot camps or boot camps in other disciplines such as data science, which will help you gain relevant skills. Remember that every job is different, and the time it takes to complete all your requirements will vary depending on the institution, your knowledge base, and the time you’re able to devote.