With all the buzz around the importance of Big Data, it can be easy to forget that behind all that data is an organizational system that allows companies to make sense of the data they collect.

And behind every great database is a great database administrator.

If you enjoy working with IT and have excellent technical and communication skills, keep reading to find out if becoming a database administrator is right for you.

What is a Database Administrator?

Before you think about whether you want to become a database administrator, you first need to understand what a database administrator does.

Database administrators are responsible for the performance, integrity, and security of the databases under their domain. They set up databases that meet the needs of their company and ensure that they run efficiently.

This is an important job in the age of information. Hidden in all that data is valuable information about your company’s clients, information that third parties would definitely be interested in. Because of this, database administrators are the first line of defense to ensure their data stays safe.

Database Administrator Job Description

Let’s talk about what a database administrator does in the course of a day.

The exact role of a database administrator will vary depending on the DBA and company in question, but typical duties are to:

  • Identify the company/user needs to create and administer databases
  • Ensure the security of organizational data
  • Preventing data loss by storing and backing up data
  • Make and test modifications to the structure of the database as needed
  • Merge old databases into new ones
  • Work closely with database programmers and IT project managers
  • Communicate regularly with operations, technical, and applications teams to ensure the integrity and security of the database
  • Manage security and disaster recovery aspects of the database

Essentially, this job is a one-stop-shop for all things needed to keep your database running smoothly. If it involves the database, chances are it’s going to involve you at some point.

Most DBAs are general-purpose DBAs who cover all of these duties. However, some DBAs specialize as system DBAs (responsible for physical or technical aspects of the database) or application DBAs (supporting a database designed for a specific application).

Where They Work

Database administrators can work in almost any environment that demands a database. However, DBAs most commonly work in:

  • Computer systems and design related service environments
  • Private, local, and state government educational services
  • Company and enterprise management
  • Insurance carriers
  • Data processing and hosting companies

Given the nature of their work, almost all database administrators work full time.

Database Administrator Salary

If it sounds like a lot of work, you might be wondering: what do database administrators earn in a year?

On average, DBAs earn about $71,643 per year or $23.20 per hour. They can earn extra on commissions and profit sharing.

Keep in mind that salaries will vary depending on the size of the company you work for, your experience level, and where you live.

Job Outlook

Employment of DBAs is expected to grow at a rate of 11% between 2016 and 2026, higher than the national average for job growth.

This could be due to a few factors.

One is the rising popularity of database-as-service, which could increase the employment of DBAs in cloud computing and data processing firms.

Another factor is the increased demand for data collection and analysis due to the rise of Big Data, which means that database administrators and other data science professionals will be in high demand to help organize, maintain, and protect the available data.

How to Become a Database Administrator

Does this all sound intriguing to you? If so, you might want to think about becoming a database administrator.

Necessary Skills

Before you spend a penny on education, though, it’s important to determine if you have the right skill set to be successful in the career.

For one thing, you’ll need stellar organizational skills. You’re managing large databases that will likely be added to all the time, databases which other members of the company should be able to use with ease and efficiency.

A poorly organized database won’t just result in frustration–it will limit productivity, which will hurt company numbers in the long run.

You’ll also need a high level of technical prowess in order to work with the computers and complex systems that make your database work. If you’re doing your job right, the database should be as easy as breathing. And while it might look easy from the user side, it takes a lot of skill to get there.

However, what many would-be DBAs don’t realize they need is interpersonal skills. The truth is, you’re going to be interacting with people all day every day, whether you’re coordinating with the technical team to keep the database running or communicating with users to make sure their needs are met.


If this sounds like you, it might be time to start looking into education.

Most DBAs have at least a Bachelor’s degree in computer- or information-related subjects, especially computer science.

Regardless of the specific degree, you should be able to demonstrate a thorough understanding of database programming languages like SQL and Python. Some DBAs will even get official certifications for a specific database platform.

Ready to take a step towards Database Administration?

If you’re ready to launch your career as a database administrator, congratulations! You came to the right place.

If you want to find a data science degree program, check out our education search tool to start exploring your options. If you’ve already completed your education, check out our job search tool to see what exciting opportunities are waiting for you.

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