In a globalized business environment, companies of all sizes and outputs require database management systems that can help them organize, secure, and analyze complex information. Database administrators and managers oversee the installation and maintenance of these networks and applications. They help other employees access and use protected data to develop strategic programs and strengthen general operations.
Students who enroll in a database management program develop the computer science and information technology (IT) competencies needed to pursue careers in database management. Colleges and universities deliver accredited campus-based programs that let candidates take advantage of school resources, like state-of-the-art research laboratories and networking opportunities. Alternatively, students can enroll in online programs, which come with flexible scheduling options and low tuition prices that often ignore residency status.
This guide provides in-depth academic information on topics like program options, degree concentrations, and skill development and application. Students can also explore different database management careers and their entry requirements. The guide ends with a discussion of job factors like location and industry as well as a list of professional development resources.
Skills Gained in a Database Management Program
Future database managers cultivate foundational skills by enrolling in undergraduate academic programs. They learn how computer architecture impacts organizational operations worldwide. Degree candidates also develop scripting and programming skills using popular languages like Python. Additionally, database management programs train students in transferable soft skills, like integrative communication, multidisciplinary teamwork, and creative problem-solving. At the graduate level, degree preparation centers on leadership development and independent research. Through on-the-job training and continuing education programs, database management professionals keep abreast of changes in their evolving industry.
This integral skill allows professionals to convey complex concepts and methods to nontechnical audiences, like students and consumers. Database managers learn to communicate orally in interpersonal, small-group, and large public settings. They also develop written communication skills that enable them to create technical manuals, user guides, and organizational best practices documents.
Database management training begins with an examination of computer hardware, software, and network components and their interrelationships. Students learn to select appropriate components based on network dynamics and organizational needs. They also develop the skills to create secure integrated systems using development life cycle methodologies. Through advanced coursework, learners explore enterprise systems, large-scale software packages popular among companies for their utility and adaptability.
In addition to maintaining computer networks and systems, companies hire database managers to provide business intelligence. To this end, students delve into data analytics, which entails exploring and summarizing datasets for their origins and statistical characteristics. Learners also train in data visualization, applying design and storytelling principles to share information and facilitate strategic decision-making.
This skill offers a framework for professionals to make socially conscious decisions when using information systems in a global environment. Data management students explore the ethical issues associated with current and emerging technologies, particularly with respect to user freedom and privacy. They develop strategies to assess risk and alternative decisions as well as to discern the implications of personal and organizational actions. IT ethics is an important concept in cybersecurity.
A crucial skill for all IT leaders, project management entails the conception, implementation, and control of company initiatives with respect to strategic goals. Students learn to coordinate and motivate high-performing teams to deliver IT solutions on time and within resource constraints. Project managers can earn specialized certificates from the Project Management Institute to display skill mastery and experience.
Why Pursue a Career in Database Management?
By pursuing careers in database management, you benefit from ample opportunities across sectors like finance, commerce, business consultancy, manufacturing, and global trade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that database administration positions will grow 9% from 2018 to 2028, adding 10,500 new jobs to the national economy.
The growth of database management careers coincides with the increased popularity of cloud technologies. As a manager, you can now work for database-as-a-service companies, providing remote network and systems administration as a third-party vendor. Cloud hosting and computing allows you to work for international and multinational corporations through partner firms or from the comfort of your own home.
With specialized training, you can also work in cybersecurity. IT experts in this field protect valuable information, including user identity and details of financial transactions. They recover corrupted or stolen data and track down assailants and cyberterrorists. The BLS projects that information security analysis positions will grow a staggering 32% between 2018 and 2028, which translates to 35,500 new jobs. This increase makes information security analysts among the fastest-growing occupations in the United States. Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, you should expect the emergence of new professions in the IT and computer science fields.
How Much Do Database Management Graduates Make?
According to the BLS, database administrators earn from $50,340 (the lowest 10% of professionals in the field) to $138,230 (the top 90%), with the mean annual wage sitting at $92,030. While these numbers offer a framework for the kind of pay you can expect in this industry, they do not consider factors like individual qualifications. Location and industry (which this guide examines later on) also affect salary. Furthermore, your level of educational attainment also impacts pay potential. Regardless of field, those with a master's degree earn more than $12,000 in average annual salary than individuals with baccalaureate credentials. They also enjoy a lower unemployment rate.
How to Become a Database Administrator
Earn Your Degree
Although you can access some entry-level IT positions with an associate degree, the majority of database management careers require the completion of a bachelor's program. At the undergraduate level, postsecondary schools typically deliver degrees in computer science with a concentration or minor in database management. However, standalone database management programs do exist and come with their own concentration options, enabling you to align your academic preparation with specific career goals.
Bachelor's degree candidates learn to define and manipulate raw data using SQL, DDL, and DML commands. You develop the skills to model conceptual data and store the information in databases. You also delve into data structures and algorithms, software programming, and web development. Depending on program focus and chosen concentration, you may also explore advanced topics like machine learning and e-commerce.
Academic programs facilitate hands-on skill development through laboratory training, self-motivated research projects, and internships/externships. Schools usually allow distance learners to complete their practicum with local companies, including current employers if the work supports programmatic outcomes. Due to the integrative structure of remote education, online students become self-motivated workers, creative problem-solvers, and cogent communicators. These skills enable you to succeed in increasingly prevalent remote occupations. In its 2018 study, the International Workplace Group reported that 70% of surveyed employees worked remotely at least once per week, while 53% of respondents worked remotely for over half the week.
How Many Years of College Does It Take to Become a Database Administrator?
Bachelor's programs in database administration generally require at least 120 credits, which traditional students usually complete in four years. You may graduate sooner by enrolling in accelerated online tracks. These intensive two-year programs require you to take eight- to 10-week classes year-round. Similarly, working professionals and returning students can enroll in degree-completion tracks, applying relevant career and academic achievements, to graduate in less time than the standard four years.
Program structure also affects timeline. Most colleges and universities allow you to individually pace your learning experience. You may take as many or as few classes as you want each term, with respect to minimum requirements. Some schools operate a cohort learning format that requires you to take one or two courses at a time. Because you advance through the program at the same pace as other learners, you work closely with your peers and build strong relationships with professors. For all its benefits, cohort learning typically slows degree completion.
Concentrations Available for Database Management Majors
- Business Intelligence
- This concentration trains students to work as business analysts and consultants. Candidates synthesize statistics and IT concepts to oversee data warehouses, repositories in which they can mine for strategic information used in predictive analytics. Students take classes like portals and intranets, customer relationship management technologies, and systems thinking for business dynamics.
- By completing the finance concentration, students gain an in-depth understanding of wealth production in the global economy. They learn to optimize monetary resources for public, nonprofit, and private organizations. Candidates also develop the market analysis skills to discern the trade-off between risks and potential returns of a financial decision. Specialized coursework includes enterprise valuation and corporate financial strategy.
- Web Development
- Students who pursue this concentration gain front- and back-end development skills that enable them to create websites that use best practices in information architecture. Candidates also train in user-centered experience to bolster web traffic and consumer engagement. Classes consist of web design technologies, media law, and social media content management.
- One of the most popular concentrations for computer science majors, cybersecurity trains students to monitor, identify, and investigate personal and organizational cyberthreats. Candidates learn to protect information with encryption and authentication systems. They also develop countermeasures to track down cybercriminals and recover digital assets. Course topics include computer forensics, secure programming and penetration testing, and ethical hacking.
- Health Informatics
- Health informatics covers the collection, processing, and storage of data for electronic health records and applications. Students learn to integrate IT best practices within the healthcare industry to promote workplace effectiveness and bolster patient care quality. By pursuing this concentration, data managers can work for health facilities, insurance providers, and pharmaceutical companies.
What Can You Do With a Database Management Degree?
Online bachelor of database management programs offer the core skills and hands-on professional development you need to occupy entry-level positions. Graduates are well-prepared to work as general-purpose database administrators. You may also pursue specialized roles by training in programs like SharePoint, a web-based collaborative platform and document-storage system created by Microsoft.
Furthermore, you can cultivate skills in Oracle, a proprietary multimodel database management system commonly used for online financial transactions and data warehousing. Oracle delivers five certification levels for database administrators. You can also bolster your career prospects by gaining the Microsoft certified database administrator credential. Additional options include vendor-neutral certificate programs from CompTIA, which include credentials in specialized areas like cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure.
Careers in database management encompass network architects, information systems managers, and business intelligence specialists. By earning doctoral credentials, you gain the advanced research training to become a data scientist and researcher. You may also occupy tenure-eligible postsecondary teaching positions.
Associate Degree in Database Management
Associate degree programs generally require a minimum of 60 credits, which typically take two years to complete. Some schools operate accelerated tracks that enable learners to obtain their degree in 12-18 months. College students generally use associate programs as a starting point, taking advantage of low tuition prices, before transferring into a bachelor's degree-completion track.
While it is rare, some community and technical colleges offer associate of applied science in database management programs. Candidates may also enroll in IT or computer science programs to receive similar foundational training. Required coursework often includes database administration, relational databases, and systems analysis and design. Depending on program options, students may focus on either Windows or LINUX/UNIX operating systems.
- Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists provide in-house services, helping company employees use and troubleshoot software programs and IT devices. Some specialists deliver external support, responding to consumer phone calls and emails. These professionals also perform administrative tasks, like maintaining office equipment. They install and update network systems and software programming.
- Network Administrator
Network administrators oversee the daily health of computer networks and systems. They implement basic security measures and optimize network performance as necessary. These administrators work with IT managers to determine the company's system needs and best practices. They assign user permissions and train employees in proper use of software and hardware.
Bachelor's Degree in Database Management
Bachelor's programs in database management span 2-4 years depending on course structure and a student's prior learning and career experience. Degree plans comprise core classes like database server administration and data analysis. Candidates take advanced coursework in their chosen concentration. For example, students who pursue a telecommunications concentration can expect to take classes in electronic circuits, wireless communication systems, and data networking devices.
Unlike associate tracks, bachelor's programs facilitate hands-on training through internships and other practicums. These work-learning experiences let students apply skills in real-world settings and cultivate valuable professional relationships. Degree training culminates with a capstone project and/or comprehensive exam.
- Database Administrator
These IT professionals use specialized software programs to organize and store data. They authorize access and ensure that valuable information does not become corrupted or stolen by cyberattacks. Database administrators also perform analytical tasks, retrieving and assessing complex datasets to help company leaders make organizational decisions.
- Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including intranets and local area networks (LANs). They can also create vast networks with cloud infrastructure to support customers all over the world. Network architects consult with clients to discern organizational goals so they can create networks that support a company's mission.
- Information Security Analyst
These IT specialists implement security measures to protect an organization's networks and systems from intrusion. They install data-encryption systems to ensure valuable information does not get compromised or stolen. Information security analysts monitor for security breaches and investigate attacks when they occur. Working with IT managers and other senior leaders, security analysts establish best practices and standards.
Master's Degree in Database Management
Master of database management programs typically require students to complete at least 30 credits, which usually takes two years. Candidates can expedite degree completion by enrolling in accelerated online tracks, which allow them to graduate in as little as one year. Degree candidates often take required classes in IT business foundations, web-enabled information systems, and database design and implementation.
In lieu of a conventional database management track, students may pursue a master's in data science program. While the two fields of study overlap in terms of data retrieval and application, data science focuses on estimating unknown datasets through modeling and statistical analysis. Because of this emphasis, data science better prepares students for research and teaching careers.
- Computer Scientist
These research scientists develop technological innovations and find improved uses for existing devices, networks, and systems. They apply experimental results to help solve problems in fields like healthcare, business, and education. Computer scientists examine fundamental IT issues through theoretical analysis and statistical modeling. These professionals may specialize in areas like robotics, computer programming, and data science.
- Information Systems Manager
Information systems managers oversee computer-related activities within a company. They establish information best practices and security standards and work with administrators to implement networks and systems that support these objectives. They negotiate with vendors and determine the cost of short- and long-term projects. Information systems managers also recruit, train, and coordinate staff.
- Business Intelligence Consultant
Business intelligence consultants typically work as freelancers or for consulting firms. They analyze organizational data and gather information through employee interviews to determine a company's operational health. Consultants develop solutions to identified problems and implement strategies that strengthen performance while minimizing costs. These professionals often work with clients over multiple cycles to ensure that positive changes endure.
Doctoral Degree in Database Management
Database managers who want to earn their doctoral degree pick from two primary options. They can enroll in a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) program for management information systems. Ph.D. tracks focus on independent research, with students spending the bulk of their time conducting experiments and analyzing data for their dissertation.
Alternatively, candidates can earn a doctor of information technology (DIT). DIT programs train students for advanced industry practice. Coursework typically consists of enterprise systems architecture, cloud and grid computing, and IT leadership. Doctoral programs range from 40 to 70 credits. Students can earn their credentials in as few as four years or they can also enroll part time and graduate in eight years.
- Data Scientist
Data scientists collect, clean, and analyze data to meet a company's purpose, whether that be machine learning or product development. These IT leaders also develop experimental frameworks that test theories for data improvement, search quality, and predictive capabilities. They evaluate structured and unstructured datasets to discern trends and patterns. Data scientists visualize information and present findings to company leaders and stakeholders.
- Chief Technology Officer
As part of the executive team, chief technology officers (CTOs) manage all aspects of their organization's IT operations. CTOs define technology standards and work with IT managers and department heads to ensure that the company meets these guidelines. They monitor software and hardware used to project future needs. CTOs also guide resource allocation and strategic decisions.
- Postsecondary Teacher
Postsecondary teachers deliver laboratory and classroom instruction in their field of expertise. They help students achieve degree goals, find internships, and prepare for career entry. Beyond their role as instructor, college professors pursue their own research projects, publishing scholarly articles and presenting at academic conferences. They also assist their departments with curriculum updates and student recruitment.
Where Can I Work as a Database Management Graduate?
Careers in database management span industries like manufacturing, health services, and telecommunications. According to the BLS, database administrators enjoy the highest employment levels in the computer systems design industry, where they average a $97,770 annual salary. Administrators also find ample career opportunities with enterprise management companies, higher education institutions, and firms that handle credit intermediation and loans. Database administrators earn the highest wages when working in nonresidential construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction.
Location affects data management career prospects and pay potential. BLS data shows that Texas employs the highest level of database administrators, followed by California, New York, Florida, and Virginia. The highest concentration of administrators reside in Delaware, Virginia, and Maryland. Unsurprisingly, the District of Columbia also boasts a high concentration of database administrators, fueled by governmental data analytics and information security needs.
Professionals in this field enjoy the best salaries when working in New Jersey, with an annual mean wage of $110,610. Washington, California, Connecticut, and New York round out the top five best-paying states. In addition to salary, database managers should factor in quality of life when deciding where to live and work. Metropolitan areas often come with high costs of living. Nonmetropolitan locations like southeast Alabama and central New Hampshire offer ample job opportunities and relatively low housing costs.
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services
This industry includes IT firms that offer custom computer programming and systems design services. Database professionals can also work as facilities managers, software testers and installers, and disaster recovery specialists.
Average Salary: $97,770
- Management of Companies and Enterprises
This industry comprises firms that either own controlling interest over partner companies or manage establishments belonging to third-party organizations. In either case, database managers establish technology standards and oversee the daily operations of IT departments.
Average Salary: $95,660
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
Within this industry, database administrators maintain networks and systems associated with student records, financial transactions, and human resource assets. By earning graduate degrees, database managers can work as college educators and academic researchers.
Average Salary: $77,720
Telecommunications encompass national and regional operators who facilitate global digital communication. Network architects are in high demand within this industry. Professionals may also work as consultants, cybersecurity experts, and chief technology officers.
Average Salary: $96,960
- Credit Intermediation and Related Activities
A subsector of the finance and insurance industry, credit intermediation companies lend funds raised by depositors and from credit market borrowing. Here, database managers facilitate secure financial transactions and protect lender and borrower data from theft.
Average Salary: $103,250
How Do You Find a Job in Database Management?
Careers in database management continue to grow due to expansion in telecommunications and global trade. You should begin your search and application process as early as possible to take advantage of these opportunities. By giving yourself plenty of time, you can properly research major employers and open positions.
You should also take enough time to reflect on short- and long-term career goals. By clarifying your objectives, you will be better prepared to answer common interview questions, like, "How do you fit into our company culture?" and "Where do you see yourself in five years?" As you begin to create resumes, CVs, and cover letters, you can use document templates to organize information. However, you need to ensure that final application materials cater to specific positions and employer missions.
You can expand your database management career prospects by joining industry organizations. The International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology connects members through online forums and worldwide conventions. For more specific guidance, you can turn to organizations like the Association for Women in Computing and the International Association of Administrative Professionals.
Professional Resources for Database Management
For over 30 years, the ACDM has served healthcare data managers and analysts through policy and research initiatives. The association sponsors conferences and posts job listings. Members access online training services, which include courses on topics like the RECIST methodology and preparing for regulatory inspections. The ACDM also operates in-person training sessions with partnering vendors.
ASIS&T bridges the gap between IT research and practice to support members from more than 50 countries. Database management students and professionals connect through regional chapters and task forces. They may also seek guidance from special-interest groups centered on topics like health informatics, organizational information management, and scientific and technical information. Additionally, ASIS&T provides career resources and job listings.
The DAA mission focuses on advancing data usage to improve standard practice and professional development in the field. The association delivers networking opportunities that include local symposia, a national conference, and the Marketing Analytics Summit. The DAA operates a variety of professional development resources. Members pick from options like on-demand seminars, on-site workshops, and short-course certificate programs.
DAMA is a nonprofit and vendor-independent professional organization dedicated to supporting information and data managers. The association maintains an up-to-date body of knowledge index and resource library. Members also benefit from webinars and networking events. DAMA International delivers four levels of professional certification. Each credential requires candidates to possess adequate work experience and pass an online proctored exam.
A leader in the data management field, the EDM Council advocates for the development of professional best practices and data standards. The organization supports over 7,000 members, offering e-learning courses in areas like big data fundamentals, data quality assessment, and web analytics. Members collaborate through EDMConnect, a global portal that enables users to seek guidance and join work and special-interest groups.