Database Administrator Career with Information Systems Degree

Multiple pieces of computing equipment in a data center.

Today, data is a highly valuable resource for a lot of reasons — but it isn’t always easily understood, managed or stored. In broad terms, database administrators (DBAs) are responsible for setting up databases tailored to a company’s specific needs, while also ensuring that they operate as intended and remain functional.

Job Description: What Does a Database Administrator Do?

Database administrators are incredibly valuable employees. Without the benefits that they bring, namely the organization and effective maintenance of data, many firms across multiple industries would struggle to compete. Using specialized software to store and arrange financial information, customer shipping records and other secure details, DBAs ensure that this data is available to users and secure from unauthorized access.

DBAs are also often responsible for monitoring database design and development. That requires knowing the needs of the database, as well as understanding who will be using it. On an average day, DBAs can expect to do the following:

  • Ensure that organizational data is secure.
  • Back up and restore data to prevent data loss.
  • Identify user needs for creating and administering databases.
  • Make sure databases operate efficiently and without error.
  • Apply and test modifications to database structure when necessary.
  • Supervise database upkeep and update permissions when needed.
  • Merge old databases into new ones.

While most database administrators are general-purpose and complete all or a majority of the tasks detailed above, some specialize in certain assignments within an organization:

System DBAs: Responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, like fixing program bugs and installing upgrades.

Application DBAs: Typically support a database that has been designed for a particular application, like customer service software.

Important Qualities for Database Administrators

Database administrators with the following attributes are likely to perform well in their roles, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggests:

  • Data analytics: Evaluating complex information from a variety of sources requires a keen analytical eye. Database administrators must monitor a database system’s performance closely to determine when action is needed.
  • Communication skills: As a database administrator, you can expect to work on a team. Therefore, you’ll need to communicate effectively with everyone from developers to managers.
  • Attention to detail: Within these complex systems, a minor error can cause a ripple effect of ongoing issues and major problems. With data being so sensitive, you’re responsible for private information that needs to remain secure.
  • Problem-solving skills: When company database problems occur, you’ll troubleshoot solutions in a timely manner.

Database Administration Certification

DBAs will often seek certification because they can be used to leverage your salary as a database administrator. Furthermore, employers may ask that their database administrators hold certifications in the products they work with on a daily basis.

Tech pros looking to advance in their field may consider relevant certifications from industry leaders including IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Database Administration Salary

Database administrators earned a median salary of $101,000 in 2021, according to the BLS. The agency also projects employment growth of 9% in this field over the next decade (2021-31), with an estimated 11,500 new jobs opening each year.

Where Can You Work as a Database Administrator?

DBAs can find work in a nice variety of fields given the widespread usage of data today. Leading employers, however, include organizations that operate in:

  • Computer systems design and related services.
  • Educational services.
  • Management of companies and enterprises.
  • Insurance carriers and related activities.
  • Data management, processing, hosting and related services.

You can also expect to find database administrators working for retail companies to track credit card and shipping information, or in health care organizations managing patients’ medical records.

What Should You Study to Become a Database Administrator?

Database professionals are typically expected to obtain a bachelor’s degree in an information or computer-related subject, like computer science. Given the current — and dominant — state of digital transformation, a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems can prove to be a valuable degree for today’s graduates.

In a traditional information systems program, individuals can expect to cover courses including:

  • Database Management.
  • Information Systems.
  • Operations Management.
  • Project Management.
  • Systems Analysis.
  • Business Programming.
  • Management Processes and Behavior.
  • Fundamentals of Financial Management.

Throughout the their education, aspiring database administrators will develop a strong grasp on other important skills that will be integral to their job as a DBA, such as:

  • Database design and theory.
  • Storage technologies.
  • The client-server model.
  • Network operations.
  • Database software.
  • How to maintain an existing database.
  • Recovering and rolling over databases.
  • Structured Query Language (SQL).
  • How to interact with a database server.
  • The Microsoft SQL server.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s online Bachelor of Science in Information Systems offers a curriculum that is rich in courses, giving students the knowledge and skills they need to pursue a career as a DBA.

Recommended Reading:

9 Information Systems Jobs to Consider

Information Systems vs. Information Technology: Which Degree Is the Right Path for Me?

Information Systems vs. Computer Science



U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook: Database Administrators

U.S. News & World Report – Database Administrator Overview

Business News Daily – Best Certifications for 2020