How To Become a Database Administrator

In-depth Look at Starting a Career as a Database Administrator

As data continues to grow and evolve, and more companies move their businesses to the cloud, the need for database administrators grows.

If you have a knack for IT, computers, and data, read on to see whether a career as a database administrator aligns with your goals.

What Is a Database Administrator?

A database administrator (DBA) is responsible for managing a company’s databases and ensuring they are backed up so they can be recovered quickly if there are outages. Generally, DBAs perform all administrative and data-related database work. In larger workplaces, however, DBA responsibilities are broken into separate database jobs. These include:

  • System DBA. This kind of DBA focuses on the technical side of how databases are installed and configured. They apply new versions and fine-tune the operating system.
  • Database architect. Database architects are responsible for designing and implementing new databases. They translate data into the physical database and create backup and recovery strategies.
  • Application DBA. These DBAs work with the design and support of the database. They are likely experts in writing and debugging SQL and can incorporate database requests into applications.
  • Task-oriented DBA. This DBA focuses on specific administrative tasks like backup and recovery of a database.
  • Performance analyst. The performance analyst focuses on monitoring and improving the performance of applications that use the database. These DBAs are experts in SQL coding.
  • Data warehouse administrator. These DBAs focus on supporting and monitoring the data warehouse. They have knowledge in business intelligence tools and ETL skills.
  • Cloud DBA. These DBAs have knowledge in the use of cloud computing and know how to implement databases in the cloud.

What Does a Database Administrator Do?

As mentioned, since there are so many different types of DBAs, the roles and responsibilities in this field vary. In general, they share these common duties:

  • Manage software databases like client records
  • Provide secure access to databases
  • Monitor database performance
  • Manage backup solutions to prevent data loss
  • Create user accounts and permissions
  • Test modifications to database structures
  • Optimize databases with updates and patches
  • Maintain security of database system like with anti-virus programs
  • Identify and troubleshoot issues
  • Merge old databases
  • Plan for future growth and capacity needs

How To Become a Database Administrator

Are you interested in becoming a database administrator? The first step you must take is pursuing the right education. While it is true that some DBAs enter the profession with just a high school diploma and work their way up with relevant experience, most employers strongly prefer DBAs have a bachelor’s degree in IT, computer engineering, computer science, or a similar field.

You many also want to continue your education through training programs or apprenticeships. You may learn a vast amount through on-the-job training when you’re hired, but extra work at an internship can only boost your skillset and knowledge base.

Finally, earning certifications will set you apart from other candidates when applying for database administrator jobs. More about that a little later.

Skills Needed To Become a Database Administrator

Just as you need the right education to become a DBA, you also must possess the right skills and qualities. Let’s go over some of them.

Hard skills. It’s important for DBAs to have working knowledge in a variety of technical operating systems. These include:

  • Database languages and management systems such as SQL, MySQL, SAP, and Oracle
  • Server operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Unix
  • Desktop operating systems such as Windows, MacOS, and Linux
  • Hardware component installation, including motherboard, central processing unit, and random access memory
  • Backup solutions and data restore (like system restore)
  • Cloud-based databases
  • Containerization, like, for example, a software deployment process that bundles software code with an operating system

Soft skills. You may be surprised to learn that DBAs also need to master a variety of soft skills to be successful in their job. These include:

  • Good interpersonal communication
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Critical-thinking skills

Education Required To Become a Database Administrator

As mentioned, it is recommended that DBAs have a bachelor’s degree in a computer- or technology-related field of study.

Excelsior University’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program provides you with the knowledge, skills, applications, and practices you need to make an immediate impact in the information technology field.

Accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET, the online program develops expertise in subjects including software and development, computer systems, database management, network communication, cybersecurity, system administration, human-computer interaction, and project management. Choose between two technical concentrations that prepare you for positions in high-demand job areas within the information technology industry, or pursue the general option that gives you the opportunity to design a study plan that aligns with your career goals.

Database Administrator Certifications

Certifications are always a good idea if you want to grow your skillset and stand out from the crowd. They let potential employers or your current employer know you are willing to keep learning and improving upon your skills.

Some certifications that you can pursue as a DBA are a Microsoft SQL Server Database certification, IBM Certified Database Administrator certification, and the SAP Certified Technology Associate. In partnership with Excelsior, ed2go offers the following certificates for DBAs: Oracle PL/SQL Training, Oracle SQL Training, and Python Data Analysis with Jupyter Lab.

How Much Does a Database Administrator Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, database administrators make on average $101,000 per year. Employment in the field is expected to grow 9 percent from 2021 to 2031, which is faster than other occupations. Furthermore, about 11,500 openings for database administrators are projected each year over the next decade.

Database Administrator Career Path

If you follow the guidelines above, you can be on your way to becoming a database administrator. The important things to remember as you move along your career path are to have excellent troubleshooting skills, great computer knowledge, good logical thinking, and a curiosity and drive to learn.

As you gain experience as a database administrator, you will grow your knowledge in data security, cybersecurity, and cloud computing, and find doors open to other professions. You may have the possibility of moving up to senior database administrator, IT project manager, IT program manager, or other executive-level positions.

If you think becoming a database administrator is in your future, get started by speaking with an Excelsior admissions counselor.