Database Administrators

Career, Salary and Education Information

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a database administrator with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Database Administrator Jobs

  • SQL Database Administrator - O'Reilly Automotive - Springfield, MO

    Installs new software releases, system upgrades, evaluates and installs OS

  • New! Sr. SQL Database Administrator - Integra - Spartanburg, SC

    What You’ll Be Doing: • Lead in the design, development, implementation, monitoring, and maintenance of new databases as well as revisions to

  • SQL Server Database Administrator - NextPhase Systems - Pleasanton, CA

    A Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science or equivalent. • 5+ years as a Microsoft SQL

See all Database Administrator jobs

What Database Administrators Do[About this section] [To Top]

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 of Database Administrators

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.

Work Environment for Database Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Database administrators hold about 119,500 jobs. The largest employers of database administrators are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services 16%
Educational services; state, local, and private 10
Management of companies and enterprises 7
Insurance carriers and related activities 7
Data processing, hosting, and related services 4

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.

Database Administrator Work Schedules

Almost all database administrators work full time.

How to Become a Database Administrator[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Database Administrators near you!

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

Education for Database Administrators

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 for Database Administrators

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 for Database Administrators

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

Important Qualities for Database Administrators

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.

Database Administrator Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for database administrators is $84,950. 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 $47,300, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,930.

The median annual wages for database administrators in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Computer systems design and related services $95,580
Management of companies and enterprises 92,410
Data processing, hosting, and related services 89,370
Insurance carriers and related activities 88,190
Educational services; state, local, and private 70,470

Almost all database administrators work full time.

Job Outlook for Database Administrators[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of database administrators (DBAs) is projected to grow 11 percent over the next ten years, 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 17 percent over the next ten years.

Employment of DBAs in the computer systems design and related services industry is projected to grow 20 percent over the next ten years. 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 for Database Administrators

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, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Database administrators 119,500 133,200 11 13,700


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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