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Data is the lifeblood of any company, and database administrators are the keepers of that vital information. These important professionals are responsible for creating and maintaining an organization's databases, keeping data secure and training employees on how to use the systems. Database administrators need specialized training in order to do this job, and database schools strive to provide that education.
Database administrator specializations
Database schools prepare students to work as general database administrators, as well as specialists in the field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), workers can pursue the following specialties:
- Application database administrators work with databases that have been designed for a specific task, such as a program that is used for customer service purposes. These professionals must become experts in the database application they are supporting, allowing them to work with all aspects of the system's maintenance.
- System database administrators are generally knowledgeable about system architecture, which allows them to install, upgrade and fix problems related to the physical and technical elements of an organization's database.
Database administrator certifications and degrees
According to the BLS, professionals who want to pursue a career as a database administrator generally must earn a bachelor's degree in management information systems (MIS), or a similar computing discipline, in order to find a job in the field. During their time in college, students are encouraged to take courses in information security management, business communications, project management and finance. Some employers look for candidates who have work experience in the technology field -- such as those who have held jobs as data analysts or database developers.
Although usually not a requirement for a job, earning a database administrator certification can go a long way toward standing out in the competitive market, according to the BLS. These certifications are typically issued by software companies and vendors. For example, the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator, or MCDBA, is designed to show competency in working with SQL Server 2000 databases. Similarly, the Oracle Database 11g Certification is earned by professionals who want to show of proficiency in the numerous databases sold by that company.
Database administrator salary and career outlook
BLS data shows that the national average annual salary of database administrators was $77,080 in May 2013. These professionals -- who can work for several different types of companies, including Internet service providers, data processing firms and computer systems design firms -- will see an increase in the amount of jobs available between 2012 and 2022. In fact, the BLS indicates that there will be growth of 15 percent for these professionals in this time period. In particular, the number of jobs available in health care database administration will see an increase due to the widespread implementation of electronic medical records.
Although database administrators are in demand around the country, certain locations have more job opportunities than others. As of May 2013, the top states for database administrator jobs are California, Texas, New York, Florida and Virginia. However in terms of salary, database administrators in New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, California and Washington earned the highest average wages during that same time frame. Each of these states, except for Washington, will see higher job growth during the 2012-2022 decade than the national projected number of 15 percent.
Database schools strive to enable students to build an excellent foundation to seek opportunities in this growing profession. And as the use of database services, cloud computing and electronic medical records continues to rise, the need for these professionals is expected to continue expanding.