Earning an online database administration degree could be your first step toward a lucrative career. Databases drive all commerce and record-keeping in our networked world. For example, when you order a product online or visit the doctor, your information gets entered into a database.
As an expert in this field, you will design, program, and administer the systems that control the input and extraction of all computerized data. You'll use software to organize and control inputted information, while making it accessible for those who need it. You'll also enact security measures to ensure your database is safe from hackers. And finally, you might even take the organized data and present it for analysts and stakeholders. Any industry that is seeking to improve its services or security will be hunting for increasingly qualified DBAs to manage their data, with computer systems design and related firms hiring the largest number.
THE CAREER PATH
Most employers will want to validate the knowledge of their DBA through a certification in the products that they use. Some opportunities or certifications will require a bachelor’s degree in a field related to computer or information sciences, and some firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree with a concentration in data management.
In addition to the basic algorithms behind the systems, most DBA professionals will be responsible for tasks such as:
- Ensuring that organizational data is secure
- Maintaining the database, as well as assigning and updating security permissions
- Modifying or delegating modifications to database systems based on organizational needs
- Collecting data in order to evaluate and optimize network or system performance
- Working with a team to coordinate database development and determine project boundaries and limitations
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for database administrators is expected to skyrocket 31% over the coming decade. Pay for this position is quite nice, with a median of $73,500. To make a higher wage (up to $127,000), you'll need a master's degree and work in system design, insurance or financial services. Educational services tend to pay the least.
Online master's and certificates in high-demand areas, such as security and data mining, can boost your job security and paycheck. Like many IT fields, the more specialized your learning, the greater your salary power. Database administrators, considered the top players in this field, generally hold master's degrees and/or various certifications.
It’s also important to realize that most professionals in this field do not start out immediately in a position of administration, but must first excel in a profession such as Software Development with a focus on developing databases or data analysis. Oftentimes, this can be a position that leads to further management opportunities in computer and information systems.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Database administration is a specialized concentration in the computer sciences that may be for those with a particular interest in organizing and storing data. A career in DBA is unique in that it provides many opportunities to learn through experience. Those who seek a career in DBA tend to work their way up the ladder, starting with a focus in a software development or data, financial, or market analyzing respective to each professional.
As a DBA, you may be able to explore a variety of settings in order to find your niche—from organizing medical data to collaborating with financial departments. As long as you can think critically to solve complex problems, cooperate with others, and pay attention to detail, there is a good chance for you to succeed in the DBA profession.
This specialized computer science career requires similar skills as other analytical professions: the ability to problem-solve, to communicate outside of the technical department, to multitask, and to think logically.
If you have an interest in a career with a ladder to climb, that involves data analysis, algorithmic theories, and the languages behind computers, then you're in the right place.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Although this degree is commonly offered as a master's, other options exist. Earning specialized certifications—such as the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) or the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)—will help you qualify for the highest paying gigs. Earning a single online certificate en route to a degree is a great way to get your foot in the door of this lucrative career. See what certificates or specializations your school of choice offers.
Many who enter an online database administration degree program hope to move up to a high level administration position, and the courses often reflect that goal. Expect any online database degree to include core coursework in information systems, networks, logic, data security, computer architecture, programming and standard database systems such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, DB2 and MySQL. The best online database degrees will incorporate courses to help you prepare for private IT certifications.
Common courses include:
- Data Modeling
- Database & Queries
- Database System Analysis and Design
- Programming and Networking
- Computing Ethics and Security Policy
- Database Development, Application, and Integration
According to GetEducated’s rankings, an online bachelor’s degree related to computer science average around $50,000. Keep in mind that this does not take into consideration the cost of books or additional certifications. Specific certifications can vary drastically in cost, and some employers may cover the expenses for experienced employees.