What Does a Data Migration Specialist Do?

Companies looking to enhance productivity and gain an edge over the competition often turn to data migration to update ...

Companies looking to enhance productivity and gain an edge over the competition often turn to data migration to update their decision-making processes. Data migration is the process of taking data stored and managed in one computer system and organizing, extracting and moving it to another system. What does a data migration specialist do? The right professional ensures this process happens efficiently and seamlessly. It’s a complex role requiring specific training and experience.

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What Does a Data Migration Specialist Do?

Taking information and processes handled on legacy software systems and moving them to a centralized cloud-based platform like Microsoft 365 can vastly improve a business's efficiency and bottom line. However, this process takes a lot of planning and oversight. It’s estimated that more than 60% of data migration attempts fail, with a lack of expertise in the process being one of the leading reasons behind failure. A specialist provides the needed IT skills for the consolidation, cleaning, transfer and validation of company data across platforms.

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What's in a Data Migration Specialist Job Description?

Because it’s a highly specialized field, a number of qualifications typically appear in a job description for a data migration specialist. There are also many specific responsibilities that a candidate should have experience with.

Formal Education

These roles demand technical knowledge. A job description for a data migration specialist usually requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, information technology or similar fields

Migration Experience

In addition to specific coursework or degree requirements, experience in the following areas and tasks is also generally a part of the job description for this career.

Project Expertise

Nearly 30% of organizations attempting data migration struggle to overcome the challenges associated with lacking the skills, staff and architecture manageability necessary for the process. A data migration specialist brings subject-matter expertise and real-world experience to the process. This role serves as an advisor and guide to a migration project, determining the migration solution that will meet the unique needs and expectations of the organization.

These professionals should have experience handling complex projects that involve massive amounts of data by mapping data fields, analyzing the different data structures and authenticating the integrity of the data.  Using the insight and experience of a specialist, organizations can put in place efficient mitigation strategies.

Project Analysis

One of the most important responsibilities a specialist has is analyzing the factors that will impact a smooth migration process. This role must carefully look at the data structures in place with the legacy system and determine what it will take to morph the data into the structure set up for the new system. A specialist analyzes the accuracy of the data and identifies redundancies or other issues before executing a cleansing process.

Project Communication

The data migration specialist plays a lead role in the entire transfer process, so this individual must be comfortable and capable of communicating with everyone involved in the process. They should be able to clearly convey specific migration requirements to both the client and internal teams.

They need to use language that is easily understood by the client either when talking about approaches or methods or answering questions and dealing with concerns. Communication is crucial for keeping data migration projects on track, and a specialist is often the go-to person for any information regarding the project.

Project Development

The migration specialist has a key part in developing the plan for data migration and all the required elements:

  • Test plans
  • Data migration routines and jobs
  • Migration programs and scripts
  • Migration templates

The specialist needs to pay close attention to detail, as spreadsheets, templates and scripts need to be error-free for an efficient data migration.

Project Execution

Data migration specialists oversee a lot of areas within the project and have a responsibility to accurately and quickly execute certain tasks. A specialist is usually responsible for cleansing and validating data. This prepares it for migration by removing or fixing and data that is formatted incorrectly, incomplete, duplicate, corrupted or incorrect.

As a part of data cleansing, a specialist may perform the following tasks:

  • Data parsing to identify and isolate individual elements within source files
  • Data correction using secondary data sources and best practices
  • Data standardization to ensure all data adheres to the business or new system standard
  • Data matching to avoid and eliminate any duplications
  • Data consolidation to eliminate redundancies in relationships between data

Substantial data cleansing should happen prior to the migration, but the specialist also performs post-migration work to validate the migrated data and ensure smooth operations.

Project Performance

Throughout the project, a data migration specialist should always be monitoring performance. Whether ensuring compliance and adherence to change control processes, naming conventions or data security, part of the job description for a data migration specialist is quality assurance for the project.

In this role, the specialist identifies potential data risks and mitigates them through best practice strategies. There should be a continual effort to test for and resolve bottlenecks or bugs in the migration solution, as well as areas for process improvement to increase both scalability and efficiency. Key tasks include:

  • Migration audits and reconciliation
  • Data verification
  • Data quality assessments
  • Migration testing of static or transaction data between the two systems
  • Data preservation with regular backups

Ongoing involvement with these areas of performance helps the specialist fulfill their other duty of troubleshooting and resolving issues with the migration. Being an integral part of the process keeps them aware of potential challenges in the project as they arise and how to address and solve them.

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What Are Important Data Migration Specialist Skills?

A skilled data migration specialist is an asset to an organization looking to transform their operating platforms and centralized data storage. A successful applicant for an open specialist position will have not only a range of hard skills but also soft skills that make them easy to work with, trustworthy and professional.

Hard Skills

Working with data migration involves having knowledge of specific technical skills and best practices to follow when dealing with software and platforms. Ensuring that candidates have completed the coursework to learn these skills is the reason for the advanced degree requirements for many of these positions.

The most required technical skills for this role include:

  • Strong to advanced SQL querying and scripting abilities
  • Advanced proficiency in data extraction and transformation tools
  • Advanced knowledge of the extract, transform and load processes
  • Proficiency with database design principles and data modeling
  • Strong command of data mapping and transformation techniques

A data migration specialist also needs a strong mastery of data migration tools and software, and this knowledge is more effective when combined with familiarity with a number of platforms and systems. Knowledge of programming languages like Java or Python is important, as is an in-depth understanding of data governance, security and privacy.

Task-specific skills also include a knowledge of data warehousing concepts and best practices, as well as archival and retention strategies. A firm command of data visualization and reporting tools to create clear visual representations for massive data sets helps all stakeholders make sense of the project and evaluate final outcomes.

Soft Skills

When evaluating a candidate's professional readiness for a job, you should look for more than impressive technical skills. A person’s soft skills are the non-technical traits that impact how they solve problems, interact with peers or clients and manage their workload. Working as a data migration specialist requires several vital soft skills:

  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical and problem-solving abilities
  • Ability to collaborate and work in cross-functional teams
  • Flexibility and adaptability to a dynamic work environment
  • Strong technical writing, documentation and communication skills
  • Superior organization skills

A data migration specialist takes a leadership role in the migration process and should have a growth mindset and passion for learning. Industry trends and technology are constantly changing, and working effectively with a range of clients requires a willingness to stay current on processes, software, best practices and more.

What Is on a Data Migration Specialist Resume?

When looking at what a data migration specialist does on their resume, the focus should be on the content rather than the format. Look for indications of the candidates' level of proficiency with the most used tools or technologies in the field. Knowledge of current processes or technologies can influence how quickly and successfully an organization’s migration project goes.

Nearly 83% of organizations exceed their budgets or fail to meet their schedule when undergoing data migration. This can potentially cause a business to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars. A data migration specialist should have both knowledge and experience with the tools needed to keep a project on schedule and within the financial boundaries.

Depending on an organization and its data concerns, there are three options for data migration tools.


If a specialist has experience with on-premises migration, they are familiar with the tools that move data from one server or application to another without using the cloud. Some of the more common on-premise integration tools include Oracle Data Service Integrator, Informatica PowerCenter and IBM Infosphere.


When working with a data migration specialist with open-source experience, the tools involved come from a centralized repository where the source code is easily accessible and often free. Specialists who use open-source tools should be able to interpret the code and make custom adjustments to the code to meet the needs of an organization. Open-source tools for migration include Talend Open Studio, Apache NiFi and Apache Airflow.


When a specialist is familiar with cloud-based migration tools, they are well-versed in moving data from a company's legacy system to the cloud. Many of the migration tools involved in this process have the ability to act as both a platform for data transfer and a cloud storage option. Forward-thinking organizations often choose to move on-premise data to cloud platforms because of the scalability and affordability it provides.

While specialists can help utilize these, a business may require something more custom for their migration plans. Platforms like Cloudficient’s ReMAD or EVComplete are ideal tools for successful data migration with minimal downtime and greater efficiency.

Key Tools

An experienced data migration specialist may have experience using the following tools or programs on their resume:

  • Python
  • Tableau
  • Microsoft Excel
  • RStudie
  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • MS SQL

The hiring organization will often have specific requirements in mind when looking at the experience of a data migration specialist or the familiarity with certain tools or platforms. Though the basic processes are the same for best practices in data migration, there is some variation across platforms or tools.

How To Become a Data Migration Specialist

As more companies look to convert to digital, data-based platforms, the job market for data migration specialists will grow. If you’re interested in a career as a migration expert, you need a combination of academic instruction and hands-on experience.

Most businesses want a four-year degree in computer science, information systems or information technology, which you can earn from almost any school or university. You also need certification in data migration. Experience often starts with entry-level jobs, with new skills and abilities developed over time. Working as a computer or network systems administrator offers a similar experience to data migration roles and can develop transferable skills to take on a specialist role.

Cloudficient Confidently Answers What Does a Data Migration Specialist Do

With crucial elements such as data security and privacy, data accuracy and system compatibility capable of jeopardizing a successful data migration, working with the best specialist in the field is important. Whether you are ready to tackle a new career in data migration or you’re weighing your options on who can help with your company’s transition, Cloudficient can help.

Our global team provides flexible and affordable options for moving past outdated and complex legacy systems to the more efficient Microsoft 365. Our team is knowledgeable, approachable and ready to help you reach your goals. Contact us to find out more about our career options or available services.


With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

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