Database Administrator Job Description

Database Administrator Job Description

A database is to a corporation as brain synapses are to a person’s memory. The cumulative entirety of a business’s work including contacts, legal documents, plans, memos, emails, employee records and just about everything else is contained in their databases. Work and profits come to a grinding halt if this corporate data is lost or corrupted. Even if the database writing and retrieval process is slowed down, business can lose money and experience irreparable damages.  The design, monitoring maintenance, streamlining, compacting and protection are of absolute importance in ensuring a database’s integrity, effectiveness, efficiency and access to the data are maintained. 

Database administrators are content to live in a world of structural and analytical focus.  Step into the world of a database administrator and you’ll find a reliable person dedicated to integrity, complex data structures and elevated mental focus.  They develop a fond acceptance of the existence of intricate relational multi-dimensional databases with table interactions and relationships that would cause the average person to run and hide. They develop an intuitive and natural connection with the language used to query a database called Structured Query Language or SQL.

Since these individuals are entrusted with a tremendous amount of responsibility as keepers of corporate data, their job comes with a significant amount of pressure.  Database administrators are usually responsible for maintaining database systems that involve ensuring backups run regularly and that the database ultimately maintains integrity with validated data of the highest veracity. They performance-tune and capacity-plan as well as monitor important events that take place that may leave a database vulnerable to corruption.

Database administrators typically work alongside database designers, application development teams and business units as part of the integrated database design process. They are required to document all details of their work for the cumulative, historic reference of processes implemented by the database administrator. 

The scope of a database administrator varies greatly depending on whether they are working with a larger team of database designers or not. Large companies may have very complex systems that require a multitude of separate database designers and administrators, smaller companies may have database departments that assign the job of design and interfacing to the database administrator. 

Typical Database Administrator Job Duties

  • Meets with department groups or other users of data to analyze application needs, programming, and business logic functionality. This may involve the evaluation of existing systems and the design of new systems.
  • Following the gathering of parameters and when the database functionality is flushed out and decided, database solutions are presented detailing structure, functionality, security, data back-up plans, and recovery details.
  • Implements new and revised database systems detailed on flowcharts obtained from the initial collected design parameters.
  • Ensures database speed and accessibility by monitoring and calculating optimum database parameter values and performing all database maintenance requirements.
  • Provides users of databases ongoing training and complaint notification through user group meetings.
  • Helps guide and instruct application developers in the latest database SQL server features.
  • Provides ongoing interaction with users of their databases taking questions and providing answers via email, phone and in person.
  • Builds and may be requested to do coding on various database utilities and maintenance functionality.
  • Long hours and a dedication to completion are required along with on-call hours to troubleshoot real-time issues as they arise.
  • Participates in the enforcement of various organization standards and company policy and procedures.
  • Participates in regular technical growth to keep-up with evolving technology by attending continuing education classes, workshops, online training, professional societies and technical networks.

Opportunities for Database Administrators

Because this is such a specialized field in addition to the growth of the tech sector, these jobs are in high demand with more positions than applicants to fill them. Rated number six in the US News and World Report Best Technology Jobs Section, database administrators can find employment almost anywhere and essentially have the world in their hands. Anywhere there are large business operations, government offices or institutions of higher learning, massive, complex databases are required for their functionality.  Large fortune 1000 companies in addition to local, state and federal government entities are major employers of database administrators. There are also many other opportunities with good job advancement potential at cloud service providers, universities, hospitals and web hosting companies.  Some database admins become private consultants or contractors after gaining enough experience working on a team for a large entity. Advancement in the industry is determined by job longevity and the ability to perform under pressure. The greater the scope and responsibility the greater the salary that can be commanded. 

Education and Skills for Database Administrators

While this is a highly-specialized profession, the database administrator needs to be knowledgeable in a multitude of IT disciplines beyond database design and maintenance. Network administer courses fit nicely along with programming language coursework. Database administration is another IT field where sometimes what you know is more important than being able to present diplomas from a university.  A one or two-year degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from a community college is a good starting point and many times gets a person in the door at an entry level. Many large corporations still require a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a university for placement in supervisory and senior level positions. The important database certification programs that are highly sought after include Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Data Platform or Business Intelligence, Oracle Database Certification, IBM Certified Database Administrator. Today, the cloud plays an ever-increasing role in database storage. Amazon EC2 database clustering is becoming the de-facto standard for cloud storage. Knowledge of this resource is important.  Database performance tuning and monitoring techniques are crucial skills with advanced knowledge of replication, mirroring, log shipping, capacity planning and user and group policies are important specific database management skills. As with most IT jobs, an attention to detail with the ability to see problems through to repair and completion is crucial.  Good oral and written communication skills are necessary for inter-group and user communication and for documentation processes.