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How to become a Database Administrator

database administrator careers

What does a Database Administrator do?

A database developer/administrator is responsible for the planning, design, testing, installation and maintenance of information management systems used by companies and institutions across the commercial, public and education sectors. Organisations database administrators deal with include:

  • retail chains
  • insurance companies, banks and financial institutions
  • telecommunications services
  • transport and logistics companies
  • hospitals, government departments and local authorities
  • schools and universities
  • computer companies.

Administrators work closely with other IT professionals, such as systems analysts, programmers and IT project managers to produce solutions, which not only fulfil the client's current requirements but also try to anticipate future upgrades. They deal with relational, hierarchical and object oriented databases.

A database administrator works with the client to establish what the database is to be used for, how it will be used and who will need access to it. They then draw up a layout of how the database is to be structured. They need to consider the 'back end' design, for example, how the data is to be organised, and the 'front end' functionality - how information will be retrieved and displayed.

Once a test version is developed, the administrator analyses the database, checking the ease of use, accuracy of results and speed. Any refinements needed are put in place at this stage. The database is then filled (populated) with new or existing data by transferring from other sources, and database management system (DBMS) software is installed and configured for use.

Administrators draw up procedures and documentation for updating information, additions, deletions and error-reporting; they plan backup, archiving and recovery procedures; and implement security measures to verify data and control access to information.

An organisation’s information needs change, so knowledge of the latest technology to recommend improvements to the system is essential. Developers/administrators may also manage technical and support staff, train end-users and produce performance reports for IT managers.

Senior administrators are normally responsible for strategic planning, policy, budgets and building and maintaining client relationships.

What's the working environment like working as a Database Administrator?

Database managers normally work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. However, they may be on-call if system breakdowns occur outside normal office hours.

Work is office-based, either on one site or at a number of sites. Depending on the size of the company or location of clients, some travel may be required.

What does it take to become a Database Administrator?

As a database developer/administrator, you should:

  • have excellent analytical and organisational skills
  • be able to work accurately and pay attention to detail
  • have a comprehensive understanding of database architecture, software and DBMS
  • be able to work under pressure and to deadlines
  • be able to think quickly and be decisive
  • have a good understanding of wider business demands
  • have excellent communication, presentation and negotiation skills
  • respect confidentiality
  • understanding the implications of information legislation, such as the Data Protection Act
  • be prepared to keep up-to-date with developments in technology
  • work well as part of a team.

Database Administrator Career Opportunities

Opportunities can arise within any organisation that makes use of computerised databases. Web-based services are becoming Increasingly important, so expertise in the integration of web technologies and databases is particularly useful. Developers/administrators are also employed by specialist IT firms, sub-contracted to provide database services to clients.

Developers/administrators can move into wider IT management roles or transfer their skills to other areas of computing, such as systems analysis, web development or network management.

Self- employment, freelance work and consultancy work is a possibility for experienced professionals.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Database Administrator that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

e-skills UK
1 Castle Lane

British Computer Society
1 Sanford Street

Institute for the Management of Information Systems
5 Kingfisher House
New Mill Road
Tel: 0700 002 3456

Skills Framework for the Information Age

Microsoft UK

Sybase UK



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Courses to help you become a Database Administrator