What child hasn’t dreamed of becoming a database administrator? Well, almost all of them, to be honest. But many kids enjoy solving mysteries. And fortunately, getting to the bottom of technical puzzles is an important part of being a database administrator (DBA).
“It’s not the data that drew me in,” wrote DBA Art Kagel on Quora. “It was the mystery and the chase inherent in tracking down performance problems.”
Let’s take a closer look at a job that offers more rewards and excitement than you might think. We’ll explore how much database administrators make while also addressing:
Database administrators and architects manage the systems that store and secure data. They make data available to authorized users and protect it from unauthorized users.
“Businesses today generate huge volumes of data,” Codecademy reports. “Much of this data can be good to use, with data science allowing companies to discover patterns and trends to better understand and serve their customers. But, before data can be analyzed, it first needs to be organized.”
Responsibilities of database administrators include:
TechRepublic notes that an average day for a DBA may include:
Todd Boss sprinkled a bit of fairy dust on database administrator work in the Quora thread quoted above: “Working as a DBA is kind of like solving daily puzzles that are abstract and difficult to solve, even to experienced IT professionals. Why did this query behave poorly? What switch can I flip in the configuration settings to suddenly make things go faster?… These are tough challenging problems. If you get them right, you look like a magician.”
DBAs work in finance, insurance, transportation, retail sales, education, government, and many other fields, earning healthy salaries in the process. A scan of DBA job openings on Indeed showed a wide range of openings, including at:
“Typically the additional income from a master’s degree over a lifetime is worth the sticker price you pay for it.” (
A master’s in computer science can open countless doors from coast to coast. It will expand your knowledge and can help you advance your career, opening doors to management and leadership roles and increasing your earning potential. Jobs are plentiful around the country in a wide variety of industries, from healthcare to finance, entertainment to manufacturing.
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An analytical mind and a knack for problem solving provide a strong foundation for a career in database administration. You’ll need a college education and expertise in database languages like SQL. Different organizations use different programming languages, so you may need to learn a new ones from time to time.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists these key DBA skills:
Other important skills include technological expertise, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration.
Most DBA jobs require a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, engineering, or a related field. Many database administrators hold a master’s degree in such fields as information management, database information, or information technology.
Universities offering degrees that prepare you for a DBA career include:
Certifications and licenses can also enhance your skill set and make you more appealing to potential employers. Indeed recently offered a “Guide to 14 Unique Database Administrator Certifications” that includes:
The job outlook for database administrators is solid for the foreseeable future. The BLS projects nine percent growth in database administrator and architect jobs from 2021 to 2031, a rate faster than the national average for all occupations. The agency predicts about 11,500 openings for database administrators and architects each year during that period.
Reddit user mam66666 warns that it might not be possible to get an entry-level DBA position: “My advice to you is to get a job as a software developer at a large company because it will be relatively easy for you to transition into database administration when the opportunity arises.”
By most accounts, database administrators draw average salaries in the high five-figure range. Indeed puts the average salary for a database administrator at $90,000, with a range from $61,000 to $133,000. Glassdoor puts the average at $85,000, with a “most likely” range from $68,000 to $107,000.
The highest figures come from the BLS, which indicates a median annual income for database administrators of $96,700 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent of DBAs earned less than $48,880, while the highest-paying jobs yielded more than $151,400 annually. For database architects, the BLS indicated a median annual income of $123,430 in May 2021.
You won’t have to look far to find a university offering an online degree that will provide a solid basis for a database administrator career. For example:
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