Database administrator is one of the 10 most in-demand tech jobs in 2021, according to CIO magazine. The future for these big data specialists looks bright, with growth projected at 8% from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.*
You probably have a lot of questions if you’re considering a career as a database administrator. We talked with Audra Kremer McLaughlin, Career Specialist, Purdue University Global, to answer some frequently asked questions about database administrators.
What Is a Database Administrator?
A database administrator works with systems and specialized software to store and organize large sets of data, such as shipping records and financial information. These specialists ensure that servers remain efficient and operational while they also oversee access, backup, data security, implementation, partitions, replication, and storage.
“Being a database administrator is a great stepping stone to get into some of the more advanced opportunities in a field such as cybersecurity,” McLaughlin says.
What Does a Database Administrator Do?
Database administrators typically have these responsibilities:
- Back up and restore vital data to prevent its loss
- Certify that organizational data are secure
- Confirm that databases operate efficiently and error-free
- Identify user needs to create and administer databases
- Maintain databases and update permissions
- Make and test modifications to database structure when needed
- Merge old databases into new ones
Database administrators make sure that databases contain the information that data analysts and other users need. Some administrators oversee development of new databases and must determine the needs of those who will be using it. They also monitor database performance and support users.
“They might have some other responsibilities,” McLaughlin says, “like migrating data from one system to another. The main thrust of the job is to make sure that the organization's data is available and usable.”
What Is the Job Outlook for a Database Administrator?
The BLS expects employment of database administrators to keep growing through 2030. McLaughlin says the growth is tied to the expansion of big data.
“The data science field as a whole is really growing,” she says. “All organizations are using more data than ever. From credit card information or statistical information, to web browsers and social media companies, many companies are gathering a lot of information.
“The more information out there, the more there is a need for people to manage it.”
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Database Administrator?
McLaughlin says solid technical skills are the most important for database administrators. She said that familiarity with the database programming language SQL is a must, along with skills in database applications such as SQL Server and Oracle.
Apart from the technical skills, data analysts need to be skilled in analysis and reporting. Communication skills are also important for these professionals.
“Database administrators need to be able to present technical information to non-technical audiences” McLaughlin says. “They need to have the people skills necessary to know how to communicate with and speak to the needs of the stakeholders that they're working with.”
Who Would Make a Good Database Administrator?
McLaughlin says someone considering being a database administrator should enjoy problem-solving and should be familiar with “big data” database tools related to machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Among other interests, database administrators typically are interested in:
- Deductive Reasoning—Using a set of rules to solve problems
- Inductive Reasoning—Making general rules or coming up with answers from data
- Information Ordering—Ordering or arranging data
- Oral Comprehension—Listening and understanding other people
- Problem Sensitivity—Being on the lookout for when problems happen
What Certification Is Needed to be a Database Administrator?
Certification validates your knowledge and that you are aware of best practices. Database administrator certification is generally offered directly from software vendors or other providers. Companies may require you to be certified in their data products.†
“Professional certification is helpful, but not necessarily a requirement in all positions,” McLaughlin says.
To learn more about various database administrator certifications, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop site.
Where Do Database Administrators Work?
With the growing use of big data, not only are the number of jobs growing, but so are the places where database administrators can work.
“There is a lot of hiring of database administrators and other data science careers,” McLaughlin says. “There are even opportunities in government organizations and nonprofit organizations, along with the tech sector, education, and management.”
According to the BLS, these are the largest employers of database administrators:
||Percentage of Total Jobs
|Computer systems design and related services
|Educational services; state, local, and private
|Management of companies and enterprises
|Insurance carriers and related activities
|Data processing, hosting, and related services
How to Become a Database Administrator
Database administrators usually start with a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to information or computers, such as computer science. Opportunities can grow with more education in computer specialties.
“Having some professional experience in IT or even something like data entry is helpful for entering into a database administrator role.”
McLaughlin says it’s important to find out what a database administrator job would look like day-to-day to determine whether it’s the right career for you.
“Try out some free online courses to find out if that's something that would align your interests before committing to that career path,” she says. “You should also network with professionals that are already working in the field to ask them about their day-to-day jobs and what skills they would recommend an aspiring database administrator work on developing.”
Get a Degree to Become a Database Administrator
Earning a degree can give you the knowledge you need for database administrator certifications and can help you hone your skills in learning labs. You also may choose to gain real-world experience with an internship.
Purdue University Global offers a few degree plans for those interested in becoming a database administrator.‡ You could pursue a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity, a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management, or a Master of Science in Information Technology.
Reach out today for more information.