System Administrator Vs. Database Administrator

Oct 03, 2019

Comparing System Administrators to Database Administrators

Both system administrators and database administrators work with computers and networks. However, system administrators oversee the operations of entire networks, while database administrators use specialized software on those networks for the collection and analysis of data. The similarities and differences between these two positions are described below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
System Administrator Bachelor's degree $82,050 5%
Database Administrator Bachelor's degree $90,070 9%

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of System Administrators vs Database Administrators

Computer networks are managed by system administrators. They oversee the operations of all networking, communication systems, and application software. Database administrators work within the network on specific database software. Both are responsible for monitoring their systems and supporting their users. In some cases, system administrators and database administrators may be tasked to work with others to plan, design, and implement their systems or applications. Often, systems administrators will also be responsible for training their users and overseeing how their systems or applications are used.

System Administrators

System administrators keep local area networks, wide area networks, intranets, and, in some cases, telecommunications connections working properly. They are responsible for planning network layouts and designs with network architects, directing the installation of hardware and software on servers and workstations, and monitoring the systems for security and peak performance. Often, they recommend hardware and software purchases to improve network or workstation performance. Typically, system administrators work full time; however, they may be expected to work overtime in the event of a system problem. Career advancement opportunities may include positions such as network architect and computer and information systems manager.

Job responsibilities for system administrators include the following:

  • Adding users to a network
  • Implementing network security measures
  • Training users in network and application usage
  • Solving problems in an efficient and effective manner
  • Conducting needs assessments

Database Administrators

Database administrators oversee the use of specialized software applications to input and store data. They ensure that approved users are able to enter and access the data through a user interface while ensuring that the data remains secure. Some database administrators are involved in designing and developing databases. For those who are involved in database design, it is common to work with legacy data in older applications and to develop the processes needed to merge old data with new data. Database administrators need good critical-thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, and they must be detail oriented.

Job responsibilities for database administrators include the following:

  • Conducting data backups
  • Assessing database performance
  • Modifying database structure if needed
  • Restoring lost data
  • Debugging programs or installing patches

Related Careers

System administrators might also be interested in learning more about becoming computer network architects, since both positions work so closely with networks as a whole. Database administrators and computer systems analysts have common ground in their responsibilities for assessing users' needs and providing effective solutions.

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