Database Administrator

database administrator

Table of Contents

Overview

Job Responsibilities

  • Installing and upgrading of server software
  • Designing backup and recovery process of database in case of data loss
  • Ensuring database efficiency and consistency
  • Evaluating database capacity
  • Doing test modifications to database structure when needed
  • Providing technical support and resolution on database errors
  • Implementing regular server maintenance
  • Managing and overseeing the user access for data security
  • Monitoring database performance and running tune-ups for optimization

How Much Does a Database Administrator Make?

Database Administrators made a median salary of $90,780 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $138,320 that year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $50,340.

database administrator median salary

Common Requirements

  •  Complete a Bachelor’s degree in an Information- or Computer-related field such as Computer Science or IT.
  •  Understanding of data languages such as SQL.
  •   Certification from software vendors or vendor-neutral certification providers. 

Similar Careers

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer Network Architects

Computer Programmers

Computer Support Specialists

Computer Systems Analysts

Information Security Analysts

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Operations Research Analysts

Software Developers

Wed Developers

Common Skills

SQL

Powershell

Linux

MySQL

Microsoft SQL Server Oracle 11g

IBM

DB2

Sybase

Analytical skills

Communication skills

MEDIAN SALARY

$90,780 per year
$43.31 per hour

JOB OUTLOOK

9%

NUMBER OF JOBS

116,900

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Database Administrator

With all of the latest innovations in this digital age, every company has since then utilized at least one into their processes from time to time. The blessings of technological progression have made different businesses delve into the modern practices to incorporate them with their goals of a boosted productivity. The absolute increase in the usage of computers, technologies, and various software has made them call for the need of people who will handle the management and security of all of the data they need. This is where the database administrators come to the scene. They will be the one manning the database to ensure these technologies coordinate well with how companies want their systems to function.

As data increases every day, the need for database administrators definitely expands. To be a successful database administrator, one should have a genuine passion for technology as the field is fast-moving and highly dynamic.

What Does a Database Administrator Do?

Database administrators or DBAs make sure that a company’s database function properly and users can easily utilize the information from the database. Companies rely on them to install software and manage their respective database systems. DBAs manage, back up and maintain the database for the purpose of operational efficiency. They also serve as the main keepers of the data to secure it from any unauthorized access.

A database administrator’s duties may include:

  • Installing and upgrading of server software
  • Designing backup and recovery process of database in case of data loss
  • Ensuring database efficiency and consistency
  • Evaluating database capacity
  • Doing test modifications to database structure when needed
  • Providing technical support and resolution on database errors
  • Implementing a regular server maintenance
  • Managing and overseeing the user access for data security
  • Monitoring database performance and running tune-ups for optimization

Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Database Administrator

You have a knack for the latest technological innovations.

Database administrators’ best friend is technology. It is what makes them tick. And if you are one of those people who can’t stand being left out when a new technology hits the market, then you are a good fit to be a DBA.

With the ever fast-changing world of technology, it is an essential trait of a DBA to dive deep into the new things and learn how to efficiently incorporate these in his job. They are hungry for new knowledge of the latest innovations because if they don’t, they will be left stagnant at their current systems and miss out on new ideas that will benefit their processes.

You are excellent at troubleshooting.

Having assigned to the technical aspects of the companies’ systems, database administrators must possess top-notch troubleshooting skills. They are expected to deliver these skills any time of the day in time of need. So if you enjoy performing troubleshooting, you will certainly fall for being a database administrator.

You are a natural problem solver.

Do you have a penchant for solving problems? If you are a person who is always up for a challenge, being a database administrator might suit you. Often, they are required to fully utilize their analytical skills in designing resolutions in times of need. There may be times that they are consulted about problems that may be out of their grasp, but they will be more than happy to jump right in and propose a solution.

You have keen attention to details.

What makes database administrators successful is their strong attention to details—however big or small they could be. Double checking and triple checking tasks are innate to them. They anticipate errors ahead of time and ensure a scheme is already planned out just in case the unexpected comes. Since their job is highly critical for the company, they should own up the initiative to make sure the database functions properly through their systematic monitoring.

You are a good decision maker.

Database administrators make significant decisions on processes they undertake. They are assigned to be in charge of the tasks and often treated as a leader of the team. It is essential for them to swiftly weigh in things according to what will work best. Understanding of the whole scope of the situation will help them produce logical decisions.

You can keep your composure under any circumstances.

Being on the lead with technical aspects of the database, pressure is a regular cause of one’s internal disorganization. If you can keep calm when things go chaotic, you are a perfect fit for becoming a database administrator. Faced with the huge task of ensuring everything works fine, a gigantic load of responsibility is weighing on DBAs’ shoulders. It’s up to them on how they are going to take it, but succumbing to pressure doesn’t have a place in their job definitely.

You have good communication skills

Good communication skills are a prerequisite for outstanding database administrators. They have the role of communicating with the higher-ups when reporting any issues regarding their tasks. On the other hand, they also have a role to pass down any important announcement or information to anyone who has access to the database. Often, they serve as the go-to person when there are technical difficulties in the system, so being approachable and able to share information clearly are a must to them.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Being A Database Administrator

When it comes to deciding which profession to pursue, it will always come down to one’s preference. But the exciting perks of being a DBA can be enough to convince someone on becoming one.

Here are some reasons to help you decide why you should be DBA:

Increasing job opportunities

With the growing data needs of companies in all sectors, someone will always have to administer and maintain those data.  Things are looking up for aspiring DBAs as employment is projected to shoot up by 9% from 2018 to 2028 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is faster than the average for all other professions.

Competitive salary and advancement opportunities

Being a DBA is a highly rewarding profession. It is even ranked fifth in US News’ Best Technology Jobs of 2019. The median annual wage for DBAs in 2018 was $90,070 and the job offers growth opportunities and wage is increasing.

Job Security

If you are worried about possible employment lay-off, being a DBA can guarantee you a security of your job. As DBAs are highly elemental in the processes of companies, they cannot be replaced easily. Once proven with the expertise and strong skill sets, companies wouldn’t even think of letting you slip out of their hands. You can demand job security because of your value in the organization.

A challenging role to fill

Intellectuals like DBAs take pleasure in working on highly analytical tasks rather than repetitively tedious jobs. They like to be challenged on intricate problems as they are born with innate problem-solving abilities. Critical thinking is a major requirement for the job—you can expect to get a thrilling experience as a DBA.

Opportunity for remote work

Working in an office-based setting might be stressful for a DBA as the work is highly demanding. Instances like database failure, system glitches, and always on-call responsibility are some of the reasons why a DBA can easily be put in distress. But the nagging stress can be avoided through Remote DBA Services. Some companies offer remote employment which is convenient for any DBA who wants to manage his time effectively without having to sacrifice his career.

database administrator

How Do You Become a Database Administrator?

1. Complete a Bachelor’s degree in any computer-related programs.

Most database administrators have completed a bachelor’s degree in any computer-related programs that concentrate on computer information systems and database management such as computer science and information technology. The 4-year educational background gives the edge of knowledge with the essentials of being a DBA. It covers the topics of data structure, database systems, database structure, database management systems, and data security.

Additionally, a master’s degree concentrating on database management displays a great chance of getting hired as a DBA.

2. Do an internship.

It is a great step towards becoming a DBA as you will be faced with real-world examples and situations of how the job works. It will boost your knowledge and increase your skills that are going to be vital on the job. It is also a good time to find mentors and connections who will be there to guide and help you along the way for possible employment in the future.

3. Choose your specialization.

There are a lot of disciplines included in managing a database, thus, specialization of a single scope may be a good choice for an aspiring DBA. As the job requires extensive knowledge in troubleshooting, database setup and monitoring, database design, database security, data migration, database efficiency evaluation and a whole lot more, DBAs should take into consideration if they are going to get involved on everything or master a few specific specializations.

Aside from being a general database administrator, a DBA can specialize in the following disciplines:

    • Database Architect

A database architect is in charge of the overall design and execution of database systems. He identifies the user and business needs in order to plot the best database structure that would work for the business.

A database architect’s duties may include the following tasks:

      • Designing and implementing the structure of the database system
      • Identifying the database needs of the business to plan out the proper management and development of the system
      • Implementing checkups of database components such as software, hardware and network to monitor any inefficiency
      • Disposing of unusable data to make space for the new ones
      • Developing new database applications
      • Keeping database backups in case of data loss
    • System DBA

A System DBA is concentrated on the administrative tasks such as installing and maintaining the database servers. He has a background in the system structure and the responsibility for the maintenance of the physical and technical features of the system.

A system DBA’s duties may include the following tasks:

      • Installing of the server software
      • Preparing backups for recovery processes in case of data loss
      • Maintaining security of the database from any unauthorized access
      • Performing regular configuration and modification updates on the database systems
      • Fixing technical bugs to ensure the efficient functioning of the system
    • Application DBA

An Application DBA is concentrated in using programming languages in order to debug any issues with the database. He oversees the applications being used are properly coordinated with the system to achieve maximum productivity.

An Application DBA’s duties may include the following tasks:

      • Prioritizing the database design and developments
      • Ensuring optimization of application programs with the database
      • Using programming languages to fix any issues with the database
      • Verifying the processes of installment, fixtures, patch, backup, implementation and maintenance are all functioning well
      • Performing tune-ups of the current database they are working on
    • Performance Analyst

A performance analyst concentrates on the overall performance of the database. He is responsible in monitoring and resolving bottlenecks that affect the database performance. He should be knowledgeable in technical aspects of advanced database ideas.

A performance analyst’s duties may include the following tasks:

      • Overseeing bottlenecks and creating solution to overcome the effects on performance
      • Handling tune-up activities to improve database performance
      • Analyzing the structure and design to identify the efficiency of the database.

4. Get certification from software vendors.

It is a must for DBAs to undergo training and finally get certified from their chosen software vendor. A certification will be granted after passing a series of tests and requirements. This will support their strong knowledge and background on the software being specialized. A lot of companies require their DBAs to be certified to ensure the competency of the DBA hired.

database

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Database Administrator?

Database Design

Knowing the database structure is the very foundation of data management. You should be able to identify the needed data to be stored, the overall structure of the data, and the optimization processes in order to fully ensure an efficient database. You should be able to conceptualize and design an efficient database from the given specifications and data.

Knowledge in System Infrastructure

It is requisite to know the components involved in managing database which include the networks, computer architecture and processors, storage, and application server operation for a better understanding of how to execute important processes.

Database backup and recovery

Implementing a backup and recovery procedure is every DBA’s responsibility in case of any unforeseen database errors occurs. This is a mandatory step to ensure a continuous productivity and integrity of the database.

Performance tune-ups and management

It is a DBA’s sole responsibility to implement performance tune-ups when faced with any technical problems of the database. You are in charge of monitoring of the system to identify the needed changes in data structure, SQL, application processes or any factor that will improve performance.

SQL knowledge

Extensive knowledge in SQL is another mandatory skill of being a DBA. Structured Query Language or SQL is used to communicate with a database. Having said that, you must be proficient in it as it is used in basically everything that concerns the database. It is utilized to perform updates, do patches and fixes, and retrieve data.  It is the standard language for Relational Database Management Systems or RDBMS which include Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2.

Guaranteed Data Integrity

Data integrity is the assurance of a consistent and accurate data performance through systematic maintenance. It is a crucial role in taking the task of a DBA as it requires immense warranty that all data recorded are kept unchanged during storage in the database.

Data Security

Ensuring the database is only accessible by authorized users is one of the required commitments of a DBA. You should be able to design a security routine that would hold together the safety of all the data from any unforeseen threats. 

Below is a list of the top 50 Universities that excel in the field of Computer Science & Information Systems according to QS World University Rankings:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • University of California, Berkeley (UCB)
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Oxford
  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Washington
  • Columbia University
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Cornell University
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
  • Yale University
  • University of Michigan
  • Boston University
  • Duke University
  • Purdue University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Brown University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Arizona State University
  • Michigan State University
  • Northeastern University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Rice University
  • Stony Brook University, State University of New York
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Indiana University Bloomington
  • The University of Arizona

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database administrator

How to Get a Job as a Database Administrator

Becoming a DBA is not an easy task. The role is highly analytical which demands radical thinkers who have proven expertise in the field. To be one is rather demanding as it handles a great number of responsibilities, but it definitely is a fulfilling job. If you really want to pursue a career on this field, we are here to help you out on securing that coveted role.

Find career opportunities online.

With the gift of latest technology, applying for a job is easier through online job portals. It is convenient and practical on both ends of the employers and applicants. Look up your desired job position on these portals and feel free to send out applications to your prospective employers.

You may want to check out job postings on these websites:

Join a career fair.

Career fairs are a great platform to scout for job opportunities. These caravans happen every once in a while on various locations across the country. As these are pre-scheduled, you have an ample time to review the companies and the job openings ahead of time. 

Being well-prepared prior the event, you have the advantage of making a good impression with interviewers.

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

A DBA’s salary is highly competitive among all other professions. A lot of DBAs may have chosen to take this path because of the rewarding compensation which makes sense in all aspects. But a DBA’s median and averages wages vary significantly by state..

Below is a report of the mean annual wages of DBAs in different states across the US dated May 2018 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State2018 Mean Annual Wage
New Jersey$110,160
Washington$100,890
Connecticut$100,570
New York$99,000
Massachusetts$98,620
Virginia$98,090
Illinois$96,230
New Hampshire$95,880
Washington DC$95,710
Texas$95,470
Utah$94,230
Delaware$92,460
Rhode Island$92,410
Oregon$92,150
North Carolina$92,140
Colorado$91,410
Minnesota$91,110
Iowa$90,540
Louisiana$90,420
Hawaii$90,380
Ohio$89,330
Nevada$89,320
Arizona$88,670
Florida$86,870
State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Missouri$86,660
Maryland$85,240
Wisconsin$84,990
Pennsylvania$84,510
Michigan$83,900
Alabama$83,580
Nebraska$82,550
South Carolina$82,500
Kansas$82,430
New Mexico$80,270
Alaska$79,600
Tennessee$78,650
Kentucky$78,310
Vermont$78,150
South Dakota$76,770
Maine$76,540
Mississippi$75,020
Indiana$74,340
Oklahoma$74,110
North Dakota$71,290
Idaho$69,280
Montana$69,270
West Virginia$68,940
Wyoming$59,780

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

Odds are more likely to be in your favor when you have crafted a comprehensive resume that showcases your strong background in the field of database administration. A well-polished resume that highlights your scope of specialization, educational background and accomplishments will help you leave a remarkable impression with potential employers. 

Make sure to include the following information on your resume for higher chance of getting hired as a DBA:

1. Software certifications

Certifications play a big role in landing a job as a DBA. Employers would prefer hiring someone who has relevant knowledge and experience in the current software they are using. So list down all of the certifications you have earned from software distributors to make sure that you are in line with the company’s current operational systems.

Here are some major database certifications you can include in your list:

    • IBM Certified Database Administrator (DB2 11.1 (Linux, UNIX and Windows)
    • MTA Database
    • MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014
    • MCSA: SQL 2016 BI Development
    • MCSA: SQL 2016Database Administration
    • MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development
    • MCSE: Data Management and Analytics
    • Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator
    • Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.6 Developer
    • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate (OCA 12c)
    • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional (OCP 12c)
    • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Master Certification (OCM 12c)
    • Oracle Database 12c Maximum Availability Certified Master
    • Oracle Database 12c R2 Administration Certified Associate (OCA 12c R2)
    • Oracle Database 12c R2 Administration Certified Professional (OCP 12c R2) upgrade
    • SAP Certified Technology Associate – SAP HANA (Edition 2016)
    • PostgreSQL Associate
    • PostgreSQL Professional

2. Timeline of  solid working experience 

A good timeline of working experience as an IT professional displays a strong picture of how responsible and knowledgeable you are as an employee. In reverse chronological order, list down all the companies, software, operational systems and other relevant responsibilities you have handled in the past. A specific rundown of all the details will help you get noteworthy remarks from employers.

3. Accomplishments from previous work experience

Now’s your time to impress the hiring manager by listing down some of the milestones you have achieved from your past works. A list of accomplishments could match your potential company’s goals and needs which will set you apart from all other candidates. You can include the tasks you have handled and quantify your previous responsibilities.

4. Educational background

Always include your educational history in your resume. Aside from the academic years, you can also include the trainings attended that furthered your knowledge and skills in your expertise. While a master’s degree will help you jump ahead, it is an optional route to take for DBAs.

5. Affiliations and references

Since you already have established a career in the field, it is expected that you have made a few connections. You can include organizations and people who can attest to your IT competency. Listing them down will look good on your resume to demonstrate a reliable and strong set of credentials.

Ace Your Database Administrator Interview

Even with proven years of experience in the field, interview will always be a prerequisite on securing a job. No matter how long you have worked, there is no excuse for not having an interview. Some may feel anxious about having a face-to-face meeting, but you have to remember that this is a great opportunity to discuss your abilities and skill sets that are valuable to potential employers. So as much as you can, prepare for the assessment and make sure you present yourself well.

Have these pointers in mind when getting ready for your most awaited interview to eliminate any blunders:

1. Work up answers for possible questions thrown at you.

Aside from the common interview questions, be ready for technical questions that could be thrown your way. These are some of the technical questions you must watch out for:

    • What types of databases have you worked with? 

This question is asked to initially know your knowledge and experience with managing a database. The employer wants to know if your expertise match the needs of the company. As every company uses a variety of database versions, it is important to find the person who can handle their existing database with mastery.

To answer this, just enumerate all of the database versions you have worked on. Remember to be honest and just mention those you are confidently proficient with. You can support your answers by sharing the duration of work you had and giving a brief overview of related tasks with it.

    • What is the highest number of database servers you have handled?

If the company you are applying for deals with huge amounts of data, they will need someone who has proven practice with managing such amount. If you have handled a great number of database servers in the past, you won’t have any problem answering this particular question. But if you are the one who has to prove yet your expertise, worry not because you still can convince them to take a chance on you.

You just have to share the size of the company you worked for. From there, continue by telling how many servers were utilized and what types were they. As long as they can gauge that you are confident enough to handle a bigger load, they will definitely consider you for the job.

    • How would you handle data loos during a migration?

This question wants to know your capability to handle stress-inducing circumstances such as this. They want to see your strategy to overcome such distressing situation.

Remember that as a database administrator, you always have to possess a level-headed attitude. Come up with an answer that would show the steps you’d take in order to get everything under control. These circumstances happen every once and a while so acknowledge it as if it is a foreseen situation. You can share your past experience with similar troubles and describe how you dealt with it.

    • What’s your method of troubleshooting database issues?

A database administrator, you will be performing troubleshooting quite often. You are also tasked to find issues before they even arise, so someone who has an eye for detail is highly needed.

On this question, be able to share your process on addressing technical difficulties. The employers want to look into how you digest everything that’s served on your plate. Talk about the past difficulties you have encountered and share the steps you took to get the resolution. Also, acknowledge your willingness to put the available resources into use when troubleshooting.

2. Consider talking about things that cannot be found on your resume.

Discussing what’s already written on your resume will be repetitive and a waste of time for the interviewer. Rather than focusing on what the interviewer may already know about you, shed light on things that are not in your resume such as your interests, trainings, details about your provided skill sets, or anything that will display your high regard for the role. This will help the interviewer gauge your personality as a person and your genuine interest in the IT field.

3. Be able to highlight the skill sets that match the job description.

Prior to the interview, do a research of the company overview to know what kind of business they engage in. From there, you should be able to match your own skill sets with what the job demands. Emphasize your knowledge and expertise to amplify your given credentials.

4. Support your knowledge and skills with examples.

Listing down your skills and abilities may not be enough for employees to see how good you are, some may ask you to elaborate them. Ensure that you can provide supporting situations that would verify those niches.

5. Ask questions about the role.

Employers always ask if you have a question regarding the application to measure your eagerness to get the job. Prepare a few questions that concern the company and some issues that confuse you. This way, you are not only letting the company know you are invested in knowing them, you are also obtaining information on how you can get around with the tasks.

6. Present yourself well.

Lastly, keep in mind that physical attributes may also affect your application so be sure that you are put together on the day of the interview. Dress appropriately and behave well during the evaluation. Embody an approachable character and make sure that your body language doesn’t contradict your message.

With all these in mind, we can guarantee that you are just a few steps away from securing that coveted role of a database administrator. On top of your credentials, all you need to instill is a sound mind and confident disposition to make you get ahead among everyone else.

Top Online Courses for Aspiring Database Administrators

Sharpen your skills in database administration by taking these top online courses

To help any aspiring database administrator get started, here are some of  the top online courses he can take up on his own.

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