Becoming a Database Programmer: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career as a database programmer? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to decide if a career as a database programmer is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of a Database Programmer Career

With businesses relying more on sophisticated programs to store and organize data, the work of database programmers has taken on increased importance. Read the following pros and cons to determine if a career as a database programmer is right for you.

Pros of a Database Programmer Career
Better than average salary (Around $83,000 in May 2014)*
Flexible job locations*
Telecommuting may be an option*

Cons of a Database Programmer Career
Potential for high amounts of stress**
Many companies outsource programming work*
Eye-strain and back problems may result from extended work with computers**
Keeping up with emerging programming tools can be demanding*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Onetonline.org

Basic Career Information

Job Duties

The work of a database programmer involves making sure that databases run efficiently and securely. Although similar to database administrators, your work as a database programmer will involve writing software code and debugging programs. They might also be involved in testing databases to correct errors and make modifications. Like other computer programmers, database programmers may utilize models and flowcharts to help plan software. They may also be involved in coordinating various database projects, such as transferring information to new systems or implementing new security measures, as well as developing standards and guidelines for using software.

Salary Information and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth among computer programmers, a closely-related field, should be about as fast as the average for all occupations. Overall employment of computer programmers is projected to increase 8% from 2012-2022. The best job prospects will be for those who are knowledgeable about a variety of programming languages. In May 2014, the BLS reported a average annual salary of $82,690 for computer programmers.

Requirements

While some employers require only an associate's degree, most database programmers have a bachelor's degree. Most prospective programmers will benefit from a degree in computer science or a closely-related field. Knowing several programming languages is also an important asset, and a computer science degree can give you the skills you'll need to learn new computer languages

Several key attributes can also help you succeed as a database programmer. Analytical skills can help you understand the complex instructions you'll need to translate into code, and writing lines of code for long periods of time will require a great deal of concentration. Troubleshooting skills, such as the ability to quickly find and resolve software issues, may also come in handy.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you're interested in pursuing a career as a database programmer and you meet the educational requirements, you might find work in a wide range of industries. Several job postings open as of May 2012 reflect the current job market for database programmers.

  • An aerospace assemblies manufacturer based in California seeks a database programmer to work with Microsoft SQL servers. Experience with Visual Basic programming and HTML, ASP, ASPX and Java scripting languages are required.
  • A pipe and valve manufacturer in Texas is looking for a database programmer to develop a proprietary database to compile vendor information. The position calls for creating databases that are easy-to-use resources for the company's sales team. A bachelor's degree and five years of experience are required.
  • An automated systems company in the oil and gas industry seeks a database programmer for its Louisiana location. Experience with SQL server systems is required, and Java programming knowledge is preferred. This position requires just a high school education.

Making Your Skills Stand Out

Earning an advanced degree in a computer science-related field may be the best way to get an edge over other database programmers. Proficiency in a wide range of programming languages may be helpful for your career prospects. You'll also want to keep up with changes and developments in programming languages to remain attractive to prospective employers.

Certification can also enhance your professional qualifications, and various credentials are available through software firms and product vendors. Microsoft offers a wide array of certifications, with many of them related to database technology. The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) designation can be applied to SQL server technology, and the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) can also be very useful in your career as a database programmer.

Alternative Career Options

Computer Systems Analyst

If you'd like to broaden the scope of your work beyond databases, you might want to consider a career as a computer systems analyst. These positions involve studying an organization's computer systems and making recommendations to management that helps a system run more efficiently. Computer systems analysts typically need a bachelor's degree. The BLS indicated that employment opportunities for computer systems analysts were expected to increase 22% from 2010-2020, while the median annual wage was about $79,000 as of May 2011.

Software Developer

Working as a software developer may also be an appealing option for you to consider. As the creative minds behind computer programs, software developers usually have a bachelor's degree in computer science and strong programming skills. They often specialize in either systems software or applications. The BLS projects an employment growth of 30% from 2010-2020, due to the increased presence of technology in business and the development of more advanced computing systems. As of May 2011, the BLS reported a median annual salary of around $89,000 for professional who specialize in applications and $97,000 for those in systems software.

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Featured Schools

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Business Intelligence
  • BS - Cloud Technologies (Campus)
  • BS - Game Design (Campus)

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Georgetown University

  • Masters of Professional Studies in Technology Management

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Kaplan University

  • MSM in Information Technology
  • BSIT - Information Management
  • Associate: Information Technology

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Northcentral University

  • PhD-TIM - Computer Science
  • Doctor of Business Admin - Applied Computer Science
  • MSTIM - Computer Science
  • MBA - Applied Computer Science

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Virginia College

  • Associate - Network System Administrator
  • Diploma Program - Network Technician

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Regent University

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Information Technology
  • Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Technology

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University of Delaware

  • Master of Science in Cybersecurity

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Saint Leo University

  • BS: Computer Science
  • BS: Computer Science - Information Assurance
  • AA: Information Technology
  • AA: Cybersecurity

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