Database Administrator Career Outlook

When you buy an item from Amazon.com – especially if it isn’t your first purchase – your name, address, and payment information usually appear on the screen.  A similar process happens over and over again whenever you order something.  Where is all this information stored?  By and large, it is stored in that company’s database.  Databases are crucial to business.  Why?  Because they contain the most precious thing in this technological age:  information.

What Is a Database?

A database is simply a large amount of information that has (hopefully) been organized and stored in a certain place – normally on a computer system.  If you have ever made a list of people, their addresses, and their phone numbers, you have made a very small and very simple database.

A good database is more than just a collection of facts; the data has to be organized and sorted so it can quickly and easily be sorted, retrieved, and analyzed.  This, along with protecting the information from hackers and other unauthorized users, is the main challenge facing database professionals.

What Is a Database Administrator?

A database administrator is responsible for three things: maintaining and updating older databases; creating, implementing, and troubleshooting new databases; and controlling access to the information stored on databases.  These three things involve numerous detailed sub-tasks.  For example, the administrator will not simply design a new database off the top of his or her head; he or she will analyze the data and the needs of the company.  Those findings determine how the information will be stored and used and who within the organization will have access to it.  Part of building new databases might also be integrating older databases or coordinating the information on them.  Finally, the database administrator is responsible for keeping the information on the databases secure, free from viruses and inaccessible to hackers.  If the company has a significant online presence, such as a web-based store, he or she will need to be especially diligent.  Security is often coordinated with the network administrator.

Usually, a database administrator will have a bachelor’s degree in information systems or another computer-related field.  Some companies prefer to hire applicants with a master’s degree in business.  Certification in popular database software is also an asset.

Certain personality traits are also valuable in this field.  Number one on the list is the ability to organize large amounts of data (which almost goes without saying).  A close second is problem-solving skills, followed by logic.  Of course, no person really works completely alone in the business world, so strong communication and good people skills are also important.

Career Outlook for Database Professionals

The overall outlook for the IT industry is bright.  With a few exceptions, jobs are expected to grow at a higher rate than the national average.  For a database administrator, this applies in even greater force.  According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics’ website*, database administration job openings are projected to increase by as much as 20 percent – considerably faster than average.  As we discussed earlier, this is thanks to the increasingly intricate technology that business are using to store and secure their data.

What industries are hiring database administrators?  The largest employers are in the computer system design field, followed by telecommunication firms and financial institutions.  Other sectors in need of database assistance are business management organizations, insurance, schools, and governments.

Would you like to learn more about this rather overlooked career?  There is plenty of information available online.  For a list of websites dealing with basic database administration and beyond, see the article Great Online Resources for Database Administrators.