Become a Database Engineer – Careers & Outlook

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Database engineers need to attend a college or university where they will learn how to design, create, and maintain databases. They’ll also learned how to troubleshoot functionality problems for databases and increase data storage capacity for those companies who need to continue upgrading their storage. It’s also part of a database engineer’s role to review the performance of a database, along with reading user reports. If you attend a school and learn everything there is to know about improving the performance of your employer’s databases, you’re going to have an excellent foundation to be successful in your job.


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What is a Database Engineer?


Database engineers sometimes also called database architects, design databases and decide how protections will work within a company. They are responsible for maintaining the security of the database, creating and organizing database recovery and backup procedures, and keeping the whole thing running correctly. Database engineers may help a company decide what will go into each table and field in the database system, but their main goal is to create a system by which anyone with permission to use the database can easily pull useful data from it. Storing data is not enough if it cannot be easily used by those who need it throughout a company’s hierarchy.

Steps to Becoming a Database Engineer


  • Step 1: Enroll in a Database Engineering Degree Program

  • Step 2: Take Part in an Internship

  • Step 3: Start Your Job Search

  • Step 4: Earn Needed or Required Certifications

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Step 1: Enroll in a Database Engineering Degree Program

By enrolling in a database engineering degree program at the bachelor’s level, students are more likely to find employment in this field. In core/major classes, you’ll learn about the design and maintenance of databases. You’ll also learn about increasing data storage capacity and how to troubleshoot database functionality issues when they arise.

Enrolling in these programs is less complicated than a regular engineering, mechanical engineering, or chemical engineering degree. There are likely to be prerequisites, but these will be no more complicated than those for any computer science degree. You will need to have completed a high school diploma or GED, have SAT/ACT scores that align with the school’s requirements, and complete an application. Most computer science degrees do not require that you wait until later in your college degree to declare your major, so you can start this program as soon as you are ready.

Step 2: Take Part in an Internship

Finding an internship for a database administrator/engineer position will allow students like you to do the actual work that a database professional does. If you are chosen for one of these internships, you could find yourself working in any type of business and/or industry, especially as databases become the norm around the world in every industry of every size. You’ll often be under the supervision of an IT manager or even a CTO or similar executive in a smaller company, where you could be a team member in one of a variety of entry-level positions, providing a high level of customer service and database management assistance.

As a database engineer in training, some of your responsibility is for excellent customer service, respect in the workplace for others and organizational success. Because of your efforts, you offer high quality customer service that responds quickly to customers’ needs. You may need to have knowledge of Oracle Database systems and tools (Oracle PS/SQL); Microsoft Server Database Systems tools; SSAS SQL Server Database Systems tools; Microsoft SSRS, SSIS, and SSAS SQL Server Database Systems tools; tools for optimization, database tuning, and other skills.

Step 3: Start Your Job Search

Once you get a little closer to graduation, you’ll want to begin your job search. This is assuming you don’t come across a job offer while you are performing tasks in an internship. Companies are in desperate need of more technology employees, so this is definitely a possibility. At the very least, you should do your best during an internship to add to your network while you perform your job admirably. This will serve you well in the long run.

You may start out looking for an entry-level position that allows you to use what you have learned and also encourages growth into the role. You could find a database engineering position improving the existing functionality in both ends of the database system, or you may start your career in a general IT support position. The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t matter where you begin, as long as you gain useable experience and continue to strive for a career in your chosen field.

Even though you may spot what looks like the perfect job for you, don’t stop there! Other future graduates may have the skills the organization wants—so continue with your job search. There are no guarantees that you will be hired for that perfect job right away, so don’t pin all your hopes on a single option. There are job search websites that were created specifically for information technology professionals. Look for the announcements that best meet your current professional skills and don’t give up!

For instance, a database support engineer may better match your skills until you have had some time in this position. Create your resume and cover letters, then have a staff member in the career placement office edit each document for you before you apply for any positions.

Step 4: Earn Needed or Required Certifications

Your job is data. You need to know how to work with data and create storage and enhance those spaces for the data your employer stores. While you spent four years at a university, learning database engineering, future employers still may not be certain how much you know. This is where database engineering certifications can help you. Earning these certificates shows that you have demonstrated your proficiency in a subject.

The best certifications for database professionals include Microsoft Technology Associate, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (Database Development Certification), Database Administration, Business Intelligence Development Certification, and SQL Server 2012/2014 Certification. However, the certification you select depends on the job responsibilities you have and the career path you plan on having. These types of courses can cost between $1,800 and $2,975 and you’ll also need to pay for the certification test.

What Does a Database Engineer or Database Architect Do?


A database architect is similar to a database engineer. If you are studying database architecture, you may also be able to fulfill the duties of a database engineer, as long as you complete the educational requirements satisfactorily. The database architect/engineer is involved in the design strategies for enterprise databases, multidimensional networks, and data warehouse systems. They also decide on standards for database operations, query processes, programming, and security. These specialists are most useful when a company expands and realizes that it needs its own unique database structure, rather than using an existing structure and trying to fit its own unique information into database slots that weren’t specifically designed for it. These engineers create bespoke systems for companies with unique needs.

They are therefor involved in modeling, designing, and constructing large relational databases or data warehouses. They create and optimize data models for workflow and warehouse infrastructure. They integrate new systems with current warehouse structure and refine the system’s performance and its functionality.

A database architect or engineer will almost always work solely in the office, though they may visit other locations in order to implement technological solutions that are site-specific. In most instances, they can begin working with just a bachelor’s degree. Even if they have no work experience or on-the-job training, they can potentially be hired if they have other qualifications. However, certifications in this profession may make it easier for a database engineer to find a job and be promoted. This is, again, dependent on the job applicant completing educational requirements for certification.

If you look at a typical job description for a database engineer, you might see something like this: Among your job responsibilities, you will increase the performance of the company’s databases, enhancing data storage capacity, troubleshooting database code, and writing fresh support programs and scripts.

Here is a critical section: To be successful as a database engineer, you need to show knowledge of best practices in database management, as well as experience in a similar role. A top-performing database engineer is someone whose optimization skills in database engineering result in the efficient flow of information into every department of an organization.

Database Engineer Skills to Acquire


  • SQL:
    This is the data programming language that modern database professionals use. It’s important enough that, if you don’t know SQL, you are much less likely to get a position you want. Try to stay current on your fluency with this language, which demonstrates your knowledge of database engineering.
  • Communication:
    In just about any job, you are going to have to communicate with others. For instance, as a database engineer, you’ll have to explain managing a database to people who don’t understand the process or the why of the subject. It will be important that you are able to communicate issues, changes, and protections, and well as the importance of each so that those in charge buy into what the database for the company requires. These soft skills also support your work performance.
  • Platform Knowledge:
    Along with SQL, you need to know other database platform languages, such as Oracle and MySQL. Different jobs require different languages, so you should try to become familiar with at least a few of them—and be an expert in at least one of these languages.
  • Python:
    This language allows database engineers to automate the QA process and allows sites to get Google mentions, among other things; by using Python and PowerShell together, engineers are able to automate data collection going to and from SQL Server. Python also allows engineers to create auto document processes so that they are able to document all database structural and interface changes during SVN check in.
  • Optimization and Debugging:
    Knowing how to debug a system is an essential skill that will let you correct urgent problems and increase workplace efficiency. These skills are vital in a database administrator role.

Alternative Paths


Earning a college degree may not be absolutely necessary for someone to become a database engineer, but it certainly helps them with finding jobs and performing well on the job.

Almost 50% of database engineers hold a bachelor’s degree and around 34% hold master’s degrees. If a database engineer holds a high school diploma or its equivalent, they may still be able to perform this job in an entry-level position as long as they are successful in their tasks. Some people have gone to community college, earned their associate degrees, and are now working as database engineers. Experience from past jobs may help them become a database engineers; having experience as a database administrator certainly helps.

Some employers are looking for database engineers who have at least five years of prior experience. The downside to this is that employers provide little to no training to their new database engineers; this is where pre-existing education and experience are necessary.

However, some companies view a database engineer’s position as an entry-level position; as long as you have the needed coding and programming skills, you may be able to qualify for the position, but an understanding of specialty software to build, maintain, and customize databases, along with a knowledge of computer programming will still be helpful and necessary.

Database Engineer Career & Salary


Where Might You Work?


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In these positions, you can expect to work in your employer’s office. You are likely to work full-time hours and you may have a few odd days where you work a late shift in order to back up the database. Some companies rotate staff for this task, but it depends on the size of the company how often you are likely to be required to perform this function. You’re also likely to be part of a bigger database engineering team, which reports to a team leader. Companies that have to store large amounts of data or information hire database engineers into their IT team so that they always have members of the team to perform vital tasks for their database.

Depending on your specific job responsibilities, you may be one of several systems software developers or applications developers. You may work for a computer systems company, helping to design and monitor complicated databases. You’ll still only be one part of a database management system, but database professionals of all kinds are vital.

Looking at specific types of employers, these include healthcare and financial services. Expect to work for an industry or organization that works with huge amounts of statistics, information, and data so they can function optimally and make the most of their informational systems.

Career Outlook


Database engineers and administrators face the happy prospect of a job growth of as much as 10% between 2019 and 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This growth is fueled by the companies experiencing higher data needs in just about every sector of the economy. Database engineers are needed to help organize the data so it can be presented to company stakeholders in a user-friendly format, among other functions.

Another factor that is driving database management is the concept of “database-as-a-service”; this lets third parties carry out database administration via the internet and remote work or through consultancy. This may help to increase the employment of database engineers working at cloud computing firms in some specific areas: data processing, hosting, and related services business.

Within the computer systems design and related service industry, employment is also expected to go up. As companies keep on migrating over to cloud services, IT departments are projected to increase the employment of database engineers in the IT industry and across the board for all other industries as well. Companies and organizations may not always be able to find qualified database engineers. If you have checked off all job requirements, including knowledge and experience with the latest technology, your prospects for employment should be good.

Jobs


  • Computer and Information Systems Managers:
    You’ll need to earn your bachelor’s degree and build skills in planning and coordinating computer-related activities for this position. You’ll also be expected to direct these tasks when you move into management.
  • Computer Programmers:
    In this role, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree. Programmers write and test code that directs computer applications and software programs on how to function.
  • Computer Network Architects:
    A bachelor’s degree is required for this position. You and your fellow workers will design and build data communication networks. This includes building local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets.
  • Computer Support Specialists:
    The educational requirements for this position vary from employer to employer. As a computer network support specialists, an associate degree may suffice, though other employers much prefer a candidate with a bachelor’s degree. Your main function in this position is to offer help and advice to organizations and computer users on using the technology correctly.
  • Computer Systems Analysts:
    You’ll need to hold a bachelor’s degree for this role. Here, you’ll study a company’s current computer systems and develop a solution that is more in line with what is required.
  • Information Security Analysts:
    A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for this position. These professional’s main concern is security, and they will plan and carry out security measures to protect a company’s computer networks and systems. This is a cyber security position.
  • Network and Computer Systems Administrators:
    You’ll need to have a bachelor’s degree for this role and in it you would be responsible for daily operation of computer networks.
  • Software Developers:
    A bachelor’s degree is a necessity for this position. In this job, workers create the systems and applications that run on a computer or mobile devices.
  • Web Developers and Digital Designers:
    An associate degree can help workers get their foot in the door in this type of position, though a bachelor’s may be required by some companies. These professionals work on creating and maintaining websites. First, they develop and create website layouts and functions, and then perfect navigation and usability on the site.

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Advancing from Here


The best positions you can advance to easily from this are database architect and senior database engineer. To become a senior engineer in this field, you will require quite a bit of experience, though certifications never hurt either. And the same is true for a database architect, though architect and engineer are also sometimes used alternately for the same type of position.

The best way to move forward from this career is to earn certifications, build your network, and perhaps even increase your education. Certainly, if you had only earned an associate degree before getting into your current career, gaining a bachelor’s could do nothing but help. However, even if you already have a bachelor’s, you might want to consider returning to school for a master’s or an MBA degree. A master’s could help you focus your education or gain a little bit more depth in the engineering field. An MBA will give you a much more solid grasp of business than you would have received in a computer science associate or bachelor’s degree.

Whether you choose certificates or a degree, education is the easiest way to move up in this field. Even experience can only get you so far if you aren’t willing to expand your competencies.

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