Database administrators
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Overview
Database administrators (DBAs) use specialized software to store and organize data, such as financial information and customer shipping records. They make sure that data are available to users and secure from unauthorized access.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for database administrators are expected to grow by 12%, and should have about 9,300 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Database administrators are less likely to be automated than 84% of other careers.
Workforce size
Database administrators, with 119,500 workers, form a larger workforce than 68% of careers.
Education
About 73% of database administrators have at least a bachelor's degree.
Education attained by database administrators
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
More database administrators have bachelor's degrees than 82% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for database administrators is higher than 89% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most database administrators.
This job's median $90KAll jobs' median $39K$86K$38K20142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 36% of database administrators -- that's a larger percentage than 50% of other jobs.
Gender of database administrators
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For database administrators, the median men's salary was 35% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 29% of database administrators are minority, and 24% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of database administrators
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (24%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Database Administrators per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 62% of database administrators, and 86% have company-sponsored health insurance (14% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for database administrators
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
Top college degrees
Here are the top college degrees held by the 72% of people in this job who have at least a bachelor's degree. Some of degrees may link to multiple programs due to the way Census classifies college majors. Click on a program to learn more about career opportunities for people who major in that field.
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of database administrators who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Consequence of Error (54%)
  • Degree of Automation (42%)
  • Time Pressure (38%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do database administrators earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for database administrators, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for database administrators compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for database administrators (BLS Salary Data)
$90K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$90K$0$50K$100K$150K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all database administrators, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for database administrators compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for database administrators (ACS Salary Data)
$78K$0$50K$100K$150K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$78K$0$50K$100K$150K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where database administrators work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Database administrators (ACS)
Private for-profit (73.2%)
Private not-for-profit (11.2%)
Local government (4.0%)
State government (6.5%)
Federal government (3.3%)
Self-employed incorporated (1.0%)
Self-employed not incorporated (0.8%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of database administrators by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$78K$82K$70K$67K$62K$87K$102K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Self-employed incorporatedFederal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of database administrators by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$90K$61K$78K$92K$76K$0$50,000$100,000$150,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for database administrators

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$53K$89K$83K$82K$91K$89K$66K$89K$40K$0$50K$100K$150KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15K20KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Database administrators and gender

With 36% women, this occupation has a higher percentage of women than 50% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
36%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Database administrators
Men (64%)
Women (36%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for database administrators tops that, with the median salary for men 35% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$64K$86K$0$50K$100K$150KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Database administrators have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 85% of other jobs.

35%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of database administrators

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a higher percentage of minority database administrators than for 86% of other careers. This career hires a larger percentage of foreign-born workers than most other careers.

Race/origin of database administrators
White (69% )
Asian (19% )
Black (7% )
Multiracial (3% )
Other (1% )
American Indian (0% )
Hispanic (0% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
29%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
24%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for database administrators by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$49K$53K$69K$70K$76K$94K$0$50K$100K$150KAmerican IndianOtherBlackMultiracialWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for database administrators by nativity
$74K$92K$0$50K$100K$150KAll native citizensAll foreign-born

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by database administrators

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), database administrators typically hold a bachelor's degree.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as database administrators as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for database administrators.

Education attained by database administrators
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for database administrators

Most database administrators have a bachelor’s degree in an information- or computer-related subject such as computer science. 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.

Database administrators need an understanding of database languages, the most common of which is Structured Query Language, commonly called SQL. Most database systems use some variation of SQL, and a DBA will need to become familiar with whichever programming language the firm uses.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for database administrators

Certification is generally offered directly from software vendors or vendor-neutral certification providers. Certification validates the knowledge and best practices required from DBAs. Companies may require their database administrators to be certified in the products they use.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for database administrators? Below we see the distribution of database administrators salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as database administrators, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$52K$66K$71K$80K$89K$104K$93K$0$50K$100K$150K$200KHigh School (5%)Some College (13%)Associate's Degree (9%)Bachelor's Degree (47%)Master's Degree (23%)Professional Deg/Doct (1%)Doctorate (2%)
Bachelor's degree pathways
College majors held by database administrators

This table shows the college majors held by people working as database administrators. Select any degree to see detailed information. We are able to connect careers to degrees using the American Community Survey (ACS), and their degrees are defined a little differently from our programs, which are based on standard CIP classifications. Therefore, selecting some degrees will lead to a selection of CIP-level programs from which to choose.

If you see "**" before the name of a degree/program, that means this field is one that the Department of Education believes is preparatory for this career. However, you can see from this list that those recommendations are far from your only path to this job!

Degree
Select any title to learn more about that degree
Percentage of Database administrators with this degree
Salary for all majors
Salary distribution (across jobs). Showing 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
Final education level of all people with this major
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Gender of people this bachelor's degree
Men
Women
14.1%
$0$200K$87K
5.8%
$0$200K$97K
4.1%
$0$200K$73K
3.1%
$0$200K$92K
3.1%
$0$200K$63K
2.7%
$0$200K$73K
2.6%
$0$200K$53K
2.2%
$0$200K$63K
2.2%
$0$200K$78K
2.0%
$0$200K$72K
1.7%
$0$200K$67K
1.7%
$0$200K$60K
1.5%
$0$200K$89K
1.3%
$0$200K$56K
1.2%
$0$200K$60K
The link between degrees and careers
The link between degrees and careers

With the following "sankey" diagram, you can follow the top ten bachelor's degrees held by people working as database administrators, and then, in turn, you can see the 10 occupations that hire the most of each degree's graduates. This visualization links fields of studies and careers, suggesting both similar careers and options for degrees. The full list of bachelor's degrees held by database administrators given in the previous section reminds us that there are many paths to these careers beyond what we can summarize here.

This job
Top 10 majors
Each major's top ten jobs
Applications and systems software developersComputer programmersManagers (specialized areas)Computer and information systems managersComputer occupations (specialized areas)Computer systems analystsComputer support specialistsManagement analystsNetwork and computer systems administratorsChief executives and legislatorsAccountants and auditorsFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersFinancial managersWholesale and manufacturing sales representativesSecretaries and administrative assistantsHuman resources workersFirst-line supervisors of non-retail sales workersMarketing and sales managersElectrical and electronics engineersEngineers (specialized areas)Architectural and engineering managersPostsecondary teachersCivil engineersElementary and middle school teachersSecondary school teachersActuariesComputer hardware engineersRetail salespersonsLawyers, judges, and magistratesPersonal financial advisorsCounselorsSocial workersPsychologistsPhysicians and surgeonsEducation administratorsComputer ScienceBusiness Management andAdministrationGeneral Computer andInformation SystemsElectrical EngineeringMathematicsManagement InformationSystems and StatisticsComputer EngineeringGeneral BusinessEconomicsPsychologyAll other degrees
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for database administrators

What jobs will most database administrators hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of database administrators reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Database administratorsComputer and information systems managersComputer occupations (specialized areas)Computer systems analystsManagers (specialized areas)Computer programmersApplications and systems software developersNetwork and computer systems administratorsData entry keyersMathematicians and statisticiansComputer support specialistsComputer operators
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for database administrators

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 10 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as database administrators as well as 1% of respondents after working as database administrators. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for database administrators
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Applications and systems software developers
118,900
$0$200K$96K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Computer support specialists
72,300
$0$200K$54K
Computer systems analysts
45,200
$0$200K$75K
Computer and information systems managers
32,500
$0$200K$99K
Network and computer systems administrators
27,000
$0$200K$71K
Computer occupations (specialized areas)
22,500
$0$200K$68K
Data entry keyers
16,800
$0$200K$31K
Computer programmers
15,700
$0$200K$82K
Mathematicians and statisticians
5,000
$0$200K$77K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for database administrators: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as database administrators? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of database administrators surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for database administrators
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Secretaries and administrative assistants
395,200
$0$200K$36K
1.4%
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks
188,400
$0$200K$38K
1.3%
Applications and systems software developers
118,900
$0$200K$96K
6.6%
Management analysts
87,200
$0$200K$76K
1.7%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
2.7%
Computer support specialists
72,300
$0$200K$54K
1.3%
Computer systems analysts
45,200
$0$200K$75K
5.6%
Computer and information systems managers
32,500
$0$200K$99K
5.7%
Network and computer systems administrators
27,000
$0$200K$71K
3.0%
Computer occupations (specialized areas)
22,500
$0$200K$68K
5.7%
Data entry keyers
16,800
$0$200K$31K
2.8%
Computer programmers
15,700
$0$200K$82K
4.4%
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers
11,500
$0$200K$43K
1.4%
Database administrators
9,300
$0$200K$78K
27.8%
Mathematicians and statisticians
5,000
$0$200K$77K
1.9%
Computer and information research scientists
2,500
$0$200K$92K
1.4%
No occupation
3.1%
Read about database administrators
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Database administrators typically do the following:

  • Ensure that organizational data are secure
  • Back up and restore data to prevent data loss
  • Identify user needs to create and administer databases
  • Ensure that databases operate efficiently and without error
  • Make and test modifications to database structure when needed
  • Maintain databases and update permissions
  • Merge old databases into new ones

Database administrators, often called DBAs, make sure that data analysts and other users can easily use databases to find the information they need and that systems perform as they should. Some DBAs oversee the development of new databases. They have to determine the needs of the database and who will be using it. They often monitor database performance and conduct performance-tuning support.

Many databases contain personal or financial information, making security important. Database administrators often plan security measures, making sure that data are secure from unauthorized access.

Many database administrators are general-purpose DBAs and have all of these duties. However, some DBAs specialize in certain tasks that vary with an organization and its needs. Two common specialties are as follows:

System DBAs are responsible for the physical and technical aspects of a database, such as installing upgrades and patches to fix program bugs. They typically have a background in system architecture and ensure that the firm’s database management systems work properly.

Application DBAs support a database that has been designed for a specific application or a set of applications, such as customer-service software. Using complex programming languages, they may write or debug programs and must be able to manage the applications that work with the database. They also do all the tasks of a general DBA, but only for their particular application.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of database administrators? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Analytical skills
DBAs must monitor a database system’s performance to determine when action is needed. They must evaluate complex information that comes from a variety of sources.
Communication skills
Most database administrators work on teams and need to communicate effectively with developers, managers, and other workers.
Detail oriented
Working with databases requires an understanding of complex systems, in which a minor error can cause major problems. For example, mixing up customers’ credit card information can cause someone to be charged for a purchase he or she didn’t make.
Problem-solving skills
When database problems arise, administrators must troubleshoot and correct the problems.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for database administrators
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for database administrators was higher than 89% of all other jobs' middle salaries. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $90KAll jobs' median $39K$84K$39K201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$50K$100K$150K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for database administrators are anticipated to grow by 12% over the next decade; only 19% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for database administrators is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20102015202020252030050,000100,000150,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most database administrators? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as database administrators. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Database Administrators per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where database administrators earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for database administrators compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for database administrators.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Database Administrators to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which database administrators earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.01.02.03.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Database administrators (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Choose the similarity measure to compare careers
Interests
Environment
Knowledge
Physical Abilities
Jobs that are similar by Interests and Salary (All education levels)
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