How do I become a Data Engineer?

An interview with Dennis, Data Engineering consultant at Digital Power

  • Podcast
  • Data Engineering
Dennis Dickmann
Dennis Dickmann
Data Engineer
3 min
13 Jul 2022

A few years ago, the job title didn't even exist: Data Engineer. Nowadays, there is a high demand for Data Engineers. Almost every organisation consciously collects data, and the realisation that this must be done in a structured way is growing. If the data you collect is not well organised and correct, you cannot use it as input for making good decisions. Data Engineers build infrastructures that process data. Therefore, they are indispensable to organisations that want to collect and apply their data in a structured way.

What does it actually mean to be a Data Engineer, and what exactly is Data Engineering? And how are you trained as a Data Engineer? There is currently no higher vocational or university degree in Data Engineering in the Netherlands. Dennis Dickmann explains what it means to work as a Data Engineer at Digital Power and how he has been able to develop in this exciting profession.

Listen to the (Dutch) podcast or scroll down to read the article.

How did you get into this profession?

Dennis: "I studied Computer Science in Leiden with a specialisation in Business & Data Management. That study prepared me for Data Engineering by teaching me about data architectures and infrastructures. When I was still studying, the job title Data Engineer didn't even exist yet!"

Data Engineer is a relatively new role. How does it differ from, for example, a Developer or a Data Scientist?

"A Developer is a classic programmer who mainly focuses on creating software. The Data Scientist applies data. A Data Engineer falls somewhere in between. A good Data Engineer can programme but can also develop infrastructures to process, store and make data available. A Data Engineer often focuses on processing large amounts of data in complex environments."

The market increasingly refers to 'Cloud Engineers' instead of'Data Engineers'. Can you explain why this is?

“The work of a Data Engineer almost always happens in the cloud. That is why, in practice, all Data Engineers at Digital Power are 'Cloud Data Engineers'. Cloud Data Engineer is a synonym for Data Engineer because almost all Data Engineering work nowadays takes place in the cloud."

Suppose I want to become a Data Engineer. What is the best way to go about this, in your opinion?

"As far as I'm concerned, there are three things to keep in mind:

  1. You have to learn to programme well. This is your base. The principles of good programming apply not only to the programming language in which you programme but also to how different applications or systems interact with each other. Knowing these principles well is a must for developing a good data infrastructure!
  2. You have to develop knowledge of different techniques of data storage. Think of SQL, noSQL and data lake solutions. As a Data Engineer, you deal with this on a daily basis.
  3. Learn about cloud architecture. Check with a cloud service provider like Google Cloud Platform, AWS or Azure and get to know the different microservices. Know which you can best use for your application."

And how do you ensure that you continue to develop?

“You always have to keep up with the developments in the field. You do this during your work, for example, by working with AWS, following courses, and at Digital Power during the Data Engineering meet-up. Colleagues bring cases here and we learn from each other. You can always ask your colleagues for help if you have difficulty figuring something out."

Curious how Dennis applies his knowledge and skills in practice? And do you want to know why he is enthusiastic about working at Digital Power? Listen to what he says in the podcast above this article.

Want to become a Data Engineer too? Apply at Digital Power!

Would you also like to work as a Data Engineer at Digital Power? View our job vacancy, apply and become Dennis' colleague!

This is the 'From data to action' podcast by Marloes de Bruin

What is it like to work at a fast-growing data consultancy firm? In this podcast, I interview colleagues about their work at Digital Power. I speak to data consultants with different areas of expertise, as well as staff members. What does their working week look like, what challenges do they face and what do they love about their work and our company? You can hear it in the 'From data to action' podcast!

Marloes de Bruin


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