In the vast field of information technology, ETL developers stay true to the acronym that defines them -- they facilitate the process of extracting, transforming and loading massive quantities of data. Of course, forklifts and back braces don't come into play here. For the most part, ETL developers help collect and translate data for the purpose of business analysis. While each job varies in the individual details, the basics of the gig remain largely similar.
In most cases, the duties of actually extracting, transforming -- or transporting and integrating data to suit the needs of a specific database -- and loading data don't fall directly to the ETL developer. Instead, the developer ensures the integrity of the data by coding or creating new processes or applications, which are then used for extraction and transportation. These applications often include all sorts of bells and whistles, from cloud-based data management to automated data visualization. This doesn't happen with the push of a magic button, so the ETL developer often finds herself testing new program logic and finding efficient ways to implement ETL applications based on the specific needs of her clients.
More Developer Duties
Seeing data-mining software through from its birth to its final implementation lies at the heart of ETL development, but the process rarely follows a straight line. Along the way, ETL developers keep detailed technical design documents and review coding work done by their team. These IT professionals constantly communicate with the ETL lead, data modelers and mappers, solution architects and business analysts throughout the development process. Once development ends, developers provide end-user support for their clients as needed.
The Demands of Data
ETL developers typically have post-secondary degrees -- usually a four-year bachelor's degree -- in computer-related fields, and many come to the job with years of database development experience under their belts. This education comes with a knowledge of server operations and server integration services, debugging, data modeling and database architecture and design. Although not required, some employers prefer their ETL developers to have a doctoral or master's degree, software-specific certifications and experience with enterprise resource planning software. Because ETL developers ultimately provide a business-oriented service, a good knowledge of finance, risk management and marketing analytics certainly doesn't hurt.
Not all of the qualities that make a desirable ETL developer boil down to training. Employers seek developers with strong communication skills, especially in terms of team communication. The ability to see application development through a business lens is key, as is the ability to keep cool under pressure. Likewise, flexibility allows ETL developers to solve problems creatively, an essential quality on the often bumpy and unpredictable road of software development.
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.