Database designers, who are similar to software developers, specialize in managing, creating, and analyzing data collected in databases. Professionals may choose to specialize in particular industries, such as healthcare or mobile devices. Creative problem solvers with strong analytical skills are more likely to excel in this career field.
A database designer or developer works designs and implements computer databases for the collection, protection and analysis of data. Most employers require database designers to have a combination of educational qualifications and on-the-job experience. In addition, many positions pay more to employees who have earned vendor certification.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree|
|Other Requirements||Optional certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||17%* (software developers)|
|Median Salary (2016)||$73,694**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Database Designer Job Description
Database developers work in the IT department of an organization and focus mainly on the programming aspect of database design, analyzing data inquiry needs, ensuring security of information and organizing layout to best present the information needed. These professionals work closely with other IT team members, including systems administrators and database administrators.
Depending on the size of the company, many database developers take on some of the duties of database administrators and must maintain data backup, storage and data integrity in addition to their other duties. As a result of their similarity, there is some variance between employers in which term applies to which occupation; however, database design or development generally refers to a higher-level position.
Opportunities for Advancement
After several years of experience or further education, such as a graduate certificate or master's degree in database technologies, database developers can advance to a more authoritative position in a company, including database architect or chief technology officer (CTO) careers. While most database developers work in an office setting during regular business hours, an occasional deadline or system problem might extend their working hours to evenings and weekends. With experience, many database developers can work from home or take on a consulting position, determining their own hours.
Though not always required, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to seek job candidates with a bachelor's degree as well as relevant work experience. Students interested in pursuing database design may consider studying in a related field, such as computer science or software engineering, to acquire the necessary computer skills. Majoring in a related field typically includes coursework in logic, programming languages such as SQL and Python, database queries, information security and database administration.
Certification Options and Salary Information
In order to guarantee a certain level of competency in some proprietary software, many employers seek job candidates with vendor certification. Oracle and Microsoft offer certification in database administration, which can be combined with experience in programming and relational databases to qualify a database designer for more positions.
According to PayScale.com in October 2016, an entry-level database developer could expect to earn between $49,256 and $104,896 as an annual salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have career predictions specifically for database developers, but positions for software developers are expected to increase by 17% between 2014 and 2024, which is notably faster than the average for all career fields.
The main job duties of database designers include creating, monitoring, and maintaining databases for a wide range of organizations. Bachelor's degrees related to computer science and experience with databases are necessary, and career advancement is possible with enough job experience and through earning additional certificate and graduate degrees in the field.