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How to Become a Data Manager: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a data manager. Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a data manager. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a Data…
  • 0:46 Career Requirements
  • 1:55 Steps to Become a Data Manager

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Data Manager?

Data managers create database systems that meet an organization's or research team's needs for the data they plan on or have already gathered. The job tasks these managers perform are similar to those commonly conducted by database administrators. These tasks might include identifying user needs and creating databases that meet those needs, merging old and new databases, backing up information contained in a database and modifying a database's structure.

Sometimes known as database administrators, data managers can work in a wide variety of industries, including medical, financial and educational businesses. They might be required to occasionally work more than 40 hours a week to meet business demands.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree; some positions require MBA's
Degree Field Computer-related field, such as information technology or computer science; business administration
Certification Voluntary; some employers may require managers certify in the software used
Experience 1-5 years of experience in data analysis or database development
Key Skills Logic, analytical, and problem-solving skills; able to conduct operations and systems analysis; familiarity with mainframe computers, hard disk arrays, and drives; ability to use archival component oriented development, operating system, data base management, and metadata management software programs
Salary (May 2015) $81,710 (2015 median for all database administrators)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O Net Online, Microsoft.

Getting into this career requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree, but some employers seek individuals with Master of Business Administration degrees. Fields of study include most computer-related fields, such as information technology or computer science. While certification is not required, industry certifications are available. Some employers may require that managers be certified in the software program the organization uses. The experience ranges from 1-5 years of experience in data analysis or database development. Key skills for data managers include logic, analytical and problem-solving skills; ability to conduct operations and systems analysis; familiarity with mainframe computers, hard disk arrays and drives; and knowledge of and ability to use archival component-oriented development, operating system, data base management and metadata management software programs. In 2015, the median annual wage for database administrators was $81,710, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Now let's take a look at the steps to getting into this career.

Steps to Becoming a Data Manager

Step 1: Graduate from a Bachelor's Degree Program

A bachelor's degree is required to work as a database administrator. Bachelor of Science in Information Systems with a concentration in database management, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a concentration in database administration or Bachelor of Science in Computer Science programs include instruction related to data management. The curriculum of these 4-year programs include classes in topics such as data structures, database design, data mining, distributed architecture, security applications, database management systems and applied systems analysis. Some of these programs are available online.

You can also consider completing a minor in database analysis. Some programs do not allow students to concentrate their studies in a database management-related area. Students in these programs may benefit from completing a minor in database technology. Classes in these programs, which require about 20 credit-hours of study, cover topics such as database management systems and advanced database design technology, Java and UNIX/LINUX.

Step 2: Begin Working as a Data Analyst or Database Developer

Most data managers begin their careers working as data analysts or database developers. Job postings show that both positions require a bachelor's degree and 2-5 years of work experience. Data analysts might analyze gathered data, build data structures and maintain databases. Database developers might design and oversee database operations.

You might consider becoming certified. Earning certifications related to database management from industry companies might make it easier for an individual to advance in his or her career. For example, Microsoft offers Certified IT Professional certifications in fields such as database development and administration. Earning either of these credentials usually requires passing an exam.

Step 3: Begin Working as a Data Manager

After having 1-5 years of work experience as a data analyst or database developer, an individual might advance into working as a data manager, also known as a database administrator. These workers design databases that meet a specific organization's needs and ensure that the database operates correctly.

Step 4: Consider Earning a Master of Business Administration

Some employers may prefer to hire candidates that possess Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. MBA programs are sometimes offered with concentrations in information technology or information systems. These programs include classes related to database management, such as database concepts, advanced database management systems, the design and processing of database systems, statistical quality control and business modeling using spreadsheets. Even if the data manager position does not require an MBA, the advanced degree and business education potentially make the data manager a stronger candidate for management and senior administrative positions.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, 1-5 years of experience and possibly certification, data managers can earn about $82,000 a year to create database systems that meet an organization's or research team's needs for the data they plan on or have already gathered.

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