How to Become a Database Administrator

How to Become a Database Administrator

Essential Education, Skills, and Job Interview Prep

Data has become vital to most companies today. Companies use information and analysis to gain market insight or improve overall performance. To get the most out of their data, they need data administrators.

Database administrators are responsible for analyzing, storing, and organizing a company’s data. As data becomes more important, the demand for database administrators will only grow. If you are looking to launch your career in information systems, read on to find out how to become a database administrator.

What Is a Database Administrator?

A database administrator, also known as a DBA, is a trained systems administrator who maintains databases. A database administrator ensures that data is secure and away from the reach of unauthorized users. They need to be familiar with data tools like SQL and Linux.

Database Administrator Salary and Job Outlook

As the need for data management increases, so does the need for database administrators. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), database administration jobs will grow by 10 percent between now and 2029. Database administrators will have plenty of jobs in the foreseeable future.

In the same report, the BLS says that the average annual salary for database administrators is $93,750. This means that you can earn around $45 per hour. However, salaries and wages vary with location, experience, and industry.


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Entry-Level Database Administrator Job Requirements

To work as an entry-level database administrator, you’ll need a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or Information Technology. However, some employers hire database administrators with an associate degree in any ICT field. Most entry-level jobs require zero to two years of professional experience.

Entry-level database administrators earn more than the national average. According to BLS, the average salary for all professions is $56,310, while Glassdoor reports $88,300 as the average entry-level salary for database administrators. This means that database administration is a lucrative job at any level.

How to Ace Your Database Administrator Job Interview

You will most likely be asked a series of questions during your database administrator job interview. If you want to do well in your interview, you should familiarize yourself with common questions.

Below are some of the questions you should review and practice to ace your data administrator job interview.

Common Database Administrator Job Interview Questions

  • Are you familiar with programming languages and development tools such as SQL?
  • Do you have experience handling external threats? Explain the security measures that you would take to protect our databases from threats.
  • What is the most challenging project you have worked on as a database administrator?
  • Do you understand how backups work?
  • Do you understand stored procedures?
  • Are you familiar with database design? Talk more about normal forms, tables, and primary keys.

What Degree Should I Get to Become a Database Administrator?

To become a database administrator, you should consider earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology or Computer Science. However, some employers accept candidates with associate degrees in computer-related disciplines.

Below is a list of degree options that you should consider if you want to become a database administrator.

Associate Degree in Information Technology

An Associate Degree in Information Technology (IT) is one of the most common options. By the end of this program, you will have learned important concepts such as computer systems security, computer networks, and software development.

Full-time students complete this degree within two years. After graduation, you can pursue jobs in the IT industry as a computer support specialist, network support specialist, web developer, database operations support person, or information manager.

Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science

Most employers hire people who have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. This program will teach you how to use Python and SQL, software engineering, algorithm design, automata, computer hardware, and artificial intelligence.

Most bachelor’s degree programs require four years of full-time study. With a bachelor’s degree in computer science, you can apply for a number of jobs. These include data scientist, web developer, network architect, database administrator, product manager, systems analyst, and software tester, among other positions.

Master’s Degree in Database Administration

An undergraduate degree might not be enough in today’s job market, especially if you want a high-paying job. You should consider going to graduate school and getting a Master’s Degree in Database Administration. This program can extend your knowledge and help you network in the fields.

Master’s graduates can become database administrators, managers, and lead researchers. It will take you about two to three years to complete this program full-time, but it depends on the school.

Management of Information Systems Doctoral Degree

If you want to take your education to the next level, you should get a PhD in Information Systems Management. A program like this can train you to understand the technical aspects of information systems. It can take you between 12 months and three years to complete, depending on the school you choose.

In a PhD program, you can learn more about the economic and social contexts of information technologies. After graduation, you can apply for work as a chief information officer, director of systems developer, chief technology officer, and director of information technology operations.

What Does a Database Administrator Do?

A database administrator uses database software to organize and maintain an organization’s data. However, they perform many tasks to help keep data secure. Below are some of the duties of a database administrator.

Database Backups and Recovery

Data backup and recovery refers to the process of creating copies of sensitive data to prevent data loss. Database administrators are responsible for testing and validating backups. As a data administrator, you will constantly test backups to make sure they can be restored. Doing this can help respond to data disasters.

Database Installation and Configuration

A database administrator is responsible for the installation and configuration of Oracle or Microsoft SQL servers. You should be able to use both of these servers with ease. Database administrators install new servers and sometimes transfer data from one to another.

Performance Analysis and Tuning

Maintaining databases is an essential duty of a database administrator. Performance monitoring helps identify weak areas in the database that need to be changed or reconfigured. In case of any problems, a database administrator must quickly know what to do.

Essential Database Administrator Skills

A database administrator must possess a variety of technical and soft skills. Below are some technical skills that you should have before working as a database administrator.

Knowledge of SQL

SQL is a language designed to operate databases. As a database administrator, you must be a skilled SQL user. Knowledge of SQL will help you to manage and organize data in relational databases.

Knowledge of Database Structures

Database administrators must be able to navigate extensive database structures. You must be able to use database modeling tools to monitor and tune database performance. A database administrator knows these structures better than anyone else.

Disaster Recovery

Performing recovery and creating backups are essential database administrator skills. Your skill set must include the ability to monitor, tune, back up, and secure data to prevent data loss. You should be able to troubleshoot and find a solution to any data problem.

How to Become a Database
Administrator: A Step-by-Step Guide

The best way to succeed in becoming a database administrator is by getting an in-person or online bachelor’s degree. If that is not an option, you should consider learning tools like SQL on your own. There are lots of different ways to become a database administrator, but you should follow this general path if you want to succeed.


Enroll in an Undergraduate Program

Universities and colleges across America offer degrees in computer science. In some cases, you can choose to specialize in database management systems. These four-year programs will teach you essential concepts such as computer system design and database design. Due to COVID-19, you might want to find a top online college so you can learn from home.


Learn SQL and Other Tools

If you want to become a database administrator, you need to have the tools to perform the job. Learning programming languages and development tools will make your workflow easier. For instance, database queries are written and run in SQL. You should research the field and master relevant tools.


Practice and More Practice

The best way to become a network administrator is by learning on the job. Look for entry-level jobs to help you solve network problems and master new technologies. Start by practicing making backups, monitoring, or database design. You can also try looking for an internship in the field.


Earn a Software Vendor Certification

Getting a certification is a great way to prove your knowledge and skills. The job market is highly competitive, and adding certification only makes you more marketable. Most database administrators have the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, IBM Certified Database Administrator, or Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate certifications.


Get Experience and Work

Getting work experience in the IT field is vital to finding more job opportunities with higher salaries. You can apply for an internship program while still in school or seek entry-level work when you graduate. Consider starting as an IT support associate or a computer systems administration assistant.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Database Administrator?

It will take you anywhere between three to five years to become a database administrator. However, it can go quicker if you fast-track your education or gain experience in the field.

If you choose to pursue an associate degree, it will take you less than three years. It might take a few more years before you gain the experience necessary to land a good database administration position.

Should You Become a Database Administrator in 2021?

You should become a database administrator in 2021. The database administration job sector is growing fast. Employment is expected to grow by 10 percent over the next decade. You have lots of time to gain more experience and get a high-paying job.

A database administrator is a good career with a high starting salary even as an entry-level employee. If you enjoy working with computer software, you should consider pursuing a career as a database administrator.

Database Administrator FAQ

How do I become a database administrator?

You can become a data administrator by pursuing a degree in computer science, information technology, or management of information systems. If that is not an option, consider learning database administrator tools like SQL through online courses.

Is data administration a good career?

Yes, data administration is a good career. The job is growing at a fast rate and pays significantly higher salaries than the national average.

Does a database administrator know programming languages?

A database administrator is not the same as a developer, so knowledge of most programming languages is unnecessary. However, you should have a general idea of how they work.

Can I get a job with SQL only?

Yes, you can. Knowledge of SQL is critical for database administrators. However, it would also help if you had the work experience to make up for the missing degree. Knowledge of SQL will get you the job, but you should consider adding other skills as well.

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