What Are Data Engineer Courses? (Plus Tips for Choosing One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 28, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Data engineers utilize a range of technologies to create systems which collect, handle, and convert raw data into digestible information, which data scientists can then interpret. The most common way to become a data engineer is for individuals to develop pre-existing knowledge of data systems with specialized courses or boot camps to give them the practical skills to become engineers. Understanding how to develop new data engineering skills and pursue relevant courses is key to directing your data management career into the potentially rewarding field of data engineering.

In this article, we explain what data engineer courses are and what you can learn in them, list the types of courses you can take, and provide tips for choosing the right one.

What are data engineer courses?

Data engineer courses are educational programs for individuals who've previously worked with data management, wishing to upskill or become data engineers. Many of those working as data engineers didn't gain a university degree in the subject, but rather gained certificates or other additional qualifications as engineers using data which qualify them for work in the field. Courses for data engineers can span a range of topics and disciplines, as some data engineer roles require specific knowledge or skills. Similarly, a data engineer course may provide training on the basics, or offer specialized certification for particular programming languages or software.

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What can you learn in a data engineer course?

The most common way for people to gain the necessary skills for becoming data engineers, whether moving between jobs or upgrading existing ones, is through specific courses. These courses build on principles, processes, and systems that its students likely already know, but develop this knowledge into the practice of data engineering. Those attending courses in data engineering usually gain experience in the following areas:

Basic knowledge

Data engineer courses focusing on the basics of the discipline are common. These courses provide the fundamental knowledge students need for working as data engineers and are commonly available online or in person through tertiary education institutions. Courses such as these teach students the basic concepts, such as automating processing, designing data models, and using business intelligence tools. Through hands-on projects, students can also gain these skills practically throughout these basic courses.

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Software usage

There is a broad range of software which data engineers use in their work, some of which are cloud-based, while others are big data frameworks. Whichever specific software knowledge and skills you gain in any data engineer courses depends on the pathways you select to suit your career. It may be helpful to most pursuing data engineer careers to take a few specific courses which cover particular software you may encounter in future work. These courses allow you to go beyond the basic information in generic courses for data engineering.

Programming languages

Attending certain data engineering courses may require you to understand at least one programming language, depending on where you are in the progression of your studies. Because of this, learning programming languages through targeted classes can be a beneficial step in pursuing a data engineering career. Learning programming languages can be a fundamental element in building your skill set as a data engineer. You may also find it necessary to study additional programming languages throughout a data engineering career.

Related: Top Data Scientist Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Popular types of data engineering courses

There is a rage of courses for those wishing to begin or progress their careers as data engineers. Some of these programs provide specific, targeted topics, while others focus on establishing a basis of the fundamental principles for their students. Here are some of the most popular types of courses for data engineering:

General training

Often, general training courses in data engineering are a minimum requirement for employers seeking prospective data engineers. This is because these courses usually teach students the most fundamental information needed for successfully working as a data engineer without specialized fields. These courses may be single programs, or a series of them which lead to an eventual certificate. Many courses of this nature are available online and provide students with the general self-led data engineering training which allows them to progress at their own speed. Others are available in a traditional classroom format, where students participate in person.

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Programming languages

Programming languages are usually essential for data engineers, as sometimes they require an understanding of many, or on some occasions, just one language. Sometimes, courses teach students programming languages which are relevant to one another or commonly associated, and allow students to learn a suitable combination of languages for their chosen career path. Institutions sometimes offer programming language courses for a range of student levels, such as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Many programming languages can be a standard for particular types of data handling, so researching which languages you may use in your chosen career is essential.

Specialized certifications

Some courses in data engineering offer students a specialized certification for a particular aspect of data engineering. This can be a certification for proficiency with a particular technology or software system, or it can certify that you're experienced with a certain type of data. For example, you may attend a course to qualify you to handle the data typically used to analyze census, scientific, or sales data. These courses can often be more advanced than the general understanding some data engineers require, while others are helpful for specific data or information fields, employers, or circumstances.

Boot camps

Boot camps are commonplace in the tech industry and can help those who wish to gain many new skills in a short timeframe. Some boot camps train students in specific fields, while others have a general focus, like those which introduce the principles of data engineering. Similarly, some of these courses only take a few hours to complete, but others can last as long as a month or more. Boot camps can also provide students with customized training if they include classes on particular data engineering topics.

Tips for choosing the right data engineering course

Here are some helpful guidelines for choosing courses in data engineering which best suit your needs, learning style, and career focus:

Maximize your budget

Because universities or colleges don't always offer many of the courses focused on data engineering, they may not offer the same payment flexibility as those with financial aid options. You may wish to consider your educational requirements in relation to your budget. It can be necessary to consider a variety of options to find one which offers the necessary skills you seek for your chosen career path while aligning with what you can afford.

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Consider your employer or desired role

Different companies may have various systems, whether hardware or software, meaning they require different skills and expertise in their data engineers. If you're currently employed and wish to enhance your understanding of a particular data engineering principle, you may want to discuss this with your employer to discover what the most helpful knowledge is to you. When you try to find a new job or haven't yet begun work as a data engineer, you may consider which type of work you're hoping to do and the course which may best serve your goals.

Evaluate online and in-person options

Several courses for data engineering are available online, although many exist which teach students in face-to-face environments. The availability of these in-person courses can depend on where you live. Consider the resources accessible to you, including online education portals. You may find it helpful to compile a list of your best options for gaining new skills and taking detailed notes when trying to decide the best educational path through or toward data engineering.

Assess your current knowledge

Before you pursue any courses for data engineering, it may benefit you to consider your current level of knowledge. Depending on a student's pre-existing experience levels, they may start at a range of points in the offering of courses based on what they already know. Those with low levels of experience may start with the most fundamental elements of data engineering, while those with advanced understandings of data systems can likely skip the introductory courses.

For example, you may learn programming languages before you decide to pursue a career as a data engineer. In this case, you can begin your studies without the need for studying those particular programming languages. Conversely, those who wish to become data engineers with no prior data processing or technology engineering experience most likely require education in programming languages and the fundamentals of the practice.

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