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What is Database Administration?

Every business needs a way to track things that happen in the business. Sales, customer information, inventory, and even employment information such as vacation time must be tracked so the business can operate smoothly. Years ago, a business would track this information with a pen a paper and file it away in a file cabinet. However, times have changed, and the ways of those years are antiquated. Now, things are tracked via a computer and specialized software. The software used is a database, and the people who are in charge of the information, software, and equipment used to maintain it are database administrators.

Database administrators oversee and maintain a company's data. They are responsible for ensuring that data is entered into the system correctly, often using a program or a series of commands turn the raw data into usable information for a company, and making sure that only the correct people have access to this data. For example, when a company collects information such as customers name, email addresses, and phone numbers, this information can be manipulated and used for a variety of purposes. Those who have expressed interest in receiving information from the company will receive it in the manner they choose. If they wanted information by email, then it will be emailed to them. If they requested text messages, it will be texted to them. The database administrator oversees the process of separating these tasks between workers and ensuring they are executed properly.

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Online Database Administration Education in Rhode Island

However, this technology has its pros and cons. With software, a business needs less storage space and saves many trees because the demand for paper is less. Another positive is that the amount of information that can be stored and accessed with the click of a mouse makes keeping track of very large amounts of information infinitely easier. And, if you want to look for patterns and trends, that is relatively simple with the correct software package. But there are also drawbacks. The information has to be protected from bad actors who would hack into a system to try and steal information. Another issue is that, if you don’t have an excellent backup system in place, a power outage or a failed hard drive could mean all of that information is lost. These are just some reasons why database administrators are vital to how we do business.

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There are over 1,300 people employed in database administration in the state of Rhode Island. They earn an average salary of $85,000 per year and, with the expansion of new technologies and the demand for better options in storing data increasing, the demand for those in the industry is expected to increase through 2032.

Database administration is sometimes considered the low rung on the information technology ladder. However, without accurate and experienced database administrators, there would be no need for other information technology positions. If the data doesn't exist or can’t be accessed, then there is nothing to use to predict customer behavior or protect from outside actors. However, it is true that those who move up the ranks in information technology often started out as database administrators. The job is the bedrock of the information technology field and, therefore, those who choose to work as database administrators are just as important has anyone else working in information technology.

As with most industries, the more education you have, the further you might be able to progress in your field. Although it’s possible to start your degree as a database administrator without a formal education, if you want to progress to senior levels of database administration or beyond, a formal education is likely going to be required. Below are the different degree levels you can pursue in database administration.

Online Associate Degree in Database Administration (AS)

An online associate degree in database administration lays the foundation for a career as a database professional. The degree will allow a person to land an entry-level position in database administration and start moving their way up through an IT department if that is their goal.

A few of the courses students will study while attaining an associate's degree include the following.

  • Database Design
  • Access Fundamentals
  • Project Planning
  • SQL Server Development
  • Relational Databases
  • And More

An associate degree usually takes two to three years to complete. The degree is enough to start a career as database professional but, in order to advance, additional education might be required. A person with this degree and experience can advance, but it will take longer and require more work experience than it does for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Database Administration (BS)

An online bachelor’s degree in database administration is the most common degree for administrators to earn before starting their careers. The degree not only qualifies a worker for entry-level positions, but it’s also the foundation to start earning certifications needed to progress in their career later.

Courses included in the four-year database administration program include the following.

  • Intro to Technology and Information Systems, Operating Systems, Programming, Digital Devices, Information Technology and Networking, Cloud Computing, Information Security
  • Programming with Objects
  • Intermediate Programming
  • Database Systems and Programming Fundamentals
  • Business Application Programming
  • And More

An online bachelor’s degree consists of eight semesters and usually takes four to six years to complete. Some people complete their programs earlier than four years, while others need more than six, especially those who have family and work obligations who must attend their programs only part-time. Also, some programs require students to complete an internship if they are not currently working in the database administration field.

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

For those who want to move into management positions in database administration, a master’s degree in database administration is a worthy pursuit. Although a standalone database administration master’s degree is an option, many people combine database administration with general business and earn a master’s in business administration, also known as an MBA, with a specialization in database administration or another IT focus. An MBA offers more opportunities across the board than just a specialized database administration degree. In the graduate program, students will cover executive and business concepts such as accounting and business analytics while continuing with database courses such as informatics, data analysis, and computer programming.

Online PhD Degree in Database Administration (PhD)

For those who want to be seen as subject matter experts or enter the realm of academia, a doctorate degree is an option. With a PhD, a person can enter into academia and teach at most colleges and universities on a tenured track. They can also be tapped to assist with a variety of database administration issues or work at the highest levels of a company.

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Become a Database Administrator in Rhode Island

There are generally two paths a person can take to become a database administration professional in Rhode Island. One requires obtaining a lower-level position in database administration and then gaining the required education to advance. The other starts with a person gaining a formal education in database administration and then starting their career. Which path a person takes depends on personal factors.

For those who want to start their careers before getting an education, this is, admittedly, the more difficult approach. Some get started while in high school since many schools do offer computer science and database administration classes for students. A person with this experience could gain employment in a lower-level database capacity, but mentoring and apprenticeship periods are going to apply, in many cases for a longer period of time than it would take to get a formal education. But, for someone who needs to work and cannot afford to take on the cost of higher education, this is a good place to start. Once you have found a job, the next step is to gain as much practical experience as possible and continue to improve your skills. It’s important to note that advancement opportunities will be limited without a formal education because certain certifications are needed to advance in the field. This requires candidates to have either a rather lengthy work history in the field or a degree.

The path for progression for someone who attains their formal education first is both faster and easier. Once a person has a degree, they can apply for database specialist or administrator jobs, depending on their experience. Manty degree programs require students to complete an internship, and this often results in an immediate employment opportunity upon graduation because many companies hire interns. After attaining a degree and finding employment, a person should continue to learn everything they can and start preparing for the certification exams that they will qualify for and that will allow them to advance in their careers.

Careers for Database Administration Graduates

Database Administration exists in every industry that requires the storage of data. In other words, it’s needed just about everywhere these days. So, a person who wants to work within a certain industry can most likely have a satisfying career in that industry. But there are many different types of database administration used by different organizations. Below are some examples of careers within database administration.

  • Administrative/Office Manager
    Office managers spend a large part of their workday coordinating. Whether is schedules, travel plans, office supply order lists, or the best places to order lunch for 20, office managers have a lot of balls in the air. These people often hire other office staff, perform specific duties for upper management, and generally keep the office functioning effectively. Some companies have more than one office manager and each has a team underneath them, while other often smaller companies might have one manager and all office personnel report to them. Either way, there is a lot of responsibility, team leadership, and communication required to effectively perform this position.
  • Operations Manager
    An operations manager is in charge of ensuring that an organization functions properly. In the realm of database administration, this includes data is properly inputted and programmed to match an organization’s needs. The information needs to remain current and stored safely. The manager has a team of administrators that report to the manager and the manager reports to a senior manager.

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  • Information Technology Manager
    Information technology managers are the heads of information technology (IT) departments. This department includes database administration, and many IT managers get their start as database admins. An IT manager ensures that all areas of the IT department are running smoothly and that any reported issues are addressed and corrected as quickly as possible.
  • Computer Programmer
    This field is vastly different from programmer to programmer, depending on the languages you specialize in. Python programmers, for instance, might work on managing Big Data, while PHP coders are more likely to work on websites such as Facebook. Your days will involve long hours writing highly detailed, analytical code.
  • Management Information Systems
    This is a rather new and growing field that bridges the gap between the pure Information Technology expert and the business administrator. There aren't too many degree programs that cater to this career path, but if you study a blend of IT, business, and statistics, for instance, you will be well on your way.

Other careers that a person with a background in database administration can consider include:

  • Information Technology Manager
  • Database Administrator (DBA)
  • Data Analyst
  • Data Processor
  • Database Engineer
  • Quality Manager
  • Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer
  • Computer and Information Systems Manager
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Computer Network Architects
  • Database Security Manager
  • Web Developer
  • Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
  • Director of Operations

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