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One of the fastest-growing industries in the world today is IT. Within that field, there are plenty of roles one can take on and excel in. But do you need a proper college degree to work in such roles? One of the roles that people usually wonder about in this regard is Data Engineering. Is there such a thing as a self-taught data engineer? Can you become a data engineer without a degree?
Yes, you can. Let’s find out how.
Can a Data Engineer Get a Job Without a Degree?
The short answer to this question is, yes. You can become a data engineer without a degree. Having a degree will make it easier to become a professional in the field, however. A data engineer certification from a university provides employers with the peace of mind that you have formal education and are qualified. However, there are still ways in which you can learn everything you need to learn to become a professional data engineer.
There are short courses that you can complete online from the comfort of your home, for free, and then pay a small fee to get a data engineer certification to add to your CV. This will also help if you’re wondering how to become a Data Engineer with no experience. So, if you learn the fundamentals of data engineering, you can find a job in this role without having to go to college for it.
If you’re wondering how to enter the IT industry in another role, like how to become an ethical hacker without experience, we have a dedicated article about that topic where you can learn all you need to know.
Qualifications Needed to Become a Data Engineer
For those wondering how to become a data engineer without a degree, there are some basic qualifications you can earn to help you along your journey. These are the basic things you need to learn if you want to work as a data engineer:
- Programming languages like Python, Scala, and Java.
- SQL and NoSQL databases.
- Data APIs.
- Distributed Systems knowledge.
- ETL tools.
- Data Warehousing solutions.
How to Start a Career as a Data Engineer
So, now that you know it is possible to work in this role without a degree, how exactly do you go about it? Here are the steps you can take:
Step 1: Start with an Online Course
One of the best things that have come from the rise of the internet is online education. You can take any online course you want from any corner of the world, as long as you have access to the internet. Many of these can be studied for free at your own pace.
After completing them, you can often get a data engineer certification for a small fee. Such certifications will help you a lot in finding a job and get a good data engineer salary that may otherwise be hard to get.
Here are two very good courses you can take:
This course offered at Udemy will teach you all the fundamentals you need. Using hands-on exercises and problems, this program will enable you to work as a data engineer right away.
It costs only $12.99 and has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can be sure about it even after paying for it. The course is taught in English and has had over 38,000 students so far. It also has a 4.2-star rating which is excellent.
As the name suggests, this program focuses on all the basics of this field you need to learn to become a professional in it. It is offered by edX and comes from IBM. All you need to start taking it are some basic computer skills and some understanding of IT systems. The great thing about this one is that it comes from IBM and is free to take.
However, there is a Verified Track that costs $99 and gives you unlimited access to the course materials, graded assignments to help you improve your skills, and a shareable certificate that you can show to a potential employer. The program takes around 4 weeks to complete and is entirely self-paced.
Step 2: Learn Programming Languages
You need to learn the right kind of programming languages to become a professional in this field. A data engineer is essentially a software engineer with the skills to analyze data. Since there are so many intertwined roles in software engineering, you might also wonder how to become a software tester with no degree. We have a separate article to help you find that out too.
For data engineering, though, you need to learn programming languages like SQL and Python. After getting some basic knowledge of these, you should understand how they apply to real-world situations and problems.
Step 3: Learn Automation
A lot of data analysis can be automated if the task is repetitive. To do this, you should have scripting skills that let you automate tasks and get them done quickly. Knowledge of product configurations like escalations, workflow processes, and actions will help you do this.
Step 4: Learn about Databases and Data Processing
You will be working with large databases containing both structured and unstructured data. Knowledge of how to transform and then transport this data is essential for every data engineer. You also need to learn about how to process and then analyze this data. Once you learn all the basics of managing databases and processing the data within them, you can do your job in a much more effective way.
Step 5: Get Your Resume Ready
Your resume is what will get you a job, whether you have a degree or not. Without a degree, you may need to work a little harder on your resume but you can always hire expert resume writers to help you with it. We have a dedicated article about the best IT entry-level resume writers that can help you create a strong resume even without a degree in this field. You can boost your resume by building a portfolio of projects you have worked on during an online course. This will show employers that you know what you’re doing and have some experience in the field.
Step 6: Get an Internship
Working as an intern at a reputable company is one of the best ways to boost your chances of getting a good job and receiving a healthy data engineer salary later on. Any self-taught data engineer can reap a lot of benefits if they work as an intern for a few months to a year.
An internship will let you work on real-world projects that will then become a part of your resume. You will gain key knowledge about the job and learn new skills. And your future employer will get some peace of mind that you have the relevant experience to handle their work even if you don’t have a degree.
This stands true even if you are wondering how to become a research and development manager. We do have a separate article on that topic but working as an intern is always a great way to kickstart your career in any field.
Basic Requirements to Become a Data Engineer
Here is a short collection of requirements to answer how to become a data engineer without a degree:
- Knowledge of programming languages like Python and SQL.
- Understanding of automation and scripting.
- Knowledge of relational and unstructured databases.
- Information about how data processing works.
- Experience with Cloud Computing platforms like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud.
- A portfolio of projects and a well-crafted resume.
Once you have these basics, you can start working as a professional. Of course, it might take longer to land a job without a degree but use that time to either complete online courses and get certifications or work as an intern to build connections and develop a portfolio.
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