Database Administrator Career Description


Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data.

What they do

Database administrators use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access.

Database administrators typically do the following:

  • Ensure that organizational data are secure
  • Backup and restore data to prevent data loss
  • Identify user needs to create and administer databases
  • Ensure that databases operate efficiently and without error
  • Make and test modifications to database structure when needed
  • Maintain databases and update permissions
  • Merge old databases into new ones

Database administrators, often called DBAs, make sure that data analysts and other users can easily use databases to find the information they need and that systems perform as they should. Some DBAs oversee the development of new databases. They have to determine the needs of the database and who will be using it. They often monitor database performance and conduct performance-tuning support.

Many databases contain personal or financial information, making security important. Database administrators often plan security measures, making sure that data are secure from unauthorized access.

Many database administrators are general-purpose DBAs and have all of these duties. However, some DBAs specialize in certain tasks that vary with an organization and its needs. Two common specialties are as follows:

System DBAs are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, such as installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs. They typically have a background in system architecture and ensure that the firm’s database management systems work properly.

Application DBAs support a database that has been designed for a specific application or a set of applications, such as customer-service software. Using complex programming languages, they may write or debug programs and must be able to manage the applications that work with the database. They also do all the tasks of a general DBA, but only for their particular application.

Work Environment

Some DBAs administer databases for retail companies that keep track of their buyers’ credit card and shipping information; others work in healthcare settings and manage patients’ medical records.

How to become a Database Administrator

Database administrators (DBAs) usually have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject, such as computer science.

Most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject such as computer science. Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree focusing on data or database management, typically either in computer science, information systems, or information technology.

Database administrators need an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is Structured Query Language, commonly called SQL. Most database systems use some variation of SQL, and a DBA will need to become familiar with whichever programming language the firm uses.

Certification is generally offered directly from software vendors or vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and best practices required from DBAs. Companies may require their database administrators to be certified in the products they use.


The median annual wage for database administrators was $93,750 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $148,060.

Job Outlook

Employment of database administrators is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth in this occupation will be driven by the increased data needs of companies in nearly all sectors of the economy. Database administrators will be needed to organize data and present them to stakeholders in a user-friendly format.

The increasing popularity of database-as-a-service, which allows third parties to do database administration over the Internet, is expected to increase employment of database administrators at cloud computing firms in the data processing, hosting, and related services industry.

Employment of database administrators in the computer systems design and related services industry is also projected to grow. The continued adoption of cloud services by small and medium-sized businesses that do not have their own dedicated information technology (IT) departments is expected to increase the employment of database administrators in this industry.

Similar Job Titles

Data Architect, Database Administration Manager, Database Administrator (DBA), Database Analyst, Database Coordinator, Database Developer, Database Programmer, Information Systems Manager, Management Information Systems Director (MIS Director), System Administrator

Related Occupations

Computer Systems Analyst, Computer Programmer, Software Developer-Applications, Software Developer-Systems Software, Web Developers

More Information

The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field.  Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas.  As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.

Magazines and Publications

Video Transcript

Database administrators and architects are experts in organizing and storing data so users can access the information they need, while keeping out unauthorized users. These IT professionals play a vital role in many industries that obtain and store sensitive, private data. Database administrators oversee the development of new databases, by identifying the purpose for the database and determining its users and their needs. Database architects design and build large databases. They set standards for operations, programming, and security of the databases to ensure they perform as intended. Since many users rely on databases to accomplish their daily work, database professionals regularly backup systems to prevent data loss, and establish standards and procedures to ensure the integrity of data that enters the system. They monitor usage trends to ensure sufficient space, and, when issues occur, they find and fix sometimes deeply complex problems. Most database professionals work in computer systems design, data hosting, and data processing companies. There are also positions at insurance companies, banks and retailers, education services, and healthcare organizations. Almost all work full time, and most frequently work more than 40 hours per week. Database administrators and database architects usually have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field, though some positions require a master’s degree.

Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH,
CareerOneStop, O*Net Online