How to Become a Database Administrator


The first step in becoming a database administrator, is to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. Does the following describe you? If so, this field might be a good fit:


• Do you enjoy working with data manipulation languages?

• Do you have excellent communication, organization and leadership skills?

• Do you enjoy matching possible business solutions for business problems?


Those who become database administrators are typically individuals with a natural aptitude and interest in computers and information technology. They also tend to have the ability to plan, organize, prioritize and delegate clearly and professionally.


Becoming a database administrator is an excellent choice if you want a career that allows you to leverage your leadership, IT and problem solving skills to provide with a competitive edge to your employer by creating technical solutions for reducing inefficiency.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get your start in this profession. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Database Administrator

The educational requirements for becoming a database administrator vary by employer, and may also depend on the experience and other qualifications the applicant brings to the table. Typically however, many employers tend to hire candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in one of the following fields:


• Computer science

• Computer systems engineering

• Computer engineering

• Information technology

• Mathematics

• Operational research

• Software engineering





General Job Description

Database administrators are responsible for the performance, integrity and security of an information database. They use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records.


Database administrators must ensure that data is readily available to authorized users, and that it is secure from those who are unauthorized. They may also be responsible for the planning, development and troubleshooting of a database.



Typical Job Duties

• Establish user needs

• Monitor user access and security

• Monitor the performance of the database as it relates to the speed of search queries and accuracy of results

• Manage database parameters in order to provide faster responses to users

• Control user access and database permissions

• Write database documentation, including data standards and definitions for the data dictionary

• Install and test new versions of the database management system

• Develop, implement and test backup and recovery plans

• Perform capacity planning



Who Employs Them?

Database administrators are employed on a part-time, full-time and contractual basis by different types of private and public organizations across a variety of industries, including retail, medical government and many others. They can be hired to maintain databases containing such information as the medical records of patients, customer transaction history, or financial information of banking clients.


Jobs for database administrators can exist with small, medium and large companies. This is because organizations of all sizes, even small organizations, house a lot of information on customers, members, clients, suppliers, sales leads and other people or organizations of interest. Businesses, for example, use such information with increasing frequency in order to target new customers, or to reach out to existing customers to sell new products or services to them.


Organizations that employ database administrators include:


• Internet service firms

• Data-processing firms

• Construction companies

• Utility companies

• Oil, gas and mining companies

• Hospitals and health care organizations

• Colleges and universities

• Federal, provincial/state and municipal government departments

• Transportation companies

• Telecommunications companies

• Insurance, finance and banking organizations

• Management consulting companies

• Manufacturing companies

• Retailers





Experience You'll Need

Database administrators need to posses in-depth technical expertise in a variety of areas. Because of this, the path for getting into this role typically begins by working in information technology jobs of lower responsibility. For example, you can get a job as an application programmer, Windows system administrator, help desk technician, or a technical support specialist.


Gaining experience in such positions is a great way to transition to a career as a database administrator, as it will provide you with the appropriate skills, knowledge and competencies, such as skills in database development and troubleshooting.


If you currently work in one of these roles, you should speak to your manager about your career ambitions, they can provide you with guidance as far as employee development and training programs. This will also put you on their radar for any future database administrator jobs, or assistant database administrator jobs. 



Skills and Traits Needed to Be Successful

To be an effective and successful database administrator, you'll need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. They will allow you to perform your job duties with competence, as well as help you to overcome the challenges of this career.


• An understanding of the business requirements of IT

• Able to work to under pressure, such as when facing tight deadlines

• Familiarity with the main data manipulation languages

• Familiarity with the principles of database design

• A firm commitment to continuing professional development

• Enjoy working with numbers, data and statistics

• Excellent communication and teamwork skills

• Enjoy providing recommendations to decision makers

• Do not require a lot of social interaction during the day

• Enjoy analyzing problems and solving them



Job Postings - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "database administrator" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Average Salary Level

The salary level of database administrators can vary based on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, the size and type of their employer, and many others.


Database Administrator Salary Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Database Analysts and Data Administrators occupational group earn an average of between $85,996 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 12, 2019).


Database Administrator Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Database Administrators is $77,080 per year. The lowest 10% of salaries in this group are below $42,930, and the top 10% are above $118,720 per year.



Similar Career Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'database administrator', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Business Analyst

Clinical Data Analyst

Data Analyst

Data Processing Director

IT Manager




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a database administrator:


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Computer Network Administrator.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

Computer and Information Technology:Database Administrators.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 9, 2019.

DBA Corner:How to Become a DBA.” Craig S. Mullins (July 9, 2013). Database Trends & Applications website. Retrieved November 9, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Database Administrator

The 'Applicable Majors' section below shows fields of study relevant to this profession. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for preparing you to become a database administrator. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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