A database administrator career involves helping companies manage information by identifying the best ways to organize, store and present data according to user needs. As a growing number of applications and websites rely on databases, there continues to be a strong demand for information technology (IT) professionals with this specialized expertise. A bachelor’s degree in computer information systems (CIS) can be the foundation of a successful database administrator career.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that employment of computer network, systems and database administrators will increase much faster than the average for all occupations in coming years. Job growth will occur as businesses need to manage increasingly large amounts of data and protect their databases from cyber attacks. The best database administrator career prospects are likely to be for individuals with a computer-related bachelor’s degree and relevant certification.
Building, maintaining, administering and supporting databases are the primary job duties of database administrators. These professionals keep data secure by managing access, privileges and information migration. Database administrators are also responsible for installing and configuring database management software, translating database design and diagnosing database performance issues.
Other job functions of database administrators include installing software upgrades, managing hardware upgrades and maintaining computer servers. They also develop backup and recovery strategies, and monitor servers to ensure capacity is not exceeded. At times, database administrators may help devise network strategies, test systems and develop system standards.
Evaluating new tools and technologies, analyzing user needs and presenting findings to management are additional job duties of database administrators. They may also approve the purchase of new database products and improvements, as well as schedule, plan and supervise their installation and testing. In many cases, database administrators will provide users with training on new database software and systems.
The work environment for a database administrator career is typically an office setting or computer lab. Some professionals in this field may work from remote locations, such as a home office. While a 40-hour work week is typical, some employers may require database administrators to be on-call for emergency coverage.
According to BLS findings for May 2009, computer network, systems and database administrators earned an average annual salary of $74,290. The middle 50% earned between $53,470 and $93,260. Salaries for the lowest 10% were around $40,780, while the highest 10% earned upwards of $114,200. Recent bachelor’s degree program graduates will typically start out at the lower end of the scale and move up in salary with experience and advanced education.
Most database administrator careers start with a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, although certain positions may require an MBA with a specialization in information technology management. Employers often seek to hire candidates with relevant IT experience, which can be obtained through internships or work-study programs while pursuing a degree. Certification from product vendors or industry associations can also provide a competitive edge.
Embarking on a database administrator career can begin with enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in computer information systems. Coursework usually includes database concepts and programming, network theory and design, electronic commerce, decision support systems and introduction to Internet applications.
Employers can be confident that graduates of a computer information systems program are able to:
Many employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It’s possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use tuition assistance to further your education.
Becoming a database administrator requires a combination of strong technical and communication skills, the ability to work both in a team environment and independently, and good organizational capabilities. Other important attributes include excellent multi-tasking and problem-solving skills as well as keen attention to detail. If you possess these qualities, a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems will provide a solid foundation for a rewarding database administrator career!