careers database administrator

Database Administrator Jobs

Database administrator jobs… did you know?

Banks. Hospitals. YouTube. Sites selling gig tickets. They’re all run by databases (in other words, systems which store lots of information). Computers are all about information, and information makes the world go round.

So many companies use computer systems these days, and they need database administrators to plan how those systems will work, build them and then make sure they keep working, all using code. That’s why you’ll have your finger on the world’s pulse as a database administrator (DBA).

Industry: Digital

Database administrator job trends

How much money can you make as a database administrator?

£22,000 – £70,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn on average between £22,000 and £70,000 a year as a database administrator in the UK, with starter wages ranging from £22,000 to £25,000.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary as a database administrator will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need for this job?

School, college and training

Database administration is one of those jobs where your knowledge and skills are more important than your qualifications. However, getting specific IT qualifications could help you start in a more senior role. In addition, further learning qualifications can help you build work experience to make your CV and job application stand out.

If you’re a school leaver with GCSEs or S grades (grades 9-4 / A*-C) in English, maths, and information and communication technology (ICT) you may be able to successfully apply for a job as a database assistant and build your skills and knowledge on the job.

Useful entry qualifications for a database administration role include:

  • Advanced GCE in applied IT
  • A-level or H grades in ICT
  • Level 3-4 BTEC professional certificate in networking
  • Edexcel entry level certificate in ICT

Higher qualifications for database administration and IT careers include:

  • HNC/HND course (you may need at least one A-level or two H grades to apply)
  • Foundation degree
  • Degree (you may need at least two A-level or three H grades to apply)

Useful study subjects for higher qualifications leading to an IT career include:

  • Computer science
  • Software development
  • Electronics
  • Maths
  • Engineering

However, graduates with a non-related degree but proven IT skills can still be taken on by employers. If you choose, you can also study for a postgraduate IT conversion qualification.

Apprenticeships

You can get into this job through completing an IT apprenticeship. This gives you the opportunity to earn a salary working in digital technology while getting structured learning that leads to an industry-recognised qualification.

Career Progression

With time and experience you could move into IT project management or systems analysis. You could also work as a web developer or move into network management.

Once you’ve built up enough experience, contacts and skills, you could become self-employed or set yourself up as an IT consultant.

In addition, your coding skills could pave the way for you to create a software program or system for yourself rather than for someone else. All big apps, games and software ideas started with someone having the idea in the first place. Once you’ve learned the coding required for database management, you may be tempted to learn more languages like C++ (which is often used for coding programs like video games).

What experience do you need for digital jobs?

Work experience

It can help your application if you have previously done work experience in a digital environment, especially if you’ve had experience of working with the two main coding requirements for database administrators:

  • Structured query language (SQL)
  • Database management systems (DBMS)

Any work experience where you have demonstrated your IT skills can help your application.

Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company
  • Work placements on a college or university course

Volunteering and extra-curricular activities

Picking up the relevant IT skills for database administration is something you can do in your own time. You can be the person that friends or family turn to when “switch it off and on again” isn’t enough to solve their IT problem.

One of the key coding languages to learn for this job is SQL. There are many free SQL courses and coding communities you can search for online to pick up the basics and get started, such as this free SQL course from CodeCademy.

Even if you haven’t yet encountered SQL in academic study or the workplace, an employer will be impressed that you are teaching yourself out of your own free choice.

What skills do you need for database administrator jobs?

Useful skills to highlight to your employer when applying for jobs like this one include:

  • Technical database administration skills – SQL and DBMS
  • IT support skills, or technical skills in programming or web development
  • Good problem solving and planning skills (a lot of coding isn’t about perfection first time round, but about trial and error, and understand where your code could be improved when things go wrong)
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Good communication skills, both verbal and written. You may be explaining technical issues to people who don’t understand databases the way you do, and you may need to write guides and reports to the systems you work with for other people to use.

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

What does a database administrator do?

Depending on your level of experience, your activities could range from inputting data to designing, testing and building new database systems from scratch. Usually working in typical office hours, you could be working for all kinds of companies, from private employers to the NHS.

Some day-to-day job responsibilities include:

  • Working with web-based systems to make a database work as part of a website
  • Putting in security measures, because online security is very important these days (e.g. adding password protection or a secure way to make online payments)
  • Working with a range of IT people including project managers overseeing the project, system developers and programmers to get the job done
  • Building a new system? You’ll have to understand what the database is for, who will use it and what other systems it might be connected to. Then you’ll plan the database structure and think about how to organise, find and display data
  • Test any work you do on a database and check the results for code errors and bugs (things going wrong in the code)
  • Putting information into the database, either by filling it with new information or transferring data from another system into it
  • Creating technical and user-friendly ways to update information, create back-up copies in case something goes very wrong with the system, and reporting errors.

Your first steps into database administrator jobs

Database admin (DBA) jobs are advertised under different job titles. When you’re looking on job boards, look for the following types of job:

  • Database assistant
  • Apprentice database administration assistant
  • Database apprenticeship
  • Software developer apprenticeship (if one of your training areas is SQL, DBMS and databases)
  • Junior database administrator
  • Database administrator

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