What you need to know for a career as a data warehousing specialist

From the digital devices we rely on to the massive computer networks managed by multinational corporations, there is a staggering amount of data created every day. While data doesn’t take up any physical space, the hardware on which it’s stored does. Data warehousing specialists are often tasked with addressing the growing challenge of managing where our data ends up and making data management processes more efficient.

Like the data being handled, a data warehouse is not necessarily a physical object or place. Instead, it describes a system that facilitates the flow of data through an organization. Data in a warehousing system is sourced from inputs into accounting software or sales terminals at retail stores. A warehousing system must take this data and organize it according to the organization’s needs. Therefore, a data warehousing specialist is often responsible for designing and implementing a warehousing system like this on a large scale. This may be done for a single corporation or as part of a contract involving different clients and vendors.


Data Warehouse Specialist speaking to stakeholders around improvements to procedures

A typical day in the life of a data warehousing specialist

The exact tasks and job roles of a data warehousing specialist depend on their organization, as well as the scope of the project and the resources at their disposal.

In general, data warehousing specialists are responsible for:

  • Developing processes and procedures for data management across an organization, or within the scope of a project
  • Creating software applications or designing computer programs that accomplish tasks necessary for data storage and management
  • Analyzing current data warehousing processes for improvement to make procedures more efficient, or realize a different end target

These and other job responsibilities contribute to the data warehousing system’s success. As explained by IBM, a data warehouse is a very large, complex database or table of information. The data takes the form of snapshots that show each change made to the database over time and information about those changes. A data warehouse for a single organization might compile data from each segment of the business, like accounting, marketing, sales and others.

After being properly sorted, the warehousing system puts data into what’s known as a “data mart.” Here, data should be well-organized to allow people to easily search for specific types of transactions or for certain data points from a given timeframe. This information can then be used to make important decisions about how to manage the business.

In short, a data warehousing specialist plays a vital role in the success of businesses that rely on huge volumes of data. They design and fine-tune the tools that make this work possible.
 

A closer look at the professional landscape of a data warehousing specialist

 

As professionals who work with computer systems and design systems to support them, data warehousing specialists and their knowledge are in high demand. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), certain jobs like software development or statistical analysis are among those expected to be the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. from 2016 to 2026. This projection is in line with trends being seen throughout the world — more people and businesses are relying on advanced digital technology to accomplish their goals. More data is being created and collected given the increase in these digital tools, and their usage, in daily life. When organized correctly by someone like a data warehousing specialist, it’s easier for us to learn from and use that data.

The average compensation reported by data warehousing specialists is in line with employer demand. The BLS combines data warehousing specialists with several other IT industry roles. Workers in this overarching category reported a median salary of $86,510 in 2016.

Data Warehousing Specialist creating software applications or designing computer programs

Becoming a data warehousing specialist

Data warehousing specialists need to be comfortable with several industry-standard applications, as well as the finer details of database design and management, to perform their most critical job tasks. Most positions in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related IT field of study. Many people who apply to become data warehousing specialists also have pursued further education via a master’s degree in business analytics or a similar program.

With this level of education and some previous experience, data warehousing specialists tend to be well-versed in software for database management, metadata management and application development. Common database management software includes Apache Hadoop or Oracle SQL. Experience with object- or component-oriented programming languages like Objective C and Python are also necessary in many cases.

More broadly, data warehousing specialists should be comfortable in work environments similar to that of most computer engineers. These jobs involve analyzing problems and developing solutions within the framework of information technology. They also require a rigorous process of designing, testing and revising the systems they work with to facilitate continuous improvement and ensure operations progress smoothly.

Learn more about your potential career as a data warehousing specialist

Demand for data warehousing specialist positions is strong, but businesses are also seeking out candidates with more advanced credentials for these positions. Coursework included in the online Master of Science in Business Analytics degree program from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University can provide the skills and knowledge helpful to pursuing the top jobs in this rapidly growing field.

Sources:
IBM Overview of Data Warehousing - https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/en/SSGU8G_11.50.0/com.ibm.whse.doc/ids_ddi_344.htm
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Computer Occupations - https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151199.htm
O*Net OnLine Data Warehousing Specialists - https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/15-1199.07
Arizona State University Online Master of Science in Business Analytics
https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs/graduate/master-science-business-analytics

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