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Database administrator

Database administrators (DBAs) plan and build computer systems, and make sure they’re secure and working properly.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £70,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need to know how to use structured query language (SQL) and database management systems (DBMS).

Experience in IT support, programming or web development would be helpful.

You could do an HNC, HND or degree in computer science, information science, software engineering or mathematics, then join a company’s graduate training scheme.

You may still be able to get a place on a graduate training scheme without an IT-related degree, as larger employers tend to accept graduates from any discipline.

You could also study for a postgraduate IT conversion qualification.

The Tech Partnership and the Chartered Institute for IT have more information on becoming a database administrator.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • strong problem-solving and organisation skills
  • the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines
  • excellent communication, presentation and negotiating skills

3. What you'll do

You’ll work on a variety of databases, from banks' customer account networks to hospital patient record systems. Your tasks could vary from upgrading an existing database to creating a completely new system.

On a new system, you’ll work with an organisation to:

  • establish what the database is for, who’ll use it and what other systems it will link to
  • plan the structure of the database, working out how to organise, find and display data
  • build a test version and check the results for 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
  • put in security measures

You may be working with web-based technologies and will need to understand how databases fit in with these systems. Database security is another area of growing importance.

You may have extra duties, like supervising technical support staff, training users and producing performance reports for IT managers.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000 to £25,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £35,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 to £70,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may have on-call duties to deal with technical problems outside normal office hours.

You’ll work at one site if you’re employed by a company to manage their databases. If you work for a company that builds databases for other organisations, you’ll travel to meet clients. Some contracts may involve overnight stays.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into IT project management or systems analysis, web development or network management.

You could also become self-employed, or move into consultancy. 

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Last updated: 14 December 2016