Information & Communication Technology
Database administrators use software to store and organise data, and make sure that data is accessible and secure from unauthorised access.
What does a Database Administrator do?
Database administrators (DBAs) use specialised software to store and organise data, such as financial information or customer records. They make sure that data is available to users and is secure from unauthorised access.
As a DBA you could work on a variety of databases, from banks' customer account networks to hospital patient record systems. Your tasks could range from upgrading an existing database to creating a completely new system.
On a new system, you would work with an organisation to:
- establish what the database is for, who will use it and what other systems it will link to (for example telephony)
- plan the structure of the database, working out how to organise, find and display the data
- build a test version and check the results to iron out any technical problems (bugs)
- fill (populate) the database with new information or transfer existing data into it
- plan how to update information, create back-up copies and report errors
- implement security measures.
You may specialise in one particular type of software, or manage multiple databases using different software programs.
You may have extra duties, like supervising technical support staff, training users and producing performance reports for IT managers.
Increasingly, you could be working with web-based technologies and would need to understand how databases fit in with these systems. Database security is another area of growing importance.
In a senior position you would normally be responsible for strategic planning, information policy, budgets and managing client relationships. You would work on projects with other IT professionals, such as analysts, programmers and IT project managers.
Key skills and interests
To become a database administrator, you would need:
- an excellent understanding of database systems
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- strong problem-solving and organisation skills
- the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
- business and budget awareness
- excellent communication, presentation and negotiating skills.
Working hours and conditions
You would normally work a standard week, Monday to Friday. However, you may have on-call duties to deal with technical problems outside of normal office hours.
You could work at one site if you are employed by a company to manage their databases. If you work for a company that builds databases for other organisations, you would travel to meet clients. Some contracts may involve overnight stays away from home.
How to become an Database Administrator?
Entry Level Education
To become a database administrator you usually have to complete a VET qualification in information technology or information technology networking.
You can also become a database administrator by studying information technology or computing at university. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English and mathematics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Membership of the Australian Computer Society is available to those who hold, or are working towards, suitable qualifications. There are a range of membership types available, allowing progression through the various levels as a member's career develops.
Employment of database administrators (DBAs) is projected to grow a little faster than the average for all occupations.
Growth in this occupation will be driven by the increased data needs of companies in all sectors of the economy. Database administrators will be needed to organise and present data in a way that makes it easy for analysts and other stakeholders to understand. However employment growth may be slowed by new software tools that increase the productivity of DBAs.
The increasing popularity of database-as-a-service, which allows database administration to be done by a third party over the internet, could increase the employment of DBAs at cloud computing firms.
Employment growth for database administrators is expected in healthcare and allied industries. As the use of electronic medical records increases, more databases will be needed to keep track of patient information.