Database managers or administrators (DBAs) oversee the storage and access of data for companies, individuals and other analysts. The types of data a database manager oversees can include shipping records, finances, marketing research and client information. In addition to overseeing and organizing the data for quick access, database managers are also responsible for keeping information safe from unauthorized access and hackers.
What to expect from database management schools
Many database managers have a bachelor's degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov, 2012), the degree is often in either management information systems or a computer-related field such as computer science. Bachelor's degrees in computer science or information systems cover subjects such as computer theory, mathematics, and electronics. Bachelor's degrees usually take four years to complete.
Classes in finance, marketing or business may be beneficial in addition to specialized work experience, since database administrators and managers oversee databases for a variety of fields. Database administrators often start out in related positions such as database developer or data analyst, analyzing data, creating databases or developing software (BLS.gov, 2012).
Some companies, such as those with large databases, may require their database managers to earn an MBA before being hired, in addition to requiring prior experience as an analyst or developer. An MBA program usually takes two years to complete and requires a bachelor's degree.
Helpful skills for managing databases
Because of the type of work performed by database administrators, people who are detail-oriented and logical thinkers may enjoy and excel in the profession. The BLS also notes that the following skills may be beneficial for database administrators or managers:
- Analytical skills
- Leadership skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Communication skills
- Organizational skills
- Decision-making skills
While some database managers are general managers, other database managers are specialists and focus either on the physical aspect of database management (setting up and troubleshooting servers or server farms) or the software aspect (creating and merging the database applications for analysts and protecting the data from hackers). The BLS notes that these two specializations are the most common specializations, but others exist (BLS.gov, 2012).
As a result of both the specializations that database managers can have and the nature of the job of general-purpose database managers, the following software and hardware tools may be used by database managers:
- SQL - SQL is the most common database language. According to the BLS, database managers will need to learn either SQL or the query language of the company they work for (BLS.gov, 2012).
- HTSQL - The HTSQL language transforms HTML queries into SQL queries.
- YQL - Yahoo!'s SQL-like language helps sift through information on the Internet.
- MySQL Workbench - This is a visual database design program for database managers, architects and analysts.
- PostgreSQL - This object-relational open source database system runs in a multitude of programming languages, including the well known C/C++, Java and Ruby.
- Toad Data Modeler - Data modelers create documentation on the database structure. Toad can use documentation to back-engineer a database in addition to modeling.
Database managers can also expect to work with wire splitters, crimpers and other computer hardware if they are responsible for the physical maintenance and installation of servers.
Employment outlook for DBAs and managers
The BLS reports that from 2010 to 2020, the employment opportunity outlook for database administrators is expected to increase up to 31 percent, nationally, as a result of the rapid growth of data collection businesses and the need for database security (BLS.gov, 2012). The growth of the health care industry should also contribute to the improvement of job prospects for database administrators.
As of May 2011, the median annual wage for database administrators was $75,190, nationally (BLS.gov, 2012). The highest 10 percent and lowest 10 percent earned $116,870 and $42,360, nationally, during the same period. Insurance carriers, education centers and management service industries employed the most database administrators, nationally, during 2011, with the great numbers employed in California, Texas, and New York.
Sources and further reading:
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Database Administrators
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics, Database Administrators
Developers: Never Mind the APIs, Here's YQL Execute
Reversing already existing database structures