LearnHow to Become a Database Administrator

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Dev Support
writes on December 2, 2022

Today’s world is driven by data.

According to this report by Cisco, big data will be worth $224.5 billion by 2025, an increase of over 10% from 2020. This rapid growth in valuation shows how crucial data has become.

So, where is this data stored? It’s stored in a database. And that’s where database administrators come in. They design, build, configure, secure, and maintain databases for storing, organizing, and retrieving data.

In this guide, you’ll learn what roles a database administrator fulfills, what the day-to-day job is like, and how to become one.

But before we get started, let’s explain the term itself.

What is a Database Administrator?

The database administrator (DBA) is someone who manages the operation and availability of databases and their data. DBAs will also work with application developers to design and optimize the database structures (known as schemas) which are used to store application data.

What Does a Database Administrator Do?

The core responsibilities of database administrators can differ depending on varying factors, such as a company’s team size or experience levels. 

However, here are the typical responsibilities of a database administrator:

  • Installing, configuring, managing, and maintaining a database system such as MySQL, MS SQL Server, or PostgreSQL
  • Managing access permissions, ensuring for instance one user has read-only access while another can both read and write data
  • Working with teams to analyze and interpret large data sets that will inform their company’s decision making
  • Modifying, replicating, or merging databases depending on organizational needs
  • Enhancing database performance by updating hardware, disk optimization, and index tuning
  • Staying up to date regarding security issues and applying patches when needed
  • Monitoring the database’s security so it is not accessed by unauthorized users
  • Backing up database systems in case of emergencies
  • Ensuring data integrity by ensuring best practices are followed for schema design

Career Prospects For a Database Administrator

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that database administrator jobs will grow by 9% between 2021 and 2031. That’s faster than average job market growth. 

Information is now vital to all businesses, and more companies are investing heavily into ensuring their data is easily accessible to employees, properly secured, and capable of being interpreted using business intelligence tools. This is why database administrator (and other data-related jobs) are on the rise. The BLS predicted that, on average, there will be 11,500 annual job openings for DBAs across the next decade. 

The roles of DBAs are evolving. Becoming a DBA opens you to different aspects of specialization, all of which are integral to the data health of companies. These are:

  • System database administration
  • Application database administration
  • Performance database administration

As a System DBA, you focus on tasks such as installing upgrades and patches. Application DBAs use specialized software to store data in databases. And Performance DBAs specialize in optimizing database performance by writing optimized SQL queries, ensuring table indexes are properly configured, and monitoring hardware resource usage to ensure CPU, RAM, and disk allocations are appropriate to the load.

Average Salary for Database Administrators

According to Indeed, database administrators earn an average annual salary of $91,385.

However, this amount will vary based on factors such as years of experience, position, location, company budget, specialization, industry, and negotiation power.

According to research by Indeed.com,

What is Required to Become a Database Administrator?

There are certain requirements you need to become a database administrator. These are: 

Education

The best way to get started on your path towards becoming a database administrator is by learning about relational databases and how to query them using Structured Query Language (SQL)! Fortunately, you can start interacting with a database right now thanks to the availability of open source databases such as MySQL, SQLite, and PostgreSQL that can be installed on your laptop.

Even easier, Treehouse offers an in-browser database interface that you can use to query an actual database while learning about SQL! Check out these courses to learn more:

You can learn all of this by completing a computer science degree or through online learning.

With Treehouse, you can become a database developer without a degree. Access intensive training and networking opportunities at a fraction of the time and cost it will take to complete a college degree.

Certification

Certain certifications will boost your database administration prowess by a great deal. Some are offered by the tech giants Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle, while others are not software-specific. 

Here are the tech-specific certifications:

The below certifications are not software-specific and are developed by the Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP):

Overall, these certifications will give you an edge at landing database administration jobs with great salaries. Some of these certifications offer varying expertise levels too, so you can learn based on your interests and capabilities. 

Skills

When it comes to performing your job efficiently as a database administrator, you need to have a good grasp of specific areas such as:

  • SQL: This query language helps DBAs store and retrieve information on databases.
  • Database frameworks: It’s essential to get familiar with relational database frameworks such as the LINQ to SQL and the .NET Entity Framework.
  • Project management: Knowing the principles and methodology of managing database projects is key.
  • Analysis: You should learn how to analyze and interpret data into meaningful business metrics that can inform decisions.
  • Cloud management: As a DBA, you need to understand cloud storage and management, and communication protocols.
  • Good communication skills: Build strong communication skills, both for verbal and written tasks.
  • Problem-solving: Having problem-solving instincts is important as a database administrator. You should know what to do in case of emergencies with data security or data loss. 
  • Large data sets: Database administration is expanding, and you could need to handle several databases at once. It’s important to gain experience with high-volume data sets. 

Training

This refers to the upskilling you do after landing a job as a database administrator. Employees, generally, undergo training sessions once hired. While there isn’t a standard training program for DBAs, it’s important to pay attention to the onboarding training.

Learn about the organization’s policies, workflows, and procedures. This may take anywhere from a few days to weeks or more. It’s important to be patient and appreciate the learning process.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Database Administrator?

There isn’t a specific time it takes to become a database administrator. Firstly, the duration will depend on the education path you decide to go for — whether it’s a college degree or an online course. Secondly, it will depend on your study schedule. 

Start Your Learning Journey With Treehouse

Becoming a database administrator is an opportunity-filled and profitable career. 

Our guide above has shown you step-by-step how you can become a DBA without the fees or lengthy timeframe of a degree.

Treehouse has interactive and intensive courses on processes and programming languages to help you kickstart your DBA career. Try Treehouse for free for 7 days.

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Learning with Treehouse for only 30 minutes a day can teach you the skills needed to land the job that you've been dreaming about.

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