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Career Path: How to become a Database Administrator

So you want to become a Database Administrator? Well, it's not as hard as you might think. There are a number of job opportunities awaiting those looking to start down this rewarding career path. It's a profession that's also in high-demand since data is being collected and stored by companies and organizations on a vast scale. Database Administrators (DBAs) can be found working in IT departments across industries around the world.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as a Database Administrator, you will need to have amassed some key skills in o...more

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We've collected tons of information on salaries, compensation, negotiation and more. See even more on our blog.

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Career Path: How to become a Database Administrator

So you want to become a Database Administrator? Well, it's not as hard as you might think. There are a number of job opportunities awaiting those looking to start down this rewarding career path. It's a profession that's also in high-demand since data is being collected and stored by companies and organizations on a vast scale. Database Administrators (DBAs) can be found working in IT departments across industries around the world.

Getting Through the Door

To land an entry-level job as a Database Administrator, you will need to have amassed some key skills in order to maintain large amounts of data. Knowledge of basic programming, database architecture and data manipulating language (DML) is definitely needed. There are also different types of database management systems (DMBS) that you need to be aware of, such as relational database management systems (RDBMS) and object-oriented database management systems (OODBMS). You can choose to study on your own, enroll in a program or sign up for courses on platforms like Microsoft Virtual Academy and Udemy.

Other key technical skills that can improve your chances is a knowledge of UNIX, Oracle, the Microsoft SQL Server and the SQL programming language. Some other minimum requirements employers might look for in entry- to junior-level database administrators include:

  • Understanding of database design/architecture in Windows and Linux environments
  • Able to perform database monitoring, tuning and optimizations
  • Familiarity with SQL scripting, as well as experience with database packages, stored procedures, functions and triggers
  • Perform database backups, recovery and restoration
  • Knowledgeable of the client-server model, networking and storage technologies
  • Ability to work independently and in a team environment
  • Good organizational, and communication skills

Degrees and Experience

Employers look for database administrators to possess either an associate's or bachelor's degree in information systems, information technology, computer science or computer engineering. Companies will also hire individuals with certification in a computer-related field with some hands-on experience. Having an extensive knowledge of database management software such as SAP, IBM DB2, MySQL and others is important for this career.

Working as a Junior-Level Administrator

As a junior-level administrator, you have acquired more experience with maintaining and troubleshooting any problems that may come up with the database. You will monitor and optimize system performance using disk optimization, index tuning and other methods. A junior-level administrator may set user privileges within the database environment, as well as installations and conversions. Strong interpersonal skills, computer proficiency, knowledge of PL/SQL and a strong attention to details are also must-have prerequisites for the job.

Moving Up the Ranks

You have now obtained more experience as a database administrator and are ready to move up a level in your career. Choosing to be focused on either the systems, the development or application side will help on your journey. Keeping up-to-date on emerging technologies in the field is a good way to acquire the knowledge needed to grow. Expanding your critical skills, as well as becoming certified as an Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) or a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) among others will help you achieve your goal.

Advance Your Career: How to become a Senior Database Administrator

Senior Database Administrators have a lead role in establishing database management systems, guidelines and standards. They will code complex programs, as well as monitor and maintain the database. Senior database administrators are responsible for managing production along with performing quality assurance. They will maintain the data security and integrity. These senior-level administrators will also coordinate with internal teams and a company's clients.

Study the Core Fields

To become an expert database administrator, you have to be skilled in your field. This involves keeping up-to-date with the latest advancements in technology, which includes database management software and architecture. Being able to produce data flow diagrams, database normalization schemata, maps and table parameters is needed. You can also boost your qualifications by obtaining more certifications, as well as an advanced degree in networking or management.

Invest in Yourself

As a senior database administrator, you can manage the challenges that come with the job. By continuing to be proficient in Oracle, Oracle RAC, IBM DB2 and other technologies needed are good ways to get ahead. Being a good communicator in order to consult and provide technical support to the application development teams is something that will catch the eye of employers. Maintaining excellent management, communication, analytical and organizational skills is also important.

Don't Stop at Administrator

There are peer groups or communities and associations where you can gain valuable insight through networking like the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) and TDWI to help you along the way. This can further accelerate your goals by building a strong network of skilled individuals that may offer access to potential employers. Learning about other aspects of IT infrastructure will also help guide you into other related fields.

Database Administrator Job Description

We’ve done the research for you. After evaluating numerous job descriptions, we’ve written our own representative job description for a mid-level computer vision engineer with between two and five years of relevant experience.

Database Administrators or DBAs use specialized software to maintain, organize and store data. They make sure that data analysts can use the database with ease to find pertinent information and that the system is performing as expected. Our database administrators are self-motivated and display leadership qualities. We welcome diversity and encourage healthy debate and discussion.

What We Need Your Help With

  • Upgrading and installing the database server and/or application tools
  • Suggesting solutions for database design, tuning options and other issues that may arise
  • Modifying the structure of the database using information provided by developers
  • Ensuring database server configuration, topology and maintenance are designed and executed to meet standards
  • Manage and create multiple databases and assist in capacity planning
  • Identify performance issues and ensure system security
  • Perform system backups in case of an outage or other unexpected occurrences
  • Use manual or automated tools to optimize the database's performance
  • Control access permissions and privileges
  • Excellent problem-solving, analytical, written and verbal communication skills
  • Work closely within a team environment with IT project managers and programmers

What We Look For

  • 2+ years of MS SQL Server and IBM DB2 administration experience
  • 3+ years of database development and programming
  • Experience with backups, restores and recovery models
  • Experience with Oracle and SAP
  • Experience in ETL development and data integration
  • Experience maintaining and implementing database failover mechanisms
  • Experience with Sybase and MySQL
  • Knowledge of SQL/T-SQL, as well as SSRS, SSIS and SSAS
  • Understanding of relational database design and concepts
  • Strong knowledge of software development along with object-oriented programming
  • B.S. degree in computer science, information systems, database management or equivalent experience

These Would Be Nice

  • Knowledge of network operating systems, architecture, configuration and protocols
  • Migration of database instances to hardware and software to cloud-based databases
  • Knowledge of Sun Solaris, AIX and Linux environment
  • Experience working with SalesForce or other CRM integration
  • Strong scripting skills in Python, Bash, and/or Powershell

Senior Database Administrator Career Paths: Where To Go From Here

You have shown that you are skilled at what you do and are now ready to continue to move forward in your career. You also possess 10 years of experience as a senior database administrator and are up for the challenge. Companies are looking for experts around the world in this field to help them increase productivity.

Senior Database Administrators may work as a Database Architect and move into a leadership role in which their responsibilities will be managing a team and coming up with innovative database solutions, as well as design, implementation and testing. They can go the path of an IT Manager and be tasked with supervising a company's computer infrastructure, updating procedures and documentation, training and upgrading technologies. From this point, one can choose the position of an IT Director and be tasked with managing and directing IT operations for an employer along with creating strong relationships with vendors. Another career path is that of the IT Consultant, who will advise clients on technologies that will meet their business needs and improve their IT infrastructure. There's the role of Chief Information Officer (CIO) who is responsible for making decisions for a company's information framework, such as evaluating strategies for services and products, overseeing development teams and determine what equipment is to be purchased. A senior database administrator can also choose the position of a Chief Operations Officer (COO) and be tasked with overseeing and planning projects along with the daily operations of a company.

The positions listed generally require a bachelor's degree with a master's degree being an employer's preferred choice, as well as an MBA in some cases. Managerial and industry certifications along with years of expertise are a must-have on this journey. You will also need to possess not only excellent communication skills but be able to work independently, lead effectively and make important decisions for the company as a whole.


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