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What Is Database Management? Career and Salary Outcomes

By The Fullstack Academy Team

A database administrator works on a flowchart using a monitor.

In the Information Age, many businesses and consumers depend on data daily, making database management essential. Database management ensures the right piece of information is available when it’s needed. For example, when a shopper pays for groceries, an unseen database links a credit card number with an account, while another database certifies that the account has sufficient credit available.

With the world collecting and relying on data for everyday activities and operations, databases are growing exponentially. By 2025, the world will be collecting 463 exabytes (a million trillion bytes) of data each day, according to the World Economic Forum. That’s why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that demand for database administrators and architects will grow 8% between 2020 and 2030. Learning what database management is can open up a career with the potential for excellent compensation and advancement.

What Does a Database Management System Do?

A database is an organized collection of data, structured so that users can easily find a particular bit of information. In the pre-digital age, comparable examples of a database were a telephone book or a library’s card catalog.

Digital databases are far more versatile than their predecessors, because their data can be searched according to any relevant variable, reorganized, and output in a wide variety of formats to serve many functions. To achieve that versatility businesses require database management software for storing and retrieving data, as well as controlling access to information.

The most common kind of software, relational database management, files entries in tables with predefined relationships. Users apply structured query language (SQL) to ask questions and extract the data they need.

Making all that happen takes a specialized professional: a database manager or administrator.

Database Management Systems Examples

Database management systems are software that organize data so that it can be input, retrieved, and queried. Some popular database management systems and what they’re commonly used for include:

Oracle Database works best for large-organizations with complicated needs. It offers flexibility and high levels of data security, but requires experienced users and carries a high price tag.

Microsoft Access comes as part of the Microsoft Office applications suite. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for beginners and small organizations to set up databases and generate tables and reports. It’s less efficient than Oracle for larger-scale uses.

MySQL is used primarily in web development, for websites that store large volumes of data, from WordPress sites on up to Facebook and YouTube. It’s free and open-source, which means users can modify it, but it’s more challenging to learn than Microsoft Access.

The Job of Database Management

According to the BLS, the core task of database management is to “create or organize systems to store and secure data.” That simple description covers several complex components of a database manager’s work.

Design and Build Databases

Database management begins with talking to potential end users to learn what they want a database to do and what kinds of information they need it to store. A manager then builds a model database, using programming languages like SQL and Python. Before it’s finalized, the model may need several rounds of testing to make sure it’s user-friendly, works properly, and satisfies all the organization’s requirements.

Maintain Databases

In a sense, no database design is ever final—it evolves as the needs of its users do. The duties of database management include modifying and upgrading structures and testing changes, to make sure they work as intended and don’t accidentally disrupt existing functions. Between upgrades, a manager periodically tests a database to ensure it’s operating efficiently and accurately.

Protect Data

Database management provides systems and routines for auditing the integrity of data, to ensure it’s not corrupted and doesn’t contain duplicate records.

Data protection also means establishing and implementing cybersecurity procedures. Such measures make sure only authorized users have access, and hackers can’t steal or alter data—particularly proprietary or personal financial information.

Setting up automatic backups also protects data, so it can be restored in the event of system failure or cybercrime.

Support Users

When users have problems or questions, database management is responsible for providing support. Sometimes, user support means being on call to address emergencies outside normal working hours.

Such assistance can take a variety of forms, from tutoring users to designing custom queries. User feedback can also be valuable for identifying new flaws and necessary changes to a system.

Salaries and Demand for Database Management

U.S. News & World Report ranks database administrator careers highly as the seventh-best technology job and the 38th-best occupation overall. Specifically, database management is rated ‘above average’ for upward mobility, in terms of possibilities for promotions and raises.

That assessment is backed up by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which reports the median annual salary in the field was $98,860 in 2020. That’s 236% of the median pay for all occupations. The highest 10% of database administrators earned more than $155,660 in 2020.

In recent years, a major trend in the growth of database management jobs has focused on cloud computing. Rather than operating their databases, many small- and medium-sized companies find it more cost-effective to hire a third-party provider such as Amazon Web Services. Ecommerce research from the firm MarketsandMarkets forecasts cloud database services will grow 16% a year, reaching $25 billion by 2025.

Database Management: What’s Required to Get Started?

The majority of database administrators hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, IT, or a related field such as engineering, according to the BLS.

However, it’s possible to break into the field through other routes. The BLS reports that 18% of database managers have no college degree.

One such alternative path into database management is to enroll in an academic program like a bootcamp. In as few as 10 weeks, such a program can provide enough hands-on experience in design and programming languages to prepare you for an entry-level job. Bootcamps can also help build a professional network and offer assistance with landing a job. Some bootcamps offer flexible scheduling options and the choice to study online or in-person.

Certifications can also help launch a career in database management. Major database software firms like Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM offer certifications in their programs, as do database service providers like Amazon Web Services.

Learn More About Training Programs for Database Management

Data management can be a rewarding occupation for a detail-oriented person with strong skills in analysis and problem solving. An intensive program, like the online Data Analytics Bootcamp at Fullstack Academy, can educate you in the fundamentals of data management without having to leave home or give up your existing job.

The program enables you to learn languages such as SQL and Python, and prepares you for certification exams like Amazon Web Services.

Explore how Fullstack Academy can help lead first-time job seekers or career changers into a position in data management.

Recommended Readings

3 Common Barriers to a Successful Career Change–and How to Work Through Them

Data Scientist vs. Data Analyst: What’s the Difference?

What Does a Data Analyst Do? Job Types, Training, and Salary

Sources:

BMC, “DBMS: Database Management Systems Explained”

Datamation, “10 Top Database Certifications”

MarketsandMarkets, “Cloud Database and DBaaS Market”

MCG, “What Is The Importance of a Database Management System?”

Medium, “Database Management System(DBMS) | Examples And Their Pros and Cons”

TechRepublic, “5 Programming Languages Database Administrators Should Learn”

TechTarget, database as a service (DBaaS)

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Database Administrators and Architects

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Educational Attainment for Workers 25 Years and Older by Detailed Occupation

U.S. News & World Report, Database Administrator

World Economic Forum, “How Much Data Is Generated Each Day?”