Database administrators are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of a company’s databases. They troubleshoot problems, handle security issues, and implement new features as needed. Database administrators typically work for corporations or companies that have large databases. They may also be employed by organizations with significant information technology needs such as hospitals, banks, government agencies, and universities.
The job is rewarding but demanding, requiring long hours and intense concentration. As such, it doesn’t always make sense to pursue this career if you have other obligations outside work. But if you can dedicate yourself fully to your profession without sacrificing your personal life too much, then the prospects are bright indeed!
1. What is a Database Administrator?
Database administrators are responsible for overseeing and maintaining the databases of companies. They must ensure that the company’s data is secure and backed up and monitor the performance of their database. Database Administrators typically work in an office setting Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
A typical day for a database administrator starts by checking emails and performing any necessary tasks such as answering questions or resolving issues. A good day will involve monitoring databases, ensuring they are running smoothly with no problems, backing up important information when needed, testing new features before implementing them publicly, reviewing logs to see if any errors or other abnormalities are occurring on the server, etc., working with developers when building new features into the system, etc.
Each company and department has specific ways of working, and the database administrator works to meet those needs. While most companies do not expect their database administrators to be involved in every project, they will assist where needed, most often with development. Database Administrators may also train new employees on how to use existing features or software and teach them best practices for using the database to ensure it is always performing well.
2. The Job of a Database Administrator
The following is a list of the typical responsibilities and duties that a database administrator may have:
- A database administrator is a technical expert responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining a database.
- Database administrators make networks more efficient by ensuring that the data is organized and accessible.
- Database administrators are responsible for optimizing network bandwidth, managing systems licenses, backing up data, recovering from disasters, and monitoring operations.
- Database administrators may also need to write scripts in a programming language such as C, C++, or Java to automate tasks. In addition, because a large amount of data is generated by the average company, database administrators often must design software to mine data and pull out meaningful information.
- A person in this profession needs to know how to troubleshoot databases on servers under their charge. Database administrators must configure hardware and software while analyzing defects reported by end-users. They also need to be able to train new IT staff.
- Database administrators may need to understand the basics of SQL and have knowledge of new database management systems such as Microsoft’s SQL and IBM’s DB2 Express-C. They must know how to configure these systems, what available tools, and when they should be used. Database administrators may need to know how to set up user permissions and configure firewalls.
- Database administrators must keep their knowledge of the industry current by participating in webinars, participating in professional organizations, and attending conferences. Finally, because this profession requires an expert to manage the network’s data storage, backups, and disaster recovery plans, a database administrator must communicate well with systems or network engineers and project managers.
- Database administrators need an understanding of hardware, operating systems, and Internet technologies. Good communication skills are vital because they report to technical and business staff. Taking the initiative is essential since no two days are ever the same.
- Database administrators work in almost every industry, including finance, telecommunications, health care, and entertainment.
3. What is the Education Requirement for this Career?
A database administrator is a type of IT professional who manages the databases used by an organization. Database administrators often have many years of experience in information technology and typically hold at least one degree from an accredited college or university.
To become a database administrator, you need to have experience in database design and development and experience in managing and administering databases. It would be best if you also had a strong understanding of business and information technology concepts.
To become a database administrator, one needs to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in computer science, information systems, or a related field. Some colleges and universities offer an undergraduate degree in database administration which may be beneficial for those looking to start a career as a database administrator. An associate degree is not sufficient for this position. In addition to a degree, certification in database administration is also beneficial. You can show your potential employer that you are committed to the field by earning your certification in addition to your degree and gaining experience in one or more types of databases and business data systems. Employment growth in the computer and information technology fields is projected to be good through 2020, providing opportunities for those interested in this profession.
Successful candidates for this position must also be proficient in SQL (Structured Query Language), Microsoft Access, and Excel, among other skills. Computer science degrees or related coursework may help employers recognize your qualifications independently.
4. Courses One Can Pursue to Become a Database Administrator
- Introduction to Database Administration
This course is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to install, configure, manage and administer database servers. These topics will be covered: objective of course; database server types; database installation; configuring the database; data storage management; managing users and security; backup procedures; performance monitoring and tuning; monitoring for high availability; implementing disaster recovery; installing/configuring reporting databases (OLAP); and implementing replication.
- Database Administration with Oracle 12c
This course introduces Oracle’s current database releases by covering the Oracle 12c platform. Students will learn about data management in the cloud, set up a database, tune performance, and maintain high availability.
- Introduction to Database Administration with Microsoft SQL Server 2014
This course will provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to install, configure, manage and administer databases using Microsoft SQL Server 2014. Topics covered include: managing users and schemas; creating databases; deploying and updating data integration solutions; implementing security and auditing; and configuring high availability, disaster recovery, and performance.
The course also provides an understanding of how Microsoft SQL Server 2014 works with other technologies in a data solution, including Transact-SQL programming language; XML support; Resource Governor; Analysis Services for reporting and data mining; Integration Services for ETL, bulk copying, and data movement; and Reporting Services for reports, dashboards and data queries.
- Introduction to Database Administration with MySQL 5
This course introduces database administration with the open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) MySQL 5. Students will learn about MySQL architecture; creating databases; defining tables; working with data; managing users and permissions; designing data integrity; importing data; testing and deploying databases; monitoring server performance; implementing high availability, security, and disaster recovery; executing queries; and tuning the DBMS.
5. What are Some Opportunities that Come with This Career Path?
Database administration is a great career path for those who enjoy working with databases and data. The opportunities for this career are vast, as there are many different types of jobs you can do as a database administrator. These jobs include: Database Administrator, the DBA Analyst, Data Warehouse Developer, Business Intelligence Analyst, and Database Specialist, to name a few.
To start your journey in becoming a database administrator, you will need certifications like Oracle Certified Professional (OCP), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), or the Java Certified Enterprise Developer (JCD). Once you have these certifications, it’s time to find an employer! The average salary for someone in this field is around $90k-$120k per year, depending on experience and location.
These opportunities come with the job of a database administrator:
- Flexible Hours and Location– As a database administrator, you usually work in an office or cubicle. You will follow standard business hours, but you may also work at home, on the road, or in other settings.
- Rewards and Recognition– A career as a database administrator is highly respected and rewarded for your hard work and expertise with databases. You can expect to be admired and respected by your co-workers and management.
- Opportunities to Network– Having a career as a database administrator means you will meet various people from different backgrounds who have a wide range of knowledge. You will have many opportunities to network with these individuals, leading to new friendships or even business relationships down the road.
- Job Security– Having a job as a database administrator means you will always be needed, and there is no such thing as having too many database administrators in one company. Employees who work with data are highly valued employees. It would be tough for your employer to lose your skills due to outsourcing or automating them because of this skill’s irreplaceability.
- High Pay and Benefits– Because of the high demand for people in this field and the irreplaceable nature of their skills, those who work as database administrators can expect to earn generous salaries and benefits packages.
- Professional Growth– It is effortless to grow within the career path of database administration. There are always new opportunities for growth and development in this field, leading to other career possibilities down the road, such as becoming a data analyst or taking on the role of Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
- High Demand– Because of how crucial data is to businesses today, there will always be high demand for database administrators. This means that this career path will always have job openings to apply for, and you will never be out of work due to a lack of demand!
6. How Much do Database Administrators Make?
Database administrator salaries vary greatly based on experience level and location; however, generally speaking, most database admins make between $30-45 per hour with an average salary of around $40 per hour. The top 10% of earners in this field make well over six figures annually, while the bottom 10% may only bring home about $25k or less. Keep in mind that the lower-end salaries maybe for those just starting as a standard deviation isn’t as great.
While many factors influence salary, one of the most important is location. For example, companies located in major cities like New York and San Francisco generally pay much higher than those based elsewhere. Also, demand and competition play a significant role in determining how much database admins are paid.
Type of experience is another factor to consider when determining salary expectations. Those who have less than three years’ experience generally start out earning between $30-35k. The same applies to those three to six years, who usually make between $40-50k. For DBAs in the seven to a ten-year category, annual salaries generally range from about $55k-$85k. In comparison, professionals in this field with eleven or more years under their belts may earn anywhere between $65k and $120k.
7. Why Should you Pursue this Career Even If It’s Demanding and Long Hours?
To be a successful database administrator, you need to have a passion for the job and an understanding of all aspects of this field. The best DBAs are those who know how to use databases and understand the system on which they’re being run. It takes years of training and experience to become a DBA, so if you’re looking for high-paying jobs with few hours, then this career probably isn’t for you. Database Administrators work long hours and weekends to keep up with their duties; however, the rewards associated with this career are worth it!
8. Best Colleges to Study Database Administration
Many colleges offer degrees in database administration. Some of the best include:
- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Stanford University
- The State University of New York at Albany
- The Boston College
- California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
- The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
- Carnegie Mellon University
Database administrators are in high demand because of the irreplaceability of their skills. The field is also appealing to those who enjoy working long hours and weekends, as it offers a lucrative salary with few hours. For anyone interested in this career path, be aware that there will always be job openings for DBAs due to the high demand for data analysts. To succeed as a database administrator requires passion and an understanding of databases- which can take years of training or experience before you’re qualified enough to work on your own. However, if you have these qualities, then becoming one may lead to other opportunities down the road, such as being promoted into another role or even founding your own business!