The information technology field is vast and growing every day. A large part of that growth comes from its database administrators. These professionals employ their database management degrees towards the goal of aggregating, modeling, and even analyzing a firm's data. They are likely to have also passed numerous certification exams, on top of pursuing a master's degree in database management, or another related master's degree.
As we discuss below, many IT professionals earn an MBA in order to rocket their careers to the next level. However, many earn a Master of Science in a field such as information technology, database administration, or computer science. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the profession, some even study information security (cyber security) and thus work to secure their firm's data. Keep reading to learn more about the database management profession.
What is a Master’s Degree in Database Management?
A master’s degree in database management is a credential one can earn after having already completed a four-year undergraduate degree in database management, information technology, or computer science. To gain admission to a database management master’s degree program, students should be able to submit original copies of their undergraduate transcripts that reflect a satisfactory GPA. Each program will have their own requirements, but students should strive for the highest GPA during their undergraduate years.
Once admitted to a program, students often find that there are still GPA requirements. Some programs require that students maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better. However, this hard work pays off for students in terms of increased technical skills, higher salaries, and promotions. Fortunately, a graduate degree in information systems with a concentration on database management doesn't take much time.
Generally speaking, a master’s degree in database management will take two years of full-time study to complete. Since many of these programs are offered via online media, students can attend class from anywhere in the world and at any time, assuming an asynchronous class structure. There are also programs that offer courses both online and in classrooms, providing busy students with more options for learning.
Where Do You Earn a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree is available through a public or private university. Sometimes institutions that still call themselves colleges will offer a graduate program, but that is rare. Once a college offers a master’s degree, they become universities. It's unlikely that a community college would offer a graduate degree. However, some universities contract with community colleges and essentially use their facilities as satellite campuses. Thus, a master’s degree in database management is sometimes more accessible than it might seem.
The online option is even more accessible and database management is a perfect match for online delivery. More and more universities are offering online master’s degrees, especially for subjects within the scope of information technology and computer science. This allows students anywhere in the world to access a graduate degree without having to move. In fact, the online option even provides greater access to instructors, since each one can be emailed directly at any time a question arises.
Online Vs. Traditional Education in Database Management
As education evolves with the rise of online technology, many still debate the merits of online education versus traditional campus courses. There are many in academia who feel that traditional courses are superior, but the statistics aren't so cut and dried. A growing body of scientific literature indicates that online teaching methods are just as effective as in-person courses. It seems that if students are able to engage with the material and their instructors that they are able to learn just as well via a remote, online platform.
This fact is further supported by respected accrediting agencies who bestow top credentials on qualifying online degree programs. Since students can receive the same top-notch education via an online portal, there is little reason not to take an online class. In fact, to complete an entire degree via an online portal deserves a special badge of honor since it shows that you have a lot of self-control and drive to do this on your own time without the support of a class. At the end of the day, employers are likely more interested in a program's accreditation than whether or not it was delivered online.
In fact, employers might note that professionals who complete an online degree program have added determination and discipline. After all, it is up to them to attend class and stick to their own schedule. In this way, an online master’s degree in database administration might be preferable to some employers.
At the end of the day, an online master’s degree in database management carries the same weight as a traditional campus master’s degree. While individuals might prefer one over the other, it's probably inevitable that every student will take at least one online class in the course of their academic journey.
What Are the Prerequisites for a Master’s Degree?
To earn a master’s degree in database management, one must first gain acceptance to a graduate program. If the program is exclusively focused on IT and database management, the program will likely require certain courses in the field. Students will need to know or learn certain programming languages, especially SQL and Python. Students should also have experience in multiple operating systems such as Linux, Microsoft Windows, and MacOS. Keep in mind that each program is likely to have its own list of required courses.
For those who wish to earn an MBA with a concentration in database management, the program may require either specific courses in business or some equivalent experience. Admissions requirements can also include both IT and mathematics courses. Some programs also require satisfactory scores on entrance exams such as the GRE or GMAT, not to mention letters of recommendation and an entrance essay.
Why Earn a Master’s Degree?
While it may be tempting to stick with an associate or bachelor’s degree in database administration, professionals who don't continue to learn are liable to be left behind in their professional lives. Thus, even the freshest graduates are urged to dive into professional certification programs, if not a master’s degree program.
A master’s degree is valuable for a variety of reasons. Not only does it elevate one's knowledge to a new level, but it has practical benefits in the working world. A master’s degree is highly valued, in part because it doesn't require the holder to continually renew their credentials. Once a professional attains that level of academic achievement, they have a solid foundation on which they can easily adapt new technology, including database management systems, programming languages, and operating systems. For instance, the cryptocurrency world is advancing new ways of storing the enormous troves of data that administrators need to manage. A professional with a graduate degree will be able to adapt to the changes and thus bring their employer a new level of security and utility.
While some may balk at the extra time it takes to complete a master’s program after having spent at least four years in an undergraduate degree program, there are alternatives. The best way to cut the time it takes to complete a graduate degree is to enter an accelerated master’s program which allows students to graduate with both a bachelor’s and a master’s in five years.
Why a Degree in Database Management?
A master’s degree in database management is an excellent choice for a number of reasons. When a student enters a program, they will be able to pursue their field, database management, without distraction. Bachelor's degree programs often include courses that are valuable, but which are supportive of one's database management goals. A graduate degree focuses students on the one topic, and even specialties within the field such as cloud storage, database design, and cryptography.
A graduate degree can also be a requirement for some professional certifications. Those who earn the extra certifications find that their level of expertise grows every year that they renew the credentials. That would not be possible without a graduate degree. Further, while certifications are terrific, they also must be maintained with yearly CEUs. A graduate degree never expires and will always be a boon to its holder.
Finally, graduates who take their master’s degrees into the workforce find that they are able to land better jobs with higher salaries. This is because employers recognize that their master’s degree will translate into better work on their databases. These professionals find it easier to rise into management and even the C-suites.
What’s Involved in a Master’s Degree?
Master’s students have the opportunity to dive deep into their chosen field of database management. Though each program is unique and all of them are constantly evolving to meet new technological challenges, some general statements can be made. First off, all database management students will learn how to model, store, and retrieve data in various ways. Most programs will include courses that cover operating systems such as UNIX, Linux, Oracle, and Microsoft Server. Other programs may focus on other aspects of the field such as cyber security, database architecture, data warehousing, or data backup and recovery.
For those who are intrigued with big data, data analytics is a field that is red hot. Database professionals who are experts at mining for the best data points might pursue this concentration area either within a larger database management master's degree program or even as a degree unto itself.
- Database Administration
- Database Architecture and Design
- Data Warehousing Design
- Database Backup and Recovery
- Project Management
- Relational Database Systems
- Distributed Databases and Management
- Data Mining
- Database Security
- Encrypted Database Systems
- Blockchain and Databases
- Information Systems Infrastructure
- Data Modeling
- Python Programming
- Programming in Oracle PL/SQL
- Principles of Cryptography
- Database Security
- Database Administration
- Data Warehousing
- Database Encryption
- Cyber Security
- Project Management
- Database Architecture
- Cloud Computing
- Data Analytics
- Database Engineering
- Modeling Data
- Business Intelligence
- Database Applications Development
What to Consider When Choosing a Program
Accreditation is one of the chief characteristics of any good graduate degree program for database management or any other field. All good education opportunities will be paired with a terrific accreditation agency. When a program is accredited that proves that they have met or exceeded the expectations of an independent agency.
There are a number of regional accrediting agencies that are approved by CHEA, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- 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)
For national certification, there is one agency that covers the general STEM field: ABET. Specifically, ABET's Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC) is the organization that oversees accreditations for computer science, information technology, and database management programs.
Further Database Management Education
For IT and database administration professionals who want to rise into management, the MBA is a very attractive option. The degree will instill a strong foundation of business knowledge that students can apply to their work in corporate administration while their chosen concentration, database management, will inform their technical duties.
Another option is to pursue a dual MBA with information technology, computer science, or database administration. These dual degrees combine two graduate degrees into the same program so that students graduate with both degrees in about three years, depending on the program. Students who pursue this option should consider not working and instead devoting all of their time to studies.
Doctorate or PhD
A doctorate or PhD in database management is not vital to most career paths. However, those who do pursue this top academic credential can land great jobs at great pay. Those with this level of academic achievement often remain in academia and work as professors. However, many spend the majority of their time in research. Major firms are also looking to hire doctorates to help them in their research efforts. In fact, many cutting-edge technologies are driven by those with doctoral degrees, or students who left their PhD programs early to start new technology ventures.
Database Management Certification
Professional certifications are yet another way that database administrators can expand their knowledge and bolster their credentials. To achieve a certification, professionals need to complete some coursework and pass a certification exam. Once they have earned the credential, they need to maintain it through continued education. When a resume thus reflects a multi-year certification, employers will understand that means a steady dedication to the field and a professional whose knowledge is current and relevant to contemporary problems.
Most certifications are specific to one technology such as Amazon Web Services, SQL, or IBM database products. Where most academic programs focus on database technologies in a general way, a certificate can prove strong and relevant competency in the products a firm's IT system.
Since each certification is so specific, new graduates might consider holding off on pursuing one until they have landed that all-important first entry-level position. Then they can become certified on whatever database technology they are currently working on. On the other hand, if they know which technology they prefer, they may have an easier time landing an entry-level job with a certificate that vouches for their expertise. There are also certifications that may apply more generally, such as a certificate in Python or SQL.
Thus, a certification in database management can help bolster and boost a career in many ways. The certificate holder not only continues to learn relevant, useful information to maintain the credential, but they also receive the benefits of that knowledge. Their continued learning can both benefit their current employer while paving the way to better jobs in the future.
Available Careers with a Database Management Master’s Degree
While the world of high technology still rewards those who are self-taught in vital database administration skills, a master's degree in database management is still more likely to boost a career.
Here are a few:
Chief Technology Officer:
Most professionals at the C-level have an MBA, if not other graduate degrees, too. To land this position, database managers should also have a rather long track record of success.
A master's degree in database management is a bare minimum requirement for all college and university instructors. Those with a proven professional track record are especially desired in academia.
These positions may require a PhD but those with demonstrated skill and knowledge of database systems technology may also apply for them. While many universities may have research facilities, private enterprises also hire researchers.
This position requires a high level of knowledge and experience that only a master's degree can truly provide.
Information Technology Manager:
Experience is vital for this position, but so is a master's degree in database administration, if not an MBA. Those who desire a move up into management should consider an MBA with a concentration in MIS, computer science, or database management.
Salaries for database managers are quite strong. Technology lovers who pursue this field will also find that they have multiple roads to success, depending on their individual needs. Those opportunities only increase as professionals gain experience and education, including master's degrees in database management systems. For each of those various paths and opportunities, database professionals find healthy pay.
For starters, the average database administrator salary is over $73,000. Thus, those who earn a graduate technology or business administration degree are sure to earn salaries that are closer to the top, which is at or above $110k. Management consultants, which can include database managers and other technology professionals, are earning an average salary of over $88,000. Those with skills specific to Oracle Database find even better pay, with the average salary hitting an impressive $96,000. Database analysts, on the other hand, earn a bit less, with their average earnings coming in at around $60,000, though the upper end for this profession is over $90,000.
All in all, it's easy to see that database management is a terrific field, it pays well and supports plenty of jobs. After all, every firm relies on a well-functioning database for its day-to-day operations, and more.
The outlook for database administrators and other related careers is bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the field is well-paid and growing. They report that the median salary for database administration is over $98,000 with most joining the profession with a bachelor’s degree in database management. The BLS' research also shows that the field is expected to grow by 10% through 2029.
Thus, database administration professionals who accrue enough professional experience, pass their certification exams, and take advantage of every educational opportunity will surely thrive. Those who earn a master's degree might want to rise into management. The BLS shows that computer and information system managers earn a lofty median salary of $151,000. That field is also growing rapidly, as the BLS projects 10% growth for 2029. Though the BLS reports that the typical education for that profession is a bachelor’s degree, those with a graduate degree will surely meet or exceed all of their salary expectations.
Computer Science Degrees & Career Paths