A database administrator builds and maintains custom databases to meet the specific data needs of a company or organization. The job requires certification in one or more kinds of platforms, such as Oracle or Juniper, as well as good communication skills to determine the multiple purposes that a system will be used for within an office. Increase in demand is expected in computer careers such as this over the next 10 years, although there are fewer database administrator jobs anticipated than in other similar fields, such as a network security specialist or a telecommunications specialist.
Databases streamline the data-entry process by making data in like fields similar in format, which is essential in accessing and sorting data more efficiently. Common types of systems are those that maintain inventory at a retail store, data on a shopping cart website or a data warehouse that stores accounts payable and accounts receivable information.
A database administrator is the architect who sets up the back-end and front-end of a database. He identifies how data relates to other data in the system and structures it accordingly. For example, an inventory system often includes data about products, suppliers and manufacturers. A manufacturer produces products and a supplier distributes them.
If you are employed in these types of computer careers, you transfer data from one system to another during an upgrade. In addition, you provide maintenance to databases such as when one malfunctions or when additional functions need to be added, including a different kind of report or a new field on a form. You also manage access to the system. Because databases usually contain confidential or sensitive data, different kinds of access are established for employees with different security levels.
Starting salary for database administrators averages $47,125 annually, and you can expect to earn up to $114,200 depending on your region in the United States. If you are employed in a full-time, permanent position, you are often eligible for health insurance and other benefits.
Presently, 120,400 database administrators are employed throughout the United States, and 24,400 job openings are expected over the next 10 years. You may be hired by a range of companies and organizations that need to store data, or you may work for a consulting firm, which builds databases for business clients. You are most likely to be hired by a college or university, an insurance carrier or a merchant wholesaler. The states with the highest concentration of database administrators include the District of Columbia, Delaware, Colorado and Virginia.
Individuals in these types of computer careers often receive a bachelor's degree in Information Technology at an accredited university, or you can enroll in a more specialized program for database administrators at a vocational school. Certification is also needed in one or more platforms such as Oracle and Juniper. An understanding of internet programming languages is also helpful for managing online systems, which are becoming more and more prevalent.
Entry-level database administrator positions complete routine maintenance tasks, where advanced positions often involve design. Advancement to supervisory or managerial positions is based on skill level and years of experience.
Database administrators who are employed in a permanent position by a company to maintain an internal database often work full-time. Depending on the size of the company and whether the company is globally based, swing or graveyard shifts may be required. For those who maintain online systems which are accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, individuals are often required to be on-call when they are not in the office. If a one malfunctions, you may work over a weekend or holiday to get it functioning properly again.
It is also common for individuals in computer careers such as this to work part-time on a contractual basis. Although they rarely work with consumers, they often work with other business and computer professionals in a team environment.
Database administrators need to be able to see detail at close range. It is also common for them to sit at a desk for long periods of time, so frequent breaks and regular exercise are recommended to prevent repetitive motion injuries, which can develop over a long period of time.
Basic Office Skills Required
Because you often interact with other employees in a team environment, basic spelling, grammar and punctuation skills, as well as typing, data entry and 10-key skills are needed in this job. Your college coursework includes advanced math subjects. You also need to have a working knowledge of common software applications, including MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Database administrators also need to have adequate verbal and written communication skills, the ability to plan ahead and the ability to meet deadlines.
A database administrator plays an important role in a company or organization that uses a database to keep track of data. Computer careers such as this have additional opportunities now that many systems are housed online.
Corbin is a database administrator for a regional staffing agency with multiple locations in a tri-state area. His database keeps track of the personal information of temporary candidates including those who have registered with the agency, as well as those who have been placed with a company presently or in the past. As in many computer careers at small companies, he fulfills other computer functions for the small company, including computer tech support assistance, such as establishing new logins and passwords to the database to new recruiters. He also performs frequent back-ups of company data and maintains the company's firewall and security matters.
The database fulfills a number of functions for the company. It fulfills both customer relationship management (CRM), as well as billing activities. It keeps track of client companies for which the agency fulfills work orders, employee candidates and candidate hirees. To help recruiters find qualified candidates to fill work orders, the database sorts candidates by their skill sets and indicates whether a candidate is presently available for work.
When candidates are hired, the database keeps track of which client company they work for, whether the candidate was hired by the company as a temp, temp-to-hire, or as a permanent placement. It also records the hiree's hourly wage and the amount of commission the candidate's work is providing to the agency.
Corbin uses an Oracle SQL database to house the data system, and he is an Oracle Certified Professional, in addition to having a bachelor's degree in Information Systems. The database is housed on the company's intranet, which requires Corbin to know a little about web development, such as establishing internet protocols. He upgraded the system to be housed on an intranet about five years ago when he first started with the company, but because by using the Oracle software, the data transfer was seamless. Security is more important in such a system, and Corbin maintains a subscription with a systems security service.
His present project as a database administrator is working on an extension to the system that will better keep track of the marketing efforts of recruiters when they approach client companies. The system will keep track of when recruiters call or email clients in a marketing capacity to prevent over-contact or not enough contact. The company also is scheduled to receive a new voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system in about six months, and he is working with a telecommunications specialist assigned to them by the phone service provider to establish auto settings in the database to keep track of when calls are placed to different clients and candidates. Corbin knows computer careers like his will need to learn as much as they can about telecommunications because of the capacity that internet-based phone systems have to integrate with routine desktop processes of staff members.
Corbin enjoys the logic of databases and the way they establish the relationship that one kind of data has with other data in the system. As a database administrator, he facilitates the recording of company data, as well as day-to-day processes, in a secure system. Because computer careers such as his interact with so many areas of the industry, he tries to stay current on developments in technology that affect his computer system.
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Computer careers such as this are in demand as databases upgrade to the Web.
There are fewer expected jobs for a database administrator than other like jobs.
Pursue this field if you have great attention to detail and enjoy organizing.