Career Choice: Database Administrator

Career Choice: Database Administrator
  • Opening Intro -

    Ah, computers. They are an essential part of our lives and when they work according to plan, computers are immensely useful.

    When they cause us trouble, we may curse the manufacturer, programmers or anyone else that has had a hand in development.


Fortunately, there are skilled people that help keep our computers humming and running the way that we expect. Among the professionals that work behind the scenes are database administrators, individuals that administer, test, and implement computer databases. Their skills are essential and the people that do this work can expect a bright job outlook in the years ahead according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).


Database administrators may also be known as database coordinators, database programmers, management information systems specialists, or programmer analysts. These individuals oversee and coordinate changes to computer databases, by testing, correcting and modifying same. Administrators also take security precautions to ensure that databases are protected from unauthorized access and from accidents that may unknowingly alter or destroy computer files.

These professionals also train users, answer questions, give users access for each segment of the database, and work as part of a project team with other information technology professionals. Database professionals review project requests, develop standards and guidelines, and acquire or write new software as needed.


Database administrators have at least some training beyond high school. About 60 percent have a college degree, a requirement for many larger companies. Degrees in computer science with a concentration or a minor in system administration are common requirements. These professionals can also expect to complete corporate specific training such as Microsoft Visual, Oracle Data Guard, and Sybase PowerBuilder. Training is, in fact, ongoing.

These professionals must possess numerous skills including complex problem solving, critical thinking and active learning. Administrators must also be knowledgeable about the workings of computers including circuit boards, processors and chips. They should also have very good language and communication skills, be adept at mathematics, and be ready to handle other tasks including clerical assignments.


The average salary for database administrators came in at $77,080 as of 2012 according to the BLS. Beginning salaries are competitive too, with professionals in the 10th percentile earning $42,000 per year on average.

Salaries for those in the 25th percentile were $57,200 per year as of 2012 reports the BLS. Those in the 50th percentile earned $77,100 per year on average. Salaries for database administrators in the 75th and 90th percentiles came in at $99,400 and $118,700 per year respectively on average.

As with most fields, salary averages varied across the United States dramatically for database administrators. Leading the list was Virginia where these professionals earned $92,400 per year on average. At the bottom of the list was Mississippi, where the average salary came in at $50,400 per year, a difference of $42,000. A sample of other states included Minnesota at $78,100, New Mexico at $68,400, and Wyoming at $50,900.

Job Outlook

As of 2010, the BLS records approximately 111,000 people working as database administrators. The forecast for this field is a very bright one with the BLS forecasting a 31 percent boost in jobs from 2010 to 2020. That compares to a 14 percent increase for all jobs.

Businesses are the largest employers of database administrators and the BLS forecasts that most job openings will come from the private sector. Fueling the increase is the healthcare industry where changes in medical record storing and sharing will necessitate more professionals to handle this work. Security will continue to play an important role in database management with trained professionals monitoring, correcting and overseeing information to ensure that it stays free of outside and unwanted influence.


O*Net Online: Summary Report for: 15-1141.00 – Database Administrators

US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Database Administrators

See AlsoCareer Choice: Web Developer


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Categories: Career Planning