What you need to know
Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access.
Many database administrators work in firms that provide computer design services or in industries that have large databases, such educational institutions and insurance companies. Almost all database administrators work full time.
Some of the things a database administrator might do:
- Ensure that organizational data are secure
- Backup and restore data to prevent data loss
- Identify user needs to create and administer databases
- Ensure that databases operate efficiently and without error
- Make and test modifications to database structure when needed
- Maintain databases and update permissions
- Merge old databases into new ones
- Analytical skills: DBAs must monitor a database system’s performance to determine when action is needed. They must evaluate complex information that comes from a variety of sources.
- Communication skills: Most database administrators work on teams and need to communicate effectively with developers, managers, and other workers.
- Detail oriented: Working with databases requires an understanding of complex systems, in which a minor error can cause major problems. For example, mixing up customers’ credit card information can cause someone to be charged for a purchase he or she didn’t make.
- Problem-solving skills: When database problems arise, administrators must troubleshoot and correct the problems.
The average pay for database administrators in the United States ranges from $54,070 to $155,660 as of May 2021.
The specific pay depends on factors such as level of experience, education and training, geographic location, and specific industry.
Employment of database administrators is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Growth in this occupation will be driven by the increased data needs of companies in all sectors of the economy.
Database-as-a-service, which allows third parties to do database administration online, is becoming more popular. This is expected to increase employment of database administrators at cloud computing firms in the data processing, hosting, and related services industry.
Most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject such as computer science. Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree focusing on data or database management, typically either in computer science, information systems, or information technology.
Database administrators need an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is Structured Query Language, commonly called SQL. Most database systems use some variation of SQL, and a DBA will need to become familiar with whichever programming language the firm uses.