Database Administrator Job Description

Salary: $54,200 – $95,200 Number of Jobs: 120,350
Hourly Rate: $26.08 – $45.76 Employment Outlook: Good
Green Job: No Education: Bachelor’s degree

What do Database Administrators do?

Database administrators (often called DBAs) are responsible for keeping an organization’s databases running smoothly and efficiently.

Some organizations operate many different databases, each with their own purpose. Before building a new database, DBAs have to understand how it will be used so they can construct it in an optimum way. Depending on the nature of the project, they may also need to meet with software developers to understand how the software will interact with the database before they can start planning its development.

Because many databases handle highly sensitive data like financial records and social security numbers, database security is extremely important. Some organizations employ dedicated information security analysts, but others rely on their DBAs to ensure that their data remains secure from unauthorized access.

An organization’s data is extremely valuable, and DBAs typically put many safeguards in place to ensure that data can be restored in the event of a database failure. Making regular database backups and developing restoration procedures are common responsibilities for people in this occupation.

In small organizations, DBAs are often responsible for all of the organization’s data needs. In large organizations, they are normally much more specialized. Here are two of the most common specializations:

System DBAs are responsible for the technical aspects of a database. Installing upgrades and patching fixes are duties that system DBAs might fill.

Application DBAs support databases that are designed for a specific program application. They often write and debug the parts of programs that interact with the database.

Work Environment and Schedule

Since so many companies rely on data to keep their business running smoothly, database administrators work in virtually every industry imaginable. Financial companies, computer systems design firms, insurance companies, healthcare providers, and large websites provide many opportunities for employment to people in this occupation.

Most DBAs work full time, and overtime is very common. Businesses need their databases to be fully operational at all times, meaning that DBAs can be called on at any time of the day or night to correct a problem that’s negatively impacting business.

Just about everyone in a company relies on databases in some way. In a retail store, stock clerks need the databases to be up and running at all times so they can keep track of inventory. Data analysts need to be able to access their data at all times, so they can help their organization make smart business decisions. It’s remarkable how much we’ve come to rely on databases. And while that does mean that database administrators have a strong career outlook, it also means that there can be a lot of stress associated with this occupation.

Since so many people rely on databases to do their jobs effectively, a problem with a database can lead to a huge loss in productivity. In some cases, people can’t do their jobs at all if a database is down. If databases go down (and they always do at some point), this can be an extremely stressful occupation. People can be angry and very demanding, so good database administrators need to be able to keep a cool head while they diagnose and fix the problem. Good communication skills are very important, and can help reduce stress for all parties.

How to Become a Database Administrator

Most database administrators have at least a bachelor’s degree in a computer related subject such as computer science or information systems. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a Master’s of Business Administration, which requires about two years of additional education after earning a bachelor’s degree.

Since this is an advanced position, very few people start their career working as a database administrator. Instead, most start out working in a related occupation like a software developer, database developer, or a data analyst. These types of positions provide experience working with databases, and with time, can prepare you for a career as a database administrator.

Database administrators use database languages to interact with databases. Most databases use SQL (or a variant), but there are others in use as well. These languages allow DBAs to query the database, construct new tables, perform backups, and do any other action on the database. A strong command of these languages is required, though the specific language you need to know will vary depending on the type of database a particular employer uses.

There are many free tutorials available online that teach the basics of SQL. There are also classes available at community and technical colleges that provide a good introduction to database languages.

Employment Outlook

There are currently 120,350 database administrators in the United States, with 4,440 new database administrator job openings created each year.

Database Administrator jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.

Database Administrator Salaries

Salaries by State

Overall Salaries

Database Administrator salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most database administrators make between $54,200 – $95,200 per year, or $26.08 – $45.76 per hour.

Updated: 09/02/2017