Data Engineer Roadmap for 2024

Written by: Anshuman Singh - Co-Founder @ Scaler | Creating 1M+ world-class engineers
25 Min Read

The ever-growing sea of data demands skilled professionals to unlock its potential. Fueled by a staggering 21% increase in job openings for data professionals predicted by Zippia between 2018 and 2028, the demand for skilled data engineers is at an all-time high. Data engineers play a critical role in building and maintaining the infrastructure that transforms raw data into actionable insights. 

If you’re looking for a rewarding career in data engineering, this roadmap equips you with the essential skills and technologies you’ll need to navigate the dynamic landscape of 2024. This data engineer roadmap outlines a step-by-step approach, divided into sections on building foundational programming skills, mastering big data technologies, and cloud platforms. Want a clear path to success in data engineering? Join Scaler’s Data Science Course for a comprehensive roadmap and hands-on projects. Whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to upskill, this roadmap provides a clear direction to propel your data engineering journey.

What Does a Data Engineer Do?

Data engineers are the architects behind the scenes, the master builders of data infrastructure. They play a pivotal role in the data science ecosystem by designing, developing, and maintaining the systems that collect, store, transform, and make data accessible for analysis.

Here’s a closer look at the key responsibilities of a data engineer:

  • Design and automate data pipelines to move data from various sources.
  • Choose and manage data storage solutions (databases, cloud storage).
  • Ensure data accuracy and consistency through cleaning and quality checks.
  • Utilize big data technologies for large-scale data processing.
  • Collaborate with data scientists and analysts to translate data needs into solutions.

Prerequisites for Becoming a Data Engineer

While there’s no single prescribed path to becoming a data engineer, a strong foundation sets you up for success. Here are the general prerequisites to consider:

Educational Background:

  • A bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or a related field is a common starting point. These programs provide a solid foundation in programming languages like Python or Java, algorithms like sorting and searching, and database systems, including relational (SQL) and non-relational (NoSQL) databases. However, some data engineers enter the field with degrees in mathematics, statistics, or even physics, leveraging their analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • In today’s data-driven world, a master’s degree in data science or a specialized data engineering program can be advantageous. These programs offer in-depth knowledge of big data technologies, data warehousing, and distributed computing.

But Remember

A degree isn’t always mandatory. Self-taught individuals with demonstrably strong skills and experience gained through online courses, bootcamps, or personal projects, can also break into the field.

Steps to Become a Data Engineer: Roadmap

This roadmap equips aspiring data engineers with the essential skills and technologies to thrive in this dynamic field. Follow these steps and cultivate a love for learning to become a data engineering rockstar!

Step 1: Foundational Skills Building (1-3 Months)

Your data engineering journey begins with a solid foundation. This step focuses on core programming skills, computer science fundamentals, and the essential language for interacting with databases: SQL.

Basics of Programming (Python): 

Master Python syntax, data structures, control flow, and functions to effectively manipulate and analyze data. Python’s versatility makes it a popular choice in data engineering.

Fundamentals of Computing:

Grasp core computer science concepts like memory management, algorithms, and data complexity.  This foundation helps you understand how data is processed and stored within computer systems.

SQL (Structured Query Language):

Learn to query relational databases using SQL. Master techniques like SELECT, JOIN, and WHERE to retrieve, filter, and manipulate data stored in these databases. 

According to the Stack Overflow Annual Developer Survey 2023, SQL and Python are among the most popular programming languages, with over 49% of responders using them.

Data Engineer Foundational Skills Building


This step requires a strong foundation in various areas. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Online Courses: Explore platforms like Scaler for various courses on Python programming, computer science fundamentals, and SQL.
  • Books: Consider books like “Automate the Boring Stuff with Python” by Al Sweigart, “Python Crash Course” by Eric Matthes, “Introduction to Algorithms” by Cormen et al., and “Cracking the Coding Interview” by Gayle Laakmann McDowell.
  • Tutorials: Utilize interactive platforms like W3Schools SQL Tutorial and SQLBolt to practice writing SQL queries.

Step 2: Exploring Different Types of Databases (1-2 Months)

As you delve deeper into data engineering, understanding various database types becomes crucial. This step equips you with the knowledge to choose the right storage solution for different data needs.

Relational Databases (MySQL, PostgreSQL):

These structured databases store data in organized tables with rows and columns.  Learn about schema design, normalization techniques, and querying methods specific to relational databases.

NoSQL Databases (MongoDB, Cassandra):

NoSQL databases offer flexibility for storing unstructured or large datasets. Explore different NoSQL database types (document, key-value, etc.) and understand their strengths and use cases.

Data Warehousing (Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery):

Data warehouses are specialized repositories designed for storing historical data optimized for analysis. Learn about data warehousing concepts (ETL processes, data modeling) and explore cloud-based data warehousing solutions.


This step explores various database technologies. Here are some resources to enhance your learning:

  • Online Courses: Platforms like Scaler offer courses on relational databases, NoSQL databases, and data warehousing.
  • Tutorials: Utilize tutorials from W3Schools or official database documentation (e.g., MongoDB Getting Started) to gain practical experience.

Let’s move on to Step 3, where you’ll delve into the world of data processing!

Step 3: Mastering Data Processing (2-3 Months)

Data transformation is the heart of data engineering. This step equips you with the knowledge and tools to manipulate and prepare data for analysis.

ETL (Extract, Transform, Load):

ETL is a core data engineering process for moving data from various sources to a data warehouse or lake. Grasp the different stages of ETL (extraction, transformation, loading) and explore tools used for data integration.

Batch and Streaming Processing:

Batch processing deals with large datasets at specific intervals, while streaming processing handles continuous data streams in real time. Understand the concepts and choose the appropriate approach based on data volume and processing needs.

Sharpen Your Skills: Many online platforms offer hands-on exercises and projects to solidify your understanding of data processing.


This step focuses on data processing techniques. Here are some resources to bolster your knowledge:

  • Online Courses: Explore online platforms that provide courses on ETL processes, batch processing, and streaming processing.
  • Books: Consider books like “Data Engineering: Building Scalable Analytics Systems” by Matt Leahu and “Streaming Data Processing with Apache Flink” by Fabian Hueske for in-depth learning.

Step 4: Cloud Technologies Exploration (1-2 Months)

The ever-growing volume of data necessitates scalable and cost-effective solutions. This step introduces you to cloud computing platforms that play a vital role in modern data engineering.

Introduction to Cloud Computing Platforms (AWS, Google Cloud):

Cloud platforms offer on-demand access to computing resources, storage, and databases. Explore core cloud services like compute, storage, and databases offered by major providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Gain a basic understanding of how these platforms can be leveraged for data engineering tasks.

Master the Cloud: Many cloud providers offer free tiers or trials for you to experiment and gain hands-on experience.


This step introduces cloud computing platforms for data engineering. Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Cloud Vendor Documentation: Explore official documentation from AWS and Google Cloud to understand their cloud services in detail.
  • Online Courses: Explore online platforms that offer courses on cloud computing fundamentals and specific cloud providers (AWS, GCP).

Step 5: Learning Big Data Technologies (2-3 Months)

As data volumes explode, traditional processing methods struggle to keep pace. This step introduces you to big data technologies that empower you to handle massive datasets efficiently.

Hadoop Ecosystem:

Hadoop is a foundational framework for processing and storing large datasets across clusters of computers. Explore core components like HDFS (distributed storage), YARN (resource management), and MapReduce (data processing paradigm).  Understanding the Hadoop ecosystem equips you with the knowledge of a widely used big data processing framework.

Apache Spark:

Spark is a popular open-source framework for large-scale data processing, often used in conjunction with Hadoop. Learn about Spark’s functionalities (Spark SQL, Spark Streaming) and its advantages over traditional MapReduce, such as in-memory processing capabilities for faster performance.


This step dives into big data technologies. Here are some valuable resources to propel you forward:

  • Online Courses: Explore online platforms for courses on the Hadoop ecosystem, and Apache Spark.
  • Books: Consider books like “Hadoop: The Definitive Guide” by Tom White (a comprehensive guide) or “Learning Spark” by Holden Karau et al. (a practical introduction).
  • Tutorials: Utilize tutorials and documentation from the Apache Spark website to gain hands-on experience.

Step 6: Building Data Pipeline Skills (2-4 Months)

Having mastered the foundational technologies, you’re now ready to dive into the heart of data engineering: building data pipelines. This step equips you with the practical skills to design, develop, and maintain automated workflows that move data from source to destination.

Developing Data Pipeline Skills:

Learn how to design data pipelines that extract data from various sources (databases, APIs, web scraping), transform it into a usable format (cleaning, filtering), and load it into data warehouses or lakes for analysis. Explore popular data pipeline orchestration tools like Apache Airflow, Luigi, and Prefect.

Hands-on Practice: The best way to solidify your data pipeline skills is through practical experience. Consider working on personal projects or contributing to open-source data pipeline projects to build your portfolio and showcase your capabilities.


This step focuses on the hands-on development of data pipelines. Here are some resources to empower your learning journey:

  • Online Courses: Check out online platforms that offer courses on data pipeline development and popular orchestration tools.
  • Get comprehensive training on data pipelines with Scaler’s Data Science Course. Learn from industry experts and gain practical experience.
  • Tutorials: Explore tutorials and documentation provided by data pipeline orchestration tools like Apache Airflow, Luigi, and Prefect.
  • Open-Source Projects: Look for beginner-friendly open-source data pipeline projects on platforms like GitHub to contribute to and gain practical experience.

Step 7: Building Practical Experience and Applying (Time Varies)

Having established a strong foundation in data engineering concepts and technologies, it’s time to solidify your learning through practical experience. This step offers project suggestions categorized by difficulty level to help you refine your skills and build a compelling portfolio.

Beginner Projects (1-2 Months):

  • Building a Simple Web Scraper: Practice data extraction by writing a Python script to scrape data from a website (e.g., product information, weather data). Utilize libraries like Beautiful Soup or Scrapy.
  • Data Cleaning and Transformation Challenge: Find a publicly available dataset (e.g., government data, open data portals) and practice data cleaning techniques (handling missing values, formatting inconsistencies) and data transformation methods (creating new features, data normalization) using Python libraries like Pandas and NumPy.
  • Building a Basic Data Pipeline: Design and develop a simple data pipeline using a tool like Apache Airflow. This could involve extracting data from a local CSV file, performing basic transformations, and loading it into a database like SQLite.

Intermediate Projects (2-4 Months):

  • Analyzing Sensor Data: Explore real-time data analysis by simulating sensor data (e.g., temperature readings) and building a streaming data pipeline using Apache Spark Streaming. Visualize the data in real time using a dashboarding tool like Apache Kafka.
  • Building a Recommendation Engine: Leverage a movie dataset or another dataset of your choice to build a simple recommendation engine using collaborative filtering techniques.  Explore libraries like scikit-learn to implement recommendation algorithms.
  • Developing a Cloud-based Data Warehouse: Utilize a cloud platform like AWS or Google Cloud to set up a data warehouse. Extract data from various sources, transform it, and load it into the cloud data warehouse for analysis.

Advanced Projects (4+ Months):

  • Building a Machine Learning Pipeline: Combine your data engineering skills with machine learning by developing a complete data pipeline for a machine learning project.  This could involve data preprocessing, feature engineering, model training, and evaluation using tools like TensorFlow or PyTorch.
  • Real-time Analytics Dashboard: Develop a real-time analytics dashboard that visualizes data from a streaming source (e.g., social media feed, stock market data).  Utilize tools like Apache Kafka and Apache Flink to process the streaming data and a visualization library like Plotly or Dash to create interactive dashboards.
  • Big Data Analysis with Apache Spark: Work with a large dataset (e.g., public weather data, social media data) and leverage Apache Spark for distributed data processing.  Perform complex data analysis tasks like large-scale aggregations, anomaly detection, or sentiment analysis.

Advanced Skills Required for a Data Engineer: Level Up Your Expertise

As you progress in your data engineering journey, consider honing these advanced skills to elevate your expertise and tackle even more complex challenges:

  • Machine Learning (ML) Fundamentals: While data engineers don’t necessarily build production ML models, understanding core ML concepts like algorithms, model evaluation metrics, and feature engineering is valuable. This knowledge allows you to collaborate effectively with data scientists and build robust data pipelines for machine learning projects.
  • Cloud Expertise (AWS, GCP, Azure): Cloud platforms are the foundation for modern data infrastructure.  In-depth knowledge of a specific cloud provider (AWS, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure) allows you to leverage their managed services for data storage, processing, and analytics. This expertise streamlines data engineering tasks and ensures scalability.
  • Data Security and Governance: Data security is paramount. Data engineers need to understand data access controls, encryption techniques, and compliance regulations to ensure data privacy and security within the data pipelines they build.
  • Distributed Systems and DevOps: Data engineering often involves working with distributed systems that process data across multiple machines. Understanding distributed system concepts (fault tolerance, scalability) and DevOps principles (continuous integration/continuous delivery) empowers you to build and deploy robust data pipelines efficiently.
  • Big Data Processing Frameworks (Spark, Flink): Beyond Hadoop, mastering frameworks like Apache Spark and Apache Flink equips you to handle real-time data processing and complex data analytics tasks on massive datasets efficiently.
  • Data Streaming and Messaging Systems (Kafka, Kinesis): Real-time data pipelines require specialized tools.  Learn about data streaming platforms like Apache Kafka or AWS Kinesis to process and manage high-velocity data streams.
  • Data Visualization Tools (Tableau, Power BI): While data scientists often take the lead in data visualization, data engineers should possess basic data visualization skills using tools like Tableau or Power BI. This allows you to communicate data insights effectively to technical and non-technical audiences.

Continuous Learning is Key

The data engineering landscape is constantly evolving. Develop a growth mindset and stay updated on emerging technologies and best practices to remain competitive in the field.

By mastering these advanced skills, you’ll transform from a data engineering novice to a sought-after expert capable of tackling the most demanding data challenges.

Data Engineer Career Path: Chart Your Course

The data engineering field offers a rewarding career path with diverse opportunities for advancement. Here’s a glimpse of potential trajectories:

Technical Specialties:

  • Big Data Engineer/Developer: Specializes in handling large and complex datasets using technologies like Hadoop and Spark, focusing on processing and analyzing big data. This role requires expertise in distributed computing frameworks and big data processing tools.
  • Database Administrator (DBA): Manages database performance, integrity, and security, ensuring data is consistent, accessible, and securely stored. DBAs often work closely with data engineers to ensure data pipelines integrate seamlessly with the organization’s data infrastructure.

Leadership and Management:

  • Mid-Level Data Engineer: Lead data pipeline development tasks, collaborate with senior engineers on complex projects, and contribute to data quality and infrastructure improvements. As you gain experience, you can progress to:
  • Senior Data Engineer: As you gain experience, you can progress to a senior role, leading data pipeline development projects, mentoring junior engineers, and ensuring data quality and infrastructure scalability.
  • Data Architect: With expertise in data modeling, storage solutions, and big data technologies, you could transition to a data architect role, designing and overseeing the overall data architecture for an organization.

Beyond Data Engineering:

  • Machine Learning Engineer: By building on your data engineering foundation with machine learning expertise, you could pursue a career as a machine learning engineer, focusing on building, deploying, and maintaining machine learning models.
  • Data Science: Data engineers with strong analytical skills and an interest in data exploration might consider transitioning to a data science role, focusing on extracting insights and knowledge from data for strategic decision-making.
  • Engineering Management: If you enjoy leadership and people management, you could pursue an engineering management role, leading and mentoring a team of data engineers while overseeing project delivery and team development.


This is not an exhaustive list. The beauty of the data engineering field lies in its flexibility. Tailor your career path based on your interests and skillset to create a fulfilling and successful journey!

Looking to advance your career? Scaler’s Data Science Course offers advanced modules to help you move up to mid-level and senior positions.

Data Engineer: Salary and Job Growth in the Future

The job outlook for data engineers has been very positive. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a booming job growth in computer and information technology. Data engineers fall within this broad category.  Fueled by big data and the expanding Internet of Things, demand for skilled data engineers is expected to continue growing strongly into 2024 and beyond. Companies across industries, especially finance, healthcare, tech, and e-commerce, are heavily investing in data infrastructure, creating a lucrative career path. The number of job opportunities for data engineers is expected to increase by 21% between 2018 and 2028, according to Zippia.

Data Engineer Salary and Job Growth in the Future

Data engineers command good salaries, which vary based on experience and location. Here’s a quick overview to give you a general idea (remember, these figures can fluctuate):

AspectData Engineer Salary
Entry Level~₹6,00,000 – ₹8,00,000
Mid Level~₹8,00,000 – ₹12,00,000
Senior Level~₹20,00,000 and more
United States$114,564

Here are some top companies hiring for data engineers across various industries:

  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Facebook
  • Amazon
  • Netflix


The ever-growing demand for data insights necessitates skilled professionals to navigate the complex world of data. This data engineer roadmap has equipped you with the essential knowledge and resources to embark on your rewarding data engineering journey. Remember, consistent practice, a passion for learning, and a growth mindset are key to success. As you master these skills and technologies, you’ll be well-positioned to unlock valuable insights from data, solve critical business problems, and make a lasting impact within the ever-evolving field of data engineering.

Interested in Data Science? Scaler’s Data Science Course can help you make the transition with ease.

Read These Important Roadmaps: More Paths to Career Success

DSA RoadmapMLOps Roadmap
SDE RoadmapData Science Roadmap
Web Development RoadmapDevOps Roadmap
Full Stack Developer RoadmapData Analyst Roadmap
Front-end Developer RoadmapMachine Learning Roadmap
Back-end Developer RoadmapSoftware Architect Roadmap


Can I become a data engineer in 3 months?

While it’s possible to acquire foundational data engineering skills in 3 months through intensive learning, becoming a fully qualified data engineer typically takes longer (1-2 years). This timeframe depends on your prior experience, the depth of your learning, and the specific role you target. The roadmap outlined earlier provides a more realistic timeframe for building the necessary skills.

Is data engineering a stressful job?

Data engineering can be demanding, but the level of stress can vary depending on the work environment, project deadlines, and company culture. However, the problem-solving nature of the work and the constant learning opportunities can also be highly rewarding.

Can a data analyst become a data engineer?

Yes, Data analysts with strong technical skills and an interest in data infrastructure can transition to data engineering roles. The key is to develop programming expertise (particularly Python), understand data pipelines, and potentially learn big data technologies.

Is data engineering and data science the same?

There’s overlap, but these roles differ. Data engineers build and maintain the infrastructure that processes and stores data, while data scientists focus on analyzing data to extract insights and knowledge. Data engineers ensure data quality and accessibility, while data scientists use the prepared data to answer business questions and build models.

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By Anshuman Singh Co-Founder @ Scaler | Creating 1M+ world-class engineers
Anshuman Singh, Co-Founder of Scaler, is on a mission to forge over a million world-class engineers. With his roots in engineering, having contributed to building Facebook's chat and messages and the revamped Messenger, Anshuman is deeply committed to elevating engineering education. His vision focuses on delivering the right learning outcomes to nurture a new generation of tech leaders. Anshuman's journey is defined by his dedication to unlocking the potential of aspiring engineers, guiding them toward achieving excellence in the tech world.
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