What Does a Database Administrator Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
Database administrators (DBAs) are employees who work with technology, using specialized types of software to store and organize a company's data. This could include a variety of information, from confidential financial numbers, to payroll data, to customer shipping records. A DBA makes sure that data is available to users, and that it's kept secure from unauthorized access or accidental loss or corruption.
Database Administrator Duties & Responsibilities
Database administrators (DBAs) have a variety of duties and tasks, such as the following:
- Responsibility for the evaluation of database software purchases
- Supervision of modifications to any existing database software to meet the needs of their employer
- Responsibility for maintaining the integrity and performance of company databases
- Must guarantee that data is stored securely and optimally
- Informing end users of changes in databases and train them to utilize systems
- Ensuring the security of company data
A DBA's skills and technical expertise are desirable to many organizations, with the highest demand being in data-intensive organizations like insurance, finance, and content providers.
Database Administrator Salary
A database administrator's salary varies based on the area of expertise, level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors.
- Median Annual Salary: $90,070 ($43.3 /hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $138,320 ($66.5/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $50,340 ($24.2/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
Education, Training & Certification
A DBA must have a minimum of a four-year college degree in a related field and relevant experience, as follows:
- Education: A bachelor's degree in information technology or computer science
- Certifications: Advanced education and certifications are required to work as a database administrator. Obtaining a certification specializing in various database management systems is not required, but very helpful.
- Experience: Many employers require three to five years of database experience, in addition to educational requirements.
Database Administrator Skills & Competencies
Here's a list of database administrator skills that employers seek in candidates for employment. Skills will vary based on the job for which you're applying:
- Analytical skills: DBAs must monitor the database performance and evaluate complex information coming from a variety of sources.
- Communication skills: Most DBAs work on teams and must communicate effectively with managers, developers, and other workers.
- Detail oriented: Working with a database requires the administrator to have an understanding of complex systems, and how a minor error can cause major problems. For example, if customer credit card information gets mixed up, it can cause people to be charged for purchases they didn’t make.
- Problem-solving skills: When problems come up, administrators must troubleshoot them and resolve the problems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for database administrators are expected to grow by 11% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the 7% expected average growth for all occupations.
Demand has been driven by the trend for decision making in most organizations to become progressively more data-driven. The expansion of cloud computing as a storage option for organizations has also supported increased demand for database experts. Demand is projected to increase by 20% in the computer systems design and related services industry from 2016 to 2026.
Some DBAs work to manage databases for retail companies that use them to keep track of their customers’ credit card and shipping details. Other DBAs work for companies such as healthcare businesses and manage systems containing patients’ medical records.
The vast majority of database administrators work full time.
How to Get the Job
FIND AN INTERNSHIP Get guidance by working with an experienced database administrator. You can find internships through your school's career center or online job search sites.
PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS
Brush up your resume to highlight relevant skills and previous experience. Prepare a cover letter to send with your resume using this DBA cover letter example.
APPLY Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. You can also visit company websites directly to locate job openings, and attend industry events to meet potential hiring managers.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in a database administrator career also consider the following career paths, listed with their median annual salaries:
- Computer network architect: $109,020
- Computer programmer: $84,280
- Computer & information systems manager: $142,530