In this article, we will discuss how to become a Database Administrator and cover frequently asked questions about this career. If you are looking to chase a career as a Database Administrator and you are not aware of where to begin, here is a cheat sheet for you. We will cover everything from basic definition, salaries, job description and certifications, skills, requirements, and educational requirements in the field. Let’s put down the basics first.

how to become a database administrator

What is a Database Administrator (DBA)?

A Database Administrator (DBA) is an information technician, who is responsible for understanding and managing the overall database environment as well as to ensure that an organization’s database and its related applications operate functionally and efficiently. They build and maintain databases that are compatible with their companies’ requirements. These information technology (IT) specialists administer database updates, storage, security, and troubleshooting.

What does a Database Administrator (DBA) do?

Database Administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data. They manage the development of a company’s databases to keep important data available only to users with authorized access. A Database Administrator provides secure access to databases and manages backup solutions to prevent loss of data in case a system fails.

Additional responsibilities of a Database Administrator may include:

  • Develop stages of a database system
  • Secure organizational data
  • Restore/backup of lost data
  • Create permissions for new users
  • Testing of modifications
  • Merging of old databases
  • Conduct performance tuning support

Furthermore, Database Administrators (DBAs) develop, install, test, troubleshoot, and maintain the vast data systems inside the organizations that store information. Database developers work on commercial or e-commerce websites. They develop and secure the network structures that store and return information based on Internet queries.

How long does it take to become a Database Administrator (DBA)?

Becoming an entry-level Database Administrator (DBA) takes about two to seven years. But if you succeed to get your first Database Administrator (DBA) job, it will not take another more than three years before you will be able to develop any sort of competency as an expert Database Administrator (DBA).

Database Administrator (DBA) Salary:

database administrator salary

As one of the top five highest-paying IT career paths, Database Administrators (DBAs) get handsome paychecks. On average, they earn better than network systems, data communication analysts, and telecommunication specialists. We have listed state-wise database administrator salaries here.

Usually, Database Administrators (DBAs) work in full-time salaried positions. However, many companies prefer to employ DBAs on a contract basis to work on special database projects. You can expect the following salary ranges when searching for a Database Administrator (DBA) position:

Career LevelExperienceSalary in US Dollars
Entry Level0-12 Months$53,292 per year
Early Career1-4 Years$62,697 per year
Mid-Career5-9 Years$78,588 per year
Experienced Career10-19 Years$90,167 per year

Does Database Administration require coding?

Many of the best tech careers require the ability to code. While most Database Administrators (DBAs) have a development background, yet they are not at all needed to write code. If you are not good at coding then you do not have to worry and here is good news for you that to be a Database Administrator (DBA), you don’t need to be a top programmer for a compiled language, however, you will need to have excellent analytical skills, solid understanding on how to design the database from the scratch, ensuring that there is data integrity, that data can be accessed synchronously without memory outflows, and most importantly that the data is safe and secure.

Database Certifications:

database certifications 2021

Database Administration training mostly takes place online and results in DBA certification. One of the best ways to show how much you value your data is how much understanding you have about it and show how proficient you are at managing it is to get certified.

Companies use many different types of databases. Depending on the specialization, Database Administrators (DBAs) could get hold of certifications that prove they have a broad knowledge of a specific database. Here we would talk about the best 5 database certifications.

  • IBM Certified Database Administrator

The IBM Certified Database Administrator is the Lead Database Administrator (DBA) for the DB2 product on the z/OS operating system. This certification demonstrates that you have the ability to navigate an IBM database server. This certification requires two exams in total. A fundamental Certified Database Administrator certification and an Advanced Database Administrator form. The first exam tests you on fundamental knowledge of the daily administration tasks, Structured Query Language, IBM database security, and creating database objects. The second exam evaluates your ability to perform advanced database tasks in security and migration. 

  • Microsoft SQL Server Database certification: 

Securing Microsoft SQL Server Database certification will demonstrate your ability to introduce and advance MySQL Server, configure replication security, set up backups, and other fundamental tasks. After earning your Microsoft SQL Server Database certification, you can follow up with a variety of Associate Level Microsoft Solutions certifications. It can help learn basic SQL server skills before starting the three-exam requirement. You can prepare by getting experience on the job, in courses, or by taking practice tests online.

  • Oracle Certification:

Oracle’s program includes three levels of certification, starting with the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate (OCA), advancing through the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Professional (OCP), and coming full circle with the Oracle Database Administrator Certified Master (OCM). To earn any Oracle certification, you will have to pass an online exam to show you understand that release version. Many Database Administrators (DBAs) pick to obtain certifications for different versions as various organizations use different releases. To get yourself prepared for an Oracle exam, you can take a variety of online courses. 

  • MCDBA Certification:

MCDBA stands for Microsoft Certified Database Administrator. This certification is designed especially for Database Administrators (DBAs) with experience in implementing, designing, and administrating databases with Microsoft SQL Server 2000. You can register for online training to obtain your certification. There are multiple options to study and prepare for the exam, including instructor-led training, practice tests, self-paced training kits, and Microsoft Press books. To obtain this certification, some people prefer instructor-led training, Microsoft suggests a self-preparation method and offers preparation guides for each exam, which include a list of relevant skills students can practice.

On a little side note, Database Administrator (DBA) certifications typically boost up salary potential in this field and can easily lead to a salary jump as high as 10 percent.

A detailed post on database certifications 2021 can be found here.

Top 10 Databases you should learn in 2021:

Now we will discuss the top databases which are worth discovering and which you should learn in 2021. Below is the list:

  • Oracle:

Oracle is a database that can run on nearly any operating system. From Oracle, we highlight plenty of profiles with experience in this technology. Oracle has a large number of tools that exist for its administration and monitoring.

  • IBM DB 2:

After Oracle, IBM DB 2 is the second most used database in UNIX / Linux environments. It is an undeniable winner on Mainframe. IBM Informix makes sure that your vital business data is controlled and secured.

  • Microsoft SQL Server:

Developed by Microsoft, Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system. There are a number of available skilled profiles in SQL Server, and it is not hard to acquire them. Its flexibility and performance are significantly enhanced with its integration with Microsoft Azure.

  • Teradata:

Teradata is one of the popular Relational Database Management System. It is mostly suitable for building large scale data warehousing applications. Teradata Database delivers the most flexible analytical engine in the most scalable and manageable database for your data warehouse and is usually used in extensive Big Data facilities.

  • Mongo DB:

MongoDB is a cross-platform document-oriented database program, written in C++. It is the most popular database for modern apps. MongoDB is terrific for transactional stores where performance is a major concern. You can work with structured as well as unstructured data.

  • Couchbase Server:

Couchbase Server is originally known as Membase. Couchbase Server’s architecture protects against many types of failure and protects against data loss. It has a very flexible data model, scalable, provides consistently high performance, and is reliable and secure.

  • Mark Logic Server:

MarkLogic Server is a multi-model and document-oriented database that has both NoSQL and trusted enterprise data management capabilities. It supports Windows, Solaris, Red Hat, Suse, CentOS, Amazon Linux, and Mac OS. MarkLogic supports fully ACID transactions which are incredibly unique in a NoSQL system.

  • Non-SQL Key-Value Oriented:

NoSQL key-value databases are the least complicated types of NoSQL databases. Data has been stored as a key or attribute name with its value in it. Each data item has a pointer and a unique key against it which offers significant flexibility and more closely supports modern concepts like object-oriented programming. It is perfect when you are accessing data by a password.

  • EMS SQL Manager:

If you intend to create data analysis components within your dashboard, you can use EMS SQL Manager. EMS SQL Manager for MySQL offers high-performance tools for MySQL database administration and development. It works with any MySQL versions from 4.1 to the latest one and supports the most recent features including MySQL triggers, views, stored procedures, functions, InnoDB foreign keys, Unicode data, etc.

  • Altibase:

Altibase is a high-performance open-source relational database and is compatible with Oracle. Altibase is the single hybrid database that perfectly combines an in-memory database along with an on-disk database into a single database product using a uniform interface that streamlines data processing for the highest effectiveness.

Is SQL the same as MySQL?

SQL is a short abbreviation of Structured Query Language, it is a query language that is used to operate your database, while on the other hand, MySQL is a relational database that uses SQL to query a database. There are small syntax changes between different databases, but the fundamental SQL syntax remains mostly the same.

SQL is usually used in accessing, updating, and manipulating data in a database while MySQL is RDBMS that allows keeping the data that exists in a database organized.

Educational Qualification for DBA:

Database Administrators (DBAs) require at least a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Sciences, Computer Engineering, or Information Science as it is a pre-requisite for entry-level positions mostly. DBAs may need a further Master’s degree in Database Administration or Information Technology, depending on the size and complexity of their organization.

How to find database projects?

There are several freelancing platforms available that would help you in getting your first database project. You can start with Upwork, Fiverr, or Freelancer. Fiverr and Upwork are my personal favorite although it is difficult to get your first project on Upwork.

I would suggest starting with Fiverr or Freelancer.

Skills required of a Database Administrator (DBA):

Here we will name some basic skills which are required to become a successful DBA:

  • Data modeling and database design
  • Metadata management and use of a repository
  • Database schema creation and management
  • Backup and recovery
  • Data integrity and security
  • Performance management
  • SQL code reviews
  • Procedural skills
  • Capacity planning
  • General database management
  • General systems management and networking skills
  • ERP and business knowledge
  • Storage management techniques

How to become a database administrator without a degree?

You would still need a college degree to get started in database development. If you are a college graduate, you can start by getting certified in one of the major database management systems. We have created a detailed blog post on different certifications. You can read about it here.

Remember, an organization will always prefer someone with a graduate degree for a database administrator. Without a university degree, the chances of climbing up in the organization are extremely low.

Which Database is easy to learn for beginners?

There are several database management systems out there. I would recommend starting with either MS Access or MySQL. Both of these are easy to learn and you do not need to buy any expensive suite of software for them. If you already have Office suite, then you would probably have access to MS Access as well. If you do not, get started with MySQL. It’s freely available.

This was our post on becoming the database administrator in 2021. We will publish more articles on database administration in the upcoming days. Keep visiting!

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