What Does a Database Administrator Do? (And How to Become One)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 1 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Database administrators usually work in a team of database professionals and assist in the maintenance of information systems. Maintaining database systems can involve updating the system's security, upgrading software and resolving system issues. Discovering the responsibilities of a database administrator can help you determine which database role may be best for you. In this article, you can find the answer to 'what does a database administrator do?' and explore some of the similar roles in the database profession.

What does a database administrator do?

If you're interested in a tech career, you may wonder, 'What does a database administrator do?' Database administrators typically have vast skills and knowledge in computer systems. They help to maintain, secure and organise a company's database. Through organisational skills, administrators ensure database systems run efficiently. Modern businesses typically store most of their data on a virtual database. If the database isn't secure, there may be a risk of unauthorised access. Database administrators often assist in maintaining and installing security systems to help protect virtual information.

The typical tasks and duties of a database administrator often include:

  • planning security measures for database systems

  • protecting data from unauthorised access

  • providing system back-ups

  • ensuring data is in the correct database

  • training office staff in the use of information systems

  • monitoring the performance and efficiency of a database system

  • liaising with developers, clients, employees and managers

  • upgrading database languages

  • organising large databases

  • assisting in database management

  • upgrading existing databases

  • handling physical and technical aspects of a database

  • merging multiple information systems into one

  • developing maintenance functions such as tracking, debugging and logging

  • improving management information systems

Helpful skills to have as a database administrator

There are several technical skills specific to database operations, such as the effective use of database software. You may also benefit from a wide range of soft skills. Soft skills are usually the skills that define your personality and habits. Below you can find some of the skills that can be of benefit to a database administrator when carrying out their typical tasks:

Teamwork capabilities

Database administrators often work within a team of database experts. When working with others, having skills in teamwork may improve the dynamic between employees, allowing for efficient operations. Collaboration often incorporates several other skills, such as communication, adaptability and integrity. There are many ways you can improve your ability to work in teams. One of the most popular methods for improvement is to involve yourself more with others and work on being more considerate.

Computer software skills

Almost all of the modern-day database systems are virtual and have online access. Most information systems use management software to organise incoming and outgoing electronic data. Having a general understanding of computer programs and network systems may help an administrator effectively complete their duties. You can usually improve your computer skills by gaining experience in using business programs, such as the wide range of Microsoft applications. If you don't have access to a computer, you may consider visiting your local library as they often have public access to computers.

Effective communication

Being able to communicate effectively can help most professionals in vast industries across the world. Database administrators may have the responsibility of training employees and office staff in the use of database systems. When teaching someone a process, it's essential to communicate the information with clarity and structure. Improving your communication can often come with life experiences. It's important to identify communication habits that may require improvements, such as active listening and clear speech.

Related: Active Listening Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a database administrator

Completing a qualification relating to database systems can provide you with the skills to become a database administrator. There are several more advanced roles in the database industry, such as a manager or specialist. Completing an advanced qualification, such as a bachelor's degree, may help you gain employment in these advanced roles. Below you can find a helpful guide to becoming a database administrator:

1. Complete a certificate

Completing a certificate such as a Certificate IV in Digital Media Technologies usually provides you with the knowledge to begin your career in the database industry. Certificates typically take six months to two years to complete. The duration of studies generally depends on the course provider. A Certificate IV commonly involves theoretical studies and practical work experience.

Related: 7 Best IT Certifications for a Successful IT Career

2. Further your education

Advanced educational courses such as a master's degree can provide you with specialist knowledge. You're likely to obtain more skills in database technology through a master's degree than a certificate. Master degrees generally take five years to complete, which includes a three-year bachelor. Having an advanced qualification can demonstrate to your potential employers that you have commitment and dedication to the database sector.

3. Apply for the career of a database administrator

When applying for the role of a database administrator, the job requirements may vary. Generally, the more qualifications you have, the more chance you have of finding a career as a database administrator. Having extensive work experience in similar roles may also help display your competency in technology and computer systems. You can apply for a career in database administration by using the Indeed Job Board.

What are the different types of database administrators?

Although there are many general-purpose database administrators, some specialise in certain tasks. Tasks often vary with the organisation and their needs. There are typically two types of database administrators, system database administrators and application database administrators.

System database administrators are responsible for system architecture, installing upgrades and fixing bugs. Application database administrators work with specific applications within databases, such as computer software. Application database administrators use complex programming languages to solve problems with an application.

Why can a database administrator be important for a business?

Several decades ago, most businesses recorded physical data, such as receipts, purchase orders and invoices. Over time, technological advancements have been steadily increasing, providing much more efficient methods of information storage. Virtual database systems can help companies store large amounts of information. Companies consider database administrators as vital to the industry, as these data systems regularly require maintenance and upgrading.

Salary

The average salary for a database administrator is $93,287 per year. There may be variations in your salary as a database administrator depending on your employer, your responsibilities in the role and your location.

Below are the national average salaries for the role of a database administrator across different cities:

  • Melbourne, Victoria: $96,704 per year

  • Sydney, New South Wales: $102,347 per year

  • Adelaide, South Australia: $78,442 per year

  • Darwin, Northern Territory: $105,779 per year

  • Hobart, Tasmania: $100,401 per year

  • Perth, Western Australia: $106,245 per year

  • Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: $136,408 per year

  • Brisbane, Queensland: $63,992 per year

Similar careers in the database industry

If you're considering the role of a database administrator, there may be several database careers that you can advance to. Some database jobs may prove to be easier to obtain in comparison to the position of a database administrator. Below you can discover some of the other careers in the database industry along with their average salaries:

Database analyst

National average salary: $74,383 per year

Primary responsibilities: Database analysts typically research collections of information to determine appropriate management systems. Medical data may require unique storage compared to financial data. Analysts study the variations of information for each industry and assist database developers in creating database systems. Database analysts typically work for large corporations or information technology companies.

Records coordinator

National average salary: $89,480 per year

Primary duties: Records coordinators typically have experience in organising and managing physical and digital records. They may evaluate and implement advanced management systems to ensure the smooth operation of information storage. Records coordinators usually have a basic understanding of database systems, structured query language, administration and computer systems. Most records coordinators work for businesses that require consistent management of their business documentation.

Database developer

National average salary: $105,056 per year

Primary responsibilities: Database developers use analytical information to create a database structure that suits the needs of a business. Several industries may require different database functions. For example, databases used to store information about national defence likely require an extensive data security system. Database developers take into account the size of a company and the amount of information that needs storing. They often work for large companies or database development businesses.

Database specialist

National average salary: $123,201 per year

Primary responsibilities: Database specialists are experts in database security and designing systems to handle vast amounts of information. Government agencies that employ hundreds or thousands of employees have advanced data management systems in place. Database specialists create and maintain complex information services. They may often work for government organisations or data processing firms.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article is affiliated with Indeed.

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