Job Profile: Database Administrator

Database administrators are part of their employers’ information technology (IT) teams. The job title of database administrator tends to be a mid-level or senior-level position that requires some related work experience to achieve. Most database administrators begin their careers working as database developers, data analysts, financial analysts, software developers, market research analysts or operations research analysts. Mastery of one of these roles is typical before advancing to the level of database administrator.

This is a job title that does leave room for further career advancement, as database administrators can be promoted to become computer and information systems managers, information technology directors or chief information officers.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, database administrators were earning median annual salaries of $84,950 as of May 2016. The top-paying industry for this occupation is securities and commodities exchanges; database administrators working in this industry were earning mean annual salaries of $114,280 as of May 2016.

Beginning Salary

According to the career website, the average entry-level salary for a database administrator is a bit less than $61,000 per year. According to BLS data, the lowest-paid 10 percent of database administrators earn median annual salaries of $47,300 or less.

Key Responsibilities

Many companies have a need to collect and store data in databases. Database administrators are typically the caretakers of these all-important databases. They are responsible for ensuring that the data remains easily accessible to the people who need it and totally inaccessible to everyone who doesn’t. Depending on the hiring organizations IT structure, they may share responsibility for the database’s security with a cybersecurity specialist, or the database administrator might bear the entire responsibility for network security.

A recent trend is the move towards storing data in a cloud setting; so a database administrator may be tasked with moving data from an older database to the cloud. Some data sets may need to be synced between on-site storage and cloud-based storage, and this responsibility is typically handled by the database administrator. Scheduled database maintenance is also a database administrator’s responsibility.

Necessary Skills

A database administrator is an individual with a unique and specialized skill set.

(S)he needs excellent interpersonal and communication skills; this is because (s)he’ll need to communicate clearly with colleagues across the entire organization, including the management team, developers, IT team and anyone else in the company who routinely needs access to the data contained within the organization’s databases.

Analytical, interpretive and troubleshooting skills are required for understanding whether the database systems in their care are operating at maximum efficiency. The database administrator needs to be able to track down bottlenecks in the system and fix them.

Since it is typical for employers to utilize data retrieval systems from multiple suppliers, organizational ability is crucial. The database administrator must be able to efficiently keep track of which data is stored where and ensure it is all accessible to colleagues in a logical and organized manner.

Experience with Structured Query Language (SQL) is crucial for most database administration jobs. Cloud computing is quickly becoming important as well.

Degree and Education Requirements

A database administrator must typically have a degree to compete successfully for jobs in the current marketplace. There are administrators who hold associate’s degrees in database administration; however, it’s essential to hold a bachelor’s degree to successfully find a job with most organizations. Suitable major courses of study include management information systems (MIS), computer science or database administration.

Some employers require their database administrators to hold graduate-level degrees in fields such as information systems, IT or computer science.

Rewards and Challenges of Becoming a Database Administrator

Rewards — This is a career path that pays generously and offers numerous opportunities for advancement.

Challenges — This is a job that is becoming increasingly complex on a number of different fronts. The move to cloud storage systems is creating additional challenges for database administrators in securing their hiring organizations’ data. The trend towards an application-focused approach is also creating additional complexities that database administrators must learn to deal with.

Because threats to a company’s information systems are always present, database administrators are always on call. This can make it difficult for professionals in this role to achieve a satisfactory level of work-life balance.

Getting Started in Your Career as a Database Administrator

Aside from your education, relevant work experience is the most important thing you’ll need to acquire. If you’re a college student, it would be beneficial to line up summer internships to begin acquiring the work experience, knowledge, industry connections and recommendations you’ll need for success as a database administrator.

After you’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, you may wish to get certified from the vendors whose products you’ll be likeliest to use. Oracle certification is a credential that many employers value. Information security certifications are also valuable to many employers of database administrators in a variety of industries.

Related Resources: 30 Best Online Master’s in Data Science Degree Programs

Future Employment Outlook for Database Administrators

The employment outlook for database administrators is favorable. Analysts at the Bureau of Labor Statistics are predicting an exciting hiring growth rate of 11 percent by the year 2024. The strongest expected growth in this field is likely to be in the computer systems design industry, where BLS analysts are forecasting a spectacular 26 percent increase in the number of available database administration jobs. The healthcare industry is another field where aspiring database administrators are likely to be able to find work. Since medical hospitals are moving to place all their patients’ healthcare records in the cloud and online, new database administrators will be needed to safeguard and organize the data that these records consist of.

If you’re interested in launching a career as a database administrator, now is an excellent time to do it. Unlike certain other computer science vocations like computer programming where demand is decreasing in the USA, there are likely to be ample opportunities available for database administrators to find work and then advance through promotions. You can begin acquiring the credentials you need to become a database administrator with the confidence that the education you’re getting will remain relevant.

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