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How to Become a Database Manager: Step-by-Step Career Guide

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

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Database Manager?

Database managers, sometimes referred to as database administrators, identify a company's information management needs and create a database to meet those needs. They also merge old and new databases, ensure that databases operate correctly, ensure that database information is secure, and fix any related problems.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 11% national employment growth for database administrators during the 2014-2024 decade. Some database administrators work more than 40 hours per week, and the majority are employed full-time. Database administrators work in many industries and may be employed by large corporations, the government, computer service consulting groups, or be self-employed. The job is not physically demanding and few physical injuries or illnesses are associated with this career.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Management information systems, computer science, or a related field
Licensure/Certification None required; voluntary certifications available
Experience 1-5 years typically required
Key Skills Analytical, critical-thinking, operations analysis, decision-making, and logic skills; able to use database management, metadata management, object-oriented component, and archival software programs
Salary $81,710 per year (median salary in 2015 for database managers)

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

Getting into the field of database management requires a bachelor's degree program in management information systems, computer science, or a related field. While licensure or certification isn't required, voluntary certifications are available from industry companies. Additionally, most managers require anywhere from 1-5 years of experience. The key skills to becoming a database manager are analytical, critical-thinking, and logic skills; operations analysis and decision-making skills; and the ability to use database management, metadata management, object-oriented component, and archival software programs. In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that the median annual salary for database managers was $81,710.

Steps to Becoming a Database Manager

Now let's take a look at the individual steps that you can take to become a database manager, as well as some tips to help your chances of success.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The BLS states that most database administrators have a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs are available in computer information systems with a concentration in database systems, computer science or in the computer and information sciences. Classes in these 4-year programs cover topics like discrete structures, web page applications, database systems, data structure and mining, databases and distributed systems, data communications, and database management systems.

To really shine above the competition, complete an internship. Some bachelor's degree programs allow students to complete an internship during their studies. These internships introduce students to the type of tasks they may perform as a database administrator. This experience may impress employers during job searches.

Step 2: Work as a Database Developer or Data Analyst

The BLS states that many database administrators begin their careers working as database developers or data analysts. Database developers design and implement database technologies, collect information to put into databases, and analyze database efficiency. Data analysts collect and analyze data contained in databases. Both of these careers require a bachelor's degree.

Additionally, to make your skills stand out, earn industry certifications. Microsoft, Cisco, and SQL offer database managers the opportunity to earn voluntary certifications in the use of their products. These certifications often require the completion of training programs and the demonstration of proficiency in operating the company's product.

Step 3: Work as a Database Manager

After completing 1-5 years of work experience, an individual may be qualified to assume a position as a database manager. These managers ensure that databases operate correctly and are easy to use so that data analysts can perform their job duties.

Step 4: Consider Earning a Master's Degree

Although not required to work in the field, the BLS reports that some large firms may prefer to hire database managers who possess a graduate degree. Master's degrees are available in database technologies or database management and business intelligence. The curriculum for these programs includes classes in data mining, database security, database performance tuning, and database backup.

To recap, with a bachelor's degree and 1-5 years of experience, database managers earn about $82,000 a year to create databases for companies that meet their needs.


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