Are you considering a career in database administration? If you have an aptitude for working with computers and are interested in learning about database updates, storage, security, and troubleshooting, a bachelor’s degree in database administration or a related field may be a good fit for you. Graduates are often qualified to work with various companies, organizations, and institutions that span across numerous industry types, as well as government bodies.
Some of the most prominent professions in the field include:
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Computer Network Architect
- Computer Programmer
- Software Developer
- Computer Systems Analyst
While an associate degree in database administration or a similar field may qualify you for some entry-level positions, most professionals obtain undergraduate degrees. Individuals interested in pursuing managerial roles at larger companies, however, may benefit from earning a master’s degree.
Requirements of a Bachelor’s Degree?
Most traditional four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degrees. For many career fields, this is the minimum level of education candidates will need in order to qualify for entry-level and mid-level employment after graduation.
While curriculums vary, most undergraduate degree programs consist of 120 credit hours. This equates to approximately 40 college courses, which the majority of full-time students can complete within four years. It may be possible to shorten this timeframe by transferring college credits from high school advanced placement (AP) classes or from associate degrees that were attained previously. Additionally, some colleges and universities offer accelerated degree programs, although these are often designed for students interested in earning both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree at the same time. However, students enrolled part-time are unlikely to graduate within four years. Those taking only a few classes per semester typically graduate within five to eight years.
Where Do You Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?
The majority of bachelor’s degrees are earned from traditional four-year colleges and universities. While students can choose whether or not to live on-campus, most classes are provided on-site by faculty members that instruct full course loads. This is not the only option for individuals seeking an undergraduate degree, however. While community colleges are best known for offering associate degrees, some do have bachelor’s programs as well. Additionally, there are online colleges that provide instruction completely electronically. Community colleges and distance learning institutions are a viable solution for prospective students who are unable to attend classes on a campus or who want to earn a degree while maintaining full-time professional employment.
Online Vs. Traditional Education in Database Administration
Information technology skills are in high demand, which makes it easy for potential database administration students to find online and on-campus programs just about anywhere. While many students choose to enroll in traditional programs offered by four-year institutions, there are plenty of people who establish successful careers in the field after graduating with an online degree. Distance learning options are ideal for individuals who already work full-time or have restrictive responsibilities at home. Online programs offer flexible scheduling options such as evening classes and, in many cases, can be completed at a much slower pace than a traditional degree. In fact, some programs may even be self-guided, with few time constraints at all.
Additionally, because the information technology field relies heavily on hard skills (i.e. use of specific program software like Linux, Windows Operating System, Oracle, etc.) that can be learned digitally, database administration professionals find distance learning opportunities particularly appealing. It’s extremely easy for most colleges and universities to transition to an online format because instruction in this field requires very few, if any, hands-on components.
There are, however, some very important drawbacks you should be aware of. The primary problem with an online database administration degree is the lack of fact-to-face interaction with instructors and peers. While this may seem like a minor issue for a technology-based field, it does still pose difficulties. Networking is an important aspect of any profession. Without the opportunity to meet and interact with other professionals, it can be more difficult to find employment and/or advance your career.
To bridge the gap between on-campus and online programs, some colleges and universities offer hybrid degrees. Students enrolled in a hybrid program complete the majority of their coursework online, but must periodically visit the campus for short residency sessions. These workshops allow students to take part in traditional on-campus activities such as in-person instruction, hands-on laboratory work, and networking.
What Are the Prerequisites or Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree?
Most colleges and universities have predetermined requirements that prospective undergraduate students must complete before admittance is possible. Every institution is different, so it’s important to review prerequisites carefully before submitting an application.
While specific requirements vary from school to school, they often include some variation of the following:
- Official High School Transcripts
- Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
- Application and Fees
- Personal Statement or Supplemental Essay
- Scores from College Entrance Exams (SAT, ACT, etc.)
Many institutions set a minimum acceptable score for college entrance exams. As a result, it may be necessary to take the SAT and/or ACT multiple times in order to achieve the desired score. Some schools also base scholarship guidelines on these numbers or link their honors programs to the results. Those who plan to enroll in master’s programs after graduation should expect to meet various admittance requirements as well.
Regulations vary, but most graduate schools expect applicants to have:
- Official Undergraduate Transcripts
- Minimum Grade Point Average (GPA)
- Application and Fees
- References or Supporting Letters
- Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
- Academic Work Samples
- Scores from College Entrance Exams (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, etc.)
Why Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?
There are several reasons people choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. First and foremost, most employers across multiple fields expect candidates to have, at minimum, successfully graduated from an undergraduate program. While some entry-level positions are available to those with associate-level degrees, these jobs typically pay less and offer fewer opportunities for advancement in the future. Individuals without undergraduate degrees will also be at a disadvantage when applying for jobs if the candidate pool includes others who do have one.
In order to achieve higher qualifications and stand out in applicant pools, some students opt to earn a master’s degree. You should be aware, however, that taking this route adds at least two years of academic requirements. Further, those relying on financial aid should remain cognizant of the additional expense associated with attending graduate school. In some cases, it’s better to enter the workforce and use on-the-job experience to qualify for more advanced positions in the future. Ultimately, you should choose the degree that best suits your ultimate career goals. It may also be beneficial to discuss options with a trained academic advisor if you are already enrolled at a college or university.
Why a Degree in Database Administration?
There are many reasons to pursue a degree in database administration or a related field, chief among them being the resulting job itself. According to U.S. News and World Report, database administrators ranked seventh in Best Technology Jobs, 19 in Best STEM Jobs, and 55 in 100 Best Jobs overall. One of the primary reasons for this top ranking is salary. People who graduate and attain professional positions as database administrators make decent money and have multiple opportunities to increase pay as they advance through their careers.
The availability of database administration positions is also growing, with further increases expected in the coming years. The skills learned by students with this degree are invaluable to most industries, as database security and accessibility is universally important. While it is not uncommon for companies and organizations to cut jobs during difficult times, database administrators are rarely considered. This is because the work is complex, requiring significant technical knowledge and experience. As a result, it’s nearly impossible to assimilate these positions into other ones. Additionally, because the service rendered is so essential, employers know their companies or organizations cannot go without it. Ultimately, database administrators enjoy significant job security.
Finally, there are numerous opportunities to promote in this career field. The more experience a professional has, the more valuable he or she is.
What’s Involved in a Bachelor’s Degree?
It’s important to note that there are relatively few colleges and universities that offer programs that focus exclusively on database administration. Most institutions provide degrees in information technology or computer science with concentration in database administration or management. The primary concepts explored in your bachelor’s degree will depend heavily on the type of program you choose. There are a few options to consider. Specific program titles will vary from institution to institution, but most colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) degree options. Some also have Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) programs available. While all of these options are deigned to help to prepare graduates for employment in the field, there are several important differences you should be aware of.
The biggest difference between BA and BS degrees are the course requirements outside of the selected major. While BA programs tend to focus on humanities and arts courses, BS programs require more math and science-related credits. As a result, there are far fewer BA degree programs for those interested in database administration, although they do exist. Meanwhile, BAS degrees tend to focus primarily on technical skills development for application in the workplace and may not prepare you to move on to a master’s program.
While the specific coursework and titles will vary from institution to institution, most bachelor’s degrees in database administration include classes such as:
- Introduction to Information Systems
- Data Collection and Analysis
- Information Security Management
- Website Development
- Project Management
- Object-Oriented Programming
- Database Networking and Technology
- Database Design and Administration
- Backup Technologies
- Web Application Database Development
- Database Integrity and Security
- Java Programming
- Database Theory
- Computer Networking, Backup, and Recovery
What to Consider When Choosing a Bachelor’s Program for Database Administration
When looking for a program in database administration or a related field, it’s important that students consider the college or university’s accreditation status. Proper accreditation means the institution currently meets established academic and professional standards. Only accredited programs can guarantee students will be adequately prepared for work within the field after graduation.
In this case, the most prominent specialized accreditation organization is the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This agency accredits college and university programs in computing, engineering, applied science and technology, and engineering technology at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
There are four Accreditation Commissions that lead and conduct the ABET accreditation activities:
- Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission
- Computing Accreditation Commission
- Engineering Accreditation Commission
- Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission
Institutions can also seek accreditation from a number of regional agencies approved by the Council for Higher Education Association (CHEA). Regional accreditation confirms that all of the college or university’s programs meet the expectations of employers within the region. Graduates should have little difficulty finding employment within the area but may need additional education or certifications if they move to another location.
Regional accreditation organizations include:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCACS)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS COC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Schools (WASC ACS)
Not every educational institution is accredited, which can cause problems when enrolling in further academic programs or pursuing employment. Colleges and universities that are not accredited may not utilize a curriculum accepted by the industry. Attending unaccredited institutions makes transferring previously earned credits impossible, prevents you from accessing federal student funding, and may exclude graduates from employment. It is also not unheard of for companies to hire these graduates at a lower pay rate than those coming from accredited institutions.
Further Database Administration Education
Individuals wishing to advance their careers further may benefit from earning a Master of Science (MS) in database administration. These programs can help prepare current professionals for senior-level or management positions. Most master’s degree programs consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Database administration programs are designed to provide a more in-depth look at a range of relevant subjects including networking and operating systems, database management, computer system architecture, and software engineering processes.
While course titles will vary, students can expect to take classes like:
- Enterprise Architecture
- Database Architecture
- Backup and Recovery
- XML Database Development
Enrolling in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems program is another viable option, as many of these degrees offer concentrations in database administration. Graduates are likely to make more money and qualify for senior-level and management positions. Most MBA programs consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. In addition to database administration, students can choose from a wide variety of concentrations including data visualization, enterprise systems, security controls, and business analytics. Graduates typically have highly developed skills in strategy, marketing, global business, and supply chain management.
Doctorate or PhD
There are currently no database administration degree programs available at the doctoral level. Individuals wanting to pursue a doctorate will likely need to choose between a management information systems, information studies, or business administration degree. While curriculums vary, it’s not uncommon for programs like these to incorporate courses that address database administration. Graduates are often qualified for executive, research, and academic positions in the field.
Alternatively, professionals interested in continuing their education could opt to take individual doctoral classes on the subject. There are plenty of courses that provide advanced instruction on collecting, analyzing, and converting data for science, business, financial, and marketing purposes. Students can also take high-level classes on creating, organizing, and improving database systems.
In addition to obtaining a higher-level degree in database administration or a related field, you can also choose to pursue various certifications and/or licensures. Doing this will ensure you stand out when competing for jobs, may qualify you for a pay increase, and could lead to additional promotional opportunities. Some companies may even require professionals to become certified in the products most frequently used. In most cases, certification in this field is offered directly from software vendors or vendor-neutral providers.
Some of the most prominent options for database administrators include:
- Oracle Certified Professional – Oracle 9i Database Administrator
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
- Oracle 9i Database Administrator – Professional (OCP)
- Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional
- Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
- Computer Service Technician (CST)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- SAP Certified Technology Associate
Current professionals should always find out which database platforms their employer uses prior to choosing which certification to pursue. Some companies and organizations utilize little-known or obscure systems. Those seeking promotional opportunities should become certified in these first, as the specialized qualifications will make them more valuable to employers.
Available Careers with a Database Administration Bachelor’s Degree
There are numerous employment opportunities available to individuals who earn a bachelor’s degree in database administration or a related field. It’s important to note, however, that some employers may require additional certifications for specific database platforms.
Some of the most popular job options include:
- Database Administrator
- Management Consultant
- Oracle Database Administrator
- Database Analyst
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Computer Programmer
- Software Developer
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator
- Operations Research Analyst
- Database Administrator:
Database Administrators ensures that company and organization database software is maintained properly so that employees can access important information quickly when needed. They are responsible for making servers run at top efficiency, as well as coordinating data security.
- Oracle Database Administrator:
Oracle database administrators perform the same tasks as mentioned above but work specifically within the Oracle database. It’s their responsibility to ensure the software is running smoothly. They also frequently work with computers to check their accuracy and workability, as well as troubleshoot issues that develop.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager:
Computer and information systems managers oversee a team of professionals who ensure that program application and/or modification to applications function appropriately. They are also responsible for evaluating, implementing, and managing network and desktop technologies.
- Computer Systems Analyst:
Computer systems analysts are responsible for automating company and organization functions. They effectively streamline processes using computer technology to help corporate and private entities achieve maximum accuracy and efficiency. This often includes monitoring networks and systems for performance and security issues.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrator:
Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for maintaining company or organization technological systems. They regularly install, configure, and upgrade operating systems and applications, as well as identify and troubleshoot various problems with corresponding hardware and software.
- Operations Research Analyst:
Operations research analysts work to complete and analyze operations research for the companies and organizations that employee them. Using operations-related trends and analysis, they can provide guidance to relevant parties on important operational processes.
- Computer Programmer:
Computer programmers are often responsible for coding or writing computer software, as well as writing, designing, debugging, troubleshooting, and maintaining related source code. They also ensure the computer can be easily used by end-users and customize programs purchased from vendors.
Overall, the earning potential for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in database administration or a related field is significant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for database administrators was $98,860 in 2020. This is significantly higher than the median annual wage of $37,690 as reported for all occupations. Even the lowest 10% earned a healthy salary of $54,070, while the highest 10% earned more than $155,660.
According to PayScale, the average base salary for database administrators is $73,458. Those just starting their careers, with one to four years of experience, typically earn between $56,000 and $63,000. While earning a graduate degree can result in higher salary potential after graduation, it is not necessary. Gaining experience on the job will also result in regular pay increases. After 20 years of employment, it’s not uncommon for professionals in this field to make $99,000.
Overall, the outlook for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in database administration or a related field is very good. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) projects that there will be a 10% increase in job availability between 2019 and 2029. This is much faster than the national average for other professions.
One major factor attributing to this anticipated growth is the increasing data needs of companies in nearly every sector of the economy. As this trend continues, more and more database administrators will be needed to provide data organization and develop user-friendly systems. Additionally, third party companies offering database-as-a-service are becoming popular. As these data processing and hosting entities continue to grow, they will hire additional team members, boosting the demand for qualified database administrators even more. As a result, those interested in the field can anticipate easy access to entry-level positions all over the country.
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