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What is Database Administration?

Are you considering pursuing a degree in database administration? If you intend to find employment in Illinois, it’s advisable to enroll at a college or university in the state. While institutions throughout the nation have reputable and accredited programs, and online learning is possible anywhere with consistent internet access, local schools tend to offer more for those who plan to work locally. Not only do they often have pre-established connections with potential employers in the area, but they are more familiar with job market expectations in the region. This allows them to tailor program specifics so that graduates are prepared to apply for positions, licensures, and certifications within the state.

Database administration is a good career choice for individuals who have an aptitude for and enjoy working with computers. The field is particularly worth exploring if you are interested in obtaining or honing skills related to database updates, storage, security, and troubleshooting. Information technology is a diverse field, however, with a wide variety of employment opportunities available in numerous industries. Most businesses rely heavily on data storage systems, making skills related to this field highly valued in almost every sector. As a result, graduates are often able to find work within all types of companies, organizations, institutions, and government bodies. Some of the best jobs available include computer and information systems manager, database administrator, computer network architect, computer programmer, and computer systems analyst.

The job outlook for database administrators and architects in the United States is decent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for these professionals is expected to increase by 8% from 2020 to 2030. This is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. The field will likely see approximately 13,900 job openings each year, including those that become available due to current workers retiring or transferring to different positions. Demand will remain relatively steady, as nearly every industry utilizes data systems for organization and storage purposes. The projected growth in this field is mostly due to an increasing need for highly trained and skilled experts capable of meeting the data requirements of growing and expanding companies. Offering database storage and maintenance as a service is also becoming increasingly popular and will likely contribute to the number of opportunities available.

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Database Administration Education in Illinois

Information is not considered a top industry in Illinois, but professional and business services is the number one revenue-producer in the state. This sector accounts for $118.24 billion in revenue each year and is highly dependent upon database administration professionals. This and many other industries depend on experts in this field to function successfully and every company and organization in the country can benefit from proper and efficient data storage systems and procedures. Notably, some of the state’s biggest industries – real estate, finance, insurance, education, healthcare, retail, and transportation – all utilize information maintenance and storage services.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois employed 5,590 database administrators and architects in May 2020. This is more than most states. In fact, Illinois employs more database administration professionals than all but five other states. The annual mean wage offered to individuals in these professions in Florida is $97,780, which is significantly higher than the annual mean wage of $56,310 reported for all occupations.

Earning a degree in database administration can qualify you for a number of jobs related to information technology but most graduates choose to pursue employment as database administrators (DBAs) or architects. Professionals of this kind mostly create and/or organize systems that store and protect various types of data, from financial information to customer shipping records. Database administrators also ensure authorized personnel can easily and readily access stored data whenever needed. Additionally, many of these professionals monitor database operations in order to verify that systems are performing properly. When issues arise, they are also responsible for providing support.

Because database administrators can work in a variety of industries, responsibilities can differ significantly between jobs. Employer size will also impact the type of tasks assigned. Some of the most common duties include backing up important information, preventing data loss, restoring data, testing modifications, and updating database permissions.

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It’s important to note that database administrators can specialize in certain areas. Two of the most common specialties are system database administrators and application database administrators. System database administrators are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of databases. These professionals ensure everything is functioning properly by installing upgrades and patching bugs as necessary. Application database administrators, on the other hand, focus their attentions exclusively on databases for specific applications. These professionals manage all the applications that work with their databases, as well as write or debug associated programs.

Although database administrators and architects can find employment within many different industries and company types, most of them work full time. Some of the top employers include computer systems design, education services, and insurance companies.

The most valuable skills utilized by those in this field include:

  • Attention to Detail
  • Organization
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Communication

Earning an online degree in database administration can prepare you for a wide variety of careers in Illinois. Some employment opportunities may even require little formal education and/or training. This is not standard, however, as most employers expect and give preference to applicants who possess academic degrees in database administration, computer science, or related majors.

The amount of education you need will depend on the type of position you plan to pursue. For most jobs, a bachelor’s degree is considered the minimum requirement. Colleges and universities may offer programs at various levels, from associate to doctoral degrees. Always carefully consider each option and its benefits prior to submitting your college applications.

Associate Degree in Database Administration (AS)

A two year AS degree in database administration is a solid option available to those interested in gaining entry-level employment. While many positions require a bachelor’s degree or higher, graduates can often find professional work as database coordinators, programmer analysts, and database analysts. This is particularly true for individuals who have prior experience or are somewhat self-taught in the field.

Because job options may be limited after graduation, many who earn this type of degree opt to enter bachelor’s degree programs afterward while working in an entry-level position. These programs serve as excellent introductions to the field. Community colleges often charge less per credit hour, making it a more economical choice. Credits earned can later be transferred to four-year institutions offering bachelor’s degrees in database administration.

Most associate degree programs in database administration consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Instruction is broad but generally touches on methods of assessing, organizing, and storing information in database servers. Students should expect to take courses related to theory of databases, configuring server platforms, Linux, networking concepts, and basic computer repair.

Bachelor's Degree in Database Administration (BS)

Most database administration professionals earn bachelor’s degrees. This type of degree is generally considered the minimum job requirement by employers, so programs aim to provide a solid introduction to the field. Graduates generally possess all the major skills necessary to lead successful careers as database administrators, database specialists, application developers, and network engineers.

Alternatively, graduates can choose to pursue master’s degrees in the future. Those interested in achieving advanced degrees should be prepared to provide GRE test scores and grade point averages within predetermined ranges.

Most bachelor degree programs in database administration and related fields consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Curriculums vary, but most cover a wide variety of fundamental information technology concepts such as analysis and design, database management, programming languages, and relevant legal issues. Instruction is also likely to help develop knowledge and skills in Python and Java programming.

It’s worth noting that programs focused solely on database administration are more prevalent online, while on-campus opportunities may be limited. Students who prefer traditional instruction may want to consider enrolling in information or computer-related subjects as an alternative.

Master's Degree in Database Administration (MS or MC)

Master’s degrees in database administration and computer science are not usually needed for many entry-level opportunities in the field, but they are recommended for individuals planning to pursue managerial roles at larger companies or organizations. Graduates at this level are also likely to have more advanced job placement opportunities, earn higher salaries, and promote faster. Common employment options include network administrator, computer and information systems manager, computer network architect, and computer systems analyst.

Most master’s degree programs in database administration consist of about 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Courses will likely cover computer science and information systems topics in significantly more depth than bachelor’s degree programs.

PhD Degree in Database Administration (PhD)

PhD and doctoral degrees in database administration are rarely required by employers. As a result, finding this specific degree is uncommon. Professionals in this field seeking to further their academic knowledge will have to enroll in management information systems, information studies, or business administration programs. Graduates will be qualified to apply for some of the highest-level positions available in research, management, and policy. Professionals hoping to become professors at colleges and universities will also require doctorates.

Programs generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students four to seven years to complete. These programs are likely to include instruction in collecting, analyzing, and converting data for various science, business, financial, and marketing purposes.

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Become a Database Administrator in Illinois

The first step in becoming a database administration professional in Illinois is identifying your career goals. Once you know the type of job you want most, it becomes easier to determine which level of education is necessary. Your aspirations ultimate dictate what knowledge, skills, and training are needed to be successful in your chosen profession.

After completing all necessary academic requirements, you can begin applying for employment in database administration positions. You can set yourself apart from other candidates by pursuing one or more certifications and/or licensure in the field. Not only do specialized credentials help you stand out during the hiring process, but they often lead to higher paying jobs and promotions.

For the most part, certifications relevant to database administration professionals are offered directly by software vendors or vendor-neutral providers.

Some prominent options include:

  • Oracle Certified Professional – Oracle 9i Database Administrator
  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
  • Oracle 9i Database Administrator – Professional (OCP)
  • Oracle Database 10g Administrator Certified Professional
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
  • Computer Service Technician (CST)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • SAP Certified Technology Associate

Professionals in this field tend to benefit greatly from experience with Microsoft SQL Servers, T-SQL, MS Visual Studio Team Systems, XML Developer Express, MS Access, and Java.

It’s important to remember that, while certification is not required by the state, some companies and organizations do require them. This is especially true for products utilized by the organization frequently. Remaining informed regarding which database platforms are most popular is vital, as this can help you determine which certifications are worth pursuing. You should also become familiar with prospective employer expectations, as some utilize little-known or obscure systems. Pay close attention to posting requirements to ensure you have all necessary qualification prior to applying.

Careers for Database Administration Graduates

Database administration graduates will qualify for a wide variety of positions in Illinois. This is especially true for those with bachelor’s degrees, specialized credentials, and experience with the latest technology.

Salaries and responsibilities will vary, but some of the most common career options include:

  • Payroll Administrator
  • Administrative / Office Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Database Administrator (DBA)
  • Data Processor
  • Database Engineer
  • Account Coordinator
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Database Security Manager
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
  • Database Administrator
    Database administrators are responsible for installing, assessing, and maintaining information databases and software utilized by companies and organizations. These professionals achieve this by setting user privileges, optimizing system performance, and troubleshooting issues as they arise. They also ensure that employees have easy and rapid access to data when they need it. According to PayScale, database administrators make an average base salary of $73,350 per year.
  • Web Developer
    Web developers are responsible for building websites. These professionals create web pages and access databases by writing code. They also write, modify, and debug software, often testing new software to ensure it is ready for widespread use. According to PayScale, web developers make an average base salary of $60,100 per year.
  • Computer Network Architect
    Computer network architects are responsible for designing and maintaining network requirements and capabilities. These professionals achieve this by assessing system integrity, monitoring progress, and escalating issues to administrators or supervisors as needed. They also introduce new technologies and monitor how they perform. According to PayScale, network architects make an average base salary of $121,200 per year.
  • Marketing Manager
    Marketing managers are responsible for supervising and assisting other professionals in the creation of advertisement and merchandise campaigns for single products, multiple products, entire product lines, brands, and/or companies. These professionals do this by monitoring the performance of established programs, coordinating market research studies, and recommending new programs as needed. They also collaborate with other professionals, such as product managers. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,300 per year.
  • Information Technology Manager
    Information technology managers are responsible for overseeing computer infrastructure for the companies and organizations they work for. These professionals achieve this by assisting in the development of data storage systems and alerting leadership to any potential, related areas of concern. They also oversee teams of other network technology and security professionals to access the effectiveness of associated protocols and rules. According to PayScale, information technology managers make an average base salary of $88,950 per year.

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  • Data Analyst
    Data analysts are responsible for analyzing company or organizational data regarding specific topics of interest and presenting pertinent findings. These professionals do this by conducting surveys and organizing results into charts and online databases. They also meet with company or organization executives to share relevant information. According to PayScale, data analysts make an average base salary of $61,750 per year.
  • Director of Operations
    Directors of operations are responsible for overseeing the productivity of employees working for their respective companies or organizations. These professionals achieve this by helping to define staff goals and recommending procedural improvements as necessary. They may also make production purchases, often taking the lead during negotiations with vendors and sellers. According to PayScale, directors of operation make an average base salary of $93,050 per year.
  • Quality Manager
    Quality managers are responsible for ensuring that products produced meet the demands of clients or consumers. These professionals do this by overseeing item assessment and performing quality checks during the production process. They also improve company standards by correcting any mistakes, tracking warrantees, performing audits, and tracking customer feedback. According to PayScale, quality managers make an average base salary of $82,050 per year.

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