An associate degree is an introductory degree for any number of career pathways, including database administration. These degree programs provide a highly basic and more general education over that of a bachelor’s degree or a graduate degree. However, an associate degree program in database administration is often enough to secure various entry-level database administrator positions within information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) positions.
Database administrators (DBAs) might also be viewed by some as architects of database development, design, and maintenance. Indeed, database architects could potentially become database managers and even chief database architects over time. An associate degree is the lowest-level full degree available in this field. While some employers will require or prefer a bachelor’s, many hiring managers will accept an associate degree in database administration to meet company education requirements for entry-level roles.
Requirements of an Associate Degree?
Associate degrees in database administration will be different at all colleges and universities. Some colleges and universities that offer associate degrees in tech fields will provide a more immersive experience, whereas others will provide a more generalized education with the anticipation that individuals will learn more from hands-on experience or continued education. Each program will typically require between 45 and 60 credit hours to complete the degree in full. Some programs will allow students to take as few as two or three courses each semester and other programs will require students to take five to be considered a full-time student.
Generally, each degree program will prepare students for entry-level jobs in database design, database software, database management systems, programming, and much more. Overall, individuals who participate in an associate degree as full-time students can complete this degree in roughly two years. If one cannot commit to a program full-time, it might take an additional year or two for degree completion. Each individual will be different. Part-time program participation is ideal for individuals who must work while they study and for individuals who have people to care for at home on a full-time basis. Most programs offer flexibility in the amount of time to complete the degree as well as being able to take courses online.
Where Do You Earn an Associate Degree?
While some four-year colleges and universities will offer associate degrees, most associate degrees are made available through two-year community colleges. These two-year colleges often have lower academic standards for entry into programs over four-year schools. Keep in mind that, much like four-year programs, some community colleges have a better reputation for academics than others. And community colleges are an excellent way to develop foundational skills, hard skills, and soft skills.
Individuals who graduate with an associate degree can choose to search for gainful employment upon graduation or to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Many community colleges have partnerships with four-year schools so that graduates of associate programs have an easier time transferring. And a growing number of four-year schools are offering associate degrees as they become more popular as a way to start working to gain experience and making better money far more quickly. Those individuals who choose to get right into the workforce will often continue their education while they acquire hands-on experience for faster career development.
Online Vs. Traditional Education in Database Administration
With so many higher education learning platforms and methodologies today, it’s difficult for many people to know which is best. The short answer is that each one offers distinct advantages for different people. It’s important for students to consider the ways in which they learn most effectively as well as to evaluate any number of variables such as budget, degree offerings, accreditation, academic reputation, financial aid packages, term availability, physical location, online options, and much more.
Today, most colleges and universities provide three different program types, which includes in-person, online, and hybrid programs. What is right for one person may not be right for another. However, at the end of the day, each is an optimal way to begin an exciting career in database administration. A degree is also an important step in establishing a career that provides a decent standard of living and career advancement opportunities.
The pandemic truly catapulted the approval and reputation of online degree programs to new heights. While these types of programs have been around for decades now, some employers and academics remained skeptical of their academic prowess in the past. Post-pandemic, these degrees have opened up the minds of many previous naysayers to establish themselves as equally as reputable as in-person degrees, a direction they were headed anyway. And they offer just as many advantages as other types of education, including networking, mentorships, internships, and more.
In-person programs remain the most popular methodology for younger students. This popularity remains centered around a more social and traditional experience rather than the quality of education and career opportunities. However, with the growing expenses related to traditional higher learning with each passing year, online and hybrid degrees are gaining traction. Hybrid degrees will likely be essential for the foreseeable future for the simple reason that some careers require experiential learning, such as medical degrees. Database administration degrees are available in all three ways without any loss of learning opportunity.
What Are the Admission Requirements?
Almost all associate degree programs in database administration will require a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. In some cases, the school will require a specific GPA score. Most schools that require a GPA will have a threshold of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale, which is roughly the same as a C average. Some schools will have a higher GPA requirement and others will have lower ones.
In addition to these admission requirements for an associate degree in database administration, some schools may require ACT or SAT examination scores. If these scores are respectable, it’s possible that a score might make up for a low GPA. It’s also possible that community involvement and extracurricular activities could provide a weighted advantage during admission reviews. And individuals with relevant work experience will likely gain entry with relative ease. Each college and university will have its own set of admission requirements. Be sure to check with the school before applying.
Why Earn an Associate Degree?
Students may have any number of reasons for earning a database administration associate degree before a bachelor’s degree. This will be highly dependent upon the individual. Some people prefer to begin with a two-year degree simply as a way to save money. Two-year associate degrees are typically significantly less expensive than bachelor’s degrees. It is also an ideal way to begin making more money more quickly. Within two years, graduates can begin making over $35,000 in database administration-related careers. This provides greater relevant experience to secure placement in a top bachelor’s degree program and for greater career advancement.
Also, the demands of an associate degree are typically much less than the demands of a bachelor’s degree. As such, some people might choose a two-year degree because they did not perform well academically in high school or because they have not been in a classroom for many years. Another reason is that many of the database administration certifications that are required for top jobs only require an associate degree.
Why a Degree in Database Administration?
A degree in database administration is an ideal way to begin a career in IT or IS. The associate degree in database administration allows graduates to enter the workforce and begin earning a decent salary with benefits much faster than with a bachelor’s degree. As previously mentioned, associate degrees are often enough to secure full-time employment in database administration fields.
These degrees and skills also prepare students to sit for certification examinations upon successful completion. Such certifications also lead to better jobs with better pay. It’s possible to choose from various systems and software certifications in database administration. To improve one’s chances at career advancement, nearly everyone in tech fields must continue their education. This can be done with certifications or with higher degrees. Many people choose to work while completing advanced degrees online.
What’s Involved in an Associate Degree?
Associate degrees in database administration are not overly common. However, many alternative degrees in tech-based fields are available at the associate degree level that will lead to database administration careers. The titles of such degrees will vary by college but may include computer science, management information systems, information systems, informatics, and many others. The most important aspect when you choose a degree is to select one that has an emphasis on database administration.
These degrees will also help prepare students with their communication and presentation skills, teamwork capabilities, business and report writing, and much more. A wide array of courses will often be made available in these degree programs at this level such as programming, database development, software, systems, storage, recovery, etc. Individual programs might also include technical support, server maintenance, and information security practices. Those who graduate with an associate degree in database administration can expect to work for medium to large businesses, corporations, public government departments and agencies, or even become self-employed.
- Visual Basic, Programming
- Database Design
- Access Fundamentals
- Project Planning
- SQL Server Development
- Relational Databases
- Operating System: Linux & Windows
- Business Communications and Report Writing
- Computer Information Systems
- Computer Networking
- Cloud Solutions
- Cybersecurity and IS Security
- Web Application Development
- Data Warehousing and SQL
What to Consider When Choosing an Associate Program for Database Administration
There are different levels of accreditation and academic excellence in the higher education community. Accreditation is an essential contributing factor to the academic reputation of a higher learning institution. The reputation of a college or university will influence the decision of an employer to hire and be taken into consideration when making a financial offer along with a job. It is important to consider whether or not a school has an accreditation assigned by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
They accredit colleges and universities with the following accreditations:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges
These accreditations are considered the most reputable and will be required for you to receive federal student funding while attending college. Remember that regional accreditation is more advanced and reputable than national accreditation. Programs can also be accredited to boost the academic image of a degree, and you might consider computer science programs with ABET or similar accreditation.
Further Database Administration Education
Bachelor’s degrees in database administration will be a requirement by some employers, even for entry-level positions. Many individuals with an associate degree in database administration will seek out more support entry-level roles upon graduation. They will then work while they complete a bachelor’s degree in database administration online. A bachelor’s degree will lead to higher pay and greater job opportunities. It will also help advance one’s career more quickly than a basic associate degree.
A master’s degree in database administration is often necessary for leadership roles. Some people will choose to complete them at the same time as their bachelor’s degree. Others will take one course at a time while they work full-time in a database administration position. These advanced degrees are yet another way to secure higher salaries in a shorter amount of time. They will also expedite promotions to higher positions with greater responsibility and they are an ideal way to specialize in specific sectors of database administration. This specialization will also lead to greater pay and promotions in less time.
MBAs in database administration are not overly common; however, they do exist. Graduate degrees in the form of an MBA have a far greater emphasis on business rather than nearly exclusively on the technical aspects of database administration. Large employers, such as publicly traded corporations, often prefer their management team and executives to complete an MBA rather than a master’s degree as these degrees typically focus on technology leadership practices in addition to business leadership practices. MBAs can also increase an annual salary by around $25,000 a year.
Doctorate or PhD
Those who complete a PhD or a doctorate degree in database management will often have specific career ambitions. These ambitions might be motivated by either finances or specific job interests. Those who wish to work in research or as a professor in academics will require a PhD or a doctorate. The salaries related to such career paths will be directly related to the employer and whether or not the employer is public or private. There is also a small percentage of individuals who will complete this level of degree to be able to have a competitive advantage over others in the workplace, particularly those who aspire to C-suite roles.
Database Administration Certification
Certifications in database management are often required by employers in technology and information fields. The needs and demands of these fields change almost annually due to the nature of the subject matter. As such, employers expect their team members to be up to date on all trends, methodologies, practices, know-how, and more. Certifications are an easy and more affordable way to remain current in database administration.
The following are some of the most popular certifications for people with an associate degree:
- Oracle database administrator
- MS (Microsoft) SQL Server
- Computer Service Technician (CST)
- IBM Certified Database Administrator
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Oracle DB Certified Associate
- Oracle MySQL Database Administrator
- SAP Certified Technology Associate
Keep in mind that certain certifications will be better for some roles over others. If a company works with IBM tools, it may not be beneficial to complete an Oracle certification. It’s also possible to complete professional organization and additional skill-based certifications. Each successful certificate will help increase one’s salary and career prospects. And many employers will reimburse the cost of a certification program if it is relevant to current or future roles within the organization. However, this perk may come with strings attached.
Available Careers with a Database Administration Associate Degree
- Database Designer:
A database designer is primarily responsible for defining the design parameters for various databases such as views, triggers, tables, procedures, indexes, and more. Additional constructs will also be a part of the design such as the storing, retrieving, and deleting of objects.
- Database Programmer (application developer):
A database programmer is highly knowledgeable of at least one programming language as it pertains to databases including MS Access, SQL, and Visual Basic. These professionals also work with data analysis, database management, and problem-solving.
- Network Administrator:
A network administrator maintains various computer networks and solves any issues that may develop over time. This person will also install and configure any relevant computer networks and systems.
- Data Security Analyst:
A data security analyst focuses on security programs throughout databases, networks, and systems. They may be involved with data encryption, firewalls, updates, bug elimination, and more. These professionals may work independently as consultants or work for an employer. All data security analysts may have to work non-traditional hours and overtime on occasion.
- Data Mapping Analyst:
A data mapping analyst is someone who concentrates on establishing data sets while preparing maps and maintaining databases. These professionals may use digital systems, web mapping, softcopy, and more. They will also have administrative duties, including database management.
Those who start out in the workforce with a database administration degree will not likely be working as a database administrator to begin. These roles typically require at least one year of experience. To begin, someone with an associate degree in database administration can expect to be hired in a support role. These jobs can be anything, from analyst to customer support. For those who secure an internship during their associate degree, it may be possible to secure a database administration job right out of college if you find the right employer.
Most entry-level roles in this field will start off with a salary over $40,000 a year. It’s important to note that those who choose to remain content with their associate degree will be limited in their earning potential and career advancement. The average database administrator earns nearly $74,000 a year. Keep in mind that, with an associate degree, this figure is likely to be closer to $60,000. And remember that salaries are influenced by many additional factors including employer, job location, years of experience, and more. Salary can also be heavily influenced by the industry or sector in which one works such as healthcare, education, the arts, non-profits, etc. In some instances, those with a database administration associate degree and over 20 years of experience can make over $100,000 a year.
Those in the field of database administration can expect a growth potential of around 10% through 2029. As long as data remains one of the most important aspects of businesses today, the need for database administrators will continue to rise. There is also a growing need within the field to improve existing databases that may not be seen as being in user-friendly formats.
Career options will also continue to expand. Much of the expected growth will be designated to cloud services and tools. However, other options will exist, such as third-party database-as-a-service opportunities. At the moment, the field is lacking in qualified database administrators. As such, those with an associate degree in database administration will have a greater advantage in the job market over those who do not yet have a degree at all or those with a degree in an unrelated field.
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