Database Administrator (DBA)

A database administrator (DBA) is a specialized computer systems administrator who maintains a successful database environment by directing or performing all related activities to keep the data secure. The top responsibility of a DBA professional is to maintain data integrity. This means the DBA will ensure that data is secure from unauthorized access but is available to users.

A database administrator will often have a working knowledge and experience with a wide range of database management products such as Oracle-based software, SAP and SQL, in addition to having obtained a degree in Computer Science and practical field experience and additional, related IT certifications.

Database Administrator Job Checklist

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Database Administrator Job Description

Computer systems design and related services firms, banks, insurance companies, universities and health care are examples of the many different types of industries that a database administrator will find work.

In addition to being responsible for backing up systems in case of power outages or other disasters, a DBA is also frequently involved in tasks related to training employees in database management and use, designing, implementing, and maintaining the database system and establishing policies and procedures related to the organization’s data management policy.

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Systems or Applications Specialization

The DBA must work within a team of developers and managers and may become a specialist within the field. DBAs may choose to specialize in systems or applications:

System DBA Overview

System DBAs typically have a background in system architecture and are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database. This can include installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs and ensuring that the database works properly in a firm’s computer system.

Application DBA Overview

Application DBAs use complex programming languages to write or debug programs that work with the database. Usually this database has been designed for a specific application or a set of applications, such as customer service software.

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How Do You Become a Database Administrator?

A bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field is what many employers prefer when hiring a database administrator, along with practical related experience. Although in some cases a DBA may be hired with an associate’s degree or a certificate in a computer-related subject plus work experience, a master’s degree is required for higher-level positions. 

Employers will often look for candidates with experience in automation, DB2, MS SQL, Oracle Database, Hadoop and/or PostgreSQL. Being certified as a MCDBA or MCSD for .NET is also a certification aspiring DBAs should consider.

Key Job Duties and Responsibilities

Working in the position of DBA requires individuals to work well in a team environment, liaise with key stakeholders and to function effectively with minimal supervision. Many job ads posted online highlight the following key skills, responsibilities and work demands when applying for the position of database administrator (DBA):

  • Database installation, upgrade and patching
  • Install and configure relevant network components
  • Ensure database access, consistency and integrity
  • Resolving issues related to performance bottlenecks
  • Provide reporting on various metrics including availability, usage and performance
  • Performance testing and benchmark activities
  • Work with development staff on architectures, coding standards, and quality assurance policies
  • Create models for new database development or changes to existing ones
  • Respond to and resolve database access and performance issues
  • Monitor database system details
  • Design and implement redundant systems, policies, and procedures for disaster recovery
  • Monitor, optimize and allocate physical data storage for database systems
  • Plan and coordinate data migrations
  • Develop, implement, and maintain change control and testing processes
  • Perform database transaction and security audits
  • Establish end-user database access control levels
  • Implement database encryption and data encryption
  • Plan and ensure compliance with established best practices, related policies and legislation
  • Participate as a member of a team to move the team toward the completion of its goals

Average Salary

The national average database administrator salary is $77,428. Senior database administrators average $104,000 per year. Due to the high demand for these professionals in a variety of fields, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated a prediction that database administrator jobs will grow 11 percent between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also reports that computer systems services, management companies, colleges and universities are the top employers for this profession.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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