Database administrators are responsible for the organization and storing of data. These information and technology-based professionals may also focus on a number of additional areas of databases such as development, creation, implementation, user permissions, testing, maintenance, backups, recovery, retirement, and much more. Database administrator (DBA) careers are often considered to be broken down into various pathways, which include production, development, application, and system DBAs.
Development-based database administration careers center around the creation of software, applications, and similar useful things, whereas, production begins once an application has already been developed. Database production careers focus on the smooth operation and maintenance of software and applications. System DBAs are typically responsible for upgrades and maintenance. And application DBAs often write and debug programs designed for a unique application rather than all systems, software, etc.
In order to be considered among the best in their field, all database administrators must also have an advanced understanding of information and technology security to ensure databases are as secure as possible including during development, updates, recovery, and more. Those who aspire to leadership roles should also learn about business.
Requirements of a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree is often appealing given that it does not take nearly as long as a bachelor’s degree but can provide access to much higher levels of employment. The number of credit hours required to complete a master’s will be entirely dependent on the program, college, or university you choose as this can affect the number of credits assigned to each course. Most programs will typically assign three or four credits to each course. The number of course credits awarded will depend on the amount of time a student must designate to course or lab work each week.
In total, database administration programs might require anywhere between 32 and 45 credits, which is roughly the equivalent to 10-15 courses. The number of total credits will vary by higher learning institution, whereas, the length of time it takes to complete a degree will depend on the program and the individual. The length of programs for full-time students is different for each program and may take 10 months, 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months.
For individuals who can only commit to a database administration degree program on a part-time basis, it may take longer than the listed completion time to finish a program. However, many programs that are designed for individuals to participate on a part-time basis might take this into account when they list the length of the degree program. Keep in mind that most programs have a time limit for completion, usually around five or six years and each database administration program will have a minimum GPA required to graduate successfully.
Where Do You Earn a Master’s Degree?
While not as many colleges and universities offer advanced database administration degrees, it’s still relatively simple to find a master’s degree in database administration. You will primarily find master’s degrees widely available at four-year colleges and universities. These institutions may have schools or colleges within the university that are entirely dedicated to advanced degrees, such as STEM or business schools. You could also complete a master’s degree or a dual or combined degree from a professional higher learning institution.
You likely won’t be able to find a master’s degree at a community college in your local area. However, dozens of higher learning institutions offer database administration master’s degrees online for easy access. And, in some cases, you might be able to take master’s degree courses at satellite locations in smaller communities that are provided by reputable colleges and universities throughout the region.
Online Vs. Traditional Education in Database Administration
In-person courses and degree programs have been slowly going out of favor for the past twenty years or so, though many students still prefer in-person degrees for any number of reasons, such as the social aspects. With the growing acceptance by employers of reputable online degrees, four-year schools now offer online degrees at a much higher rate. And, there is the fact that the COVID pandemic forced students to adapt to learning online, which has directly impacted the growing popularity and availability of online degrees.
Hybrid degrees offer an ideal balance for those who are interested in the social aspect of learning and the convenience of learning at home whenever possible. Some areas may require in-person sessions such as exams, group projects, hands-on experience, or lab work. Hybrid programs are also a good transitional platform for both students and professors who are resistant to, or interested in, online learning.
Online degrees from regionally accredited programs, colleges, and universities are equally as respected as traditional in-person programs. Employers who are more progressive and are concerned about finding the right candidate, rather than where they graduated from, embrace online degrees in all forms. Any way you look at it, a regionally accredited college or university provides a more demanding education than an unaccredited higher learning institution. Database administration degrees are widely available online from highly reputable higher learning institutions, especially as it is an ideal field to learn online. In fact, the vast majority of the tasks performed in this career are online tasks.
What Are the Admission Requirements?
Traditionally, a prerequisite to a master’s degree is a bachelor’s degree. In this instance, a person completes a bachelor’s degree and then applies to a graduate degree program. Usually, a student will be expected to have completed a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. If a professional is coming into the field with a different bachelor’s degree, they may need to take prerequisite courses. Each program has a GPA minimum requirement. These programs are designed to boost the know-how and specialty of program participants.
It is possible that an individual will have to complete an entrance examination, such as a GRE or a GMAT, prior to being approved for participation. Each program will have different exam score requirements. Those who have several years of work experience may avoid this exam, and a growing number of higher learning institutions are eliminating this requirement altogether. And for those who might not have met the GPA standard, a high entrance exam score or years of experience might be enough for acceptance in some schools.
Another way to meet the prerequisites of a master’s degree program is to select a program that combines both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree. Many colleges and universities are offering such programs under a wide array of names, such as dual degrees, 4+1, and others. Additional requirements will vary by program but may include letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts, resumes, etc.
Why Earn a Master’s Degree?
A master’s degree offers nearly limitless advantages and opportunities in database administration career pathways. To begin, some master’s degree programs take less than a year to complete. Many people like the idea of completing a higher learning program that takes such little time with so many advantages. Another reason to pursue a master’s degree in database administration is to secure a higher salary. Someone with a master’s degree will earn up to $20,000 more a year than someone with a bachelor’s degree in the same position. And, if you’re looking for promotions, it might be hard to access them without a more advanced degree.
This higher degree will also allow graduates to advance their careers more quickly. If you have a master’s degree, most employers allow for career advancement far sooner than individuals with only a bachelor’s degree or less. This, too, is another way to earn even more every year. And, perhaps most importantly, a master’s degree is often necessary for leadership or management roles within an organization. If you have any ambitions to become a manager or a director, many employers will prefer or require a candidate have completed a master’s degree.
Remember that many employers offer tuition assistance or reimbursement for higher education within a relevant field to your existing job and career ambitions. It is important to note that, if you do participate in such programs, your employer may require that you remain with the company for a specified number of years or expect you to pay them back.
Why a Degree in Database Administration?
The benefits of database administration master’s degrees continue to grow with each passing year. There are dozens of different degrees available both in-person and online at this level to secure any number of jobs within the database administration field. It’s also possible to explore a wide array of concentrations within the area of database administration and many advanced certifications are only available to master’s degree holders. These degrees, concentrations, and certifications are designed to prepare graduates for advanced career opportunities, such as leadership roles. Some people might even start their own business with their newfound expertise, or they might work as a freelancer or consultant.
When an individual receives a promotion, they receive better pay. Generally, a master’s degree improves salaries in a number of ways, including higher pay for the same job as those with a bachelor’s degree and those opportunities for advancement that most workers are looking for. Individuals will also experience a preference by hiring managers over those without a master’s degree. Keep in mind that each concentration and database administration master’s degree will have varying levels of demand and pay. For the highest salary increases, it might benefit one to explore the in-demand concentrations over the most popular.
What’s Involved in a Master’s Degree?
While all programs will have a unique set of courses and concentrations, all database administration master’s degrees will have a similar breakdown and level of expectations. Courses and concentrations will be reflective of the latest trends and most current technologies. Be sure to determine whether or not you prefer programs that are in-person, online, or a hybrid of both. This will greatly impact what you will expect from a program. It’s also a good idea to establish a budget and select a program that will be affordable today and tomorrow.
Overall, courses will be more intense and advanced than bachelor’s degree courses. Because the amount of time is limited and many students will have hands-on experience within the field, students can expect a more immersive experience rather than a moderate pace. Participants may also select a program with a self-paced option so that they don’t experience too demanding of deadlines. And do not forget that the vast majority of master’s degrees in database administration will also require an in-depth thesis or a dissertation to graduate.
Look for programs with added advantages. Some programs will offer mandatory or voluntary internships that can lead to full-time jobs. Many of the best colleges and universities also offer job placement assistance and networking for students and alumni. And, if a new job is not appealing, seek out programs that offer mentorships with industry leaders. All of these aspects can provide endless career advantages long after you have completed a master’s degree.
It’s important to understand that no two database administration master’s degree programs will be exactly alike. Each will base its curriculum on the specialized degree and areas of concentration.
The following are just a few examples of database administration courses:
- Advanced Database Management
- Planning, Designing, and Implementing ETL Solutions
- Management and Design of Database Systems
- Database Application Development
- Data Warehouse Concepts and Design
- Innovations in Information Technology
- Enterprise Database Architecture
- Backup and Recovery
- PL/SQL Programming
- XML Database Development
- Database Management Concepts
- Data Mining Applications
- Software Development Management
- Software Design
- Secure Software Engineering
Most master’s degrees for database administration careers center around computer science, information systems, or IT. These degrees will then have a specialized concentration in various aspects of database administration. Some programs do have an actual master’s degree in database administration or database management with an alternative concentration.
- MS in Database Systems Technology
- MS in Computer Information Systems
- MBA in Information Systems
- MS in Information Systems
- MS in Computer Science
- MS in Data Science
- MS in Applied Data Science
- MS of Information and Data Science
- MS in Information Technology
- MS in Computer Science and Quantitative Methods
- Database Systems
- Database Management
- Database Design & Administration
- Database Management & Business Intelligence
- Database Design and Administration
- Data Management and Analysis
You can also select concentrations in various industries such as healthcare, finance, social networking, and biomedical informatics.Additional Course Work
What to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Program for Database Administration
Before you select your master’s degree program in database administration, it’s critical to consider the different types of accreditation at the school and for the program itself. The accrediting body and whether the accreditation is regional or national are equally important. The best accreditations often lead to the best jobs with the best employers.
Generally, regional accreditation has proved to be more demanding and challenging than national accreditation. Keep in mind that traditional schools and online schools alike can be regionally accredited. Students who do not qualify for entry into a regionally accredited college or university might start with a nationally accredited college and then transfer to a more rigorous program, much in the same way that some students attend a community college and switch to a four-year university.
The body that awards accreditation in the U.S. is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
It awards 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
Programs can also be accredited; however, CHEA does not accredit any master’s degrees in database administration at this time. Students who are interested in programmatic accreditation might want to look for ABET accreditation of master’s programs, as they are the group that accredits most technology-focused degrees.
Further Database Administration Education
An MBA in Database Administration is essentially a master’s degree in business with a focus in database administration or similar IT or IS concentrations. Because management and executive roles in database administration require business knowledge, many employers prefer job candidates with an MBA and a tech-based concentration when they are trying to fill a high-level or senior role. At this level of your career, it will be essential to have a solid understanding of business. For those who need help in this area, an MBA might be ideal for your needs.
These degrees not only help with a solid business foundation but also in communication, presentation, and more. Depending on the employer, they may prefer an MBA over a master’s degree. A few MBA specializations that are popular amongst database administrators are concentrations in management information systems, CIS, and database management. The earning potential for individuals with an MBA over a master’s degree is an increase of up to $25,000. This figure will vary greatly from one employer to the next.
Doctorate or PhD
There are a number of ways a person in database administration can complete a doctorate or a PhD. Some people will pursue a doctorate in business administration with a tech-related concentration, whereas others will choose a PhD in management with a tech-related concentration. Please note that a doctorate in business administration is not to be confused with database administration, though both are commonly abbreviated as DBA. Another option is to choose a PhD or a doctorate in CIS.
The decision to select a doctorate or a PhD will often come down to what you want to do with your degree. It’s possible to work as a professor, as a researcher, or as an executive with these degree types. And either degree will double the salary of degree holders over those with a master’s degree in the right circumstances.
Database Administration Certification
Database administration certifications are almost an essential component to successful careers at any level. Certifications are important in all tech careers because the field and all associated industries change so fast these days. New products are being offered all the time to help improve methodologies and security, and database administrators must stay current on the most relevant technologies and skills.
It’s possible to complete certifications in specific products, product types, technical skills, and professional organizations. Some people will choose to focus on various aspects of a database such as networks, software, or development.
The following are a few examples of useful database administration certifications:
- Microsoft Certified Master (MCM)
- MySQL Database Developer Certification
- IBM DB2
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert
- Sun Certified MySQL Database Administrator (SCMDBA) Certification
There are many more including Sybase, Teradata, and PostgreSQL. These certifications are yet another way to improve your pay and career prospects. Some certifications will only require an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Yet others will require a master’s degree. Essentially, the more in-demand and advanced the certification, the higher your pay will be.
Available Careers with a Database Administration Master’s Degree
- Database Administrators:
Database administrators manage large volumes of data that are highly sensitive and personal to the organization, customers, suppliers, employees, and more. These tech professionals will often focus on software and security.
- Computer Information Systems and Information Technology Managers:
Computer IS and IT Managers benefit greatly from a master’s degree in database administration. They are required to manage teams with varying backgrounds within the technology sector. They will also have to manage budgets and team members in an often stress-filled and demanding environment. Strong business acumen is also desirable in these positions.
- Computer Systems Analysts:
A computer systems analyst must have an advanced understanding of highly complex information management systems. They will have to perform deep analysis and make recommendations on ways to improve systems.
- Network and Computer Systems Administrators:
Network administrators and computer systems administrators typically work for medium-size businesses or large enterprises. They work in a hands-on role that ensures networks and systems operate smoothly every second of the day. And, when an issue arises, they work to resolve the problem immediately.
- Computer and Information Research Scientists:
Computer and information research scientist roles are often filled by individuals who thrive in academia. They are the ones who help to evolve and advance the elements of computer standards and data science.
Database administrators average over $73,000 a year for an annual salary. However, this pay is highly dependent on a number of factors such as years of experience, job title, degree concentration, employer, location, and much more. The overall range for database administration salaries is between $47,000 and more than $110,000 over the course of their careers. For an entry-level salary with a master’s degree, one can expect an average yearly salary of around $56,000.
For those with a master’s degree, most people will make up to $20,000 more a year over someone with a bachelor’s degree, and up to $35,000 more a year over someone with an associate degree. The average salary for someone with an MBA in database administration or database management is over $80,000.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), database administration as a field that is expected to grow up to 10% through 2029. This demand is primarily centered around the importance companies place on data in every aspect of their organizations. There is also a significant need for the development of new databases, better organizational storage of existing data, and the protection of all databases.
At the moment, there is a lack of database administrators with the desired education and work experience. As such, those with degrees in the field will likely be highly sought after over those without degrees in database administration. And the more businesses incorporate cloud services, the greater the demand there will be for database administrators at all career levels. Individuals can expect to find employment opportunities with medium to large businesses, consulting firms, or may choose to become self-employed.
Computer Science Degrees & Career Paths