What Is the Best Degree Path to Becoming a Database Administrator?

Picking a course of study in college is a major decision that affects your future career opportunities. If you find yourself gravitating toward a major related to computer science, you may want to start preparing for a career as a database administrator. Database administrator is among the top paying jobs for computer science and mathematics majors. Experienced database administrators earn a median annual salary of $85,800. Securing a position as a database administrator requires a combination of college education at multiple levels, relevant work experience and often professional certification. The first step toward achieving your career goal of becoming a database administrator is to attend college to earn a bachelor’s degree and possibly even a graduate degree.

Education for Aspiring Database Administrators

Preparation for a career as a database administrator begins with a college education. Students who aspire to this position should earn a bachelor’s degree in computer-science, management information systems or another relevant major in computers or information technology. This degree will qualify graduates for entry-level jobs in computer science of information technology.

To advance to higher-level positions, including database administrator, candidates may need to hold an advanced degree, as well. Larger firms might look for candidates who have master’s degree in information systems, computer science, information technology or more specifically data and database management, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. It’s important that aspiring database administrators develop a solid background in database languages and particularly in the most common language, Structured Query Language or SQL.

Attaining Certification and Experience

Database administrators enjoy a positive job outlook, with a somewhat better-than-average expected 15 percent job growth. However, competition for these high-level and high paying positions can still be fierce. While not required, getting certification in a product or programming language can give aspiring database administrators a competitive edge when pursuing their desired position. Candidates can take examinations to become certified in Oracle, Microsoft and other database products and vendors.

Database administrator is typically not an entry-level position. Instead, aspiring database administrators often begin their work in lower level positions such as data analyst and database developer. Entry-level workers who learn from their on-the-job experience and demonstrate qualities such as analytical and problem-solving skills can then earn promotions to database administrator roles.

Though earning college degrees, passing the examinations necessary to achieve certification and gaining work experience in lower-level positions takes a good deal of time and effort, work as a database administrator can be rewarding in many ways. Of course, the high rate of pay is one of the benefits of this career path. The job outlook, slightly better than that expected across all professions, is another positive. U.S. News & World Report even ranked database administrator as the fifth best technology job and the 12th best job out of the 100 best jobs overall. For candidates who are detail-oriented problem-solvers and enjoy putting their analytical skills to work, the job itself can be very fulfilling.

Brenda Rufener

Julie McCaulley

Carrie Sealey-Morris