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How To Become A Database Administrator

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By: Matt Choi

April 7, 2021

Becoming a Database Administrator is a rewarding but challenging career path that offers many benefits in a growing IT field. Database Administrators manage systems that utilize, protect, query, and provide the secure storage of important organizational data. At Cybrary, students will have access to our virtual lab for hands-on experience. Courses are taught by knowledgeable instructors who are experts in their subjects.

What is a Database Administrator?

Database Administration involves everything required to manage a database, making it available to users as needed. A Database Administrator (DBA) is an IT professional who manages, backs up, and makes sure that the data is available to the appropriate personnel via the IT system. The Database Administrator plays a crucially important role in an IT department and an organization overall.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Database Administrator?

The Database Administrator is responsible for various tasks and duties, including the following:

  • Installing, configuring, maintaining and, troubleshooting a database system.
  • Monitoring and optimizing system performance utilizing index tuning, disk optimization, and other methods.
  • Merging old databases into new ones.
  • Ensuring that all organizational data is secure.
  • Identifying End-User needs to create and administer databases.
  • Ensuring that databases operate properly and without error.
  • Maintaining databases and updating permissions.
  • Implementing, configuring, and troubleshooting database instances, replication, backup, storage, and access.
  • Making and testing modifications to the database structure as necessary.

DBAs ensure that Data Analysts and other users have easy access to databases allowing them to find the data they need and that the system performs as it should. Occasionally, DBAs will oversee the development of new databases. When doing so, they must identify the needs of the database and who the users are. Afterward, they will monitor the performance of the database and provide support for it.

Many DBAs are considered general-purpose and are responsible for all of the above duties (and often more). However, the duties are sometimes broken down into specialized roles, depending on the organization's needs. Three of the common DBA specialties are:

  • System Database Administrator – These professionals are responsible for the physical and technical database aspects, including installing patches and upgrades to resolve program bugs. They make sure that the organization's database management system operates properly.
  • Development Database Administrators – These professionals work with the development aspects of database administration, including Data Definition Language (DDL) generation and Structured Query Language (SQL) writing.
  • Application Database Administrators – These professionals support databases that have been designed for specific applications, such as customer service software. They may use complex programming languages to write or debus programs. They typically have all the duties of a general DBA, but only for the specific application, they are responsible for.

It's common for one DBA to handle all three of the above types' tasks and duties.

How Much Do Database Administrators Make?

Database Administrators in the US earn an average salary of $73,696 annually. The overall salary range for DBAs is $47,000 to $114,000 a year. Exact salaries depend on the individual and the organization's various factors, such as education, work experience, industry, size of the organization, and location.

Does a Database Administrator Need to Have a Degree?

Typically, organizations want a DBA to have an Associate's degree in Database Administration, a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science, or something similar. However, some organizations will accept an equivalent amount of work experience in place of a degree.

Why Become a Database Administrator?

A career as a Database Administrator is a fulfilling yet always challenging endeavor. It involves significant responsibility as a custodian of the organization's information, often turning raw data into actionable intelligence.

There are many good reasons for becoming a DBA. Here are three of the most commonly recognized benefits:

  • Higher salaries – Computing is ubiquitous, continually growing, and advancing. That means that the demand for DBAs and other IT professionals also continues to increase. Combined with the current shortage of qualified IT professionals in the job market, that increases the amount organizations are willing to pay to fill such roles. The pay for DBAs is higher than many other occupations and is based on experience, education, and the specific organization.
  • Increasing job opportunity – Jobs and advancement opportunities in the IT industry are growing, and there's no sign of it slowing down. Important data grows exponentially every year, and there must be professionals who administer databases to keep them all clean and accessible. That's great news for Database Administrators, as more and more DBA jobs will need to be filled.
  • Job security – A Database Administrator role can be a complex job, and as such, organizations want to retain their successful, highly-performing DBAs. Additionally, as there are more job openings for IT professionals than qualified people to fill them, there is a higher level of job security for the IT industry.
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