If you possess a knack for technology, software, and organization, a career in database management may be a great option. Careers in database management include opportunities in finance, information technology, and marketing.
Read on to learn about working in this field and the overall career outlook and earning potential for popular database management positions. This guide also breaks down degree options and provides tips for launching your database management career.
Why Pursue a Degree in Database Management?
Careers for a database management major span several industries. If you arm yourself with the right training and experience, the field offers rewarding and potentially lucrative career opportunities. Positions include support specialist, security analyst, programmer, software developer, and administrator.
Working in database management often requires using technology to compile, organize, and analyze data to help organizations make strategic business decisions. Roles also typically require designing, testing, and implementing technology to manage business functions. To succeed in this field, you must possess strong analytical, troubleshooting, communication, and critical thinking skills.
Database Management Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), database administrators and architects earn an average annual wage of $96,110. With companies increasingly relying on technology to manage their business and track customers, there are many job opportunities in this field. Job growth varies by position, but the BLS projects above-average job growth in most database management fields.
The industry that employs the most database management professionals is computer systems design and related services. For the most lucrative opportunities, consider pursuing a career related to computer and equipment manufacturing or monetary authorities.
The table below provides average salary information for four common database management careers.
|Job Title||Entry-Level (0-12 months)||Early Career (1-4 Years)||Midcareer (5-9 Years)||Experienced (10-19 Years)|
|Information Security Analyst||$59,570||$67,310||$82,230||$95,150|
|Market Research Analyst||$49,380||$53,840||$63,640||$75,580|
Skills Gained With a Database Management Degree
Aspiring database managers cultivate foundational skills by enrolling in undergraduate academic programs. They learn how computer architectures impact organizational operations worldwide. Students also develop scripting and programming skills using popular languages like Python.
Additionally, database management programs train students in transferable soft skills, such as those related to integrative communication, multidisciplinary teamwork, and creative problem-solving. Graduate programs center on leadership development and independent research. By taking advantage of on-the-job training and continuing education programs, database management professionals can stay abreast of changes in their evolving industry.
- Technical Communication
This integral skill allows professionals to convey complex concepts and methods to nontechnical audiences, such as students and consumers. Database managers learn to communicate orally in one-on-one, group, and large public settings. They also develop written communication skills that enable them to create technical manuals, user guides, and documents explaining organizational best practices.
- Computer Infrastructure
Database management training begins with an examination of computer hardware, software, and network components. Students learn to select appropriate components based on network dynamics and organizational needs. They also develop the skills needed to create secure integrated systems using development lifecycle methodologies. Through advanced coursework, learners explore enterprise systems and large-scale software packages.
- Data Analytics
In addition to maintaining computer networks and systems, companies hire database managers to provide business intelligence. To that end, students delve into data analytics, exploring and summarizing datasets. Learners also train in data visualization, applying design and storytelling principles to share information and facilitate strategic decision-making.
- IT Ethics
IT ethics offers a framework for professionals to make socially conscious decisions when using information systems in a global environment. Database management students explore the ethical issues associated with current and emerging technologies, particularly with respect to user freedom and privacy. Learners develop strategies to assess risk and decisions. They also learn to discern the implications of personal and organizational actions.
- Project Management
A crucial skill for all IT leaders, project management involves 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 under budget. Project managers can earn certifications from the Project Management Institute.
Database Management Concentrations and Career Paths
- Business Intelligence
Students who complete a business intelligence concentration prepare to work as business analysts and consultants. Learners 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 a 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. Learners also develop the market analysis skills needed to discern the trade-off between risks and potential returns of a financial decision. Graduates can work as finance managers in many industries.
- Web Development
Students who pursue this concentration gain front-end and back-end development skills that enable them to create websites that use best practices in information architecture. Participants also learn about user-centered experience to bolster web traffic and consumer engagement. Graduates can work as web developers.
A cybersecurity focus trains learners to monitor, identify, and investigate personal and organizational cyberthreats. Students learn to protect information with encryption and authentication systems. They also develop countermeasures to track down cybercriminals and recover digital assets. Graduates can work for governmental agencies or private companies.
- Health Informatics
Health informatics involves 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. By pursuing this concentration, data managers can work for health facilities, insurance providers, and pharmaceutical companies.
How to Start Your Career in Database Management
Careers in database management require programming, analytical, technical, and problem-solving skills. While some skills come naturally, earning a degree allows you to hone your abilities and learn how to apply them to workplace situations.
The level of education you need depends on the career path you plan to pursue. Some roles only require an associate degree, but many database management careers require at least a bachelor's degree. The level of education you earn often impacts your career advancement opportunities and earning potential.
Associate Degree in Database Management
An associate degree provides an introduction to the core principles, methods, technology, and languages of database management. This degree typically takes two years to complete. Many schools offer on-campus and online programs catering to working professionals.
Students can pursue an associate in computer science, computer programming, or information management to prepare for database management careers. Common courses include introduction to computer applications, computer networks, programming essentials, system analysis, and computer information technology.
Earning an associate degree qualifies you for some entry-level positions. However, many database management careers require a bachelor's degree or higher. For many students, an associate degree serves as a stepping stone toward a four-year degree.
What Can You Do With an Associate in Database Management?
- Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists play a vital role helping employees and customers use and troubleshoot technology. Additional tasks include maintaining office equipment, responding to emails or phone calls, and installing or updating network systems and software. Successful support specialists possess strong problem-solving and communication skills.
- Network Administrator
Network administrators organize, install, and support computer systems. They monitor local and wide area networks, intranets, and other data communication systems. Additional tasks may include training users, adding and removing users from the system, and maintaining network security. Depending on the employer, candidates with an associate degree may qualify for some of these roles.
- Web Developer
Web developers design and create websites for clients. Some developers work exclusively for an organization, maintaining and updating a company's website. Others work as freelancers or consultants. Developers typically meet with clients to determine their website needs, create and test applications, and monitor website traffic.
Bachelor's Degree in Database Management
Earning a bachelor's degree in database management takes full-time students about four years to complete. Students looking to accelerate their program may choose to take more courses each term or find a self-paced program that allows them to work through coursework without adhering to a predetermined term schedule.
Bachelor's programs offer foundational courses in literature, science, math, and history alongside major coursework. The curriculum usually includes courses like introduction to information systems, data analysis, information security management, website development, and project management. Many programs also train students in Oracle and Microsoft's Structured Query Language (SQL).
Earning a bachelor's in database management qualifies you for a variety of career opportunities. Common positions include database administrator, database developer, computer network architect, and systems analyst.
What Can You Do With a Bachelor's in Database Management?
- Computer Network Architect
Computer network architects design and build data communication, computer, and information networks. Ongoing tasks involve implementing new technology, troubleshooting, upgrading hardware, and researching new technologies. Successful professionals in this field must be detail oriented and possess strong analytical, leadership, interpersonal, and organizational skills.
- Database Administrator
Database administrators ensure that an organization's data remains secure. Organizations possess important and often confidential personal or financial information about employees or customers, so security is essential. Responsibilities include backing up and restoring data, setting up user permissions, creating and testing modifications, and monitoring database functions to ensure efficiency.
- Database Developer
Database developers typically work with organizational leaders to plan, develop, test, and implement database software. This process involves completing ongoing tasks to monitor systems, troubleshoot glitches, and install system upgrades. Professionals in this field must possess strong coding and problem-solving skills.
- Computer Systems Analyst
Computer systems analysts typically consult with organizational leaders to propose solutions or improvements to their networking systems or procedures. A large part of their job involves researching emerging technologies and finding ways to add new functionality to current systems. Additional tasks include testing systems, managing the software installation process, and training users.
Sources: BLS and PayScale
Master's Degree in Database Management
Pursuing a master's degree in database management allows you to expand your knowledge and advance your skills. Most programs require 30-60 credits and take about two years to complete. Some degrees also require an internship.
Several master's programs offer concentrations like population health, finance, survey methods, biomedical informatics, and social networks. Concentrations allow you to align your degree with your career goals. Core courses may include database design and implementation for business, IT strategy and management, design and analysis of algorithms, and information structures with Java.
A master's degree is ideal for students looking to pursue upper-level or managerial positions. The following section explores careers that you can qualify for with a master's degree in database management.
What Can You Do With a Master's in Database Management?
- Computer and Information Research Scientists
Computer and information research scientists find innovative uses for existing technology and create new computing technologies. They work with organization leaders and engineers to solve complex computing issues in business, science, and medicine. Typical tasks may include developing and improving software systems, designing experiments, analyzing results, and inventing new languages or tools.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
Computer and information systems managers direct all computer-related activities within an organization. They manage a team of IT professionals and take charge of hiring and interviewing potential team members. Additional tasks include conducting cost and benefit analyses for new projects, researching emerging technologies, and overseeing upgrades or installation of new software. Employers often prefer to hire candidates with a graduate degree.
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts play a vital role in keeping an organization's computer and network systems secure. In addition to daily monitoring of networks, analysts install and use software or firewalls to protect sensitive information. Security analysts also research security trends to propose upgrades, develop best practices, and help users troubleshoot technological issues. Aspiring analysts who hold a master's degree can set themselves apart from the competition.
Doctoral Degree in Database Management
A doctorate is the highest level of education in the field of database management. This degree requires a significant investment of time and money, but it can open the door to some of the most prestigious and lucrative careers in the field.
You do not need to earn a doctorate to enjoy a long and rewarding career in database management; however, this degree may create unique job opportunities. Doctoral programs primarily serve learners hoping to pursue a career in academia or research.
The typical student needs 4-6 years to complete a doctorate. The curriculum varies depending on your school and concentration, but courses may investigate database and knowledge-based systems, complex data management systems, and software design.
What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Database Management?
- Chief Technology Officer
Chief technology officers (CTOs) play a vital role on the executive team of an organization. They help companies make strategic decisions about the technology and communication systems they use. This process includes investigating emerging technologies and recommending investments related to upgrades or new technology. The CTO also keeps tabs on competitors to see what technologies they use.
- Senior Data Scientist
Data scientists must possess strong mathematical, computer science, statistical, and analytical skills. Successful professionals are also proficient in different programming languages, including Python. Data scientists analyze company data to extract insights in order to develop solutions to problems and find ways to increase their competitive advantage.
- Postsecondary Teacher
Postsecondary teachers instruct courses in their subject area at colleges, universities, professional schools, and community colleges. Primary tasks include creating lesson plans, grading assignments and exams, advising students, and working with colleagues to develop or modify curricula. Some teachers may also pursue research in their field.
Sources: BLS and PayScale
How to Advance Your Career in Database Management
After earning a college degree and beginning a career, you should find ways to keep your skills fresh. Continuing your education and adding new skills to your repertoire provides a competitive advantage over other job candidates and leads to career growth opportunities.
Popular ways to increase your skills include earning a relevant certification or certificate and taking online courses. The following sections cover these options in more detail.
A certification from a professional organization demonstrates to potential employers that you possess the training and skills necessary to excel in database management. Certifications are usually voluntary, but they can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates. The process typically involves completing courses and passing a final examination. Some certifications require renewal.
Oracle offers MySQL certification for database administration or database development, and IBM's Db2 credential focuses on establishing skills in the z/OS family of products. Microsoft also offers many certifications, including data analyst associate and Azure data engineer associate credentials.
Most options certify learners in specific programming languages or operating systems.
Network, computer, and communication technologies constantly evolve, and it is important to keep your skills sharp and your knowledge fresh. Earning a bachelor's degree in database management or a computer-related area qualifies workers for many job opportunities. However, a graduate degree may help you qualify for managerial positions.
Additional options for continuing your education without investing in an expensive degree includes taking free online courses and completing a certificate program. Several online platforms offer access to online courses in a variety of subject areas. These courses give you the opportunity to learn from experts at top universities.
Additionally, certificate programs provide students with a quicker, more affordable way to bolster their credentials and increase their skills. Programs typically require 12-18 credits and take less than a year to complete. Several colleges and universities offer a variety of specialized certificate programs.
The following section describes two main ways to stay abreast of current research and develop your skills in database management.
- Continuing Education Units - Several certifications require renewal. This process typically involves completing continuing education units on a regular basis. Some certifications offer varying levels, allowing you to gain more advanced skills.
- Professional Organizations - Joining a professional organization related to database management can give you exclusive access to publications, research, and learning opportunities. You can also network with peers by attending seminars and conferences.
How to Switch Your Career to Database Management
Database management professionals typically hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or another closely related field. Organizations with sizable databases may require a master's degree, as database management is a specialized occupation that requires familiarity with many programming languages and software systems.
As such, the best way to switch your career to database management is by enrolling in a computer science or information technology program. This path will help you develop strong programming and administration competencies, allowing you to pursue entry-level roles in a variety of organizations that require computer professionals.
Where Can You Work With A Database Management Degree?
- 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: $101,620
- 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: $97,790
- Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
Within this industry, database administrators maintain networks and systems associated with student records, financial transactions, and human resource assets. Additionally, by earning a graduate degree, database managers can work as college educators and academic researchers.
Average Salary: $78,600
- Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
Careers in this industry help businesses, governments, and other institutions make strategic decisions by providing technical expertise, information, contacts, and tools. Professionals typically focus on a specific area like marketing, security, or occupational safety.
Average Salary: $95,340
- Credit Intermediation and Related Activities
This industry includes agencies that provide loans for personal or commercial ventures, issue credit, or offer check cashing services. Typical roles in this field involve analyzing market trends, monitoring interest rates, and assessing risk for lending opportunities.
Average Salary: $107,460
Earning potential and job opportunities in database management vary across the United States. The states offering the most lucrative positions include New Jersey and Washington, where these professionals make mean annual salaries above $110,000. However, states like California, Texas, New York, and Florida currently host the most database administrators and architects.
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Resources for Database Management Majors
To enrich your career and keep your knowledge sharp, you should find ways to continue learning, develop vital skills, and collaborate with peers. Accessing open courseware and reading publications are two ways to achieve these goals.Joining a professional organization is another great option. Many organizations offer access to publications, training, and webinars or in-person conferences.
The following sections explore these opportunities in greater detail.
- Professional Organizations
Association for Clinical Data 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 can access online training services, which include courses on topics like the RECIST method and preparing for regulatory inspections. The ACDM also operates in-person training sessions with partnering vendors.
Association for Information Science and Technology: 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 can 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.
Digital Analytics Association: DAA focuses on advancing data usage to improve standard practice and professional development in the field. The association delivers networking opportunities like local symposia, a national conference, and the Marketing Analytics Summit. Members can enroll in on-demand seminars, on-site workshops, and certificate programs.
DAMA International: DAMA is a nonprofit and vendor-independent professional organization dedicated to supporting information and data managers. The group maintains a resource library. Members also benefit from webinars and networking events. The organization also delivers four levels of professional certification
EDM Council: A leader in data management, EDM Council advocates for the development of professional best practices and data standards. The council serves over 7,000 members, offering online 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 special-interest groups.
- Open Courseware
Business Intelligence Concepts, Tools, and Applications - University of Colorado:This course provides an overview on how business intelligence technologies support decision-making. Students explore various concepts, tools, and applications for creating visualizations and analyzing business performance.
Databases and SQL for Data Science - IBM: Students taking this course receive an introduction to database concepts. The course emphasizes SQL — a crucial computing language for communicating with and extracting data from databases. The curriculum includes lab experiences and an overview of how to access information from Jupyter notebooks using SQL and Python.
Databases: Modeling and Theory - Stanford University: This course provides an introduction to the relational model and relational databases. Covered topics include a comprehensive overview of SQL, database constraints, relational algebra, and dependency theory.
Building Web Applications in PHP - University of Michigan: Students taking this course explore the basic structure of a web application and how web browsers interact with web servers. The curriculum provides an introduction to the request/response cycle, HTML, and the basic syntax and data structures of PHP. Participants also learn to use cascading style sheets and integrated PHP/MySQL systems.
Computerworld: Computerworld offersaccess to information on common operating systems for PCs and mobile devices. Readers can also access a variety of newsletters on topics like business technology, Windows, the future of work, industry trends, and insider alerts.
Database Internals: A Deep Dive into How Distributed Data Systems Work: This book examines storage engines, storage building blocks, distributed systems, and database clusters. Readers develop a better understanding of the differences between database management systems, learning to choose the best system for their business needs.
Database Trends and Applications: This magazine covers data and information management, big data, and data science. Its website offers industry trend analysis, webinars, case studies, and a variety of other resources for professionals in database management.
Designing Data-Intensive Applications: The Big Ideas Behind Reliable, Scalable, and Maintainable Systems: This practical and comprehensive guide examines the pros and cons of various technologies businesses use to process and store data. The book expands readers' understanding of core principles and how to use operating systems more effectively.
IEEE Potentials: This magazine caters to students and young professionals. IEEE Potentials explores career strategies and offers peer-reviewed articles on the latest research, technical developments, and practical applications of theories.
International Journal of Database Management Systems: This open-access, peer-reviewed journal publishes articles on database management systems and relevant applications. The journal focuses on bringing researchers and professionals in academia together to increase collaboration and understanding.
Journal of Database Management: This quarterly journal publishes original research on database management, systems analysis and design, and software engineering.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is database management a good career?
Yes. Organizations increasingly rely on qualified professionals to use data to create efficient processes and make essential business decisions. Careers in this field also offer great earning potential; computer and information technology professionals earn an average annual salary of $88,240.
- How do I become a database administrator?
Database management careers require at least some college education. An associate degree qualifies you for some entry-level positions, although many roles require a bachelor's in an information or computer-related field. Working in this field also requires proficiency in common database languages.
- What kind of jobs can you get with a database management degree?
Common careers with a database management degree include database administrator, information security analyst, marketing analyst, software developer, and support specialist.
- What database management jobs pay the most?
According to the BLS, computer and information systems managers command some of the highest wages in the nation. These professionals earn a median annual salary of $146,360.