Studying Data Management: Degrees at a Glance
Data management careers can involve many duties, including designing computer applications that organize databases or creating system interfaces that allow users to search through multiple databases simultaneously. Careers in data management may also involve tasks such as building databases, maintaining system's architecture or managing system security.
There are also data management careers related to sales. For example, you could become a data management technology consultant. As a consultant, you would identify the data management needs of businesses and make recommendations about which systems to purchase. You may also be involved in setting up new systems, running operations tests and training customers to use the new systems or system's applications.
|Who is this program for?||People interested in designing database software programs for businesses||People interested in technology careers that involve programming, systems design, data security and business-to-business communications|
|Common Career Paths (with median annual salary)|| - Computer systems consultant ($78,770)*|
- Computer programmer ($72,630)*
- Web applications developer ($89,280)*
|- Information security specialist ($77,990)*|
- Software developer ($96,600)*
- Database administrator ($75,190)*
|Time to Completion||2-3 years full time||4 years full time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||- 60 units of core classes and electives in database management|| - 75-90 units of data management coursework|
- Capstone project
|Prerequisites|| - High school diploma or equivalent||- High school diploma or equivalent|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)
Associate Degree in Data Management
To get the technical training you need, you may want to look for 'database management' associate degree programs instead of 'data management' programs. Some data management programs may, in fact, cover other industry fields, such as healthcare informatics. Additionally, many data management degree programs do not provide training in programming software, designing databases or networking systems.
In database management associate degree programs, you learn about identifying software problems and implementing effective technology solutions. You also have opportunities to build your teamwork skills by working with database management technicians and other professionals. In these degree programs, you also learn about the importance of keeping up with industry changes in software, hardware and data security.
Pros and Cons
- Careers in software development and information security are expected to increase 22-30% during the 2010-2020 decade*
- Many associate degree programs in database management can be completed online
- Earned credits may transfer to bachelor's degree programs
- Several data management careers require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees, meaning that you may compete with bachelor's degree holders for jobs*
- After earning your associate degree, you may also have to earn industry certifications to stay competitive in the job market*
- You may need to acquire additional experience or training for some technology careers*
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Courses and Requirements
Most database management associate degree programs discuss the theoretical aspects of designing, building, using and establishing networks for database systems, especially for small and large businesses. They also cover the mathematical algorithms used for computer programming and software design. Some programs offer career-specific concentration options that may provide training in a subfield of database management, such as open source database programming, database administration and database development.
Common courses in these programs may include:
- Structured query language (SQL)
- Data management systems
- Oracle, UNIX and Linux systems
- Database modeling
Online Degree Options
There are a significant number of accredited associate degree programs in database management that are available online. Usually, these programs include the same classes as their in-person counterparts. Note, however, that you may need to purchase specific software programs to complete all degree requirements over the Internet.
Stand Out with This Degree
Knowing more than one computer language can make you more marketable in the technology industry. However, not all associate degree programs in database management require you to complete computer language classes. To stand out with your degree, you may want to take computer language classes as additional electives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the most common computer languages used today include C++, HTML and Java (www.bls.gov).
The BLS points out that many programming and software development careers require professionals to design programs and applications for online use. Furthermore, some employers want their databases to have online capabilities so that employees can work virtually. Therefore, you may want to consider elective classes related to Web application design so that you have the skills to meet the demands of potential employers.
Bachelor's Degree in Data Management
Bachelor's degree programs in computer science or computer information systems often have concentration options related to data management. Unlike the associate degree programs, these bachelor's degree programs are far more programming intensive. In these programs, students learn about programming in different computer languages as well as troubleshooting programming problems with different operating systems.
Although these programs are designed to include a significant amount of technical training, students also learn about how technology is used by businesses. Several programs may include business classes to help technology students understand topics like corporate goals and budgeting. Some degree programs may also teach students about management strategies, because many technology jobs that require bachelor's degrees are often supervisory in nature.
Pros and Cons
- The majority of technology employers seek candidates with a bachelor's degrees*
- Several bachelor's degree programs in data management provide cross training in business and marketing
- Earning a bachelor's degree in data management makes graduates eligible for several technology career fields, including programming, web development, network administration and project management
- Some employers are cutting costs by hiring technology professionals from outside the U.S., which could limit job opportunities for American workers*
- Employers want applicants who have experience with current technology, but not all bachelor's degree programs keep up with technology trends
- To complete coursework, some classes may require you to buy new software programs, which may be expensive
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Common Courses and Requirements
Required business courses for this degree program may cover topics such as accounting, organizational behavior and professional ethics. Some elective course options in business may include marketing or market research, which may prove to be useful training if you plan to be a technology consultant.
You can also expect to take several mathematics classes in these degree programs. Most data management degree programs cover areas such as algebra and pre-calculus, because knowledge from these courses are necessary for understanding computer programming fundamentals.
Some core classes you might take in this degree program may include:
- Data structures
- Data mining
- Networking and servers
- Computer systems analysis
- Security management
Some programs may require students to complete a capstone project prior to graduation. Additionally, some computer science departments recommend that students take industry-level certification exams. Sometimes, within the capstone class, students complete several mini-projects to prepare for recommended certification exams.
Online Program Info
There are several blended bachelor's degree programs in data management that are available online. A blended program is one in which some classes are available online while others are only available on campus. Due to the nature of data management coursework, you may be expected to complete some assignments on online platforms, such as chat rooms or forum sites. Because you will be learning about and using several different operating systems and programs, you will need to make sure you have a computer system that can handle such technology.
Getting Ahead with This Degree
One way to get ahead during your studies includes earning undergraduate certificates in related technology specialties. In most cases, these certificates can be completed in 1-2 semesters of study. Some classes you take to earn your bachelor's degree may count toward earning a certificate. Information from the BLS shows that growing technology fields include applications development, web design, healthcare information systems and data security. Earning a certificate in any of these subfields is a fast way to obtain additional training and can help you get ahead in the job market.