How to Get Started as
a Database Administrator

Refine Your Skills and Remain Relevant

Are you curious about the world of data organization and security? Then a career as a database administrator might be the perfect choice for you. In today’s data-driven era, choosing to become a database administrator could deliver the job security that everyone seeks.

In this article, we will help you embark on your journey to become a database administrator. Keep reading to learn more about the essential skills, responsibilities, education, and outlook of a database administrator.

What Is a Database Administrator?

Database administrators, or DBAs, are information technology professionals who store and organize all types of data. They use specialized software such as Oracle and SQL. As a database administrator, you are also responsible for maintaining and securing the integrity of data from any unauthorized personnel.

The role of database administrators is especially important to institutions that deal with a massive influx of data. DBAs manage big data and ensure that other data science workers, such as data analysts, can easily access the database information.

How Does Database Administration Relate to Data Science?

A database administrator uses data mining, data management, machine learning, and statistics to maintain a database management system. Data scientists and analysts study the data by extracting it from the databases.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Database Administrator?

The time it takes to become a database administrator is dependent on many aspects. It can take you anywhere between a couple of months to seven years.

The shortest route is with coding boot camps that usually last for a couple of months. This is dependent on your tech background. The entire process will take you longer in comparison to someone who already has a data science background.

Where to Study Database Administration

There are a plethora of educational tracks you can take to become a database administrator. The options range from four-year formal university degrees to a mere couple of weeks of online courses. Below are the different pathways you can take, so choose the route that suits you best.

Database Administrator Community Colleges

Earning an Associate Degree in Information Technology, Database Administration, or Computer Science from a community college is one the fastest routes. An associate degree can take anywhere between two to three years to complete.

This educational pathway is ideal for those looking to qualify for entry-level positions in tech-based jobs. They include network administrator, database program designer, and database application developer.

An associate degree will equip you with fundamental skills, including databases, SQL server development, relational databases, and visual basic programming. Most associate degree holders transfer their college credits and enroll in a bachelor’s degree program.

Database Administrator Universities

The industry standard for a junior database administrator is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or other relevant fields. This degree takes around four years and will cover all of the essential skills and topics you need. You will learn artificial intelligence, SQL, software engineering, and more.

You can also gain a Master’s Degree in Database Administration that will take you around three years. You can specialize in the field to get higher-paying jobs. A master’s degree will make you eligible for a managerial and senior data administration position.

Database administrators can also get a Ph.D. in Information Systems Management, which can take anywhere between five to seven years. A Ph.D. in this field is for those interested in a postsecondary teaching or research position. You can also become a computer and information research scientist with this degree.

Database Administrator Coding Bootcamps

For those looking for a short and efficient educational pathway, a coding boot camp might be the option for you. A coding boot camp will teach you in-demand skills and offer you job preparation in a matter of weeks.

Bootcamps are increasing in popularity as they are a cheaper alternative to university education. There are several reputable coding boot camps that offer data science programs. They include Flatiron School, App Academy, Thinkful, BrainStation, Rithm School, and many more.

Database Administrator Online Courses

Another cheap and short-term method of learning database administration is via massive open online courses (MOOCs). This option is ideal for learning the theoretical aspects of database administration and qualify for a job on their own.

You can choose the courses depending on your educational background and skills. For instance, if you are new to database administration, we recommend starting by learning SQL, Python, and other foundational topics.

Popular MOOC platforms such as Udemy, Pluralsight, edx.org, Alison.com offer courses on database administration.

How to Become a Database Administrator A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Become a Database Administrator: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you are aware of the different educational pathways you can take, check out this step-by-step guide. It will vary slightly from person to person depending on the route you take.

Learn database administration

The first step is to learn more about database administration. You can choose to attend a university or a boot camp. The goal is to come out of the program eligible for an entry-level job in the field.

Practice your database administrator skills

Now that you have the theoretical knowledge needed to excel in the field, it’s time to practice your technical skills. Practice writing database queries using SQL and the other software tools used in the field.

Apply for freelance jobs or internships

Once you are well-versed in the topic, you are ready to gain some professional experience. Apply for gigs that allow you to work with database design and other entry-level field-related jobs. Upwork and Fiverr are two great freelancing platforms you can look into.

Build your technical portfolio

The ultimate goal of the previous steps is to help you create a strong technology portfolio. We recommend acquiring software expertise certifications from Microsoft, IBM, or Oracle. Make sure to highlight the current in-demand data skills you have.

Apply for jobs

The last step is to apply for your dream database administrator job and gain expertise to advance in the field. Research for job openings on popular job search platforms such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor.

Entry-Level Database Administrator Job Requirements

The industry standard educational requirement for an entry-level database administrator position is a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. However, you can also become a junior database administrator by attending data science boot camps or even online courses.

The primary requirement is that you have relevant experience working in IT fields and have a working knowledge of databases. According to Glassdoor, you can earn an average of $89,418 per year as an entry-level database administrator.

Database Administrator Salary and Job Outlook

Just like most data-related professions, database administration is also in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for database administrators is projected to grow by 10 percent by 2029. Thus, by investing in this field, you secure a promising data career for yourself.

The salary for database administrators is also competitive. According to PayScale, the average salary for a database administrator is $73,424 per year. This figure is subject to change depending on your place of employment, experience, and educational qualifications.

Example Database Administrator Job Interview Questions

  • Can you describe the various roles of a database administrator in-depth?
  • How familiar are you with database servers? Can you give an example of your working experience with these servers?
  • Why are you interested in database administration? Tell us about your previous experiences relevant to the field.
  • What are some common issues with database management, and how would you fix them?
  • What is your understanding of Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle? Please provide examples of your work experiences with these servers.

What Does a Database Administrator Do?

The role of a database administrator varies depending on your place of employment and your seniority level. These professionals essentially manage databases and work to give easier access to the necessary data to other departments.

Below are some professional duties of a database administrator.

Secures Databases

A database administrator should make sure that the information stored in the system is secure. They do this by protecting confidential information, only allowing access to the right users and more. Your role as a DBA also includes separating servers and using firewalls.

Creates Recovery Plans

Database administrators are also responsible for creating a backup and recovery plan in case of a database failure. They constantly test software programs that are in charge of backing up sensitive data to prevent any data loss.

Performs Performance Tests

Maintaining databases, creating database queries, and building user profiles require a well-performing database. To ensure that, database administrators conduct regular database performance testing. This includes testing the server for any possible issues and getting it fixed for data protection.

Installs Database Servers

Another job duty of a database administrator is to know how to install and configure popular database servers. These include Microsoft SQL, DB2, MySQL, Oracle, and more. This is one of the most important roles of a database administrator.

Essential Database Administrator Skills and Certifications

Essential Database Administrator Skills and Certifications

To succeed in the world of database administration, you must have sought-after industry skills. Plenty of soft skills including business understanding, teamwork skills, critical thinking, and more will help you stand out in the industry.

Keep reading to discover the most in-demand technical skills needed for a database administrator.

Database Administrator Skills

Foundational Statistics

Statistics is an essential skill to have if you are involved in a data-related field. It will help you understand and interpret large-scale data. Therefore, you should know basic statistical topics. These include statistical tests, math, and distributions.

Data Tools and Programming Languages

This skill is a given for database administrators. Therefore, you need to have an expert understanding of popular programming languages used in databases, such as Python, SQL, and R.

Database Protection

You are responsible for making sure that the data and databases are protected from unauthorized access. Therefore, you must possess the tech skills that allow you to test and maintain databases and protect them from threats. Working knowledge of server security on popular operating platforms such as Linux is key.

Database Administrator Certifications

Although it isn’t a requirement to get a professional certification, it will surely increase your chances of getting hired. Several reputable software vendors offer certifications for DBAs and database servers. Below are the most popular professional database administration certifications.

Oracle Database Administration Certified Professional

The Oracle University offers a plethora of database certifications. This DB administrator certification will prove your current understanding of Oracle database technology. It costs $245 and can be taken online. Make sure to complete the prerequisites before signing up for the exam.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate

This certification, offered by Microsoft, proves your knowledge of the hybrid data platform of Microsoft Azure Data Services and Microsoft SQL Server. It is priced at $165 and you can enroll in a free online certification preparation program. The program will teach you everything from Azure SQL basics to disaster recovery environments and plans.

IBM Certified Database Administrator- DB2 11.1 for Linux UNIX and Windows

This IBM certification is for those wanting to prove their expertise in the DB2 server platform. IBM offers test preparation materials to help you prepare for the exams. The certification consists of two separate exams that you need to pass.

Reasons to Become a Database Administrator in 2021

If you are interested in database management and protection, then you should become a database administrator in 2021. This profession is predicted to grow and promises you a secure career. Along with a promising career, growth opportunities as a DBA brings lucrative salary increases with them.

Additionally, as a database administrator, you can work for massive firms such as IBM, Microsoft, AT&T, and Capital One. Learn database administration to penetrate the world of IT and data.

Database Administrator FAQ

What are the primary roles of a database administrator?

A database administrator is responsible for the overall management of a database. This includes maintenance, database and server protection, data recovery, and data organization.

Which databases do I need to learn to become a database administrator?

The most popular database language for administrators is SQL, which is a prerequisite at most companies. You must have an excellent understanding of popular relational databases such as Oracle, My SQL, and IBM DB2.

Which soft and technical skills are required for database administration?

A database administrator must possess an array of soft and technical skills. They include Python, R, SQL, Oracle, teamwork, problem-solving, and a business mindset.

What education is needed to become a database administrator?

Most employers look for a candidate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Technology, or an equivalent degree. However, you can become a DBA with a coding boot camp certificate and with online courses paired with industry-relevant experience.

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