How Much Does a Database Administrator Earn Yearly?
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A database administrator is the guardian of data. They work with organizations who use database systems to catalog and store information, helping them secure and manage these collections.
Highly logical in their approach to data organization, they specialize in maintaining database systems to make retrieving needed data fast and easy. They are also unfazed by massive amounts of data, expertly breaking them into manageable blocks to make them easier to maintain and to minimize the impact large datasets can have on computer systems.
A database administrator has a wide range of responsibilities. Their primary function is to ensure stored data does not become corrupted by misuse, automation, or storage media errors. It is also their responsibility to grant access to the information through user administration and regular database maintenance.
Database administrators are intimate with the structure and function of the database and capable of building a query or designing the report to make it usable to a non-technical partner. Their common responsibilities include:
A database administrator grants access to specific information, securing the data against theft from an outside intruder. To do this, they assign and maintain roles that allow users to read or write data, modify the database structure, or set up automation within the database. The higher the level of access granted, the greater the risk of losing data, so knowing how to strike a balance between data accessibility and risk is crucial.
Databases need archiving through regular backups. Database administrators perform this task with the help of automation or manual exports of information. If the data within the database becomes corrupt for any reason, database administrators inspect the errors and determine the best course of action to correct or minimize loss. Restoring data may require rerunning a process from a different data warehouse, manipulating the content within the backup copy to match table requirements, or manually importing the missing records.
Database administrators monitor the functionality and performance of the database using different administrative tools. These tools can identify what services and queries are running that might slow down database performance or damage the data stored within.
Database administrators inspect the structure of the database to improve storage capacity by designing improvements to reduce redundant information through relational tables. They also purge outdated records from the database or tables should these become incompatible due to database design or functionality changes.
Database administrators continuously look for ways to improve performance through structural updates to make storage efficient and speed up data-retrieval queries. This function may include installing updates to the software interacting with the database or merging old tables into new table schemes. Database administrators are also responsible for testing updates, most often in a test environment.
Most databases provide data to specific applications. The database administrator must be an expert in these software programs and their relationship to the database. The database administrator inspects the performance of an application server and performs software updates as required.
Database administrators identify requirements for clients, servers, and networking hardware as they relate to data access. Some roles require them to perform system maintenance and setup hardware. More often, database administrators troubleshoot data access issues through server-side operations. However, they may occasionally work client-side, such as with problems caused by client hardware or software incompatibilities.
End users or data analysts perform data-mining operations. These users may receive support from a database administrator’s visual mapping of tables and any provided technical documentation. Database administrators assist in building information access and retrieval queries for the unique structure of each database.
Database administration is a highly specialized role within the information technology field that focuses on the function and upkeep of data warehouses.
By contrast, system administrators have much broader roles centered around ensuring the function of servers and workstations, configuring network connections, and performing maintenance on operating systems. System administrators frequently work on the hardware required to maintain an information or database system, whereas database administrators usually focus only on the database software.
Both system administrators and database administrators have a working knowledge of the setup and function of a database, but the latter’s role is to be the resident expert on the database server. Database administrators have a higher level of access to a database than a system administrator to protect the integrity of the data.
Database architects deal with the development side of working with a database. They work with software programmers to build a database from scratch and ensure it functions correctly. A database administrator, on the other hand, focus on maintaining the database in production environments, making sure it operates without errors. The administrator also manages access to the database.
Database administrators can work in almost any industry, but their largest employers are data-driven companies. Organizations that utilize large amounts of data to operate, such as retail, government, and education, need database administrators.
Most database admins work full-time within an organization, but there is a growing demand for contract and freelance workers. Many database administrators manage their databases remotely, but this depends on the network setup of the employer.
A degree in data management often encompasses a variety of technical topics. This technical focus provides students with a well-rounded understanding of database administration and information technology. This is not a complete list, but topics can include the following:
Database administration is a specialist role and, as such, generally requires training through a formalized degree program. Most database administrators obtain a four-year undergraduate degree in computer science, data management, or information systems. Degree programs with an emphasis on data management and business analytics are preferred.
With appropriate experience, two-year undergraduate degree programs are sufficient to obtain a role in database administration with some organizations. There are also graduate degree programs available to specialize in business analytics and administration.
Database positions require entry-level experience in business analytics, information systems, or data management. Practical experience is key to the function of a database administrator, so showing proven success in navigating database environments, managing user roles, and practicing security protocols is a must.
There are a variety of database certifications through the major database technologies. Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM DB2 are three major certification programs available. Most certifications require passing an exam and paying a fee. Experience is not required but recommended before taking most exams.
Some certifications are not a single test but rather are an accumulation of many certifications through exams. Certifications are rarely a job requirement, but they are highly sought after in the hiring process. Certification is a way of proving a candidate’s database knowledge.
Online database administration degree programs offer a unique opportunity for adults to work full time and attend college. Institutions with online programs provide a mix of practical experience, theory, and interactive discussions with other students. Most professors with online institutions are also professionals who teach as a second career. They bring real-life experience and advice for providing context to each lesson.
Online degrees for database administration come in two varieties: fully self-paced or short-term structured classes. Fully self-paced programs are ideal for busy professionals looking to complete a degree program when they have the free time to dedicate to studying. The downside to self-paced programs is the required discipline placed on the student.
Students who need structure can attend online universities that offer two five-week classes at a time. The structured program allows students to complete the degree program within the same timespan as a traditional campus program.
There are an extensive series of tools available to the database administrators. Each is customized to the technology platform being utilized. These applications help with designing a database, administering access, extracting and importing data, and building end-users tools to access and manage data. Some tools are specialized for a variety of database platforms while others are specific to a specific brand of technology. A small sample of these includes:
All database roles must have a strong working knowledge of SQL. The general syntax of SQL is common across all platforms of databases with only minor nuisances in functions.
Oracle SQL Developer is designed specifically for an Oracle database. With a graphical user interface, it is the primary tool to interact with data in Oracle, allowing administrators to build queries and manage tables and objects.
End users need a simple way to pull information from a database and update records. Oracle offers two solutions to create an interface and customized output. Oracle Forms creates an interactive interface that allows the user to input and request information. Oracle Reports is a design tool for creating standard database reports and outputs.
Microsoft SQL server refers to a host of server editions geared toward individual business needs. Each version can utilize add-on tools either included in the license or purchased separately. Server Management Studio is the standard software used to configure, manage, and administer the SQL Server.
MySQL is an open source Oracle product. Workbench is the standard graphical user interface used for visually designing and managing a MySQL Server.
Also known as Adaptive Enterprise Server, the Sysbase SQL service is database platform used to create and manage relational databases. Primarily developed for a Unix operating system, it is also compatible with Microsoft Windows.
There are a variety of spreadsheet applications that essentially perform the same functions. A database administrator uses a spreadsheet application to model data and test data formats. For manual imports and exports of data, an administrator uses a CSV-format file. Common applications include Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and IBM Lotus.
Data management is not a single skill, but a collection of skills that round out database administrator’s toolkit. Some competencies are very technical, but others are soft skills to build relationships and influence business leaders. In all roles, there are a standard set of skills every DBA should acquire:
Database administration is a rewarding career path. While pay is important, there are also many other benefits that are conducive to a good work-life balance. These benefits include:
The benefits and compensation are a huge draw for young tech-savvy students. However, all the schooling in the world cannot prepare a person for the drawbacks attached to being a database administrator. It is essential to understand these disadvantages to taking on a database administration role:
Database administration has an above-average rate of job market growth. Projections indicate an 11% increase in demand over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
There are an estimated 119,500 database administration roles in the United States as of 2016. The increase in demand for database administrators is being driven by the increased demand for big data, cloud storage, and the internet of things (IoT). As more companies require data management, more opportunities for outsourced, freelance, and contract database administrators should open as organizations look to hire experts at competitive rates.
Data security requirements will be an important requirement for database administrators as database access shifts to offsite users such as customers, applications, and business partnerships. The median pay for a database administrator in 2016 was $87,200 annually or $41.84 per hour.
Database administration employs skills that are similar to many roles in information technology. These disciplines and knowledge carry over to a variety of positions including:
Developers are the creative minds behind larger software projects. They create and implement overarching plans for software programs that can perform simple tasks up and into complex operating system designs. Roles required familiarity with multiple programming languages, operating systems, and devices.
Web developers, create new functions and processes to enhance websites and mobile applications. They are responsible for maintaining technical requirements such as server functionality, connectivity, and traffic analytics.
Network administrators are responsible for the daily operations of information technology within an organization. This includes monitoring server status and client desktop performance.
The network architect plans and designs all areas of a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). This includes identifying network requirements, putting together estimates, and building business cases for capital purchase related to information technology.