Database Administrators


Database administrators 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.

Duties

Database administrators typically do the following:

  • Ensure that organizational data are secure
  • Back up 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

Database administrators, often called DBAs, make sure that data analysts and other users can easily use databases to find the information they need and that systems perform as they should. Some DBAs oversee the development of new databases. They have to determine the needs of the database and who will be using it. They often monitor database performance and conduct performance-tuning support.

Many databases contain personal or financial information, making security important. Database administrators often plan security measures, making sure that data are secure from unauthorized access.

Many database administrators are general-purpose DBAs and have all of these duties. However, some DBAs specialize in certain tasks that vary with an organization and its needs. Two common specialties are as follows:

System DBAs are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, such as installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs. They typically have a background in system architecture and ensure that the firm’s database management systems work properly.

Application DBAs support a database that has been designed for a specific application or a set of applications, such as customer-service software. Using complex programming languages, they may write or debug programs and must be able to manage the applications that work with the database. They also do all the tasks of a general DBA, but only for their particular application.

Database administrators held about 116,900 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of database administrators were as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 15%
Educational services; state, local, and private 10
Management of companies and enterprises 8
Insurance carriers and related activities 6
Data processing, hosting, and related services 3

Some DBAs administer databases for retail companies that keep track of their buyers’ credit card and shipping information; others work in healthcare settings and manage patients’ medical records.

Work Schedules

Almost all database administrators work full time.

Database administrators (DBAs) usually have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject, such as computer science.

Education

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certification is generally offered directly from software vendors or vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and best practices required from DBAs. Companies may require their database administrators to be certified in the products they use.

Advancement

Database administrators can advance to become computer and information systems managers.

Important Qualities

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 median annual wage for database administrators was $90,070 in May 2018.

The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,340, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $138,320.

In May 2018, the median annual wages for database administrators in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Insurance carriers and related activities $96,440
Computer systems design and related services 95,910
Data processing, hosting, and related services 95,550
Management of companies and enterprises 94,990
Educational services; state, local, and private 74,720

Almost all database administrators work full time.

Database Administrators

Median annual wages, May 2018

Database administrators

$90,070

Computer occupations

$86,320

Total, all occupations

$38,640

 

Employment of database administrators (DBAs) is projected to grow 9 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than 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 administrators will be needed to organize and present data in a way that makes it easy for analysts and other stakeholders to understand.

The increasing popularity of database-as-a-service, which allows database administration to be done by a third party over the Internet, could increase the employment of DBAs at cloud computing firms in the data processing, hosting, and related services industry. Employment of DBAs in this industry is projected to grow 21 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Employment of DBAs in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 24 percent from 2018 to 2028. The increasing adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses that do not have their own dedicated information technology (IT) departments could increase the employment of DBAs in establishments in this industry.

Job Prospects

Job prospects should be favorable. Database administrators are in high demand, and firms sometimes have difficulty finding qualified workers. Applicants who have experience with the latest technology should have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for database administrators, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Database administrators

15-1141 116,900 127,400 9 10,500 Get data

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of database administrators.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2018

Computer and Information Systems Managers

Computer and information systems managers plan, coordinate, and direct computer-related activities in an organization.

Bachelor’s degree $142,530

Computer Network Architects

Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and Intranets.

Bachelor’s degree $109,020

Computer Programmers

Computer programmers write and test code that allows computer applications and software programs to function properly.

Bachelor’s degree $84,280

Computer Support Specialists

Computer support specialists provide help and advice to computer users and organizations.

See How to Become One $53,470

Computer Systems Analysts

Computer systems analysts study an organization’s current computer systems and find a solution that is more efficient and effective.

Bachelor’s degree $88,740

Financial Analysts

Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals making investment decisions.

Bachelor’s degree $85,660

Information Security Analysts

Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Bachelor’s degree $98,350

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for the day-to-day operation of computer networks.

Bachelor’s degree $82,050

Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study market conditions to examine potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor’s degree $63,120

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts use advanced mathematical and analytical methods to help solve complex issues.

Bachelor’s degree $83,390

Software Developers

Software developers create the applications or systems that run on a computer or another device.

Bachelor’s degree $105,590

Web Developers

Web developers design and create websites.

Associate’s degree $69,430

For more information about database administrators, visit

Association for Computing Machinery

Computing Research Association

IEEE Computer Society

For more information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women & Information Technology

O*NET

Database Administrators


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Database Administrators,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm (visited ).


 

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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