Top Resources for Future Database Administrators

Resources to Guide Database Administrator Professionals

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Database administration covers a broad set of responsibilities. The database administrator ensures that a business’ database or network is functional and ready to execute tasks as demanded. The administrator ensures the system is secure and caries out troubleshooting should issues like system crashes develop.

The database administrator’s role is considered to be dedicated within the IT department. They are responsible for ensuring that the system is operational for the majority of the work period - even if maintenance is needed, it should be scheduled for a time when employees are not signed in and working. The administrator also needs to possess some technical skills so they can help if their employees need help in correcting the cause of the outage.

Resources for Before and After College


Resources for Database Administration Students


Understanding Accreditation


Accreditation of both a university and individual degree programs is vital for students who want to learn the skills they need and find good-paying jobs. Students who are comparing schools and database administration degree programs need to look up the accreditation information of the programs they want to enroll in. If they choose a program that isn’t accredited, they won’t be able to get the jobs they want. Potential employers do check the accreditation status (or lack thereof). If they are interested in a student who graduated from an unaccredited program, they may choose to hire someone else or make a lower salary offer.

Programmatic accreditation is offered by:

Regional accreditation is offered by these regional agencies, which are approved by the US DoE:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) – Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
  • 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)

Questions About Financial Aid


Financial aid is money provided to students who prove either financial need or merit. Grants such as the Pell grant are awarded to students who are able to prove they are in financial need; if they don’t get financial assistance, or if their parents don’t get assistance, they won’t be able to go to a university or college.

Federal financial aid also ties in closely with the accreditation of a university or a degree program. If the student is enrolled in an accredited program, they will be able to access federal financial aid opportunities, which include federal student loans. If the student chooses an unaccredited database administration program, federal regulations forbid them from gaining access to federal financial aid. Additionally, should the student need to transfer to a different database administration degree program at a different school, they may not be accepted by the new school, because of their current program’s lack of accreditation. Finally, when they begin looking for jobs, they may receive job offers, but they won’t be offered salaries that are as high as those of students graduating from accredited programs.

Receiving a financial award based on merit is generally how computer science scholarships are awarded to students. For this, they are required to submit documentation of academic achievements or extracurricular activities. Students who join professional associations may also be able to apply for scholarships awarded by that association to members only. While these awards may not be very large, they’ll help cover school-related expenses such as tuition, supplies, and textbooks. Students who have specialized qualifications may also be able to win scholarship awards. Such qualifications include having relatives who may have been in the military or who work in a STEM field.

When students begin to seek financial aid in grants, they will have to fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form has to be filled out for each year the student is in school. Once they have filled the form out in their freshman year, several fields on the application will pre-populate in subsequent years, saving them time. The Department of Education then determines how much aid the student receives, based on their parents’ expected financial contribution (EFC). For students who apply for specialized grants, they won’t have to pay it back as long as they comply with the post-graduation requirements. If they don’t comply with these, the grant will be converted into a Stafford loan, which must then be repaid.

Students can also apply for federal or private student loans. This should be a source of last resort, because after students graduate from school, they have to begin repaying their loans. On the other hand, grants and scholarships are often considered free money, which students don’t have to repay.

Federal student loans generally have a lower interest rate and may be easier to pay off. Private student loans like Sallie Mae typically have stricter repayment terms and students may not have as many options if they experience a situation that makes repayment difficult or impossible.

Student or Open Access Journals


Open access or student journals introduce students to a higher level of reading, comprehension and thinking. Because they may not have received this exposure in high school, it’s a new skill they need to acquire. Once they begin college, they need to find the materials their instructors assign and these are often journals.

Students can find open access journals online. Once they find what they need, they can begin reading, making notes, and learning the new comprehension skills they will use throughout their professional lives.

Internships


Internships may not be mandatory for data management majors, but they will be valuable. In a quality internship, a student receives guidance, mentoring, and experience in carrying out entry-level tasks in an IT/data administration department. Students taking part in internships have an edge that other students don’t have: they are able to use the internship to beef up their resume. They can show they’ve made use of their classroom learning and connected real-life experience to the theories they read about in their class textbooks. When these students begin working after graduation, their internship experience will also help them as they begin to adjust to the expectations of their new employer and supervisors. When supervisors learn that their new hire has completed an internship, they may decide to give their employee additional responsibilities, improving your chances of earning a promotion or new title.

If professors or programs require students to take part in an internship, it will likely be a part of their overall grade. The supervising manager at the company may communicate with the student’s professor about how the student adjusted and carried out assignments given to them.

Students majoring in database administration may be able to find internships in the private sector or within a government agency. Depending on how well the student does in any internship, they may be offered full employment in the same agency or company once they graduate.

Resources for Students and Professionals


Database Administration Certification Options


Database administration changes often. Because the database administrator’s role is so complex, earning new certifications throughout their career is necessary. If they want to remain current and needed in their field, they should seek out and take courses that focus on their area in database administration. Many of these courses will be offered by the companies that make the equipment, hardware, and software they use every day.

Database administration is a difficult field, meaning that taking certifications as often as you can allows a DBA to maintain their understanding of what is happening within the equipment they are working on daily. If they are working for a financial services provider or a healthcare provider, the software and practices they use daily will be different.

Database administrator is a managerial role. They have to learn about new developments and software, then explain that to their employees, who are also required to take certification courses at their own levels. Once a DBA has completed a certification study course and passed the exam, they may decide to give instruction to their more-junior database management employees.

Certification Study Resources


Because this field is so broad, finding certification study resources can be challenging. Once the DBA finds what they need, it’s a matter of studying, reviewing, and taking practice tests to make sure they are prepared. A DBA can’t count on falling back on what they learned in school as the information they learned there is likely outdated. Once a DBA begins to study for a specific certification, they should review what they feel they know the least, take notes, take practice tests, and adjust their studying based on their practice grades.

If students are taking a certification course to round out their degree, they may find it a little easier to find the study course for their needs because they’ll be looking for beginner-level courses.

Temp Agencies / Remote Work


Temp agencies are intermediaries that help companies hire temporary workers. Some of these groups work with a variety of job types, while others focus on niche workers. If a graduate of a database administration degree program hasn’t been able to find a position in their field, then working as a temp is a good way to get noticed by employers looking for permanent hires.

One drawback of working as a temp worker is that you may find yourself working for one company for a few weeks, then moving to a new company, where you’ll need to learn how to meet a whole new set of expectations. If the temp worker can absorb all the new job processes and techniques they come across, this can very easily turn into an asset. As these workers shift from company to company, adding all these new skills into their resumes can allow them to provide a much better skillset as a whole to a possible new employer.

Remote workers usually work from home as independent contractors. Again, this can give them a definite edge over other DBAs. It can be easier to find part-time work and you can apply to positions anywhere in the world that language is not a barrier, without ever having to leave the country – or your couch if you prefer. This type of work may also require you to become a more independent worker, meaning you will need less guidance or supervision should you shift into regular employment. Having remote work experience means that, if the employee chooses, they can resume working as an independent contractor at any time.

One negative to working remotely is that the freelancer doesn’t have anyone close by that they can chat with to learn new skills and shortcuts.

Resources for Database Administration Professionals


Professional Database Administration Associations


Joining a professional association for database administrators provides benefits that a DBA will enjoy long into their career. They will be able to network with other DBAs, learning new ways of running a data network; they will be able to subscribe to association journals and keep up with new changes and developments in their field; in addition, they will be able to find certification study resources and sign up for certification exams.

Any time they find that a job change will benefit them, database administrators can maintain command of their career by using their memberships in their professional associations. Oftentimes, new job announcements won’t be announced to the general public. Instead, they’ll first be available only to association members, simply to allow them the first opportunity to apply.

Being a member of a database administration association also means a DBA can get easier access to white papers and other professional articles so they can always be learning something new. This information sometimes comes out in newsletter form, which may provide faster access to news of upcoming developments or software. DBAs who have joined professional database administration associations will also learn about upcoming conferences earlier than those who aren’t members.

Popular Journals


Every database administrator has to keep up with frequent developments within their field; this includes new software, processes, and procedures. As a DBA reads a peer-reviewed journal articles, they know they are getting information from other professionals in their field. In turn, they can take what they have read and pass it on to their employees. And, if they are asked to write a journal article, they may turn to articles they have recently read, along with information from software manufacturers. Subscribing to professional journals and writing articles to be published in these journals also allows them to increase their visibility, which will then make them more valuable to their employers.

A DBA who belongs to a professional database administration association should compile everything they learn about from fellow DBAs and assimilate it with their professional reading. If a junior DBA asks for mentoring, this is an excellent opportunity for you to continue learning as you guide your new mentee. As you continue to mentor employees, you’ll gain needed experience, which may lead to a promotion into senior management or the C-suites.

Industry Conferences for Database Administration Professionals


Attending and taking part in an industry conferences helps DBAs to stay at the forefront of new developments, products, and practices. If they choose not to attend these events, they will quickly find they are falling behind when it comes to what they know and who they know. And, taking time to meet up with other professionals they know can be enjoyable.

At these events, DBAs meet other industry professionals where they can sit and talk about new products of which they have become aware. They may also meet the CEO of a company they want to join; this makes attending and networking one of the most valuable activities they can engage in. If a DBA is looking for new products to make management of their company’s database more efficient, vendors from several software companies will be in attendance as well.

  • TDWI Conference
    DBAs in attendance discuss new developments in data strategy, business intelligence, and enterprise analytics. Guest speakers discuss industry best practices.
  • Gartner CIO Leadership Conference
    This conference is aimed at CIOs. Here, they take apart new opportunities and challenges within the digital business. By doing this, they find out how to make their own businesses more competitive.
  • Strata Data Conference
    The best minds meet at this conference, sharing new best practices, learn how new tools are helping data companies to address big challenges, and developing new data management skills.
  • Modern Data Management
    Some of the best-known speakers come together at this conference, discussing big data analytics and business-facing data-driven applications and data science. DBAs can choose from tracks such as Modern Data Management, Healthcare & Life Sciences, and Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.
  • DATAx
    This cross-industry conference brings together strategists, practitioners, and business leaders who want to attain new industry best practices, gain new marketplace advantage, and increase growth for their organizations.