Database Administrator

What Do Database Administrators Do?

Database administrators maintain and protect sensitive information and provide access to datasets integral to companies, institutions, and government bodies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that database administration jobs will grow 11% between 2016 and 2026. These professionals organize sensitive datasets, such as financial records, purchase histories, and customer details. They make materials available to professionals in their company while maintaining information security and privacy settings. Database administrators also back up, restore, and troubleshoot database sets and system access, and they update and integrate old programs to implement the latest technology.

Database administrators need at least a bachelor's degree in information science or computer science for most entry-level positions. Depending on the size and complexity of the company or governing body, they may need a master's degree in database administration or information technology. All database administrators need fundamental knowledge of structured query language (SQL) and software vendor certifications.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that database administration jobs will grow 11% between 2016 and 2026.

Skills

Database administrators need to keep acquainted with the latest innovations in computer programming and database frameworks to provide effective assistance and to advise employers and clients about systems updates. Below are fundamental skills related to database construction, administration, and organization. Gaining these skills and competencies is integral to a successful career as a database manager.

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Areas of Database Administrator

Regardless of the industry, most businesses have an internal database that requires some degree of oversight. While key skills are applicable to any industry, organizations host their information on a variety of platforms, including MySQL Database Administrator, Oracle DBA and Microsoft Certified Database Administrator. Mastering multiple systems can help you find employment and prepares you to work in a variety of fields.

Key Skills for Database Administrators

SQL

SQL is the computer language that orients and organizes all data management systems. Students should understand the three dominant database languages: Microsoft SQL, Oracle Database, and IBM's DB2. Professionals may need to build websites with MySQL, create relational connections between multiple datasets with Transact-SQL, and control object-oriented concepts with PL/SQL.

Oracle

A relational database framework oriented through SQL, Oracle provides access to and organizes datasets. Oracle also integrates information into user-friendly platforms for companies and institutions. Similar to SQL, Oracle is compatible with most major platforms, including Windows Operating System, UNIX, Linux, and Mac OS.

UNIX

As a portable operating system interface, this multiuser, multitasking operating system is made available by The Open Group. Written in C programming language, UNIX is the organizational foundation for most Mac, Android, Chrome, and Playstation systems and is therefore a critical building block for database management and administration.

Linux

Modeled after UNIX, Linux is an open-source operating system that is extremely versatile and controls a variety of computer systems, including smartphones and supercomputers. Linux is free to install, and users can access online coding and troubleshooting hacks to create comprehensive platforms for clients and companies.

Windows Operating System

Windows OS is the orienting graphic interface for all Microsoft products. This is the core operating system for Microsoft desktops and programs and differs from Linux and UNIX systems in that Windows OS is corporately owned and therefore not openly accessible. Currently, Windows OS is the dominant system worldwide.

Data Analysis

By inspecting, collating, and interpreting datasets, data analysts translate massive bodies of information into useful and illustrative material for companies and clients. Analysts also use analytical interpretation to streamline systems by cleaning datasets, which involves prioritizing and itemizing metadata, and by providing insights on system improvements.

Microsoft Access

This is the key information management tool behind referencing, reporting, and data analysis in data administration. MS Access translates metadata sets, particularly from Microsoft Excel sheets, into usable, searchable datasets. Database administrators use this tool to prioritize relationships between datasets and to coalesce materials.

HTML

HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language, forms the graphics of platform and website design. Professionals create interactive systems and webpages using this standard coding language, which integrates scripting languages such as JavaScript. As the bedrock of computer programming, an understanding of HTML is fundamental for database administrators.

How Much Do Database Administrators Make?

Most database administrators earn higher salaries as they gain experience. As the table below illustrates, entry-level professionals earn an average salary of $60,000 per year, but experienced professionals can earn more than $90,000 per year. A database administrator's salary depends on their employer's location, size, and complexity. Professionals who work with sensitive datasets in industries such as healthcare and information security typically earn higher salaries. Data administrators need high levels of competency and often certifications to secure these high-stakes positions.

Average Salary of Database Administrators (IT) by Job Level

Entry-Level (0-5 Years) $61,000
Mid-Career (5-10 Years) $78,000
Experienced (10-20 Years) $92,000

Source: PayScale

How Do I Become a Database Administrator?

Earn Your Degree

Candidates need a bachelor's degree to enter the field of database management. Information science and computer science programs include coursework on database systems management and software, such as HTML, SQL, and Oracle. Learners in these programs study the fundamentals of metadata acquisition and management.

Some hiring companies and institutions require candidates to hold a master's in database management. A master's degree is ideal for individuals planning to pursue roles within large companies or institutions that work with sensitive information, such as patient statistics and personal data. Advanced degrees provide specialized training in complex web development, database architecture, and information recovery and translation.

Organizations in areas such as finance, healthcare, education, and government need qualified database administrators and managers to keep programs running smoothly. Students can pursue both bachelor's and master's degrees in information technology and database administration online.

Gain Experience

Computer programming and software management languages are integral to the database administration industry. Most positions in the field require company certifications in SQL or Oracle and/or at least two years of experience with open-source databases, such as Linux. Most bachelor's programs prepare students to sit for certifications. Many students gain experience by working part time, often on a volunteer basis, for a local nonprofit or small company or by undertaking an online or local internship, which typically lasts one or two semesters.

To gain independent experience, learners can set up a name server and trial UNIX/Linux coding website to create a simple-search database. For additional formatting responsibility, learners can format the Linux database to function with SQL. This server and search engine provides a dated record of professional experience and serves as a technological portfolio to demonstrate skills to potential clients and employers.

Earn Credentials

Given the variety of trademarked programs and systems on the technology market, many companies offer private courses to verify and certify administrative professionals. Microsoft offers multiple certifications related to SQL server training. Equally important for database administrators, Oracle and its competitor IBM's DB2 also offer company certifications.

The certifications necessary to qualify for positions in the field depend on the hiring company or institution. Before committing to an exam — which may cost $150-$400, not including specialized company-administered training courses — candidates should research the systems proficiencies their preferred companies or clients expect. Though some companies hire employees with the stipulation that they subsequently complete software certifications, candidates who already hold certifications may receive preference.

Types of Careers in Database Administration

Database administration professionals can pursue a variety of careers in the field. Most positions, including those listed below, require a bachelor's degree in computer science or software engineering. Positions in business or healthcare systems, such as a computer systems analyst, also require training in business analysis and information security.

Job seekers with professional experience often stand out from competition. Students can gain experience by undertaking internships or volunteering with local clubs or programs. While advancing their careers, professionals should work to cultivate both field-specific competencies and personal skills, as management positions require written and interpersonal communication skills.

Database Administrator

These professionals work with software and database platforms. They create comprehensive and user-friendly organizational structures, identify user needs, prioritize metadata resources, and test and implement improvements. Database administrators maintain information accessibility for company analysts and protect sensitive data with comprehensive security measures. They also monitor progress and integrate new programs as necessary.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree; database languages such as SQL, Query, and UNIX/Linux

Median Annual Salary

$87,020

Computer and Information Systems Manager

Also called information technology managers, these professionals plan, coordinate, and innovate company or institutional databases. Computer and information systems managers use technological and communicative skills to gather metadata, advise and implement positive changes, and maintain the accessibility of information.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree; less than two years of IT experience

Median Annual Salary

$139,220

Computer Network Architect

These professionals construct the architectural infrastructure of computer networks such as LANs, WANs, and intranets. They plan and design communication networks, orient systems to function with security protections, and research and implement innovations in the field. Network engineers maintain cohesive systems and troubleshoot issues.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree; 5-10 years of IT work experience

Median Annual Salary

$104,650

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers build computer systems directly through C/C++ programming systems. These professionals update and expand existing programs, and create new algorithms to help make metadata more user-friendly and secure. They also test codes and troubleshoot issues to ensure the accessibility and accuracy of material.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree; programming languages such as C++, SQL, JavaScript, and Python

Median Annual Salary

$82,240

Computer Systems Analyst

These analysts consult with companies and institutions on how to improve database and analytical systems. They evaluate extant programs, troubleshoot issues, and propose alternative options. These professionals also assist IT professionals in translating company information onto new platforms, and they help company employees and clients or patients access new systems.

Degree Level and Experience Required

Bachelor's degree; business analysis training

Median Annual Salary

$88,270

Where Can I Work as a Database Administrator?

Companies, institutions, and corporations rely on database managers to orient, protect, and provide access to technological systems. Generally, more administrator positions per capita exist in centers of commerce, usually in and around major metropolitan areas. However, many database managers work remotely. Freelancing allows increased flexibility in scheduling and location. The following sections detail the highest-paying areas for database administrators.

Locations

A database administrator's salary potential depends on their location and position. Nationally, East Coast states offer more employment opportunities and higher average salaries; however, database administrators in California earn the second-highest average income in the country. To take advantage of a low cost of living, professionals can work remotely from rural areas.

Metropolitan Areas With the Highest Employment Level of Database Administrators

Location Employment Median Salary
New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division 6,320 $102,850
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division 4,520 $105,070
Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX Metropolitan Division 3,580 $95,050
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA 3,440 $92,440
Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 3,100 $93,130

Source: BLS

Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Database Administrators

Location Employment Median Salary
Trenton, NJ 350 $110,200
San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division 1,640 $106,680
Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division 1,330 $105,860
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division 4,520 $105,070
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT 370 $104,790

Source: BLS

Settings

The versatility of database management skills qualifies these IT professionals to work in a variety of sectors. Computer systems design offers the most opportunities in terms of financial stability and employment. The data processing and insurance sectors offer similarly stable options, though they represent a significantly less common career choice for database administrators.

Professionals in database administration can earn high salaries by managing companies. Although positions in educational and state services yield lower salaries, these positions provide opportunities to positively impact the local community; these professionals often work with students, instructors, and local administration to provide professional training and secure data systems to improve the accessibility of information.

The Five Largest Employers of Database Administrators

Setting Percent Employed Median Annual Salary
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 16% $95,570
Educational Services; State, Local, and Private 10% $72,230
Management of Companies and Enterprises 7% $93,080
Insurance Carriers and Related Activities 7% $93,380
Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services 4% $93,640

Source: BLS

Continuing Education for Database Administrators

With technology evolving rapidly, database administrators and web programmers need to stay updated through continuing education opportunities. Technology companies, such as Microsoft and IBM, provide training courses, which typically comprise lectures and practical exams. These courses culminate in product certifications, which demonstrate the holder's professional skill set.

To remain relevant as database administrators, professionals need to stay up to date on new programs and security measures. Careers in the field require constant learning and adaptation to work with changing database design, organization, and usability measures.

How Do I Find a Job in Database Administration?

Like positions in many fields, database administration jobs are largely advertised online on job search platforms. Candidates should monitor career websites or sign up for notifications about relevant positions. The competitive professional landscape makes standing out a challenge.

To make an impression, students can complete internships in database development or administration while in school. This professional experience demonstrates practical training and technological skills and may even lead to a full-time position at the internship organization. Candidates can also join professional associations to build a professional network and receive access to private job boards.

Professional Resources for Database Administrators

Professional Organizations

  • Data Management Association International This nonprofit, international association unites database professionals worldwide. The association holds an annual conference and sponsors training to maintain high standards for database management professionals.
  • CompTIA Association of IT Professionals This national association provides a platform for IT professionals across multiple fields, including database administration. Members can build a professional network and access online continuing education courses in IT and business.
  • Association for Women in Computing AWC supports and unites women in IT professions by providing online networking opportunities, which bring together people from diverse geographic areas. Members can participate in monthly local meetings and can receive advice from an established community mentor.
  • International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology This association promotes international collaboration across technology fields. The organization hosts conferences and international learning tours to improve access to technological innovations and to help members network.

Professional Development

  • Enterprise Data Management Council eLearning EDM Council provides members with comprehensive online training and certification programs for database administrators. Members receive access to courses and networking opportunities.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology ASIS&T helps members stay informed about information science innovations. Members receive access to a career center, webinars, and an online troubleshooting forum.
  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Microsoft offers a certification for database administration, which covers SQL training and Microsoft troubleshooting solutions. Professionals who plan to pursue jobs working with Microsoft products should earn this certification.
  • International Web Association Certifications IWA certifications are internationally recognized. A server administrator certificate or database specialist certificate can show employers that you are a competent and proactive database professional.

Finding a Job

Continuing Education

  • Oracle University Oracle University is a company training and certification program designed to prepare professionals to work with Oracle products. The program offers courses related to database administration, and learners can pursue certifications to demonstrate skills to employers and clients.
  • Microsoft Learn Microsoft provides training and coursework designed to prepare professionals to work with Microsoft SQL, Windows Operating Systems, and Microsoft Access. Professionals can earn certifications that demonstrate professional competencies in areas including data management and analytics.
  • Linux Foundation Training This platform offers asynchronous courses about the Linux operating system. Participants have one year to successfully complete coursework for each class and can earn certifications regarding Linux-related training.
  • ASIS&T Webinars In addition to uniting professionals in the field, this association provides free webinars to members. Community-driven courses focus on relevant issues across IT professions and create networking opportunities for members.