Data Careers and Salary Guide

With more companies worldwide set to invest in big data, the demand for qualified professionals in data-related fields is projected to grow, which, in turn, is expected to drive salary growth.

The technology research company Gartner Inc. reported in September 2015 that more than three-quarters of firms are investing or plan to invest in big data through at least 2017. That represents a slight increase over the percentage of companies that reported investment plans in 2014.

Nearly two-thirds of the companies responding to the new Gartner survey listed “enhanced customer experience” as the No. 1 goal of their big data initiatives, with “process efficiency” and “more-targeted marketing” each listed by 47% of firms.

Gartner previously reported that nearly 2 million jobs in Information Technology would be created nationwide between 2012 and 2015 to support the growing role of big data in the business world.

Big data, along with security and mobile technology, will be a major factor fueling employment opportunities in IT during 2016, including for database administrators, according to a report by the global staffing firm Robert Half.

“More companies are using big data analytics to help inform business decisions and are relying on specialized personnel for managing and interpreting raw data,” Robert Half reported in September 2015, adding that starting salaries for IT professionals are projected to rise by 5.3% on average in the next year.

The data-related careers highlighted in this guide typically require candidates to have strong analytical, problem-solving and organizational skills. Many of the positions also require superior verbal and written communication, as well as a high level of creativity.

A thorough understanding of relational database theory and practice may be essential, along with experience in enterprise database programs such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle or IBM DB2. In addition, employers often require experience in specific programming languages, including Java and SQL.

A bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems or a related field may be required for entry-level positions. Advancement to managerial and analyst positions may be possible with additional experience and an advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Database Administration.

Database Administrator

Employment opportunities for database administrators will increase faster than the national average for all occupations through 2022, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Database administrators, or DBAs, help organizations manage data through the security, integrity and performance of databases. They determine how to efficiently store, organize and present data for employees, managers and other users.

In addition to specific technical knowledge and educational qualifications, database administrators should also possess excellent analytical, communication, organization and problem-solving skills, and have great attention to detail. Some of the typical job duties include:

  • Building, maintaining, securing and monitoring databases
  • Creating  and maintaining backup and recovery infrastructure
  • Managing software and hardware updates, and making requested changes and updates to database structure and data

According to the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals, average starting salaries for database administrators in the United States range from $95,750 to $142,750, up 5.6% over the 2015 range.

Numerous factors can influence potential salary ranges and employment opportunities, including regional market conditions, and a candidate’s work history and level of educational attainment.

Database Reporting Analyst

Database reporting analysts provide reporting, analysis, and administrative and employee compliance support in alignment with business requirements and key performance indicators (KPIs). Average starting salaries for these IT professionals will range from $74,500 to $114,500 in 2016, according to Robert Half.

Among the common job duties of database reporting analysts are:

  • Analyzing, designing and implementing secure, accurate and efficient databases
  • Creating reports and sharing findings with different departments, management and executives
  • Recommending measures based on reports and analysis
  • Writing procedures to automatically query data
  • Providing data support on research and analytics
  • Working with business analysts, database developers, data architects and database administrators to build data transactional and warehouse systems

Database reporting analysts should possess the ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from managers, clients and customers. They are expected to interpret a variety of technical instructions, and deal with abstract and concrete variables.

Database Developer

Database developers work with technical and nontechnical staff to develop and maintain databases across the organization and ensure data availability. As the volume of data grows, developers may modify databases for their organizations. Other job duties can include:

  • Implementing and testing database design and functionality
  • Ensuring databases meet business needs
  • Maintaining the security and integrity of the database
  • Advising on software, hardware and networking capabilities for database management systems

In 2016, average starting salaries for database developers in the United States will range from $103,250 to $153,250, an increase of 5.7% over the previous year, Robert Half reported.

Database Manager

Database managers should have experience in IT management and extensive knowledge of database technology. They may oversee other database professionals, and plan and communicate strategic initiatives. Typical job duties can include:

  • Providing support and training for staff, and making personnel decisions and work assignments
  • Overseeing hardware and software upgrades, platform upgrades, data migration and other improvements
  • Securing databases by developing policies, procedures and controls
  • Collaborating with other departments to ensure usability and applicability of databases

Database managers may be responsible for data maintenance, management and design, as well as for promoting process improvement. They should be creative and analytical, with strong attention to detail and technical understanding.

The 2016 Salary Guide by Robert Half lists average starting salaries ranging from $118,000 to $170,500 for database managers nationally.

Data Architect

Data architects are generally required to have extensive experience in data systems, analysis, migration tools, integration and database design. They should be adept at performance management, network management and application architecture. Job duties may include:

  • Maintaining databases by determining structural requirements
  • Creating database architecture, data repository design and data design models
  • Translating business requirements into database solutions
  • Establishing and documenting data standards
  • Maintaining database integrity and planning for cyberattacks and natural disasters

These IT professionals may also be expected to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of data modeling and database design.

Data architects in the United States are expected to have average starting salaries ranging from $127,250 to $175,500 in 2016, according to Robert Half projections.  

Data Modeler

Data modelers develop enterprise data models to meet an organization’s information systems needs and business requirements. This position may call for candidates to have knowledge and experience in areas such as: data modeling tools, such as ER Studio and PowerDesigner; database design; data governance; and database systems applications.

Average starting salaries for data modelers in 2016 will range from $106,750 to $155,500, the Robert Half Salary Guide noted. Daily duties for data modelers may include:

  • Designing data flow models based on organizational requirements
  • Maintaining data quality and ensuring understanding of data among various stakeholders

Data Warehouse Analyst

Data warehouse analysts generally research and analyze stored data in order to meet organizational needs. They should have knowledge of software and hardware, relational database and query concepts, and data warehousing regulations. These professionals examine databases to determine which data is critical to the company, and design processes for its storage and retrieval.

Other duties may include:

  • Cataloging data inconsistencies and recommending corrective measures
  • Collaborating with business analysts, data architects and other stakeholders across an organization
  • Synchronizing data across multiple applications or systems

The Robert Half Salary Guide projects average starting salaries ranging from $105,000 to $152,000 for data warehouse analysts in 2016. That represents an increase of 4.9% over the previous year’s salary range.

Data Security Analyst

In order to guard against the growing threat from hackers and other unauthorized intruders, data security analysts must have knowledge of an array of cybersecurity and information assurance tools, including encryption, firewalls and other protocols. The rapidly changing nature of cyber threats means these professionals must regularly update their knowledge of regulations and technological advances.

On a typical day, a data security analyst may:

  • Conduct risk assessments and analyze existing security protocols
  • Investigate cyber intrusions and recommend information security enhancements
  • Develop policies to ensure the protection of organizational data

In 2016, data security analysts will have average starting salaries ranging from $113,500 to $160,000, an increase of 7.1% over the 2015 range, according to the Robert Half Salary Guide.

Analysts may enhance their options for career advancement in the data security field by attaining a master’s degree in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity. The Robert Half report also notes that professional credentials, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), may give candidates an advantage in the marketplace.


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