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Database administrator

Database/systems administrator
As databases grow and the security and integrity of information becomes ever-more crucial, so too does the need for skilled database and systems administrators.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • DBA
  • Database controller
  • Network administrator

Introduction

Database administrators design, write and take care of computer database systems so that the right person can get the right information at the right time. They work with database software to find ways to store, organise and manage data. They identify user needs, set up computer databases and test systems ensuring that they perform as they should. Data integrity, backup, security and troubleshooting are critical parts of the database administrator's job and these issues are becoming increasingly important. A database administrator should have knowledge and some experience of database management systems such as Oracle, IBM DB2 or MySQL and query languages such as SQL, PL/SQL.

What the job involves

  • Keep databases up to date
  • Help with database design and development
  • Manage database access
  • Design maintenance procedures and putting them into operation
  • Ensure that databases meet user requirements
  • Liaise with programmers, applications/operational staff, IT project managers and other technical staff
  • Manage database security/integrity and back-up procedures
  • Implement security measures
  • Define objectives through consultation with staff at all levels
  • Write reports, documentation and operating manuals
  • Test and modify databases to ensure that they operate reliably
  • Provide user training, support and feedback
  • Write disaster recovery plans
  • Maintain archives

How your career can develop

As more and more businesses and the public sector rely on robust, well-maintained databases, the need for skilled professionals grows. Career progression can be relatively rapid and experienced database administrators are valued.

Why database administration matters

A group of cancer doctors is trying to create a comprehensive database on cancer drugs. It would give a score for each drug, reflecting how well the drug works. It would also list how much the drug costs.

Skills

  • Mathematical aptitude and strong problem-solving skills
  • Excellent IT and programming skills
  • Excellent organisational, time and project management skills
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Teamwork skills because most projects require input from individuals with different roles
  • Self-development skills to keep-up-to-date with fast-changing trends
  • Professional approach to time, costs and deadlines

Typical employers

  • Financial organisations
  • IT companies
  • Management consultancy firms
  • Software houses
  • Universities and academic institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Local authorities
  • Central government
  • Charities
  • Any organisation that stores large amounts of information and data

Typical salary

  • Graduate/Starting €35,000
  • Senior/Potential €70,000 dependant on experience

Typical qualifications

Database administrators generally need to have a few years’ experience before moving into this area. Ideally they would have spent a couple of years cutting their teeth in a graduate IT role working with databases. Gateway degrees include:

  • Computer programming
  • Computer systems management
  • Computing/computer science
  • Information technology
  • Mathematics
  • Software development
  • Software engineering.