How To Become A Database Administrator (DBA)

The DBA Career Guide features resources, articles and answers for aspiring, new or experienced DBAs on topics like "how to start a DBA career", "how to get a DBA job", "how to learn or improve technical skills for DBA jobs", "how to succeed in the workplace as a DBA", "How to advance DBA careers" and "How to deal with managers, peers and clients in the workplace!"
How To Become A Database Administrator (DBA)

Database administrators (DBAs) use Database Management Systems like SQL Server and Oracle software to secure, manage and maintain, backup and restore data, business or organizational records.

Database administrators typically get full time work. About 1 in 5 DBAs worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. In 2016, the median pay for DBAs was $84,950.

Database administrators or DBAs work with data analysts to identify or find the information needed by the organization. DBAs work with management to understand the company’s business goals and provide the supporting data.

DBAs also work with software developers and database developers to design and develop new databases and / or business software.

The Database Administrator's (DBA) Job Description

Here is an overview of the database administrator’s (DBA) job description.

  • The database administrator or DBA is responsible for installing / maintaining databases, applying patches and upgrading databases to newer versions.

  • The DBA is responsible for maintaining the security of the databases in the environment.

  • The DBA is usually tasked with supporting production, staging or quality assurance databases while but the support of development databases is often left to the software / database developer.

  • The DBA is responsible for maintaining the uptime or availability of production databases.

  • The DBA monitors production databases regularly and is responsible for bringing down the database or taking the database offline when the need arises.

  • The DBA’s roles, responsibilities and duties also includes monitoring or optimizing performance, security, backup, recovery or integrity of database management systems as well as preparing, documenting and executing disaster recovery plans.

To get more information, resources, guidance, help or coaching on Database Administration (DBA) careers, Signup for the ...  Database Administrator's (DBA) Career Guide

Chapter 1: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

DBAs are responsible for a good deal of the electronic records, data and business intelligence in an organization and with that in mind, older DBAs can be more marketable than younger DBAS because they are seen as being more stable, mature and experienced (even if they are not).

DBAs gets benefits (medical, dental, vision, 401k) depending on whether they are full-time / permanent employees or contract / temp employees just like other professionals in the workplace.

Full-time DBAs may have more comprehensive benefit packages from their employers than contract / temp DBAs who have shorter employment periods. However ,contact / temp DBAs may be paid higher salaries by their staffing agencies during their engagement period.

A DBA job can be a good career for you, if you are willing to dedicate the time and attention it takes to become really good. DBA jobs pay well and are not easily outsourced.

Changing careers to the DBA career path can be fairly challenging because of the high level of technical expertise, experience, professionalism and leadership needed for DBA jobs.

Keep in mind that in many organizations, the DBA oversees the work done by database designers, database developers, SQL developers, report writers, data analysts and software developers whenever their work requires access to organizational data.

Job Outlook (2014 to 2024): Employment of database administrators is projected to grow 11 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Salary: DBAs earn well above the median wage. The median salary for a DBA in 2016, is around $84,950 per year or $40.84 per hour. This Median wage data is from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey.
In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

Job Prospects: Job prospects are favorable for database administrators because they are in high demand and sometimes employers have difficulty finding qualified workers for DBA jobs.
DBAs who have cutting-edge skills / experience have good prospects.

Database Design & Development: A DBAs career path includes mastering all aspects of Database Design and Development.

Data Analysis & Reporting: While a DBA does not need to master all aspects of data analysis / reporting, a fairly good knowledge of this will be helpful.

Database & Server Management: A DBA also needs to master data management, backups, capacity planning and some aspects of server monitoring, management, support or maintenance.

Database Administrator (DBA) types jobs are highly specialized and competitive tech jobs that require a lot of technical mastery, skills and experience and with that in mind, a DBA certification can help distinguish you from the competition.

So, while certifications are helpful for DBA jobs / careers, they are not required / mandatory for every DBA type job out there.

While a code of ethics / conduct can help professional database administrators (DBAs) maintain or demonstrate the highest level of ethical practice, personal behavior, and professional integrity ,it is by not means required or mandatory and the guidelines (when available) will vary from employer to employer.

So, use common sense, do the right thing always and check with your employer

DBAs need strong technical skills, trouble-shooting, problem solving, critical thinking, time-management, project planning, leadership and communication skills.

Because of the broader range of business skills needed for DBA type jobs, a college degree is more often than not needed and required.

While a college degree is strictly not required or mandatory for every Database Administrator job out there, it is still expected in a lot of DBA jobs.

While any major or college degree would be ok for a DBA type job, a degree in Business Administration, Management Information Systems (MIS) or Computer Sciences is preferred in some cases and in some firms, an MBA or a masters degree is helpful.

Outsourcing will not replace DBA jobs because a lot of organizations prefer to keep their DBAs local or onsite because of security concerns and the sensitivity / volume of data managed by their DBAs.

In-spite of the current outsourcing trends, the demand for DBA jobs is expected to increase at a higher rate than that of most jobs through 2024.

Analytical Skills: DBAs manage a lot of data, databases, systems and processes and so, they need to quickly visualize, articulate, conceptualize or solve both complex and uncomplicated problems by making decisions that are sensible given the available information.

Communication Skills: DBAs work in a team with other DBAs, managers, data analysts, software developers, database developers, project managers and management and need to communicate issues and solutions effectively.

Attention to Detail: DBA need to be very attentive because errors in their work can cause production issues that affect clients and management.

Logical Thinking: DBAs need to think through or create step by step solutions to frequently occurring problems and also systemize their solutions.

Problem-Solving Skills: DBAs need good trouble-shooting skills because they are the primary organizational resource or support for a lot of database / data issues.

Production DBAs and Development DBAs are two DBA specializations / career paths.

A Production DBA is responsible for backups, restores, capacity planning and managing of production database servers.

A Development DBA is responsible for the overall design and development of new databases and achieves this by working with database developers, programmers and architects.

There is some level or type (age, race, etc.) of discrimination in every career and so the Database Administrator (DBA) career is not exempt from discrimination.

However skilled and / or experienced DBAs with good inter-personal skills, leadership and interviewing skills can overcome age / race based discrimination because they have the skills or experience that employers want!

The DBA's roles and responsibilities include the maintenance and support of existing databases, the design and development of new databases and the management or administration of an organisation's data.

Becoming a DBA requires both the thoretical and practical types of education. You will typically get theoretical education from a college and practical education outside a college.

While having a college degree from any 4-yr college will help you get a DBA type job, much more helpful is your technical Database Administration education and hands-on skills / experience.

There is a difference between the broad / theoretical knowledge that you will gain from a 4yr. college even when your major is in Computer Science / MIS and the practical knowledge / hands-on experience required for a database administration job

What employers are hiring for more than anything else is your practical knowledge and your hands-on skills which is generally not taught in college.

A background or experience in database design, database development, sql query writing, report writing, software development or server administration is relevant or useful in Database Administrator (DBA) jobs.


The fastest way to start a DBA career is to get into a Database Design & Development role / Server Administration role, learn how to do everything that a DBA does and then start applying for DBA jobs especially at your place of current employment.

While Freelance / Contract DBAs typically get offered less benefits and work for a shorter time before they have to find a new employer, they are also usually paid much more than full-time / permanent DBAs.

Freelance / Contract DBAs also need sharp / cutting-edge skills or they may not be rehired for a new project / gig.

So, it 's not really a question of which is better but which fits your personality / career goals better.

Subscribe to the "Database Administrator's (DBA) Career Newsletter to get more information, help or coaching on DBA careers!

More Information on "How To Become a Database Administrator / DBA"

Register / Login before posting a comment below ...
Or use your account on Blog

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Forgot your password?

Or register your new account on Blog

Error message here!

Error message here!

Hide Error message here!

Lost your password? Please enter your email address. You will receive a link to create a new password.

Error message here!

Back to log-in

Close