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Database Administrators

Database Administrators


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What's Needed:

  • Database administrators, also known as DBAs, often have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information systems, or a business field.
  • Some positions involving complex business databases favor candidates with an MBA along with technical experience.
  • Database administrators advance by assuming more management responsibility, learning emerging technologies, and demonstrating an understanding of business concerns.

What you study:

Study topics include:

  • Database languages
  • Database design and architecture
  • Systems administration
  • Networking technologies
  • Information security
  • Web technologies


Video Overview

Briefly summarizes the work of database administrators. Slightly out of date but still a useful overview. Produced for the US Department of Labor.


A Day in the Life

You safeguard an organization’s critical data.

As a database administrator, you safeguard an organization’s critical data. When database applications are running smoothly, you may feel almost invisible to co-workers. This morning, however, the human resources manager flags you down outside of your office. She explains in a panicked tone that the employee database has crashed, and her staff is paralyzed until you fix it. You log in to the database back end and see SQL errors indicating massive data corruption. Keeping your expression neutral, you politely see her out and promise to call shortly with an update. You then contact your manager, who is working from home today, with a heads up.

You track down a cyber attack that caused a database failure.

An hour later, you have isolated the problem to gibberish injected into the one of the database tables. It is unlike any string you have seen before, so you consult with the IT security expert. She pokes around and confirms your suspicion that a malicious attack rather than a system failure is the likely culprit. She warns you to prepare to do a full database restore from backups and disappears into her office, affectionately called Fort Knox, to work hacker magic.

A data restore is an exacting process with critical steps.

Two hours later, you are cleared for a database restore from yesterday’s backup prior to the attack. After locking out all users from the application, you shut it down. You have done nightly backups and regular test restores, so you are confident of success. Nonetheless, a full restore is an exacting process with several critical steps. Afterward, you must check the integrity of the database, its records, and connections to other systems. You verify user access and then ask the HR manager to log in to her application and test common functions.

By the time you break for a hasty sandwich, people are starting to leave. Only the IT team stays to wrap up the day’s events. Around 9 p.m., you and the security expert split a pizza while plugging the security hole that threatened your co-workers now relaxing at home.


Certifications and Licensing

Database administrators usually work with vendor applications and may find vendor certification useful or even required. As information security has become top priority, DBAs should also consider vendor-neutral security certifications from the SANS Institute, CompTIA and other recognized providers. DBAs specializing in certain applications such as healthcare databases might obtain industry certificates of knowledge.


Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most database administrators are employed full time, and 25 percent regularly work overtime. They may handle emergency fixes or upgrades during evenings and weekends when users do not need system access.

Work location:

Almost all industries have need of database administrators. About 15 percent work for computer systems design companies offering IT services to clients. Many other DBAs are found in the data-intensive fields of finance, insurance, information management, and education. Most DBAs work on site in offices and server rooms though they may travel for training or to assist other sites.


Recommended Websites

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook – The site explains the unique role that database administrators play on the IT team. Readers exploring IT career options should gain a clear sense of general duties and helpful personal qualities. For more information about database administration, also visit other reputable websites about information technology.
  • IEEE Computer Society – The IEEE Computer Society is a worldwide membership organization for computing professionals. The site features a useful student section with information on technical classes, scholarships and grants, and IEEE employer partners.
  • SANS Institute – The SANS Institute promotes information security research and education. It offers a wealth of free resources, such as training and security bulletins, which provide good background for those considering the IT field. The site also describes the highly regarded SANS security certifications.
  • Association for Computing Machinery – The ACM is a membership organization that promotes education and interest in computer-related fields. The site offers excellent resources for students and career changers investigating IT career options.


Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column -- for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$76,070$39K - $104K1000.06%
ALBirmingham - Hoover$67,750$39K - $107K5600.12%
ALHuntsville$81,320$41K - $125K3100.15%
ALMobile$56,590$34K - $85K2300.14%
ALMontgomery$65,620$45K - $96K4500.29%
ALTuscaloosa$46,390$32K - $84K400.04%
ARFayetteville - Springdale - Rogers$71,080$47K - $93K2300.11%
ARFort Smith$68,780$37K - $94K600.06%
ARLittle Rock - North Little Rock - Conway$54,600$29K - $93K7100.21%
AZPhoenix - Mesa - Glendale$71,750$44K - $112K2,3000.13%
AZTucson$62,360$40K - $94K2700.08%
CABakersfield - Delano$67,730$34K - $92K1100.04%
CAFresno$57,700$33K - $91K1100.04%
CALos Angeles - Long Beach - Glendale (Metro Area)$84,130$46K - $136K2,3200.06%
CAModesto$83,840$45K - $145K600.04%
CAOakland - Fremont - Hayward (Metro Area)$87,140$48K - $128K1,0200.11%
CAOxnard - Thousand Oaks - Ventura$57,990$34K - $112K3100.11%
CARiverside - San Bernardino - Ontario$76,150$42K - $110K5600.05%
CASacramento - Arden - Arcade - Roseville$76,580$38K - $114K5000.06%
CASalinas$76,860$41K - $114K1000.06%
CASan Diego - Carlsbad - San Marcos$83,940$47K - $121K9300.07%
CASan Francisco - San Mateo - Redwood City (Metro Area)$96,190$58K - $140K1,1300.11%
CASan Jose - Sunnyvale - Santa Clara$96,900$49K - $144K1,5100.17%
CASanta Ana - Anaheim - Irvine (Metro Area)$81,870$44K - $125K1,1300.08%
CASanta Barbara - Santa Maria - Goleta$69,350$49K - $122K1000.06%
CASanta Cruz - Watsonville$77,860$52K - $113K400.05%
CASanta Rosa - Petaluma$83,230$50K - $122K800.04%
CAStockton$64,550$40K - $92K400.02%
CAVallejo - Fairfield$76,760$48K - $112K700.05%
CAVisalia - Porterville$67,450$37K - $92K400.03%
COBoulder$79,620$45K - $140K2100.13%
COColorado Springs$86,090$45K - $118K3200.13%
CODenver - Aurora - Broomfield$83,220$46K - $122K1,4200.12%
COFort Collins - Loveland$87,590$47K - $113K900.07%
CTBridgeport - Stamford - Norwalk$76,720$44K - $133K4000.10%
CTDanbury$57,210$38K - $121K300.05%
CTHartford - West Hartford - East Hartford$84,410$51K - $130K6200.11%
CTNew Haven$88,280$60K - $121K1600.06%
CTNorwich - New London$75,180$43K - $111K600.05%
DCWashington - Arlington - Alexandria (Metro Area)$97,980$52K - $142K5,1300.22%
DEDover$62,030$50K - $120K300.06%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$93,160$55K - $123K3900.12%
FLCape Coral - Fort Myers$78,140$54K - $105K700.03%
FLCrestview - Fort Walton Beach - Destin$70,950$45K - $110K700.09%
FLDeltona - Daytona Beach - Ormond Beach$70,660$42K - $114K600.04%
FLFort Lauderdale - Pompano Beach - Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$74,990$41K - $110K6000.08%
FLGainesville$61,940$44K - $86K800.07%
FLJacksonville$77,140$44K - $114K5200.09%
FLLakeland - Winter Haven$70,470$42K - $94K1300.07%
FLMiami - Miami Beach - Kendall (Metro Area)$74,910$46K - $135K7100.07%
FLNaples - Marco Island$67,690$46K - $95K300.03%
FLNorth Port - Bradenton - Sarasota$71,800$36K - $118K1500.06%
FLOcala$60,770$35K - $95K400.04%
FLOrlando - Kissimmee - Sanford$71,080$44K - $109K8700.09%
FLPalm Bay - Melbourne - Titusville$77,860$41K - $107K2100.11%
FLPensacola - Ferry Pass - Brent$60,310$38K - $90K800.05%
FLPort St. Lucie$71,220$45K - $93K500.04%
FLTallahassee$58,990$40K - $86K2400.15%
FLTampa - St. Petersburg - Clearwater$81,690$43K - $114K1,4500.13%
FLWest Palm Beach - Boca Raton - Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$78,860$49K - $103K3400.07%
GAAlbany$61,850$44K - $91K300.06%
GAAthens - Clarke County$72,220$55K - $120K400.05%
GAAtlanta - Sandy Springs - Marietta$84,950$50K - $122K3,1300.14%
GAAugusta - Richmond County$70,620$40K - $107K800.04%
GAColumbus$74,110$49K - $115K700.07%
GADalton$77,320$47K - $129K500.08%
GAGainesville$82,840$39K - $114K300.05%
GASavannah$60,210$47K - $115K500.04%
HIHonolulu$64,920$43K - $89K2100.05%
IACedar Rapids$69,770$39K - $101K1600.12%
IADavenport - Moline - Rock Island$71,310$41K - $113K1300.07%
IADes Moines - West Des Moines$81,390$41K - $109K3600.11%
IADubuque$60,320$35K - $94K500.10%
IAIowa City$58,310$44K - $87K700.08%
IAWaterloo - Cedar Falls$62,010$36K - $77K500.05%
IDBoise City - Nampa$68,170$37K - $109K1500.06%
ILBloomington - Normal$77,230$50K - $103KN/AN/A
ILChampaign - Urbana$68,670$50K - $114K600.06%
ILChicago - Joliet - Naperville (Metro Area)$85,470$50K - $120K3,7700.10%
ILLake County - Kenosha County (Metro Area)$68,780$43K - $111K3200.09%
ILPeoria$56,710$37K - $92K700.04%
ILRockford$62,980$38K - $95K500.03%
ILSpringfield$56,350$41K - $75K700.06%
INBloomington$68,110$43K - $92K1100.15%
INEvansville$70,650$31K - $110K600.04%
INFort Wayne$62,300$38K - $99K900.05%
INGary (Metro Area)$43,790$31K - $97K1000.04%
INIndianapolis - Carmel$72,120$42K - $109K9100.10%
INLafayette$67,190$42K - $94K500.06%
INMuncie$75,870$40K - $114K300.07%
INSouth Bend - Mishawaka$43,890$31K - $76K600.05%
INTerre Haute$59,410$32K - $93KN/AN/A
KSLawrence$72,620$39K - $95K500.12%
KSTopeka$65,690$49K - $109K1100.10%
KSWichita$75,040$46K - $110K1700.06%
KYBowling Green$72,680$43K - $95K400.08%
KYElizabethtown$80,930$39K - $119KN/AN/A
KYLexington - Fayette$54,260$36K - $82K2500.10%
KYLouisville - Jefferson County$71,630$39K - $111K3900.06%
LABaton Rouge$68,050$43K - $96K800.02%
LALafayette$48,660$36K - $78K500.03%
LANew Orleans - Metairie - Kenner$65,130$40K - $95K1400.03%
LAShreveport - Bossier City$60,240$44K - $100K700.04%
MABoston - Cambridge - Quincy (Metro Area)$83,820$51K - $127K3,1100.18%
MAFramingham (Metro Area)$63,520$44K - $112K2600.17%
MALowell - Billerica - Chelmsford (Metro Area)$76,010$36K - $135K1600.14%
MASpringfield$75,570$44K - $123K2100.07%
MAWorcester$80,760$51K - $119K4100.17%
MDBaltimore - Towson$78,270$46K - $122K1,6900.13%
MDBethesda - Rockville - Frederick (Metro Area)$96,340$55K - $132K1,0600.19%
MDHagerstown - Martinsburg$63,650$35K - $118K1300.13%
MEPortland - South Portland - Biddeford$68,850$42K - $106K1500.08%
MIAnn Arbor$68,570$47K - $97K2400.12%
MIDetroit - Livonia - Dearborn (Metro Area)$79,910$42K - $116K6000.09%
MIGrand Rapids - Wyoming$63,660$36K - $106K2400.06%
MIHolland - Grand Haven$54,310$30K - $85K800.08%
MIKalamazoo - Portage$65,880$35K - $95K300.02%
MILansing - East Lansing$54,990$29K - $89KN/AN/A
MISaginaw - Saginaw Township North$67,700$48K - $109K400.05%
MIWarren - Troy - Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$70,990$43K - $107K9600.09%
MNDuluth$48,900$36K - $67K500.04%
MNMinneapolis - St. Paul - Bloomington$81,000$50K - $119K2,2200.13%
MNRochester$86,190$51K - $114K600.06%
MNSt. Cloud$66,560$44K - $95K400.04%
MOColumbia$68,580$35K - $100K600.07%
MOJefferson City$54,210$33K - $102K500.08%
MOJoplin$59,490$33K - $84K600.08%
MOKansas City$73,870$42K - $114K1,0700.11%
MOSpringfield$60,760$32K - $91K800.04%
MOSt. Louis$81,230$46K - $115K2,1000.16%
MSGulfport - Biloxi$53,120$34K - $75K400.03%
MSJackson$51,160$32K - $90K2700.11%
MSPascagoula$55,970$41K - $75K300.06%
NCAsheville$59,680$42K - $96K600.03%
NCCharlotte - Gastonia - Rock Hill$88,720$45K - $124K7900.09%
NCDurham - Chapel Hill$80,310$48K - $119K3400.12%
NCGreensboro - High Point$79,760$42K - $122K2100.06%
NCHickory - Lenoir - Morganton$63,250$35K - $84K400.03%
NCJacksonville$79,520$64K - $113KN/AN/A
NCRaleigh - Cary$90,600$52K - $119K5800.11%
NCWilmington$59,300$40K - $99K500.04%
NCWinston - Salem$70,710$37K - $112K800.04%
NDBismarck$66,670$35K - $90K500.07%
NDFargo$66,140$44K - $99K900.07%
NELincoln$64,280$40K - $97K1200.08%
NEOmaha - Council Bluffs$78,480$44K - $113K6900.15%
NHManchester$78,180$33K - $115K1100.11%
NHNashua (Metro Area)$76,720$46K - $109K1500.12%
NJAtlantic City - Hammonton$57,270$43K - $104K400.03%
NJCamden (Metro Area)$83,970$43K - $132K2400.05%
NJEdison - New Brunswick (Metro Area)$80,620$63K - $121K1,4700.15%
NJNewark - Union (Metro Area)$87,110$49K - $121K7500.08%
NJTrenton - Ewing$98,350$55K - $137K2800.13%
NMAlbuquerque$72,440$40K - $105K2400.06%
NMSanta Fe$58,610$34K - $80K700.11%
NVLas Vegas - Paradise$80,720$42K - $120K3700.05%
NVReno - Sparks$47,620$40K - $82K1100.06%
NYAlbany - Schenectady - Troy$78,860$43K - $99K7200.17%
NYBinghamton$52,330$34K - $86K500.05%
NYBuffalo - Niagara Falls$65,980$37K - $104K3400.06%
NYNassau - Suffolk (Metro Area)$79,420$40K - $126K7800.06%
NYNew York - White Plains - Wayne (Metro Area)$88,250$48K - $142K5,3600.10%
NYPoughkeepsie - Newburgh - Middletown$77,590$44K - $113K700.03%
NYRochester$72,900$42K - $107K4700.09%
NYSyracuse$62,630$40K - $93K1800.06%
NYUtica - Rome$48,720$35K - $95K900.07%
OHAkron$73,840$48K - $101K2200.07%
OHCanton - Massillon$52,630$41K - $94K800.05%
OHCincinnati - Middletown$73,670$45K - $109K1,0200.10%
OHCleveland - Elyria - Mentor$60,990$39K - $106K7100.07%
OHColumbus$83,000$47K - $114K1,2200.13%
OHDayton$74,330$47K - $119K4200.12%
OHToledo$65,780$41K - $97K1900.06%
OHYoungstown - Warren - Boardman$72,080$44K - $102K1100.05%
OKOklahoma City$61,670$40K - $92K4100.07%
OKTulsa$69,950$41K - $109K2500.06%
OREugene - Springfield$74,490$43K - $95K800.06%
ORPortland - Vancouver - Hillsboro$79,150$43K - $114K9500.10%
ORSalem$67,800$36K - $93K1000.07%
PAAllentown - Bethlehem - Easton$74,350$44K - $123K2200.07%
PAErie$59,800$34K - $101K600.05%
PAHarrisburg - Carlisle$66,650$39K - $100K4200.14%
PALancaster$67,800$41K - $96K800.03%
PAPhiladelphia (Metro Area)$76,360$48K - $115K1,8500.10%
PAPittsburgh$78,150$44K - $115K1,2300.11%
PAReading$73,420$34K - $112K700.04%
PAScranton - Wilkes - Barre$70,200$33K - $106K1000.04%
PAYork - Hanover$62,650$45K - $87K800.05%
PRSan Juan - Caguas - Guaynabo$44,570$24K - $76K3300.04%
RIProvidence - Fall River - Warwick$81,080$50K - $114K4200.08%
SCCharleston - North Charleston - Summerville$58,750$35K - $111K1700.06%
SCColumbia$57,000$35K - $92K3100.09%
SCGreenville - Mauldin - Easley$63,670$36K - $93K2900.10%
SCSpartanburg$62,930$33K - $94K700.06%
SDSioux Falls$73,040$50K - $100K700.05%
TNChattanooga$79,490$38K - $112K1400.06%
TNClarksville$72,770$41K - $94KN/AN/A
TNJohnson City$56,130$40K - $80K400.05%
TNKingsport - Bristol - Bristol$48,120$30K - $91K400.03%
TNKnoxville$71,390$40K - $101K2600.08%
TNMemphis$81,080$43K - $113K3300.06%
TNNashville - Davidson - Murfreesboro - Franklin$74,220$41K - $108K6400.09%
TXAbilene$60,240$30K - $76K400.07%
TXAmarillo$87,830$50K - $123K500.05%
TXAustin - Round Rock - San Marcos$78,120$42K - $117K1,4100.17%
TXBeaumont - Port Arthur$64,140$37K - $112K700.04%
TXCollege Station - Bryan$54,440$29K - $85K600.06%
TXCorpus Christi$63,080$39K - $96K700.04%
TXDallas - Plano - Irving (Metro Area)$79,440$41K - $116K3,3000.16%
TXEl Paso$60,970$39K - $105K1500.06%
TXFort Worth - Arlington (Metro Area)$79,110$43K - $113K8800.10%
TXHouston - Sugar Land - Baytown$74,900$41K - $120K2,1400.08%
TXKilleen - Temple - Fort Hood$67,750$40K - $116K1000.08%
TXLubbock$61,770$36K - $100K500.04%
TXMcAllen - Edinburg - Mission$57,990$37K - $85K700.03%
TXSan Antonio - New Braunfels$76,140$45K - $107K7800.09%
TXTyler$54,560$35K - $112K400.04%
TXWaco$65,340$36K - $103K500.05%
UTOgden - Clearfield$84,880$61K - $112K800.04%
UTProvo - Orem$81,610$45K - $117K2100.12%
UTSalt Lake City$81,440$46K - $113K5200.08%
VACharlottesville$77,630$44K - $131K1700.17%
VAHarrisonburg$68,910$41K - $110K400.07%
VALynchburg$47,540$31K - $94K500.05%
VARichmond$86,030$47K - $119K8600.14%
VARoanoke$61,330$41K - $112K900.06%
VAVirginia Beach - Norfolk - Newport News$68,250$43K - $108K6900.10%
VTBurlington - South Burlington$53,030$35K - $102K600.05%
WAKennewick - Pasco - Richland$83,560$49K - $123K400.04%
WAOlympia$64,160$50K - $88K400.04%
WASeattle - Bellevue - Everett (Metro Area)$89,810$57K - $123K2,1600.15%
WASpokane$80,630$45K - $119K800.04%
WATacoma (Metro Area)$77,740$43K - $117K900.03%
WIAppleton$70,320$40K - $96K600.06%
WIEau Claire$75,420$46K - $110K300.04%
WIFond du Lac$58,520$40K - $96K300.07%
WIGreen Bay$54,760$38K - $92K2300.14%
WIMadison$63,020$35K - $100K4500.13%
WIMilwaukee - Waukesha - West Allis$83,110$50K - $115K9300.12%
WIOshkosh - Neenah$78,180$44K - $112K700.07%
WVCharleston$51,680$34K - $79K900.06%
WVMorgantown$52,710$32K - $80K700.11%
WYCheyenne$50,170$39K - $82K1000.24%