I’m considering attending WGU online college for my bachelors degree to become a data engineer. Which program should I apply for?
Have you tried asking anyone at the school you plan on attending? Im not trying to sound like a smart ass, but there is a reason schools have advisors. Even if you get someone who is not sure there is more than likely someone who can answer this question, and any other related questions. You could also do a google search of what skills that jobs are requiring for data engineers, and then compare it to the courses you are deciding to take.
Yeah, I’ve requested information, but I’ve been busy everytime I’ve gotten a call from them. I’ll hopefully talk to somebody soon but I was just curious what people on here would suggest.
Right, I understand that. I am a software developer, and unfortunately only have a vague idea of the responsibilities of a data engineer. So, I wouldnt be much help in saying which one is better. Would probably be better just getting the answers straight from the source when you can talk to them. Hopefully some others can chime in with their opinions
I’m currently a data engineer. I would say that a computer science degree would be considered extremely valuable, but is not required. Experience is more valuable - so I would make that a priority - even if you have to do roles that don’t have the same title as data engineer to obtain that experience. Whether you get a job offer often depends on knowing the tech stack of where you are applying very well. Applying to jobs that offer a coding test as a first step can help you prove yourself. Applying to entry-level roles can help you get your foot in the door. For my role, there is a very strong emphasis on SQL Server & Azure, with coding skills like python and C# being a plus. Out of all my education the database courses I took (which were not part of a computer science degree) have been the most valuable for what I do today. Also, Microsoft offers a Data Engineering Certification centered around Azure. However AWS is the most popular database hosting utilized in the private industry, and AWS offers a whole host of certifications that could showcase the knowledge you have. Azure is probably the 2nd most popular hosting option to be familiar with. SQL would probably the primary skill needed in almost every data engineering role, with an understanding of other programming languages as a close second. You could also take 30 job postings of your dream jobs, and make a list of all the skills they list as requirements for the job to make a road map for your learning. A computer science degree may or may not cover all the skills you would need to be a data engineer depending on the courses you take, so it’s important to know what employers are looking for in the industry; that could also allow you to judge how beneficial a computer science degree would be to you before paying for it because you could look at the courses they offer and see whether that university would actually be able to teach you most of skills you need by the end of your education. I would also want to know how committed a college is to helping students obtain work experience before going there and paying for a degree there, some schools are exceptional at this, some are not. In some situations it may be more valuable to pay for a number of certifications than a degree.
In the field, Data Analytics is a separate, closely related profession. Although data analytics and engineering are often bundled together in courses out in the field these are two distinct roles. Analysts analyze and visualize the data (sometimes called a BI developer on job boards) but data engineers are typically responsible for doing all the programming to retrieve the data, or pull it out of systems, then do necessary transformations, and deliver the data in a timely manner - often daily, or even hourly. I would say a foundational understanding of analytics is important, but your coding skills are much more important for data engineering. Of course, this depends on the role you are applying to, some jobs expect you to be part analyst and part engineer; some BI developer roles are like this. Every company and team structure is different. The most valuable thing is to keep trying and keep working on what you need. I’m constantly learning new things; that’s just part of the job.
Thank you for all the information and such a thoughtful response. As of now I’m putting the WGU path on hold while I take the free OSSU computer science courses. I read a couple reviews saying WGU doesn’t have the best education, but it’s great if you already have the knowledge and just need to get the degree. That is a great suggestion to look at my dream jobs and make a list of the requirements. I’m thinking OSSU is a good place to start and then figure out what other education I will need to get my dream job, even if I have to work jobs I don’t necessarily want just to get the experience. Thanks again for the input!