DBA Job Description
DBAs, or database administrators, are responsible for managing and maintaining all new and existing database software for their employers. DBAs are highly technical, and they pay close attention to details so they can quickly and efficiently identify errors in database software. DBAs work in traditional office settings, mostly at a computer. Most DBAs also follow standard day-shift hours, working from eight to five in addition to any necessary overtime. DBAs often report directly to the database manager or IT manager.
DBA Duties and Responsibilities
No two DBAs are exactly alike, as specific skills vary from employer to employer. However, after analyzing online job postings, we identified several core duties and responsibilities common to the job:
Design and Implement Databases
The main responsibility of a DBA is to create new database solutions and implement them properly. They create new databases based on the needs of end users in the company and the overall project requirements.
Monitor Database Performance
DBAs monitor overall database performance to ensure end users are receiving the information needed in as little time as possible. If performance is suffering, DBAs identify the problem and promptly fix it.
Run Database Testing
After a new database solution is implemented, DBAs run tests on the new solution to ensure it functions correctly before fully rolling it out. Testing involves creating test scenarios to immediately identify and correct problems.
Control Security Access and Permissions
DBAs are responsible for controlling all employee access and permissions for accessing their employer’s databases. This often includes verifying access requests and revoking access for employees who have quit or otherwise left the company.
Write and Maintain Documentation
Oftentimes, DBAs are responsible for creating and maintaining all database documentation. This includes documenting data policies and procedures as well as data standards.
DBA Skills and Qualifications
Successful DBA candidates have a lot of technical know-how, and they especially know their way around a database. They are highly analytical and pay close attention to everything happening with the databases they manage. Successful candidates also possess the following skills and qualifications:
- Database experience – DBAs know how databases function. This knowledge typically comes through direct experience working with databases, either as an end user or DBA
- SQL knowledge – SQL is a programming language that is essential for managing databases. Successful DBA candidates are well versed in SQL and know how it applies to databases
- IT experience and knowledge – DBA candidates who worked in entry-level IT roles make good fits for this position. Successful DBAs know all about IT and how it affects their employer
- Attention to detail – DBAs are excellent observers, and they can identify database problems with ease. This attention to details helps DBAs optimize database performance
- Teamwork – DBAs often work with a variety of other teams throughout the company, such as the IT department or the coders developing the software. Teamwork skills are essential to ensure the correct information is being communicated
Tools of the Trade
A DBA’s toolset can vary depending on the individual, but most DBAs use the same core tools on a daily basis:
- Database management tools (Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio, Oracle Database, phpMyAdmin)
- Data modeling tools (ERwin, ER-Studio, Toad Data Modeler)
- Advanced text editors (Notepad++, Sublime Text, Vim)
DBA Education and Training
While many employers look to hire DBA candidates who have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, they value experience more than education. If a candidate who doesn’t have a degree can demonstrate their skills through viable experience, they often have a leg up on the competition.
Most DBAs will also receive on-the-job training to help them gain the knowledge necessary to fulfill their specific role with a new employer. This training can get them caught up to speed on current databases and any upcoming projects.
DBA Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), DBAs make a median annual salary of around $87,000. This salary can vary depending on the industry in which the DBA works, with industries like computer systems and data processing services making the most money – around $95,000 per year. DBAs working in fields like education services can expect to make less than their peers in other industries – around $72,000 per year. DBAs can usually also take part in their employer’s employee benefits plan, which often includes health insurance and paid time off.
The BLS reports a faster-than-average growth rate for DBAs at around 11 percent for the next 10 years. This fast growth is driven by the increasing need for more in-depth data in all industries. As the world moves steadily closer to automation, reliable data stored in well-built and well-managed databases is essential.
Read through these resources to learn more about the world and role of a DBA:
Database Journal – Database Journal bills itself as “the knowledge center for database professionals.” It includes a featured article section that contains articles specifically about databases and related topics. Some recent articles touch on subjects like tables without clustered indexes and product updates for popular database tools
SQLShack – SQLShack is a simple website that aims to provide clear and concise articles about everything to do with databases. These articles are written by actual database professionals who write on topics like connecting to Azure SQL Database and securing access for SQL Server auditing
Oracle Database Administration Interview Questions You’ll Most Likely Be Asked – this book focuses on interviewing to become a DBA by covering questions you might experience during an interview. You can use this book to brush up on your skills before an interview, or as a helpful resource to find knowledge you might be missing
SQL Guide – this is a four-page laminated pamphlet that you can easily keep on your person or at your desk for quick reference. It covers topics like delimiters/operators, databases, and DML
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