Studying Database Development: Degrees at a Glance
Companies rely heavily on information to drive business decisions. They sometimes use database systems, which are essentially storage containers, to hold the millions of pieces of raw data that can influence those decisions. These systems are developed by professionals who use programming and design skills to protect and control information.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that database developers could expect faster than average job growth (31%) during the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). Specific career tracks in the field usually include database development, database administration and data management. While an associate's degree program might not provide you with the education required to obtain a database administration position, it can offer you a strong technical foundation and preparation for a number of related careers. Bachelor's degree programs combined with the appropriate experience can offer preparation for a career in development, design and administration.
|Who is this degree for?||Those interested in entry-level support opportunities||People who want to manage, design, administer and develop database systems or begin a career path toward management|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary)|| - Computer support specialist ($52,000)*|
- Computer programmer ($76,000)*
| - Database administrator ($77,000)*|
- Computer systems analyst ($82,000)*
- Computer and information systems manager ($126,000 - people with multiple years of experience earned this salary)*
|Time to Completion||2 years full-time||4 years full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Roughly 60 credits |
|- Roughly 120 credits|
- Certification examinations or courses
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent||High school diploma or equivalent|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Associate's Degree in Database Development
Associate's degree programs in database development typically provide students with the foundational knowledge to help them develop skills in database theory, programming languages and data application development. While employers generally prefer candidates who possess a bachelor's degree for database development or administration opportunities, you might be able to find work as a computer support specialist or programmer in a data-driven environment by completing an associate's degree program.
These programs can also prepare you for industry-standard certifications. The certification pathway you select will have an impact on some of your elective courses. Some programs offer an associate's degree coupled with a database developer certificate, which requires additional coursework.
Pros and Cons
- Entry-level positions pay competitive salaries and may only require a high school diploma
- Integrated certification training prepares you to take the appropriate examinations
- Technical training offers the development of skills sought after by employers
- Obtaining a database developer position may prove difficult without further education or experience
- Certification programs may require additional courses, which extends your training time
- You will be competing for entry-level support positions with people who have bachelor's degrees
Courses and Requirements
Associate's degree programs usually require the completion of 60 credits minimum, often distributed between core and general education classes. The bulk of the courses focus on database concepts, and the program may offer several credits in elective coursework. You may need to enroll in foundational courses, such as keyboarding and microcomputer applications. The following courses are common requirements:
- Microsoft SQL databases
- Database applications
- Programming for the web
- Technical project management
- Client-server networks
- Cyber security
- Data communications
Online Course Info
Locating an online associate's degree in database development may prove difficult. You may find information technology programs with a focus in programming languages or database topics easier to locate. Programming degrees can provide courses in data management, database applications and computer information applications. You may also find online programs in information systems, which can offer elective or minor courses in database management and theory. Ultimately, colleges often design online degrees for working professionals and to provide an accelerated education experience.
Stand Out with This Degree
Experience and certification are important components of obtaining an entry-level position in programming or database development. Participating in internships, technology clubs or intensive, hands-on projects offered by your school will further expose you to business operations in an information technology environment.
Pursuing standard certifications can also enhance your marketability. Employers often seek candidates with updated knowledge and skills, and obtaining certification, such as Microsoft's SQL Server certification or Oracle's database offerings, can validate your ability to apply complex development and programming techniques.
Bachelor's Degree in Information Science
Bachelor's degree programs related to database development are usually offered within schools' information science departments. You will often find a bachelor's degree in computer science or information science that offers a major in database administration or database development. Universities often structure these programs to provide focused studies during the junior and senior years. You can often transfer credits from a related associate's degree program and begin taking advanced courses in information science, database technology and programming.
The bachelor's degree in information science offers a broader education and provides the training required to pursue information technology analyst or data-driven web master opportunities. Internship programs supervised by faculty and businesses are common.
Pros and Cons
- Salaries for database administrators are competitive
- Employers are often looking for candidates who have a bachelor's degree
- Internships provide the work experience employers value
- Reaching management positions (e.g., computer and information systems manager) often takes five years of experience, at minimum
- Some management opportunities require a graduate degree, such as a Master of Business Administration in Information Systems
- The mathematic and technical nature of the program may require sticking to a strict program sequence
Courses and Requirements
While the bachelor's degree in database development typically offers foundational courses similar to the associate's, these programs usually also provide in-depth training in mathematics, programming languages and security. Students also explore emerging technologies such as social media, data forensics and scientific informatics. Core requirements typically cover information literacy tools, database concepts, data mining, database design, information systems analysis and information for organizational efficiency. You can also often take advantage of emerging topics courses that offer a fresh and updated approach to studying current issues in information science.
Online Course Info
Online degrees in information science are common. Some programs call for the completion of related certifications and structure the required coursework into the curriculum. Schools often design these programs for individuals who work in the field and who need a bachelor's degree or certifications to advance their careers. Programs also support experienced information technology professionals interested in moving into the database field.
Stand Out with This Degree
Emerging technologies are a constant in the information science field. Selecting an appropriate minor or group of electives during your studies can enhance your career prospects. The areas of security, social networking and bioinformatics are a few examples of topics that influence the business, marketing and medical industries.
While occupations across the board in information technology are among the fastest growing, choosing an area of specialization can enhance your marketability. Gaining technical skills in programming for security or the web can only improve employment prospects and offer an edge in the field.