Database Administrators Careers: Employment & Salary Trends for Aspiring Database Administrators

Database Administrators at a Glance

Database administrators, computer systems analysts, and computer scientists are all in the same category, mainly because all positions require a significant amount of knowledge and training in the areas of hardware and software systems, and new technologies. Although these positions are “lumped” together in most reference guides, each has its own individual tasks, population, and average salary.

Database administrators are concerned with database management systems software. They determine ways to organize and store data; identify user requirements; set up computer databases, and test and coordinate modifications to computer systems. Systems analysts solve computer problems and apply computer technology to meet the needs of any given organization and computer scientists work as theorists, inventors, or researchers.

Individuals working in the world of computers and computer technology can expect their positions to change on a regular basis. Because technology moves at such  rapid pace, these individuals will continue to learn about new technologies and programs throughout the life of their careers. Unlike yesterday’s database administrator, in addition to working with database management systems, today’s database administrator works with planning and coordinating security measures.

Schools to consider:


Employment Trends

Job Outlook: Rapid increase
Annual Openings: 91,000
Percent Growth: 28.6%
Total Jobs Held: 119,000 (2006, most current available figures)
Projected Employment: 154,000 by 2016
The Best 500 Jobs Overall Ranking: 40

Source: “Best Jobs for the 21st Century,” JIST Publishing 2009. Farr, Michael and Shatkin, Laurence, Ph.D.; “Salary Facts Handbook,” JIST Publishing 2008. Editors @ JIST.

Due to the nature of computers and technology, the need for highly trained database administrators will always exist. Database administrators are needed in just about every sector, but their numbers are highest in the computer systems design and related services industry. The industry can expect to see more independent contractors, temporary employees, seasonal employees, and telecommuters.

Salary Trends

In 2009, database administrators earned an average salary of $67,250 per year. This figure represents a 3.8% increase over 2008 ($64,670). Database administrators in the 90th percentile can expect to earn around $103,100 per year, while 75th percentile database administrators can expect to earn $84,830 per year. Entry-level database administrators can expect to earn a starting salary of around $37,350 per year.

Degrees and Training Programs

Most employers prefer individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher in computer science, information science, or management information systems. Although a bachelors degree or higher is preferred over, say, an associate’s degree, more and more employer’s are seeking out individuals with master’s degree in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in information systems. This growing trend is the result of the growing number of businesses that have or plan to move their business to the Internet.

The majority of community colleges offer an associate’s degree in computer science or a related field. Independent technical institutions and proprietary schools also offer an associate’s degree in computer science or related information technology field. These occupation specific programs do not offer advanced training, but rather training that will help aspiring database administrators get a foot in the door of local businesses. Advanced training may be acquired through a 4-year degree program, followed by a master’s degree program. Just about every 4-year university or college offers a computer science and/or related information technology degree.

Coursework Required

In addition to core courses from the social sciences, life sciences, and humanities subject areas, aspiring database administrators can expect to take undergraduate classes such as software engineering, principles of programming languages, data structures, computer architecture, theory of computation and formal languages, operating systems, distributed systems, computer modeling, computer networks, compiler construction, and artificial intelligence.

Master's degree seekers can expect to take software development, algorithms and structures, distributed systems, statistics, mathematical methods, logic, and numerical analysis, as well as specialized courses such as computational concepts in the sciences, computer architecture, bioinformatics, game development, and object-oriented programming. Completion of a computer science project or thesis is also required.

Did You Know?
At 1,668,870,408, Asia has the highest number of Internet users in the world Asia. The second highest is Europe (402,380,474) and the third is North America (251,735,500).