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Data is king, but without proper organization, it's a kingdom in chaos. Enter ETL developers, the data wranglers who build the pipelines that transform raw information into actionable insights. Data warehousing is so important that the market is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2025—an increase of 92% in just seven years.

This job guide explains the ETL developer role, sharing responsibilities, career prospects, ETL tools, and the skills you need to join this in-demand field.

Find out how to get in on the action as an ETL developer.

What is an ETL Developer?

An ETL developer is a software engineer responsible for performing Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) processes.

Every day, unsung heroes use their skills to pull data from multiple sources and send it to a single data warehouse. ETL is a set of processes used to migrate data into a central repository. To use these processes effectively, businesses rely on skilled ETL developers.

During the data transformation process, an ETL developer uses several tools to apply formatting rules, convert data types, and standardize data from multiple sources. The main purpose of the ETL developer role is to ensure consistency.

An ETL developer isn’t quite the same as a data engineer or a data analyst. However, there is some overlap in the duties associated with each role.

Why is an ETL Developer Crucial?

Having a centralized repository gives firms more control over their data storage, ensuring that employees have access to the business intelligence they need to make critical decisions. But to use big data effectively, users must be able to run custom reports without worrying about formatting issues. Otherwise, they could make decisions based on outdated, inaccurate, or duplicate records.

Think of it this way. If the data in your central repository isn’t formatted correctly, it might not appear in certain queries. What would happen if your finance manager made a major decision without having access to 40% of the data in your warehouse? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

ETL developers use their skills to prevent this, making them crucial to any firm that wants to use big data more effectively.

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Duties and Responsibilities of an ETL Developer

ETL developers typically perform the following job duties:

  • Use ETL processes to design and implement data pipelines
  • Create ETL documentation
  • Assess storage needs for businesses and nonprofit organizations
  • Gather information from database administrators, data analysts, and other end users
  • Refine existing processes for data modeling, data extraction, and data integration
  • Maintain an organization’s data architecture
  • Use ETL tools to ensure consistency and build efficient data pipelines
  • Maximize data quality when combining data from multiple sources into a central repository
  • Prepare data for use by machine-learning algorithms
  • Troubleshoot ETL issues
  • Report to the data warehouse manager, director of business intelligence, or chief technology officer

Required Skills for an ETL Developer

An ETL developer plays an important role in ensuring the consistency of a company’s data, so make sure you have the following ETL developer skills:

  • Informatica, SSIS, Talend, and other ETL tools
  • SQL Software for creating and manipulating databases
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Strong problem-solving skills, especially as they relate to troubleshooting ETL issues
  • Data modeling
  • SQL debugging
  • NoSQL databases
  • Dimensional modeling
  • Tableau
  • Scripting languages (Java, Python, Perl, etc.)
  • .NET framework

ETL Developer Education and Experience

Although it’s possible to become an ETL developer without a degree, many companies require a bachelor’s degree in information technology, data science, computer science, or a closely related field. If you’re interested in working for a specific company, review past job descriptions to determine if you meet the minimum education requirements.

If your preferred employer is willing to hire someone without a degree, make yourself more competitive as a candidate by obtaining relevant certifications. As an ETL developer, you can benefit from getting at least one of the following certifications:

  • AWS Certified Data Analytics
  • AWS Certified Data Engineer
  • Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst
  • Google Professional Data Engineer

The amount of experience required depends on your professional background and the type of ETL job you’re seeking. Some ETL developer roles are advertised as entry-level, so you may be able to land a job with basic technical skills and a willingness to learn.

Otherwise, an employer may require at least 1 year of experience in data integration, data mapping, data processing, or other relevant duties. Increase your chances of landing the perfect ETL job by getting some experience with project management. Companies all over the world need skilled ETL developers to set quality standards, define project outcomes, and keep ETL projects on track.

ETL Developer Salary and Career Prospects

Salary data from Indeed shows that ETL developers earn an average of $87,540 annually. You may earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses and stock options, depending on where you accept a job offer.

Note that ETL salaries depend on many factors, such as where you live, how much experience you have, and what skills you bring to the table. For example, someone who knows multiple programming languages and has experience transforming vast amounts of data is likely to earn more than an entry-level ETL developer who knows just one programming language.

The good news about working as an ETL developer is that you can advance into higher-level roles as you gain experience. After several years, you may qualify for roles in data engineering, ETL architecture, or data warehouse management. Some ETL developers even become directors of business intelligence.

If you have the right skills and a zest for learning, the sky’s the limit when building a rewarding career in ETL development.

ETL Developer Resources

Prepare for a career as an ETL developer with the following resources:

ETL Industry Groups

There’s no industry group specifically for ETL developers yet, but you can benefit from joining associations related to software engineering, data science, and other fields. Here are a few options:

The Future of ETL

The future is bright for ETL developers. If you’re dedicated to continuous learning and capable of working with end users to determine their data-related needs, you may have what it takes to succeed.

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By Katie Sanders

As a data-driven content strategist, editor, writer, and community steward, Katie helps technical leaders win at work. Her 14 years of experience in the tech space makes her well-rounded to provide technical audiences with expert insights and practical advice through Q&As, Thought Leadership, Ebooks, etc.