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Database Administrator

What is this job like?

The Internet and electronic commerce (e-commerce) generate lots of data. Computer databases that store information are found in nearly every industry. Data must be stored, organized, and managed. Database administrators work with database software to find ways to do this. They identify user needs, set up computer databases, and test systems. They ensure that systems perform as they should and add people to the system as needed. Database administrators often plan security measures. Data integrity, backup, and security are critical parts of the job.

Database administrators work in offices or labs. They usually work about 40 hours a week, but evening or weekend work may be needed for meeting deadlines. Telecommuting—working from home—is common for computer professionals.

Like other workers who spend long periods in front of a computer, database administrators can suffer eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems.


How do you get ready?

Database administrators must be able to think logically. Being able to concentrate and pay close attention to detail is important. These computer specialists sometimes work on their own, but they often work in teams. They must be able to communicate with computer personnel, such as programmers and managers. They must also communicate with other staff who may have no computer training.

Rapidly changing technology requires highly skilled and educated employees. There is no single way to prepare for a job as a database administrator.

Employers often seek workers who have a degree in computer science, information science, or a related information technology field.

Many community colleges and technical schools offer specific training programs to help meet the needs of local businesses. A growing number of businesses also seek workers with a graduate degree.

Despite employers' preference for those with technical degrees, persons with degrees in a variety of majors find computer jobs. One factor affecting the needs of employers is changes in technology. Employers often scramble to find workers who know the latest new technologies. Many people take courses regularly to keep up with the changes in technology.

Jobseekers can improve their chances by working in internship or co-op programs at their schools. There are many internships where you can learn computer skills that employers are looking for.

Certification is a way to show a level of competence. Many employers regard these certifications as the industry standard. One way to acquire enough knowledge to get a database administrator job is to become certified in a specific type of database management. Voluntary certification also is available through various organizations associated with computer specialists.

Database administrators may advance into managerial positions. For example, a promotion to chief technology officer might be made on the basis of experience managing data and enforcing security.

How many jobs are there?

There were about 120,400 database administrators in 2008.

Database administrators work in every sector of the economy. The largest number work in the computer systems design and related services industry. Many work for Internet service providers, Web search portals, and data-processing, hosting, and related services firms.What about the future?

The number of database administrators is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. This is because the Internet and e-commerce will continue to expand, resulting in a continuing need to build and maintain databases. Also, the increasing importance being placed on "cyber security"—the protection of electronic information—will require workers skilled in information security.

Job growth will not be as rapid as during the previous decade. The information technology sector will begin to mature and routine work will increasingly be outsourced overseas.

Those having a college or graduate degree in computer science or a related field will have a good chance of getting a job. Those having a lot of related work experience will also have a good chance.


How much does this job pay?

In May 2008, average yearly wages of database administrators were $72,900. Database administrators who worked at companies that designed computer systems earned an average of $81,050 in May 2008.

Are there other jobs like this?

Computer and information systems managers

Computer hardware engineers

Computer programmers

Computer software engineers

Statisticians

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