What Does a Database Administrator Do?

female database administrator working at her computer

Are you passionate about information technology (IT) and interested in pursuing an IT-related career? One career you might consider is that of the database administrator. This career guide will walk you through how to become a database administrator and answer the questions, ‘What does a database administrator do?’

In This Article:

What Is a Database Administrator?

Many different organizations depend on having their information organized, secure and accessible to those with the proper authorization. It’s the job of the database administrator to ensure that the organization’s databases are properly maintained and that the data are secure. The database administrator is responsible for ensuring data integrity and for making necessary adjustments or upgrades to the database environment.

On any given day, a database administrator may do any of the following tasks:

  • Consult with department heads and executives to identify the database needs of the organization
  • Design new databases for the organization and create the code for the new data architecture
  • Test new and established databases for bugs, making sure they operate properly
  • Evaluate and upgrade security measures to keep the data secure
  • Back up data in the event of a security breach or technical malfunction, and restore lost data when necessary

A database administrator may work for virtually any type of organization that needs one or more databases. Many database administrators work for tech companies, finance and insurance firms, educational institutions and logistics companies. Others work in healthcare, retail or manufacturing, while others work for governmental agencies at the local, state or federal levels.

How To Become a Database Administrator

If the answer to the question, “What does a database administrator do?” appeals to you, then it may be time to schedule a meeting with your high school guidance counselor. Discuss your career goals and ask if you can add any relevant courses to your schedule that may help you prepare for your future. Any courses in coding and computer applications will be helpful.

After high school, you’ll need to plan on earning a baccalaureate information technology degree. Expect to spend around four years as a full-time student before you’re ready to look for your first entry-level job. It’s possible to land an entry-level database administration position after graduation, but you may find that you need some experience as a software developer or in another role.

You can enhance your career qualifications by earning a relevant graduate certificate. It’s also recommended and often required that aspiring database administrators earn one or more professional certifications.

Earn an Information Technology Degree

After high school, the first step in the process of how to become a database administrator is to earn your baccalaureate degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. This type of degree will not only teach you the essentials of database development and maintenance, but also technical competencies across a range of areas — from platform technologies to networking.

The specific topics you’ll study will vary, depending on your college and program, but in general, you can expect to study topics such as the following:

  • Networking essentials in IT, with a look at LANs, WANs, service providers, packets, hubs, routers, switches and Internet protocols
  •  System administration and maintenance, including computer architecture, computing infrastructures and platform technologies
  • The design, development, implementation, maintenance and security of database structures
  • Advanced topics in relational databases for business applications, including object-relational databases and NoSQL databases
  • The design, management and maintenance of virtual enterprise and data center infrastructure

Enhance Your Qualifications with an Information Technology Graduate Certificate

Although a bachelor’s degree in IT may help you land a job in the field, you may need to gain at least a few years of working experience and additional credentials before pursuing the role of database administrator. One strong credential you can earn to enhance your career qualifications is a Graduate Certificate of Completion in Information Technology Management.

This type of graduate certificate enables you to strengthen your knowledge of IT competencies, including topics in information security and risk management. You may also develop your leadership style and skills, which will prove essential if you plan on pursuing a higher-level role.

Pursue Professional Administrator Certifications

In addition to earning a graduate certificate, aspiring database administrators can earn professional certifications to improve their competitiveness as job candidates. Third-party organizations such as professional associations and software vendors offer various certifications to IT professionals, including database administrators. Some examples of certifications are as follows:

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate
  • Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional
  • Certified PostgreSQL DBA (CPSDBA)
  • Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 8.0 Database Administrator

Earning a certification generally involves taking an exam, which may be administered online, depending on the organization. Which certifications should you earn to enhance your employability? You may wish to scan job boards for the answer. Find the opportunities that most appeal to you, and check the job ad to see which certifications those types of employers are looking for in potential candidates.

Essential Skills and Characteristics of an Aspiring Database Administrator

The skills that are helpful for an aspiring database administrator can be divided into two main categories: technical skills and soft skills (also called characteristics). First, let’s take a look at some of the technical skills that employers seek in job candidates.

  • Installation, configuration and maintenance of Linux systems and databases in a Linux environment
  • Microsoft SQL server implementation and administration
  • Information technology troubleshooting skills
  • Data integrity and security
  • Programming languages including SQL, Python and PHP

A bachelor's in IT will help you develop these technical skills. At your first job, consider finding a mentor who is willing to provide constructive feedback so that you can work toward professional growth.

In addition to these technical skills, aspiring and established database administrators can benefit from the following soft skills and character traits:

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication skills
  • Time management abilities
  • Organizational skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Problem-solving skills

These soft skills promote leadership and professionalism, which is another asset for professionals who aspire to pursue managerial positions or other higher-level roles.

Pursue a Career in Database Administration at Grand Canyon University

Are you interested in taking the next step toward pursuing your dream career in tech? In addition to our Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree, Grand Canyon University offers the Graduate Certificate of Completion in Information Technology Management, which may help working professionals pursue the next level of career success. 


Approved by full-time faculty for the Colangelo College of Business on Feb. 3, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.