Database Programmer: Job Info & Career Requirements

Explore the work responsibilities of a database programmer. Learn about educational requirements, necessary skills, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career choice.

Career Definition for a Database Programmer

Database programmers, also known as database developers, write instructions that affect the way in which sets of records stored in a computer system are organized, managed, accessed and updated. These workers use specific database computer languages to write and test new database software; others update or repair existing programs; many are also required to write instructions or teach employees how to use the software. Some work on large projects involving many programmers; such workers are most likely to use tools that help speed up the programming process, allowing them to concentrate on those parts that are unique to a particular programming task.

Education Bachelor's degree in computer science or equivalent
Job Skills Logic and reasoning, organization, problem solving, technical skill
Median Salary (2015)* $79,530 (all computer programmers)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -8% (all computer programmers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most employers in this field look for college graduates with relevant experience and a knowledge of more than one database programming language. The majority of computer programmers now have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with majors such as information technology (IT), computer science or math. IT programs typically require courses in computer fundamentals; database technologies; project management and applicable legal issues.

Skills Required

Database programmers need to be logical and capable of solving complex problems, with well-developed reading skills and a desire to constantly upgrade their knowledge. The Occupational Information Network (ONET) also notes that computer programmers often display a pronounced ability to order or pattern items according to a set of rules.

Economic and Career Outlook

Due in part to the increasing variety of packaged software, jobs for computer programmers are expected to decline by 8% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. As of May 2015, the median annual wage of programmers was $79,530.

Alternative Careers

A career in database programming can prepare you for a variety of similar occupations, including those in database administration and software development.

Database Administrator

For those interested in making sure databases are functioning properly and keeping data secure, becoming a database administrator may be something to consider. Database administrators perform tests, manage old and new data, analyze security measures, update user permissions and make modifications when necessary. Some administrators may also help design and program new databases.

Entering this profession usually requires a bachelor's degree in a computer field, such as computer science or management information systems. More complex organizations may only hire candidates with a master's degree. The BLS predicts that the field of database administration will grow 11% from 2014 to 2024, resulting in the creation of almost 14,000 new positions during this time. As seen in 2015 estimates from the BLS, these computer professionals received a median wage of $81,710.

Software Developer

If designing applications and software from scratch sounds intriguing, think about becoming a software developer. These developers research an organization's computer systems and programs to identify needs and ways to improve efficiency. They take this knowledge and design all the components and elements of the system or software, utilizing diagrams and models to show code writers what to do.

Earning a bachelor's degree in software engineering, computer science or a related field is the first step to finding employment in this occupation. Knowledge of computer programming is important and many software developers start out as programmers and move into developer positions. In 2015, the BLS reported that over one million people were employed as software developers, and applications developers earned a median salary of $98,260. Job opportunities in this field are predicted to grow by 17% between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. Much of this growth is attributed to the expansion of mobile technology.


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