What Does an ETL Developer Do?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about the role of an ETL developer, including duties and responsibilities, skills, tools, and how to make a start in this career.

[Featured image] An ETL developer sits at his desk and designs a data storage system.

An extract, transform, and load (ETL) developer helps businesses to take their data, copy it, and move it to another database. It is a technical role requiring skills in database design and programming, with good education and training.

In this article, you’ll learn more about the role of an ETL developer, the tools you use, including artificial intelligence (AI) to work with data, and the salary you can expect. You’ll also understand the skills, experience, and level of education required for a career as an ETL developer.

What is an ETL developer?

The role of an ETL developer is to manage data storage systems for smooth operations. This includes designing systems, troubleshooting, and testing functions. You can break down an ETL developer role into three parts based on each element of its title.

  • Extract: This part of the role is about extracting—gathering historical and current raw data to give a good picture of data from various sources and across a timeline. ETL developers can gather and store this information in a single location.

  • Transform: At this stage, an ETL developer moves the data into a staging area, a file that temporarily stores the data while it reformats into functional models. This transformation process includes cleaning data, creating models, and protecting sensitive data with encryption.

  • Load: The process of loading data involves moving the transformed data to a data warehouse or database to use it. This process is typically automated and continuous.

What does an ETL developer do?

An ETL developer can have many responsibilities, including managing and optimizing company data storage requirements, creating data warehouses, and moving data between platforms. They also often check data quality, making sure to format data properly.

ETL developer tasks and responsibilities

The role of an ETL developer varies slightly depending on the data you work with and the company you work for. However, in general, the duties and responsibilities of an ETL developer are as follows:

  • Designing and implementing extraction, transformation, and loading data pipelines

  • Investigating data to anticipate any pipeline issues

  • Managing the maintenance of software

  • Working closely with data analysts on the ETL process

  • Troubleshooting and debugging database issues

  • Facilitating and training staff on ETL processes at each level

  • Working with stakeholders and managers to understand business goals

  • Implementing and updating new software

  • Designing and implementing SQL queries

  • Providing customer reporting

What tools do ETL developers use?

ETL developers use a range of tools when carrying out the ETL process. Each stage requires different tools and software to support data extraction, cleaning, consolidation, and storage.

Many of these tools use AI to improve and speed up processes through automation, anomaly identification, and analysis of data patterns.

Examples of ETL developer tools using AI include:

  • Oracle Data Integrator: Oracle Data Integrator is a tool that supports high-volume batch loads of data integration across organizations.

  • Talend Open Studio: Talend Open Studio can help you build data pipelines by executing data integration tasks, managing files, and visually representing your data profiles.

  • Whatagraph: Whatagraph is a marketing platform designed for data digitization, helping to move all your data to one accessible place.

  • Singer: Singer enhances data transfer using scripting technology to consolidate your ETL tools.

  • Apache Hadoop: This is a tool for processing large data sets with open-source software for computing distribution and scaling.

ETL developer skills

ETL developers are highly technical and have skills in programming and database development. However, workplace skills are also essential, as engaging with team members and communicating are crucial parts of the job. ETL developer skills include:

Technical skills

  • SQL

  • Java

  • Scripting languages 

  • Data warehousing

  • Data mapping

  • Data analysis

  • Data extraction

  • Data quality

  • Business intelligence

  • Software development

  • ETL tools

  • Oracle

  • Debugging

Workplace skills

  • Creativity

  • Problem-solving

  • Communication

  • Interpersonal skills

  • Detail oriented

  • Teamwork

  • Organization

ETL developer job outlook and salary 

ETL developers are similar to database administrators and architects, with an average annual salary of $112,120 and a job outlook indicating an 8 percent growth rate, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics [1]. Glassdoor reports the average annual ETL developer salary as $123,459 [2].

How to become an ETL developer

ETL developers must demonstrate their technical abilities and educate themselves by gaining experience with the tools and systems required for the job. Employers typically ask candidates for two to four years of work experience to be selected for a position as an ETL developer. In preparation, candidates tend to work as SQL server developers or developers.

Not all of your experience has to be professional. Many of the tools and technical skills you need as an ETL developer you can learn through a higher education degree or courses, and you can put these skills into practice through personal projects.

Education and training

The minimum educational requirement for an ETL developer is usually a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject such as computer science, electrical engineering, information technology, or computer engineering.

Furthermore, Zippia reports that 76 percent of ETL developers have a bachelor’s degree, with 22 percent opting to continue their studies to a master’s degree level [3].

A degree isn’t the only way of gaining the knowledge and skills you need for a career as an ETL developer. Online courses, Professional Certificates, and certifications are excellent ways to demonstrate your abilities and practice in real-life scenarios. 

Online courses and certificates to consider include:

Is AI replacing ETL developer jobs?

With recent developments in AI, concern about the future of ETL development as a career has grown. However, the need for ETL developers is just as strong as ever, with companies still looking to consolidate and integrate data. Rather than take over, AI is helping technology evolve to support this function.

AI tools allow processes like data collection and data processing of large quantities to be more streamlined, accurate, and time-effective. Plus, AI can reduce human error. Using these tools to enhance the work of ETL developers is an effective option for the future. 

Getting started with Coursera.

Are you interested in starting your career as an ETL developer? Consider starting with a bachelor’s degree, such as the Bachelor of Information Technology delivered online by Illinois Technology. If you have a degree in a relevant major, you might also check out some Professional Certificates to boost your resume, such as the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate or the IBM Data Warehouse Engineer Professional Certificate, both available on Coursera.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Occupational Outlook Handbook: Database Administrators and Architects, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm#tab-1.” Accessed March 13, 2024.

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