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What Is an ETL Developer? How to Become One, Salary, Skills.

An ETL developer is a role responsible for designing, building, managing and maintaining ETL processes. Here’s what to know about an ETL developer’s needed skills, salary and how to become one.


What Is an ETL Developer?

An ETL developer creates and manages the entire sequence of activities within the three buckets of ETL and more, as we will dive into below. 

ETL developers work across industries though the role is more popular within technologically-focused organizations. Primary examples of these businesses are software companies such as the ones that make up big tech (Meta, Google, Microsoft), wider SaaS firms and especially companies that rely on heavy investments in cloud technologies (AWS).

ETL stands for extract, transform and load. Any business or organization managing an ETL process breaks the three steps into the following activities:

  • Extract: The activity of pulling together data from disparate data sources within the organization. Examples of these data sources might be customer data sitting in the customer relationship management (CRM) system of the organization, website analytics data provided by search engines (Google) or internal databases where transactional and analytical data is generated and stored by internal teams.
  • Transform: The activity of manipulating that data into a different shape better suited to be interpreted by the business stakeholders who will be its primary consumers. An example of this manipulation might be converting currency data in the right format, summing fields together or grouping data by a given categorical variable.
  • Load: The activity of making the ready-to-be consumed data available in the organization’s database or data warehouse. Usually, the ETL developer uses a database or data warehouse that is already provided and simply works with and on top of it. With time and further experience, the ETL developer may get the chance to dive deeper into these systems and also contribute to their configuration.


What Does an ETL Developer Do?

The overall range of responsibilities varies from heavy involvement in technical development to wider cross-functional communication and collaboration efforts. 

ETL Developer Responsibilities

  • Improve data efficiency: Understand the data challenges experienced by the organization, then contribute to the proposal and development of data solutions they can put in place by way of ETL processes.
  • Make data easily accessible: Facilitate overall data availability, consumption and awareness of key business data points and metrics across the organization. In practice, this means making data more easily accessible in real time, allowing non-technical people to simply view and interact with data visualization and reports.
  • Develop ETL processes: Build, deploy, maintain and orchestrate ETL processes using a variety of different data analytics and data engineering tools.
  • Collaborate: Work with project managers and senior business stakeholders to understand the business problem and landscape in which they need to operate.

ETL Developers Within a Company

An ETL developer normally works within a company’s data analytics or software engineering department. ETL developers also work in collaboration with internal business users to make sure the ETL processes they develop fit the needs of the company’s data consumer. 

Importance of ETL Developers

ETL developers collaborate with business stakeholders and fellow developers to ensure configuration and delivery of ETL processes per defined specifications that are requested or assumed by the business domain.

Examples of data solutions may entail the implementation of a faster and more efficient job that transforms and loads data from a presently existing source, the creation of a data workflow that facilitates the creation of dashboards for the monitoring of database performance or customer data, or the acquisition and the transformation of data points from a newly acquired data provider. 

ETL Developers — What Do They Do? | Video: Tech in 5 Minutes


What Skills Are Needed to Be an ETL Developer?

Qualifications to Be an ETL Developer

  • Wide-ranging set of software tools and programming languages. 
  • Can configure processes in hundreds of different ways (leads to a wide variety of skills in which an ETL developer can acquire or specialize). 

ETL Developer Hard Skills

  • Databases (MySQL, SQL Server).
  • Data engineering orchestration tools (Apache Airflow).
  • No-code data manipulation solutions (Alteryx).
  • Programming languages (Python, R).

Tools and Programs ETL Developers Use

  • Alteryx 
  • Apache Airflow
  • AWS S3
  • BigQuery
  • Dbt
  • MySQL
  • Python
  • R
  • SQL 
  • SQL Server
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How to Become an ETL Developer

ETL Developer Education and Experience

An ETL developer is a technical role so those interested in becoming ETL developers need to demonstrate a good mix of technical skills and a great understanding of the business context where those skills will be put to the test.

A good route toward becoming an ETL developer is by first focusing on acquiring the skills necessary to become a data analyst. Analysts use scripting languages (such as Python) and interact with databases and data dashboards by way of SQL or a visualization tool such as Tableau. These are all great starting points to later focus on skills more relevant for the ETL developer role. 

Once you’ve got the data analyst foundation, focus on developing data engineering skills, such as Airflow, as well as the development and maintenance of cloud data pipelines. You’ll also want to enhance your programming language skills (mostly Python). 

ETL developer roles are a hybrid between a data analyst and a data engineer, and you will likely find different interpretations of such roles depending on industry and company, with some ETL developers leaning more towards analyzing data and others more focused on the management of those data sources on which the analysis depends.


ETL Developer Salary and Job Outlook

The full compensation package for an ETL developer depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the candidate’s experience and geographic location. See below for detailed information on the average ETL Developer salary.


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