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What is a Database Administrator?

March 31, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Nearly all companies depend on data for business and policy decisions, and they place a high value on anyone who can hold up large databases securely. This is where database administrators come in. These professionals work with technology and use specialized software to store and organize data. The data can include a wide range of information from confidential financial numbers to customer shipping records.

For candidates planning to go this route, they must know that the job requires top-notch expertise to handle the roles and responsibilities. Database administrators work within organizations to determine the most effective and efficient ways to gather, process, and store data. Some of these responsibilities involve managing database structure, configuring database servers, and backing up data to minimize unintended loss.

Some common database administrator roles include data administrator, database administrator, and SQL database administrator. These roles of database administrators often involve working alongside other data analysts. This way, they can ensure that the right people can access information within the database.

Becoming a database administrator requires you to have a bachelor’s degree. The degree can be in computer engineering, management information systems, or computer science. Having a master’s degree focusing on database management is an added advantage.

Besides the educational requirements, there are skills that candidates must have, including understanding disaster recovery and backup procedures, extensive knowledge of database theory and structure, and understanding reporting tools. Database administrators should also have great interpersonal skills, pay attention to detail, and remain adaptable to change.

What Does A Database Administrator Do?

A database administrator’s job is one of the most vital roles in the chain of IT processes. Since nearly all businesses are data-driven, ensuring security and integrity is a high-priority task for every company. Database administration is one of the roles that sits at the top of every business’s priority list. More companies are dependent on data for their business and policy decisions, and they place a high value on anyone who can hold up large databases securely. There are numerous opportunities in this field, and the salaries you can earn is a sure-fire reason to pursue a database administration career. 

The Roles and Responsibilities of Database Administrators

The primary job of database administrators is to ensure that data is available and protected from loss and corruption. They also ensure that data is easily accessible as required. Below are the key responsibilities that make up the everyday work of a database administrator. 

  • Software Installation and Maintenance: A database administrator is tasked with the initial installation and configuration of a new database. They install database software and configure it for use. A database administrator also handles on-going maintenance because updates and patches are needed regularly. 
  • Data Extraction, Transformation, and Loading: Database administrators handle the tasks related to data extraction, transformation, and loading. These things involve competently importing large volumes of data extracted from various systems into a data warehouse. They clean up the external data to ensure it fits the desired format then import it into a central repository.
  • Specialized Data Handling: Modern databases are often massive and contain unstructured data types. These include documents, images, and video files. Database administrators use their high-level skills combined with extensive monitoring and tuning to sustain efficiency. 
  • Database Backup and Recovery: Database administrators decide on data backup and recovery methods. For companies with large databases, they might fail when least expected. Therefore, a database administrator takes backup for the database regularly. They also decide how much and how often data needs backing up.
  • Performance Monitoring: A database administrator is tasked with database performance monitoring as part of regular system maintenance. If a part of the system isn’t working as expected, a DBA will need to make configuration changes to the software or add hardware capacity.  

What Is a Database Management System?

A database management system is a software used to store and retrieve user’s data while considering appropriate security measures. The system consists of multiple programs that manipulate the database. It makes it easy for end-users to create, read, update, and delete data in a database. It is the most predominant type of data management platform that serves as an interface between databases and application programs or end-users. It ensures that data is regularly organized and that it remains easily accessible. 

Top Functions of Database Management System

The functions of database management system include:

  • Organizing Data: Organizing data depends on the specification of the data definition language. A database administrator introduces the specifications when establishing the database.
  • Integrating Data: A database management system is used to collect, combine, and return available data to the user. 
  • Separating Data: A DBMS serves as the filter between application programs and the associated data. It separates logic from output/input logic needed to block/unblock data, follow links or chains, calculate addresses, and select data elements. 
  • Controlling Data: Database management systems appear as extensions of the operating system software. It receives data and controls how and where it is physically stored. 
  • Protecting Data: Database management systems also protect data from physical damage, access by unauthorized users, and operating system failure. They secure and protect the contents of a database and the relationship of data elements.

Databases are powerful tools used in all areas of computing, including computer science. Database administration is a skill required to organize and control data using query languages. These administrators work in the computer design industry, management, education, and insurance. Database professionals also work in the telecommunications, software publishing, banking, and credit industries.

Are you contemplating becoming a database administrator? Well, there are numerous benefits you can reap from a career in database administration. Job security is one of the things we cannot overlook. This field is expanding significantly, and no company can deny the importance of data in their operations. Database administration is going to stay around in the spotlight for the next decade and beyond. We cannot ignore the salary advantage, either. The average salary for database administrators is between $98,000 and $148,000. 

Requirements to Be A Database Administrator

If you are contemplating working with data, pursuing a database administration career would be the best bet. As a database administrator, you are tasked with managing the storage, maintenance, access, and security of data, which can include financial information and customer records. In this post, we will learn the requirements to become a database administrator.

Degrees Required for Database Administrators

Knowledgeable and savvy database professionals are always in demand. To become a database administrator at the entry level, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information science. Depending on the company’s complexity and size, you may also need a master’s degree in information technology or database administration. With the rapidly advancing technology, you will also need to keep up with your training and education.

Certifications for a Database Administrator

In this section, we’ll cover some of the best and most in-demand certifications for anyone working with databases. These include database developers and database administrators. Some of the certifications you can add as a database administrator include:

  • IBM Certified Database Administrator: The IBM certification has been around for more than three decades. It encompasses tens of individual credentials and is defined as an intermediate credential addressing basic SQL, routine administration, and the creation of databases and database objects. It also involves server management, security, availability, and monitoring. The certification program requires candidates to pass two exams.
  • Oracle Certified Professional: All certifications under Oracle are under the auspices of Oracle University. Candidates who want to pursue an Oracle MySQL certification have two options. They can choose MySQL developer or MySQL Database Administration. The Oracle certification recognizes candidates who can optimize, install, and monitor MySQL Server. Professionals should also be able to configure an application, apply security, and validate database backups. The program requires each candidate to pass one exam. Oracle also recommends training and practice experience before taking the exam.  
  • Microsoft SQL Server Database Certifications: SQL Servers offers a wide range of tools and add-ons for data warehousing, business intelligence, and data-driven applications, which is why Microsoft offers database credentials at each level of its certification program. Microsoft has changed its certification program to become more centered on the skills needed to succeed in technology jobs. There are now four job tracks in the certification program. These include administrators, developers, functional consultants, and solution architects.

Essential Database Administrator Skills

Besides educational qualifications and industry certifications, there are various skills that a database administrator should have. Becoming a proficient business administrator cannot occur overnight. You will need to develop some proficiencies over time. These include:

  • Excellent Problem-Solving Skills: Troubleshooting accounts for a significant part of a database administrator’s role. These professionals are often tasked with handling cybersecurity, data integrity, and backup to prevent data loss and mitigate database malfunction. Therefore, when presented with a problem, the professional should think through the potential causes and eliminate them logically by tailoring the best possible solutions.
  • Organizational Skills: Poorly organized data can slow access, which can lead to decreased productivity. By contrast, data that is well-organized is easier for users to access, leading to better database performance. Therefore, a database administrator should have superb organizational skills to help structure backup, recovery, and procedures to positively impact the database. This way, organizations can avoid financial losses and downtime. 
  • Excellent Communication Skills: A database administrator will be required to explain complex ideas. Therefore, they should be able to do so in clear and precise terms. Also, they are expected to work as a team and should have well-developed interpersonal skills. This way, they can communicate effectively with developers, managers, and other staff members.
  • Logical Thinking: Database administrators should be able to recall technical facts concerning different systems and platforms, including adding new disks on a Linux server, how to increase table size in a SQL Server database, and more. Besides, technology is ever-changing. The hunger and ability to keep learning help database administrators to stay at par.

Picking a course to study in the university or college is a significant decision. The decision affects your future career path opportunities. If you are gravitating toward a major in computer science, you should start preparing for a career in database administration. Database administration is one of the top-paying jobs and has numerous job opportunities. Securing a great position as a database administrator requires college education at multiple levels, professional certification, and relevant work experience for your example resume. In return, the job is very fulfilling.

Qualities of A Good Database Administrator

The days of manual file- and record-keeping are all gone and replaced with a more unified information processing and access. Both organizations, governmental or private, depend on virtual data processing and storage, making accessing the data faster, flexible and secure.

The demand of having the company and customers’ information more accessible and unified means there must be professionals tasked with creating, storing, and ensuring that all this information is secure. These professionals are the database administrators. They ensure safe and accurate development and usage of a computerized database within a vast range of private and public sector organizations.

Database administration generally involves everything to do with managing data and making it available to the right person or group and at the right time. It also involves securing the organizational data from any unauthorized access. As a DBA, you may need to use specialized software to design, write, and securely store data so that only the right person can access it at the right time.

What Are the Roles of a Database Administrator?

The roles of a database designer may vary from one organization to the next. However, General database administrators must ensure that data analysts and other authorized users can swiftly use the database and extract the information they need. They also need to ensure that systems perform the right way and all data is secure since some of the information in the database is often very delicate.

If you’re operating oracle DBA, you may sometimes need to oversee the creation of new databases, determine their needs, and who will be using them. Similarly, your duties may also extend to monitoring the performance of the database and conducting performance-tuning support. 

What Qualities Should You Have as A Database Administrator?

Database administration is a bit vast and requires a well-rounded person to succeed in all the vital areas. You will be handling a lot of critical customers and organizational information. As a result, you must be accurate and have good analytical skills.

You must also understand database language, for instance, Structured Query Language, which is the most common language used. It would help if you even understood what SQL server and their operations are. Besides that, you’ll also need some core personal skills. These include:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills– DBAs work as a team with other database developers, managers, analysts, and other workers. Therefore, it’s important to build healthy working relationships and hold effective communication with others.
  • Detailoriented– Your job will require an understanding of intricate systems, and a minor error from your side can lead to major problems. You, therefore, need to be exclusively attentive and thorough in your job.
  • Analytical skills– You must be able to evaluate complex information coming from various sources. Similarly, you must have the ability to monitor the database system’s performance and determine when to take a new action.
  • Problem-solving– You must be capable of properly diagnosing and correcting problems arising with the database.
  • Logical thinking– As a DBA, you’ll use software to make sense of information, arrange, and organize it into meaningful forms. This information is what is then stored in the database managed, tested, and maintained by workers. 

How Do You Know If You Have The Right Qualities For Database Administration?

Are you sure whether your skills make you eligible for the database administration job? Well, the possibilities are numerous, and many indicators may qualify you for a DBA job. These indicators largely depend on your educational qualifications and previous work experiences. Let’s see how each relates.

Education

Most DBA professionals working for mid-sized organizations join the job industry with a bachelor’s degree or a higher national degree in any subject. However, qualifying in a relevant discipline such as software engineering or computer science can give you an edge over the other applicants.

On the other hand, firms handling large databases mostly require employees with a master’s degree emphasizing data or database management such as information systems, computer science, or information technology.

Work

In some organizations, it’s necessary to have previous work experience in a relevant field. It could be working as a software developer, data entry, or any related field. You can gain this experience through technology- or information technology-related placements or summer internships.

Similarly, a graduate with no relevant experience or qualifications may also be suitable if you have a postgraduate qualification in information technology, computing, or operational research.

How Do You Know If Database Administration Is A Good Fit for Your Qualities and Skills?

By now, it should be obvious if you have the skills and qualifications relevant to the job. Now, to tell whether you’re fit for a DBA job, you should check for these traits and qualities:

  • Be familiar with computer operating system
  • Be familiar with database technology (including software, design, and structure)
  • Splendid thinking and organizational skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail

If you feel you have all it takes to pursue a career in database administration and have a passion for keeping and organizing data, waste no more time. The job outlook for this industry projects to 10% increase between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than average for many occupations. It’s also one of the best-paying professions.

Career Path Options for Database Administrators

A course’s marketability is always a major concern for both parents and students aspiring to study in the industry. If you’re here, you probably have the same concerns. You want to know if you stand any chance for a career opportunity with your database administration degree or if the course is worth your time and investments.

Database administrator jobs are estimated to increase by 10% between 2019 and 2029. That’s faster than the average growth in other occupations, and it shows that the demand for DBAs will most likely increase, making the industry marketable.  

Why Should You Consider A Career Path in Database Administration?

If you have good organizational, thinking, and analytical skills, you may consider a DBA career. It’s much better if you are interested in the creation, management, and manipulation of data. The advantages are numerous, considering that DBAs do not focus on a single industry since their services are essential in very many fields. If you qualify, you may land a job at:

  • Government institutions
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Computer-related companies
  • Physician offices
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Non-governmental organizations, and many more.

Similarly, the industry has a promising job-growth in the future. With a projected 10% increase in the next decade, you can be sure to land employment after your studies. Will Roberts III, executive and co-owner of WeWorked.com, and a veteran IT consultant for different commercial entities, confirmed that he started working the next day after graduation and has never been jobless.

Lastly, DBA promises a higher earning scope. The average pay for a database administrator was $93,750 annually in 2019. This figure is projected to grow up to over $100,000 annually if you advance in qualifications and experience.

How Do You Begin A Career in Database Administration?

Landing a job as a database manager requires both hard and soft skills. Therefore, the first step is to earn the relevant degree, gain experience, and obtain mandatory certifications for the job.

While starting, you may not necessarily begin at the database administrator position. You can start as a database developer and later grow into the higher ranks. Many jobs will accept an associate’s degree at the entry-level. However, most IT-related positions will only take you with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, database administration, computer science, or other related fields. 

If you need more advanced jobs, like managerial positions, you may need to pursue a master’s degree. Many institutions offer both BA and BS in database administration, and it’s helpful to understand the merits of each program and the specifications of the job at hand to make the right decision on BA versus BS.

IT jobs greatly rely on hard skills than soft skills. As a result, you must demonstrate your previous success to your employer in a similar or related field before you get the job consideration. 

While the requisite hard skills may differ with an entry-level, you should portray DBA and reporting skills, Oracle DBA, SQL server, IBMDB2, SAP Sybase ASE, cloud storage, and Altibase.

What Career Paths Stem from Database Administration?

Database administration courses provide students with foundational knowledge and skills that are useful in numerous computer science and information technology-related careers. Although the US Bureau of Labor Statistics data indicates that most database administrators end up in computer systems design, they still have many employment opportunities across several fields. Some of the database professionals include, but not limited to:

  • Computer programmer
  • Software developer
  • Computer network architect
  • Computer system analyst
  • Chief information officer

Are you still wondering if you should pursue a career in database administration? Well, business leaders and marketers are discovering ways to gather more information from their consumers, especially through online venues. The trend of harvesting and manipulating more data is predicted to grow and continue for a long time. Database administrators will be the main beneficiaries of this trend and its major advantages.

In Summary

Pursuing a database administration course is one of the best career paths to follow. The job has low-stress levels, a great work-life balance, and concrete opportunities for career growth. The demand for database administrators is also high, with employment expected to grow by 10% before 2029.

There are qualities that you should possess to reap the benefits of a database administration career. Since you will be privy to different company secrets, you have to be trustworthy. You have to protect the data and ensure that anyone who needs access has it.

Honesty on substantial issues is the only option. You should always do what is expected of you and do it transparently. Great time management should also not be overlooked. It means focusing on what is important and using all possible means to extend your capacity to work. This way, you can develop a reputation beyond reproach.

Database administrators should be familiar with all the data needs for a company. A background in database management systems is essential for all database professionals. Advanced database skills are necessary for operating Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle products, and IBM DB2.

Most job openings need an undergraduate degree. Thus, it could be the best way to begin your career in database administration. A degree in information technology is perhaps the most appropriate course of study. Pursuing various courses in database administration will make your transcripts attractive to employers.

With the high demand for database administrators, you need exemplary skills, and you can prove this by earning industry certifications. Whatever career path you decide to take, ensure you understand what you want to do. It will help you make informed decisions.

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