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What Database Administrators Do About this section

Database administrators
Database administrators ensure databases run efficiently.

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.

Duties

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 About this section

Database administrators
Database administrators are often referred to as DBAs.

Database administrators held about 132,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of database administrators were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 16%
Educational services; state, local, and private 9
Management of companies and enterprises 8
Insurance carriers and related activities 6
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 About this section

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

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.

Pay About this section

Database Administrators

Median annual wages, May 2019

Database administrators and architects

$93,750

Computer occupations

$88,240

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for database administrators was $93,750 in May 2019. 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 $51,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $148,060.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for database administrators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Data processing, hosting, and related services $103,930
Insurance carriers and related activities 101,650
Computer systems design and related services 99,310
Management of companies and enterprises 97,610
Educational services; state, local, and private 75,520
Almost all database administrators work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Database Administrators

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Computer occupations

11%

Database administrators and architects

10%

Total, all occupations

4%

 

Employment of database administrators is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth in this occupation will be driven by the increased data needs of companies in nearly all sectors of the economy. Database administrators will be needed to organize data and present them to stakeholders in a user-friendly format.

The increasing popularity of database-as-a-service, which allows third parties to do database administration over the Internet, is expected to increase employment of database administrators at cloud computing firms in the data processing, hosting, and related services industry.

Employment of database administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is also projected to grow. The continued adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses that do not have their own dedicated information technology (IT) departments is expected to increase the employment of database administrators in this industry.

Job Prospects

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, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Database administrators and architects

15-1245 132,500 145,300 10 12,800 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about database administrators, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

IEEE Computer Society

For more information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

Database Administrators

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