A Career in Databases{18}

So the quarter is coming to an end and you loved the class. I mean who wouldn’t? The practical uses of databases are endless and the need for people to manage them will only grow. The careers within CIS are among the top 5 growing jobs in the U.S. and this blog will tell you why. As mentioned in many other presentations about 80- 90 percent of data has been created within the last 2 years and database admins are the ones who are responsible for managing and turning that data into useful information. Throughout this post I will discuss how to become an admin, discuss salary, work environment, and its job outlook.

Becoming an administrator requires a bachelor degree in management information systems or a computer related field. Although according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “Firms with large databases may prefer applicants who have a master’s degree focusing on data or database management, typically either in computer science, information systems, or information technology.” This means that companies that have the money to pay higher wages usually require applicants to have a higher degree than bachelors in order to make the big bucks. Database admins should have a solid understanding of structured query language (SQL, just in case you never figured that out during the course) and have to be familiar with a variety of them in order to fit the needs of the company.

 Four to five years ago having a degree in IS was enough to get you a steady job in the industry. With technology advancing and database skills becoming more common you need to be able to set yourself apart from the crowd. How you might ask? Well its simple, get certified! There is a plethora of certifications that can make you better than a competing applicant. I could go on for days about the different certifications, but I narrowed the important ones down to Oracle and Microsoft. If you’re an Oracle person the first level includes becoming an OCA (Oracle Certified Associate) which consists of passing two exams that are 90 minutes long, 70 questions, and you must answer 66% correct. For Microsoft, although not as popular a good stepping stone is obtaining a certification in MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist). The exam is not a multiple choice test, but instead similar to the quizzes we took for CIS 101 where the computer gives you a task and you must perform it in order to prove your competency. The test covers structuring databases, entering data, organizing data, and managing databases. Higher levels for oracle certifications include becoming a certified professional and then later becoming a master. On the Microsoft side you could become a technology associate, solutions associate, and a solutions expert. All these levels of certifications are higher than the ones previously mentioned and are definitely ways to increase your marketability and your salary when you get hired.

As I mentioned earlier database administrators hold the number 5 top growing job in America and it only plans on becoming bigger. The median pay according to CNN Money and The Bureau of Labor and Statistics claim it’s between 77k and 87k a year. In the next 5 years the job is expecting a growth of 15% which is huge to our major. All these past numbers were from 2012 so we are already seeing the increase in demand for our majors in the workforce. With this spike in demand for database administrators their salaries have obviously had to increase since the early 2000s. The graph below shows the mean salaries of the job since 2004. It has gone up a little less than 20k in the past 8 years. The almost 2 k increases in pay will most likely only increase in future years to come.  The highest paid percentile of the job gets paid about 120k a year while the lowest is at about 43k yearly. Finally another interesting fact is that we live close to the highest paid city of San Francisco for database admins followed by Trenton, NJ and Washington, D.C.

Finally, the work environment for admins is pretty standard based on everything I have read. A lot of articles say 40 hours a week with some overtime, but the only catch is that during the latter end of projects closer to the due date you can see a dramatic increase in overtime hours because of last minute problems and bug fixing. Another complaint I have read is that most admins are always on call because at any point in time a server can go down and you would be called in to fix it.

Database Administrators are only one part of information systems and is definitely not the only job you should consider. If you enjoyed the class and you are looking for a stable and growing job in the market a database admin might be a perfect fit for you.

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