Database Administration


Quick Facts: Database Administrators
2017 Median Pay $87,020 per year 
$41.84 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 119,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 11% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 13,700

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Database Administration Career, Salary and Education Information

What Database Administrators Do

Database administrators use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access.

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Duties of database administration

Database administrators typically do the following:

  • Ensure that organizational data are secure

  • Back up and restore data to prevent data loss

  • Identify user needs to create and administer databases

  • Ensure that databases operate efficiently and without error

  • Make and test modifications to database structure when needed

  • Maintain databases and update permissions

  • Merge old databases into new ones

Database administrators, often called DBAs, make sure that data analysts and other users can easily use databases to find the information they need and that systems perform as they should. Some DBAs oversee the development of new databases. They have to determine the needs of the database and who will be using it. They often monitor database performance and conduct performance-tuning support.

Many databases contain personal or financial information, making security important. Database administrators often plan security measures, making sure that data are secure from unauthorized access.

Many database administrators are general-purpose DBAs and have all of these duties. However, some DBAs specialize in certain tasks that vary with an organization and its needs. Two common specialties are as follows:

System DBAs are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, such as installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs. They typically have a background in system architecture and ensure that the firm's database management systems work properly.

Application DBAs support a database that has been designed for a specific application or a set of applications, such as customer-service software. Using complex programming languages, they may write or debug programs and must be able to manage the applications that work with the database. They also do all the tasks of a general DBA, but only for their particular application.


Work Environment for Database Administrators

Database administrators hold about 119,500 jobs. The largest employers of database administrators are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services: 16%

Educational services; state, local, and private: 10%

Management of companies and enterprises: 7%

Insurance carriers and related activities: 7%

Data processing, hosting, and related services: 4%

Some DBAs administer databases for retail companies that keep track of their buyers' credit card and shipping information; others work in healthcare settings and manage patients' medical records.

Work Schedules

Almost all database administrators work full time.


How to Become a Database Administrator

Database administrators (DBAs) usually have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject, such as computer science.

Education

Most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject such as computer science. Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree focusing on data or database management, typically either in computer science, information systems, or information technology.

Database administrators need an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is Structured Query Language, commonly called SQL. Most database systems use some variation of SQL, and a DBA will need to become familiar with whichever programming language the firm uses.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is generally offered directly from software vendors or vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and best practices required from DBAs. Companies may require their database administrators to be certified in the products they use.

Advancement

Database administrators can advance to become computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. DBAs must monitor a database system’s performance to determine when action is needed. They must evaluate complex information that comes from a variety of sources.

Communication skills. Most database administrators work on teams and need to communicate effectively with developers, managers, and other workers.

Detail oriented. Working with databases requires an understanding of complex systems, in which a minor error can cause major problems. For example, mixing up customers’ credit card information can cause someone to be charged for a purchase he or she didn’t make.

Problem-solving skills. When database problems arise, administrators must troubleshoot and correct the problems.


salaries for Database Administrators

The median annual wage for database administrators is $84,950. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $47,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,930.

The median annual wages for database administrators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services: $95,570

Management of companies and enterprises: $93,080

Data processing, hosting, and related services: $93,640

Insurance carriers and related activities: $93,380

Educational services; state, local, and private: $72,230

Almost all database administrators work full time.


Job Outlook for Database Administrators

Employment of database administrators (DBAs) is projected to grow 11 percent over the next ten years, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth in this occupation will be driven by the increased data needs of companies in all sectors of the economy. Database administrators will be needed to organize and present data in a way that makes it easy for analysts and other stakeholders to understand.

The increasing popularity of database-as-a-service, which allows database administration to be done by a third party over the Internet, could increase the employment of DBAs at cloud computing firms in the data processing, hosting, and related services industry. Employment of DBAs in this industry is projected to grow 17 percent over the next ten years.

Employment of DBAs in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years. The increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses that do not have their own dedicated information technology (IT) departments could increase the employment of DBAs in establishments in this industry.

Job Prospects for database administrators

Job prospects should be favorable. Database administrators are in high demand, and firms sometimes have difficulty finding qualified workers. Applicants who have experience with the latest technology should have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for Database Administrators, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 119,500

Projected Employment, 2026: 133,200

Change, 2016-2026: +11%, +13,700


Careers Related to database administrators

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers, often called information technology (IT) managers or IT project managers, plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization. They help determine the information technology goals of an organization and are responsible for implementing computer systems to meet those goals.

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers.

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly. They turn the program designs created by software developers and engineers into instructions that a computer can follow.

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations. These specialists either support computer networks or they provide technical assistance directly to computer users.

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts, sometimes called systems architects, study an organization's current computer systems and procedures, and design solutions to help the organization operate more efficiently and effectively. They bring business and information technology (IT) together by understanding the needs and limitations of both.

Financial Analysts

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Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases.

Market Research Analysts

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Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Computer networks are critical parts of almost every organization. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of these networks.

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help organizations investigate complex issues, identify and solve problems, and make better decisions.

Software Developers

Software developers are the creative minds behind computer programs. Some develop the applications that allow people to do specific tasks on a computer or another device. Others develop the underlying systems that run the devices or that control networks.

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site. They are also responsible for the site's technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website's speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Computer and Information Systems ManagersBachelor's degree$139,220
Computer Network ArchitectsBachelor's degree$104,650
Computer ProgrammersBachelor's degree$82,240
Computer Support Specialists$52,810
Computer Systems AnalystsBachelor's degree$88,270
Financial AnalystsBachelor's degree$84,300
Information Security AnalystsBachelor's degree$95,510
Network and Computer Systems AdministratorsBachelor's degree$81,100
Market Research AnalystsBachelor's degree$63,230
Operations Research AnalystsBachelor's degree$81,390
Software DevelopersBachelor's degree$103,560
Web DevelopersAssociate's degree$67,990

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Database Administrators,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm