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 solid demand for information technology (IT) professionals with this specialized expertise. A bachelor’s degree in computer information systems (CIS) can be the foundation for a database administrator career.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of database administrators will increase by 15% through the decade ending in 2022, faster than the average for all occupations nationwide. Job growth will occur as companies across sectors seek to manage increasingly large amounts of data and protect their databases from cyber attacks.
In particular, employment of database administrators is expected to increase in the computer systems design and related services industry due to an increased use of third-party database administration, which could lead to greater employment at cloud computing firms. Employment growth should also occur in the healthcare industry as more patient information is stored in electronic medical records.
Database administrator career prospects are likely to be brighter for individuals with a computer-related degree and relevant certification.
What Does a Database Administrator Do?
Database administrators are responsible for the security, integrity and performance of a database. They ensure that data remains consistent across the database and is clearly defined so that it can be presented to analysts and stakeholders. In addition, these professionals are involved in the planning and development of the database, data security and recovery control.
Among other responsibilities, database administrators may:
- Build, maintain, administer and support databases
- Keep data secure by managing access, privileges and information migration
- Install and configure database management software, translate database design and diagnose database performance issues
- Install software upgrades, manage hardware upgrades and maintain computer servers
- Develop backup and recovery strategies
- Monitor servers to ensure capacity is not exceeded
- Help devise network strategies, test systems and develop system standards
- Evaluate new tools and technologies, analyze user needs and present findings to management
- Approve the purchase of new database products and services, as well as schedule, plan and supervise their installation and testing
- Provide users with training on new database software and systems
Database administrators work in the public and private sectors as full-time employees or as consultants to organizations. Some database administrators may work from home or other remote locations.
The starting salaries for database administrators in the United States ranged from $91,000 to $134,750 a year, according to the 2015 Salary Guide by Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing company. That’s an increase of 5.7% over the 2014 starting salary range.
As with employment opportunities, salary ranges are influenced by economic market conditions, and a candidate’s job history and level of educational attainment.
Education and Training
A database administrator career may require candidates to have an MBA with a specialization in Information Technology Management or a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Database Administration.
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.
Graduates of a computer information systems program are expected to be able to:
- Demonstrate advanced technical and programming skills
- Apply proven principles of theory and design to build and manage a database
- Implement best practices in information technology management
- Determine significant features, advantages and disadvantages of various database systems
Some database administrator positions may require candidates to have an MBA with a specialization in Information Technology Management or a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Database Administration.
Are You Well-Suited to a Database Administrator Career?
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 multitasking and problem-solving skills, as well as keen attention to detail.
Employers will likely seek candidates with knowledge of major database languages and applications, such as Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2 and Oracle. Candidates should also have a solid background in database structure, configuration, installation and practice.
If you possess these qualities, a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems may provide the foundation for a rewarding database administrator career.