Today, database administrators and database management in general is an essential component to the success of any business and industry. Generally, database management provides an essential foundation necessary for rapid and efficient data organization, compliance, storage, archiving, replication, and more. The best data management careers and professionals are well-versed in a number of database management tools and computer systems such as Oracle, IBM, MySQL, and others.
An associate degree is the lowest-level full degree available for database management roles. An online database management degree should only require two years of higher learning at colleges or universities. Individuals who complete an associate degree in database management will focus on various tasks and goal-orientated results such as performance, data integration, capacity planning, backup and recovery, and much more.
Requirements of an Associate Degree?
Associate database management degrees are the fastest way to begin a career in database management. Traditionally, an associate degree centers around the basic fundamentals of any career so that individuals can apply for entry-level positions in database management upon graduation. An associate degree in database management will often focus on basic technical skills and concentrated skill development rather than providing an overly generalized education. This helps database management graduates from these programs to get right into the field as assistant database administrators and other low-level managers ready to deal with computer systems, basic data analysis, maybe even project management and web development plans, etc. At the same time, database management students will be required to complete some general education requirements on top of their database management courses, which can help them finish a bachelor’s more quickly, should they choose to do so.
The number of credits necessary to complete an associate degree in database management will vary by program. Many database management programs will require at least 50 credit hours to complete in full, though they could require more than 60, depending on the school or progam you choose. The length of time it takes depends entirely on the program and whether or not the student is able to commit to full-time or must attend part-time. Some courses may be available in either 8-week terms or 16-week terms.
Individuals who participate in database mamagement degrees on a full-time basis can complete an associate degree in database management in two years, which is often around 64 weeks. For those who work full-time or care for others at home while they work on this associate degree part-time, it could take much longer.
Where Do You Earn an Associate-level Degree?
The vast majority of technology-based associate degrees are offered through two-year community colleges. These community colleges often feature degree programs designed for graduates to start in entry-level positions within two years. The courses are more basic and less in-depth than a bachelor’s database management degree. As such, the requirements for program acceptance are typically less demanding than those at four-year higher learning institutions. Associate degrees also focus more on fundamentals so that individuals qualify for a wide array of technology careers as well as to be eligible to transfer to four-year programs.
In less common cases, four-year colleges and universities offer associate degrees in database management in addition to bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees, and certificates. An associate degree at a four-year school is typically designed for both entry-level positions and continuing education. Many individuals will choose to complete a two-year degree to secure entry into the workforce so that they can gain invaluable work experience while transferring to a four-year database management bachelor’s degree program.
Online Vs. Traditional Education in Database Management
It’s possible to choose from three different types of learning methodologies. Each format has advantages and disadvantages; however, a disadvantage to one person might be an advantage for someone else. Each case and each individual will be different.
An associate online database management degree is ideal for busy individuals and students on a budget. Whether you work, care for family members, or have additional obligations of another kind, an online degree provides far more flexibility for students in regard to when and where to view courses, participate in team meetings, and complete exams. The biggest disadvantage of online education is for those who prefer in-person interaction with others over online platforms.
In-person courses are ideal for individuals who prefer a more social experience and for those who require greater discipline to stay on track. Everyone learns differently, and some people require the accountability of attending in-person classes to complete assignments and exams on time. The primary disadvantages of in-person courses are having to work around the schedule of the program, transit travel time, expenses to attend courses and exams, and potential exposure to those who do not stay home when they are ill.
Hybrid programs are often necessary for many courses and programs. A hybrid program combines both online and in-person courses. In some instances, a course simply cannot be taught through digital technology, at least not at this time. Such courses include science labs, medical rounds, and more. The main disadvantage of hybrid learning for most people is the inconvenience of having to attend a class in person, though this can increase your engagement in your database management degree, which some people find helps them stay connected to the material.
What Are the Prerequisites or Admission Requirements?
To apply for an associate degree in database management, you will have to meet varying requirements. These requirements are based on the program and the college or university. In nearly all cases, an individual must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. It’s also common to have to meet specific grade point average (GPA) requirements for more reputable programs. This figure will vary greatly. More challenging programs will require higher grade point averages, whereas, other less demanding programs will have lower GPA thresholds.
A required GPA of at least 2.0 is relatively standard for community colleges. However, it's a growing trend that community colleges no longer require a GPA minimum or for students to complete an ACT or SAT entrance examination. Some four-year colleges and universities that also offer associate degrees may have higher GPA requirements and they may also still have ACT/SAT requirements. Higher education entrance requirements are changing rapidly. As such, requirements could be different from one term to the next in the coming years.
Why Earn an Database Management Degree?
Many reasons exist for completing an associate database management degree over a bachelor’s degree. The exact reason will depend on each individual student. For some people, an associate degree is about finances, such as lower course costs and faster entry into the workplace. The sooner a person is able to start working in a professional career, the sooner they are able to make full-time pay. Earning this degree also helps to make a bachelor’s database managememnt degree more affordable in the long run and to increase salaries upon graduating with a four-year degree over those who do not have any work experience or education.
Most people also end up completing a bachelor’s database management degree in less time if they complete an associate degree first. An associate degree can be enough education to qualify students for certain skill-based and professional-based certifications. Such certifications can also lead to higher pay and better jobs. In some circumstances, an associate degree’s curriculum is less demanding than a bachelor’s degree, which is appealing to some people.
If someone did not excel in high school or has been out of school for some time, an associate degree is an excellent transition degree. Community colleges also typically have fewer entry restrictions for individuals with poor grades and community colleges are often more conveniently located for many individuals outside of major metropolitan regions who prefer or require in-person or hybrid programs.
Why a Degree in Database Management?
A degree in database management can provide endless career opportunities and advantages. To begin, there are a wide array of these types of degrees offered by numerous community colleges and four-year higher learning institutions. This type of degree is also an easy and fast way to enter the workforce. A database management associate degree is all the degree one requires for many entry-level positions in this field.
After landing that first job with an associate degree, it’s possible to receive promotions and career advancement with several years of experience. Many people also choose to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree in database management while they work. This is yet another way to secure promotions. This associate degree is often a steppingstone to more advanced tech-related positions.
This degree will provide graduates with a solid foundation for nearly any IT or IS field as well as develop in-demand skills such as teamwork, analysis, communication, problem-solving, report generation, presentations, and more. It can even lead to leadership roles in time. Keep in mind that specialized certifications are yet another way to improve skills while securing promotions and higher pay more quickly.
What’s Involved in This Degree?
The overall goal of database management degrees at the associate level is to prepare students for entry-level positions. While each program will offer a unique curriculum, many programs will have similar foundation courses to prepare graduates for careers in IT and IS. Generally, students will learn the best ways to manage and optimize databases including organization, storage, back-up, recovery, and more.
Certain programs will also focus on skill development in various areas such as programming, technical expertise, analytical capabilities, database management systems and networks analysis, problem and solution, principles of databases, and many others. Some programs will even prepare students so that they will be able to take various certification exams upon completion of their degree programs, such as Oracle and Microsoft. And associate degree graduates should be able to transfer to four-year degree programs upon graduation as long as they are appropriately accredited.
Each college and university will offer a unique set of courses. The following are examples of some common courses one might take:
- Computer Science and Information Technology
- Visual Basic, Programming
- Database Design
- Access Fundamentals
- Project Planning
- SQL Server Development
- Relational Databases
- Information Technology Security
- Data Analysis and Data Science
- Advanced Data Visualization Tools
- Advanced Oracle
- Information Storage and Management
- Technical and Business Writing
- Technical Customer Service
- Network Systems Administration
What to Consider When Choosing an Associate Program for Database Management
Accreditation is highly important when it comes to an associate database management degree. There are several types of accreditations, which includes accreditation for programs, higher learning institutions, and professional organizations that offer certifications for database managers, information systems managers, data science professionals, project management specialists, and those in other database management careers. Most employers judge applicants based on the schools and programs they attend. There is one primary organization that approves accrediting organizations according to a strict set of rules, and the programs in turn accredit institutions across the US. This is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
They approve of accrediting bodies, which include the following:
- 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)
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
At this time, there is not a specific database management accreditation. However, many technology and information-related accreditation programs exist, such as:
- Association of Technology, Management, and Applied Engineering (ATMAE)
- Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
It is also possible to complete professional credentials, like the Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP) credential.
Further Database Management Education
The next step after completing your associate, would be a bachelor’s degree in database management, which is ideal for individuals looking for higher salaries and faster career advancement. Many employers will hire an individual with an associate degree for an entry-level role in IT; however, most employers will hire someone with a bachelor’s degree over someone with an associate degree. Bachelor’s degrees offer a more advanced education than the basic two-year associate degree. In turn, this leads to greater opportunities and higher pay.
Someone with a bachelor’s degree can earn up to $15,000 more a year than someone with an associate degree. Over a 40-year career, that is an additional $600,000. This does not include additional raises based on faster promotions. Individuals with an associate degree typically have to earn more work experience than those with a bachelor’s degree to qualify for advanced career opportunities.
Much like that of a bachelor’s degree over an associate degree, a master’s degree offers even greater advantages and opportunities. Master’s degrees in database management are often required by employers to secure leadership roles. Those with a master’s degree will also typically be preferred by employers over those with a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree. And some community colleges will hire those with a master’s degree to teach database management.
With a master’s degree, graduates can earn up to $20,000 more a year over those with a bachelor’s degree. Over the course of a 40-year career, that is an additional $800,0000. Again, this does not include the raises and promotions someone with a master’s degree receives over someone with a bachelor’s degree. And master’s degree holders are more likely to receive management and executive roles with significantly higher pay.
Most MBAs do not have an emphasis in database management but rather MBAs that focus on other areas of information and technology, such as management information systems and information management. MBAs are often considered the best master’s degrees for individuals in search of managerial or executive roles in business. The MBA with a technology emphasis combines the crucial skills of business leadership and technology leadership.
Individuals with an MBA degree often earn up to $25,000 more than those with a master’s degree. Keep in mind that MBA degrees are typically significantly more expensive, though, in some cases, an MBA program is more in-depth than a master’s degree. Those with MBAs are also more likely to start their own business and open themselves up to even greater earning potential.
Doctorate or PhD
Doctorate and PhD programs in database management are rare; however, they do exist. These degree programs are designed for individuals who wish to become high-level experts in their fields. While these degrees were quite uncommon in the past, they are growing in popularity as a way to gain an advantage in the marketplace. Others will pursue these degrees to specialize in research or to become a professor at a four-year college or university to teach database management.
Those who complete a PhD can earn up to double that of someone with a master’s degree over the course of 20 years. Keep in mind that salaries will vary greatly based on the type of career path one pursues. Those who wish to become a professor will often make significantly less than those who pursue executive business positions. And those who work for the public sector rather than the private sector in research will often make less. Salary for doctoral and PhD degrees will depend entirely on the employer and the job.
Database Management Certifications
A specialized certification in the area of database management can increase one’s salary potential by up to $15,000 a year. This increase will depend upon the employer and the demand for the certification. Those who pursue certifications that are considered standard and essential to complete a database management job may not receive much of a boost in their salary. However, those who select specialized or niche-based certifications that fewer professionals complete will likely experience greater salary bumps.
Database management certifications can also help to provide individuals with a competitive advantage over those without certifications. Some employers may require certain certifications for various database management roles, whereas, others will only prefer certifications. Overall, such certifications often boost career opportunities alongside improving salary potential. In general, database management certifications center around operating systems and programming languages.
The most popular and in-demand certifications vary by job type and employer and include:
- Computer Service Technician (CST)
- Developing Microsoft SQL Server
- IBM Certified Database Administrator
- Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)
- Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- MS SQL Server
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
- Oracle DB Certified Associate
- Oracle Database Administrator Certified Professional
- Oracle MySQL Database Administrator
- SAP Certified Technology Associate
Available Careers for Database Management Associate Graduates
- Computer Support Specialist
A computer support specialist is an essential IT team member who works to assist customers and employees regarding technology troubleshooting. This type of assistance may involve installations and updates for software or network systems. Individuals must be able to communicate effectively as well as be able to solve problems.
- Network Administrator
Network administrators are responsible for the overall maintenance of various computer systems including intranets, data communication systems, and wide area networks. They may also be in charge of limiting user data access, training other team members, and monitoring network security.
- Web Developer
Web developers have the primary role of designing and creating websites. They might create websites for a direct employer or clients as part of a team or as a self-employed individual. Interpersonal skills, communication skills, and testing skills are also essential to be successful in this role.
- Database Program Designer
A database program designer focuses on the creation and maintenance of databases in many facets including writing code, designing, analyzing, and protecting databases. These professionals often spend much of their day working independently; however, they will also be required to work with other team members to ensure an optimal, effective, and efficient database.
- Application Developer
Application developers work to develop dynamic software solutions. This might include creating source code as well as testing and debugging code. Some individuals might work to improve existing applications, while others will develop applications from scratch. Another critical part of this role is the implementation of modifications and updates, as necessary.
A starting salary for a database management entry-level position for someone with an associate degree is likely to be around $33,000. This figure will likely increase after several years of experience. To increase one’s earning potential and achieve promotions and career advancement, it is important to focus on skill development and continued education. This can be in the form of certifications or advanced degrees. Keep in mind that as with all tech-based careers, the field changes quickly. To remain employable, it’s essential to keep up with the latest trends and technologies.
It’s suggested that the overall database management career salary potential for someone with an associate degree is around $67,000 a year, over time. Some people will make more, and others will make less, depending on certifications, skills, and location. Those who complete certifications will increase their pay as well as if they complete additional degrees. If an individual completes a bachelor’s degree after an associate degree, this salary potential could increase to over $80,000 a year. This figure will increase even further with a master’s degree.
The career outlook for individuals in database management ranges between a 10% to 22% increase in job opportunities in the coming years, depending on the career path one chooses. For those looking to become database administrators, you can expect a healthy growth rate of 10% through 2029. Individuals in search of an application development career have an even greater outlook at 22% in the same period of time. Overall, any career that is attainable with a database management degree has a highly positive job outlook.
Growth in this field is widely associated with the increasing interest in database-as-a-service. Cloud computing is another area where growth is expected to explode over the coming years. The same is true for database security. Individuals who pursue these niche areas of database management can expect greater job security and pay potential. And even those with just an associate degree can expect to find many job opportunities within the field in nearly any industry. Do not forget to seek out remote work jobs, which are becoming more common and more sustainable.