What is Database Management?
Washington State is known for many things. Most people might think of the Olympic National Park or other natural wonders that make the state so special. Others might focus more on Seattle and its excellent skyline, culture, and tech industry. After all, Seattle is home to two of the nation's top tech firms: Microsoft and Amazon. When all is said and done, Washington's #2 industry is information, and the state ranks 3rd in the information industry nationwide.
Most may think of Microsoft and Amazon in terms of their consumer-facing products, such as Microsoft’s computer's operating system or maybe the Office Suite of applications that dominates business and commerce. When people think of Amazon, they probably think of their wish list and how easy it is to have consumer goods delivered in days. However, each of these tech companies rely on their database technologies to survive and thrive in the tech landscape. Naturally, these databases need database administration experts to build and maintain them on a daily basis. Otherwise, these businesses might crumble. These days, firms depend on immense troves of data in order to navigate an increasingly complex business environment.
A database administrator is a high-tech professional who oversees a company's database. Their duties may include tasks such as upgrades to the database, migrating data, and managing permissions to various data sets. In fact, a database administrator might even be responsible for cyber security measures, including researching new security protocols and software packages.
To work as a database administrator, professionals likely need to earn a degree in information technology with a concentration on database technology. This can include learning SQL, the core language of databases, and its variants. Many database professionals also earn certifications in SQL or specific database technologies such as Microsoft, Linux, or Cisco Systems, to name a few options.
There are even many database administration professionals who don't have a formal college degree. Rather, they have learned the technology either on the job or via non-academic courses that led to a certificate. Many database producers, such as Microsoft, offer resources that educate professionals on the technology while providing bona fide credentials that qualify them to work on databases that use the vendor's tech.
Online Database Management Education in Washington
To help these firms thrive, Washington State helps its colleges and universities educate the state's students in information technology. State leaders understand that the Washington economy needs strong database professionals if the state is going to continue its leadership in the nation's economy. After all, top firms aren't much interested in states where education is lacking and they have to recruit from outside their local area.
Washington's colleges and universities then use the support of the legislature to create dynamic and highly effective information technology departments. Department leaders scour the nation to lure top academic minds to Washington to teach its eager minds. They also look for local talent who may have long experience working as database administrators.
While a database isn't necessarily impacted by local factors, local experts can bring a unique perspective to the classroom. When an instructor has worked on major database projects for Amazon, for instance, students are sure to be inspired by their stories and overall expertise. Working database professionals also have more hands-on experience with the most cutting-edge innovations in the database realm.
Online Associate Degree in Database Management (AS)
High technology jobs are perhaps the most forgiving in terms of their educational demands. Much of the tech industry was built by self-taught whiz kids who had few, if any, educational resources available to them. Thus, an associate degree may be all that is needed to launch a long and highly successful career. Many Washington State community colleges offer strong associate database administration degree programs.
These community colleges also require that students complete the core college curriculum including courses in composition, mathematics, and various electives, such as sciences. This foundation can be invaluable in the workplace since database professionals need to write reports and otherwise communicate with their non-tech colleagues. The core college curriculum helps establish a knowledge base that is shared with other degreed coworkers. Finally, community college credits are far cheaper than those at most four-year institutions. They also tend to be located in small and mid-sized towns statewide in addition to those in larger towns such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane.
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Database Management (BS)
A database management degree is perhaps the strongest starting point for any aspiring database manager. A full four-year degree in information technology can include multiple courses in database technologies, as well as associated coursework in computer science and mathematics. A four-year college or university can also support students who are interested in pursuing a minor concentration or a double major. Good choices for these added pursuits can include computer science, mathematics, or even a non-tech subject such as finance or management.
Bachelor’s database administration degree students can also take advantage of their extra time to work on an internship where they can apply their knowledge in the working world. They also have the opportunity to meet fellow database experts who may become valuable connections later on in their career. Many information technology students find cooperative learning programs where they work full-time for a term before returning to full-time studies for a term. Co-op students repeat this pattern until they complete their academic careers with not only a dynamite college degree but also a solid record of workplace achievement.
Online Master’s Degree in Database Management (MS)
These days, a master’s degree is increasingly important for long-term success. While technology fields favor skills and raw knowledge over degrees, those who wish to rise into management may want to earn a master’s database administration degree or an MBA with an IT concentration, including database administration. The MBA will be useful for those who aspire to a position in the C-suites, perhaps as the CTO or CIO.
There are also dual-MBA programs that make the decision easy for those who cannot make up their minds. In these programs, students are able to complete two master’s degrees simultaneously. They thus are able to save money and time while graduating with two master’s degrees. When students choose database administration for their MS degree, they can then focus their MBA courses on pure business subjects. For instance, their second MBA year might concentrate on leadership, finance, or management without compromising their dedication to database administration, which is covered in their MS program.
Online PhD Degree in Database Management (PhD)
A PhD can be a very valuable degree for a database professional. During the course of PhD coursework and subsequent research project, students can dive deep into special topics, such as the languages used to create databases and issues related to security. In particular, PhD students might want to study and develop ideas related to cryptography and cyber security, since database integrity is a high priority.
A PhD is also handy in that it opens up the possibility for a student to pursue work as an academic. While it’s possible to teach database administration with only a master’s database administration degree, a PhD will help them land full-time work in a tenure-track position. Tenure means both higher pay and long-term job security. It should also be noted that a doctorate degree opens up the possibility of work as tenured research faculty, meaning that one's job entails diving ever deeper into their subject matter, provided they can continue to land grants to support the work.
Become a Database Manager in Washington
Database administration and other IT professions are very hot right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) consistently finds that these fields are in high demand and postulate that demand will persist for the coming ten years. Therefore, many students in Washington might be eager to know how they can prepare for and achieve a career in database administration in Washington state.
The short, and maddening, answer is that there are many ways of becoming a database administrator. That said, there are some general guidelines that can be followed to best ensure a long-lasting, successful, and fulfilling career in database administration. This starts with an individual interest in technology that goes past being an end-user of a smartphone. Budding database professionals are more interested in learning how the technologies work, including the code involved as well as the hardware.
Thus, young technology lovers might get their start with the instruction available on the internet. Students who are interested in learning how databases work can start learning coding languages such as SQL by way of cheap or even free courses online. Many of these may even offer an option of paying a bit more to receive a certificate from a major university. Thus, ambitious high school students can earn credentials from major universities just by studying a bit on the side or over a summer break.
Students should also look for a college-level database administration degree. Their search should not only include things like the depth of the database administration degree program but also the program's accreditation. For database administration, and other STEM fields, the gold-star accreditation is from ABET. However, a CHEA-approved regional accreditation is also perfectly acceptable. Ultimately, a respected accreditation will ensure that students have a degree that both employers and graduate degree programs will acknowledge.
Database administrators should all continue their education with a certification that verifies their expertise in various programming languages or technologies. Database professionals might specialize in a certificate from a specific database vendor such as Microsoft, Cisco, or Oracle, to name but three. Students might also study Linux databases and additional languages such as Python, which are used to parse the data itself.
Careers for Database Management Graduates
- Administrative/Office Manager:
Smaller firms often need a tech-savvy office manager who can help maintain the database while also attending to other business needs. They may make orders for office supplies, maintain a training or meeting schedule, and even help plan travel for managers.
- Information Technology Manager:
This managerial position often comes after years of experience in IT. IT specialties can include database technology, but professionals should have a working knowledge of other aspects of IT including networking, cyber security, and hardware solutions.
- Database Administrator (DBA):
This position will require in-depth knowledge of the SQL programming language and its variants. Database administrators should also have a working knowledge of the principles of cyber security, as it is they who ensure that access permissions are only available to those who must have them.
- Data Analyst:
This field continues to grow along with the incredible amount of data available thanks to the internet. Data analysts might work for governmental public health administrations or healthcare providers in the private sector and they should know languages such as Python and R and have credentials to verify their expertise.
- Information Security Analyst:
As the threat from black-hat hackers rises, so does the demand for information security analysts. Those who want to enter this field should look for programs that are accredited as CAE by the national security agency and the department of homeland security. Analysts continually assess the technologies and protocols their firm uses to ensure that their databases remain secure.
- Web Developer:
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO):
This position is often the crowning achievement of a long and successful career in information technology. CISOs are cyber security experts who have helped to defend their firm from attacks with the help of a cyber security degree accredited by the national security administration and the department of homeland security.
- Marketing Manager:
This position can be attained by marketing experts from either the analytical or more creative side of the field. Those with a background in the data science involved in marketing will be familiar with interacting with big data but should also be savvy when it comes to communications with the non-tech side of the marketing department. Those who are interested in the creative side should be able to make attractive ads, write copy, or create interesting video ads.
- Database Engineer:
This job description often requires a strong background in SQL and its variants. Database engineers are skilled at creating and altering their database to best suit the needs of their firm or clients. Many database engineers work as consultants or as independent contractors on special projects.