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What is Database Administration?
All businesses, regardless of the industry, need a way to track things. Customer information, supplies, inventory, and even how many employees are taking vacation in any given month is tracked so that a business can operate smoothly. A decade or two ago, this information was tracked with a pen and paper and the pages were kept in a file cabinet. Now, in the modern age, those methods are antiquated. Now, things are tracked via a computer and specialized software. This software is called a database and the people in charge of the information, software, and equipment used to maintain it are database administrators.
Database administration isn’t a recession-proof industry, but it does have staying power. There might be times when less administrators are needed but, overall, every business needs someone to input, track and protect their information. Until that changes, there will be work in database administration. So, if you want to be a part of an industry that makes sure people’s information is entered correctly, used properly, and is secure, then keep reading about the education requirements, how to break into the industry, and the types of jobs that could be available to you once you attain your degree.
A database administrator maintains a company’s data. They oversee taking raw data, putting it into a system, and creating a program or series of commands that turn the raw data into information businesses can use in their operations. Examples of raw data are the names, addresses, and phone numbers of people who have agreed to receive certain kinds of information from a business, such as customers or donors to a non-profit. A database administrator takes that data and uses it to create a program that allows each person to receive the information they want. Administrators also maintain the data by adding and removing information as necessary to keep the information as accurate and up to date as possible.
A typical day for a database administrator may include reviewing data, inputting new data, and running diagnostics on the current data to make sure everything runs smoothly and without complications. However, in larger companies with many more data sets, there might be a whole team under the data administrator that inputs the data so the administrator can run analysis and write reports for executive management.
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Online Database Administration Education in North Dakota
The state of North Dakota has 1,400 people employed in data administration or computer information. The average salary for these employees is $96,000 but, because demand is increasing, this income is expected to increase as well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the need for data entry administrators is expected to increase a bit faster than average. So, if you’re interested in entering this field, this is a good time to do so. And, because many database administrators move into other areas of information technology, such as system analysis and cyber security, there is room to advance for those who prefer to remain in database administration.
Some consider a career in database administration the steppingstone to other, more highly regarded, positions in information technology. Although it is true that most people who work in information technology do start as database administrators, this doesn’t mean that those jobs are less important. Database administration is the bedrock on which other careers in information technology sit. If the data isn’t entered properly and organized in a way that makes it accessible, there is no need for cyber security, system analysis, or network administration. So, if you don’t have a desire to move past working as a database administrator, there’s nothing wrong with that and it doesn’t mean you don’t value your career; you simply know what you want to do and how you want to do it.
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Full disclosure, it is possible to get a job working in database administration without a formal education. However, not having a degree severely hampers your ability to progress. The more education and certifications you have, the further you can go. For some certifications, a degree is a requirement, and if you cannot get the required certifications, you cannot advance. With that said, these are the different degree levels you can pursue in database administration.
Online Associate Degree in Database Administration (AS)
An associate degree in database administration is a good place to lay a foundation for a career as a database professional. With this degree, a person can get an entry-level position in database administration and start gaining experience with no further education. Luckily, those who already have careers or have family obligations can find online associate database administration degrees from all over the state, or even the country. So, if you’re having trouble choosing from your local programs, be sure to check out the online education options before making a choice.
Some of the courses students will study while attaining this two-year degree might include:
- Data Analytics and Collection
- Programming Languages
- Computer Systems and Networks
Online associate degrees generally take two to three years to complete. Although this degree can get someone started in a career as a database professional, in order to advance, additional education may be required. With experience, someone with a two-year degree can advance, but it will take longer and require much more work experience than it will for a person who has continued their education.
Online Bachelor's Degree in Database Administration (BS)
A bachelor’s degree in database administration is the most common degree obtained by those in the field. This degree not only qualifies a person for at least an entry-level position, it also sets them up to start attaining certification needed to progress in their career.
Some of the courses included in a four-year database administration program include:
- Collection Requirements for Data
- Data Analysis Techniques
- Leveraging Data Analysis for Organizational Results
- Programming Languages for Databases
- Building, Organizing, and Maintaining Databases
- And More
An online bachelor’s degree typically takes between four and six years, though some people finish early by either taking more courses during the summer, during the school year, or finding an accelerated program built to be finished quickly.
Online Master's Degree in Database Administration (MS or MC)
A master’s in database administration isn’t a requirement to work as a database professional but, for those who want to move into management positions, an online graduate degree can certainly help. Many people combine database administration with general business by earning a master’s in business administration with a concentration in database administration. In an online graduate program, students will study higher-end business concepts such as business analytics and accounting, while continuing with database courses such as programming, informatics, and data analysis.
Master’s degrees often, if not always, allow for online learning, either through hybrid programs that offer some classes online and some in-person learning or with 100% online programs that are meant for busy working professionals.
Online PhD Degree in Database Administration (PhD)
A doctorate in database administration is not required to advance to the highest levels of database administration, but obviously is doesn’t hurt your chances either. What a PhD in database administration can do is set you up as a subject matter expert and make you an excellent candidate for permanent teaching positions at colleges and universities.
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Become a Database Administrator in North Dakota
Although there are several paths a person can take to become a database administration professional in North Dakota, here are some of the most common steps taken to get there.
Step 1: Choose a specific industry
Database administration is required in every industry, so picking an industry that is of the most interest to you is a good place to start the process. Study the industry in which you want to work so that you can understand the needs within the industry. For example, if you want to work as a database administrator in banking and finance, you should learn about banking and financing so that you understand the kind of information you’ll be working with. Knowing the industry and understanding how the programs specialized for that industry work will make administration easier.
Step 2: Learn everything you can about the industry
This is also a good time to begin your education in database administration. You can decide if you want to pursue a two- or four-year degree at this point. If you aren’t sure you want to pursue database administration, a two-year degree will give you a general idea of what your career might be like. If it is still something that interests you, you can continue and get your four-year degree. An important note about education is that you should make sure that the school and program are regionally accredited by a recognized accreditation board. A degree from an unaccredited school will hamper your chances of progressing in your career because many employers will only hire those who have degrees from accredited schools, and the certifications you need to advance your career also require your education come from an accredited school.
Step 3: Start to look at companies that need people with your experience and education
Now that you have an industry in mind and have started or completed your education, it’s time to start searching for a job in your field. Most industries have a presence in North Dakota, so you will have a lot of options. The biggest industries are real estate, farming, and manufacturing, all of which need people to build and maintain databases for their information. Investigate job listings and see what they are requiring for database professionals and make sure you have the required education or certifications. If you completed an internship while you were getting your education, make sure you include that experience on your resume. There’s also a good chance that the place you interned might have openings available, so don’t rule them out when you are conducting your job search.
Careers for Database Administration Graduates
Finding a job in database administration might take some doing, just like any other career, but the upside is that, since all industries need database administrators, you could find work in all kinds of industries. Also, there are jobs that you might not think would qualify but actually do. Below is a list of some of the more common, but not so obvious positions a person with a background in database administration might pursue.
- Administrative/Office Manager
Part of the duties of an administrative assistant or office manager is often entering information into a database. This information is generally internal, but it’s important that it is maintained properly and kept up to date. Having at least a basic background in data administration can help an administrative assistant or office manager perform their job more efficiently. Other duties that are part of an administrative assistant’s job include greeting clients, maintaining a senior executive’s schedule, and other general office duties as assigned.
- Payroll Administrator
The payroll administer oversees the payroll for a company. They track hours worked or salaries earned, make sure the proper deductions are taken from earnings, and document and record employees’ benefits, such as vacation and sick days. Payroll works closely with human resources to make sure all employees are compensated correctly.
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- Data Analyst
Once the information is put into a database, an analyst can review the data and look for irregularities or mistake. Analysts may also be brought in to work with existing databases to offer suggestions for how the database could be improved. However, the main role of an analyst is to run projections using data or try to find useful information embedded in the data that can help the company make decisions. Some analysts start out as administrators or data processors. Either way, analysts are very familiar with how databases and created.
- Data Processor
Data processors enter information into a database so that it can be used later. Processors have excellent typing and data entry skills. Some processors are numeric processors, so they only work with numbers, while others are alphanumeric processors and work with both words and numbers.
- Marketing Manager
Marketing managers oversee a marketing department. They are in charge of creating teams of marketers and might also create marketing campaigns, as well as maintaining the records for clients and their information. This can include their specific marketing needs, previous campaigns created for them, and the budget for each campaign. Marketing managers report to senior management and keep them abreast of the progress of campaigns and presentations. Managers also oversee the budget of the marketing department and make hiring decisions.
Other career options for those who have an education and background in database administration include:
- Operations Manager
- Information Technology Manager
- Database Administrator (DBA)
- Computer Network Architects
- Database Security Manager
- Web Developer
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Director of Operations
- Database Engineer
- Account Coordinator
- Quality Manager
- Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
- Information Security Analyst