A database administrator (DBA) manages the software used to store valuable company data. Databases hold information on customers, employees, and finances, and decision-makers need to access this so they can make smart choices. Since business success hinges on data nowadays, records must be accurate, and they must be kept safe. Data corruption or trade secrets falling into the wrong hands can spell disaster for companies trying to survive in a make-or-break business climate.
Together with data architects and data analysts, database administrators play a pivotal role in streamlining the flow of company data and securing it. And they are rewarded accordingly -- salaries have been on an upward trajectory, and there’s no sign of that changing.
National Salary Overview
The latest statistics from the Labor Department show database administrators earned a median income of $81,710 in 2015. (Median salary being the middle-point in all salaries, with half earning more than this figure and half taking home less.) This figure is similar to all computer-related occupations in the United States. They had median earnings of $81,430 that year. DBA salaries are more than double the national median for all occupations which stood at $36,200 according to the same report. The highest-earning 10 percent of DBAs banked over $127,080 in 2015 while the lowest-paid took home under $45,460.
Like most occupations, salaries vary regionally. Here’s a sample of twelve median DBA salaries in 2015 according to each state's data.
- New Jersey: $105,450
- D.C.: $99,100
- California: $94,510
- New York: $87,620
- Delaware: $86,480
- National: $84,250
- Georgia: $83,810
- Florida: $81,170
- Ohio: $80,450
- Texas: $79,690
- Houston: $79,350
- Alabama: $61,770
- Wyoming: $64,710
View the latest median wages of a database administrator in your state on the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Earnings by Industry
Database administrators earn according to the industry they work in. Here’s a selection of average salaries across different sectors in 2015:
- The median income for those in computer systems design and related services was $92,690
- The median salary of a DBA in the insurance sector reached $86,380
- Admins working for securities and commodity exchanges banked $114,940
- The median salary of DBAs at elementary and secondary schools was $67,140
- Those working in colleges, universities, and professional schools had a median income of $72,580.
Salaries by Software Expertise
Job search website Indeed.com calculates average incomes of database administrators with different skill sets. Salaries of DBAs reporting to the website average $58,000 as of April 2016. A Postgresql Mysql database administrator makes $87,000 on average, and an Oracle DBA makes $94,000. A lead database administrator earns a median wage of $98,000.
Numbers get higher with the next group of jobs. According to Indeed.com's data, a senior DBA makes just under $100,000, and a senior Oracle DBA makes $102,000. An SQL database administrator in finance makes $112,000 on average, and a senior SQL DBA pockets $153,000.
Salaries by Education
The education of database administrators is on par with other computer occupations as a whole. Here’s how the education qualifications stand for DBAs aged 25 to 44 according to CareerOneStop, a partner of the American Job Center Network:
- 1 percent of DBAs lack a high school education
- 5.3 percent have a high school diploma or equivalent
- 13.8 percent have some college education
- 8.8 percent earned an associate's degree
- 47.3 percent possess a bachelor's degree
- 21.5 percent can possess a master's degree
- 2.4 percent boast a doctoral or professional degree
Skills that maximize earnings potential are Oracle, PL/SQL, Linux, and UNIX.
Outlook to 2024
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 120,000 database administrator positions in the U.S. in 2014. They expect this to increase by 11 percent by 2024 to 133,400 jobs. However, positions in data processing, hosting, and related industries are forecast to grow by 26 percent. It is due to the increasing dependence on cloud computing and database-as-a-service. Positions in the healthcare industry will see strong gains (7 %) as medical records become digitized and databases are required to store patient records.
Database administrators are essential to make data accessible so it can be intelligently analyzed and used to drive companies forward. Heavier demands are being placed on big data, and the amount of data collected by businesses continues to soar. Job growth should remain positive, and DBAs can improve earning potential by developing big data skills.
Updated by Laurence Bradford.