Database management is a vital element of every business organization. Businesses depend largely on properly managed data to understand their competitors, customers, and product requirements. As such, there will always be a demand for specialists with the requisite skills to handle databases. These specialists are widely known as database administrators (DBAs).
With the importance attached to the roles of database administrators in organizations, plus the growing job availability as supported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many people are looking for ways to get into the database administrator role. If you’re interested in becoming a database administrator, this post will help you uncover how to become one, the skills you need, and what the role of a database administrator entails.
What Does a Database Administrator Do?
Generally, DBAs are experts that organize, store, and manage databases in organizations. In other words, they work with other teams in an organization to collate data and ensure data can be accessed by other teams who need it to work.
Although there are notable common responsibilities expected of a database administrator, these responsibilities depend primarily on specific workplace demands and experience. In some organizations, depending on the expertise of the database administrators, they are also expected to provide some layers of protection to ward off unauthorized access to the organization’s critical data.
In addition, depending on the workplace, what a database administrator does revolves around the responsibilities highlighted below:
- Create and manage database backup to ensure data can be easily retrieved in a data loss situation.
- Ensure there is no unauthorized access to the database.
- Double-check every data entered into the database to ensure accuracy.
- Create different access levels on the database for different use cases.
- Modify data in the databases to reflect organizational needs when necessary.
- Handle the installation and upgrading of the database server when needed.
- Ensure the database’s physical requirements, such as disk space and memory use, are expertly allocated.
- Handle data optimization and migration using the tools approved by the organization.
Database Administrator Requirements
Becoming a database administrator demands some level of education and skill set. In many organizations, DBAs must possess at least a bachelor’s degree in information management or computer science to be given a chance to take the role. However, for bigger organizational settings, they may also need to have a master’s degree in information security, data science, and/or database administration.
In addition to these degrees, some baseline skills and certifications are required to function adequately as a database administrator.
Database Administrator Certifications
- IBM Certified Database Administrator — DB2: IBM certifications are recognized by almost any organization in the world. To earn this certification, you must complete the modules provided and pass two exams set by the body.
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA): This certification is powered by Microsoft and can be a requirement for organizations looking for DBAs who can lead and manage their database. You are expected to pass two exams to earn this certification.
- Oracle Certified Professional — Oracle 9i Database Administrator (OCP): Oracle also ranks among the top providers of data administrator certifications. You can find the reading materials for this certification on their site, learn at your pace, and pass the certification exam to be a certified Oracle 9i Database Administrator.
- Developing Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014 Databases: This is a Microsoft certification for DBA professionals with some degree of skills. This certification is most suitable for database administrators aiming to up their games in the field.
- IBM Certified Database Associate — DB2 9 Fundamentals: This is an entry-level DBA certification. You are expected to have basic knowledge of database management or hands-on experience in database management to enroll. There is a written or oral exam that you must pass to earn the certification.
Technical Database Administrator Skills
SQL, or Standard Query Language, is one of the on-demand skills for the database administrator role. This skill helps you understand object-oriented concepts and how to manage multiple datasets with Transact-SQL. Also, with this skill, you should be able to demonstrate the knowledge of database languages such as Oracle database, Microsoft SQL, and IBM’s DB2.
A database administrator should be able to make an analytical representation of datasets, clean up datasets, and authenticate data entered in the database. This skill involves collating, inspecting, tabulating, and providing insights into data contained in the database using analytical tools.
Database administrators should be able to demonstrate a technical understanding of multiple operating systems. The Linux operating system enables DBAs to gain deeper control of computer systems and is required as a skill for most database administrator roles.
Oracle is a relational database framework that organizes datasets and offers access through SQL. This skill helps DBAs to incorporate information into accessible platforms for businesses and institutions. Like SQL, Oracle is compatible with popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Non-technical Database Administrator Skills
Attention to Detail
Data can only be devoid of errors when database administrators pay close attention to details. A single mistake in the database can ruin an organization’s business fortunes. Hence, attention to detail is an indispensable skill for DBAs.
DBAs should have analytic skills, as their job entails monitoring, sorting, and securing databases. A DBA should be capable of analyzing datasets to know when there are issues that demand urgent attention in the database.
Database administrators do not work in isolation. They function within different teams that often need information from the organization’s database. Hence, DBAs should be able to communicate fluently with the teams around them. As a specialist, they should be able to communicate how data should be accessed and used in succinct terms.
Managing a database is no easy job. There are situations when things could go wrong in the database, requiring the ability to solve problems. Issues such as security breaches, data loss, and database migration from local to cloud storage are common problems DBAs face in their workplace. So, a database administrator must have the ability to pursue the resolution of such problems.
Average Salary for Database Administrators
Database administrators’ salary varies depending on the organization, location, skill level, and years of experience. On average, Indeed pegs a database administrator’s salary at $92,446 annually. Glassdoor’s statistics suggest that in the United States, a database administrator earns about $104,449 with an average salary of $86,604.
Pathways to a Successful Database Administrator Career
Below are steps you could take to become a successful database administrator.
1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
You can start by earning a bachelor’s degree in information management and computer science. These fields will help you grasp the fundamentals and prepare you to adapt to the database administrator’s role.
2. Look for Work Experience
Nothing beats getting some months or years of work experience when you want to be successful in a career. You can start with entry-level work experience in an information management role or any other IT role that will keep you close to data analysts.
3. Learn Key Computer Languages and Operating Systems
In addition to your degrees, try to learn a data-related computer language like SQL and different operating systems. Fortunately, you can learn these skills online from the comfort of your home.
4. Learn Some Computer Programs and Platforms
Computer software programs such as Oracle, Microsoft Access, and UNIX, can give you an edge in the database admin role.
5. Go for Database-Focused Certification
In addition to a degree, experience, and related learning, consider enrolling in one or more database certifications. This can give you an edge when applying to higher-level database admin roles.