Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Careers: Job Description & Salary

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

A Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) has a proven ability to manage the administration of SQL Server 2000 databases. Unfortunately, most of the exams required to earn the MCDBA credential have been retired. Unless you have already passed the required examinations, you won't be able to attain it. However, there are several alternative certifications offered by Microsoft that are expected to take the place of MCDBA certification. If you want to learn more about the pros and cons of a career as a database administrator, keep reading.

Pros of a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Career
Above-average salary (median salary of $80,280 in 2014)*
Excellent job prospects (15% job growth from 2012-2022)*
Opportunity to work with emerging technologies*
Chance to help protect vital information (financial or healthcare information)*

Cons of a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Career
A master's degree may be preferred for some positions*
Work experience is typically necessary for administration jobs*
Long hours are fairly common (about 25% work more than 40 hours per week)*
Employers may still request MCDBA certification even though it can't be obtained**

Sources: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **May 2012 Job Postings.

Essential Career Information

Job Duties

Database administrators offer value to a variety of businesses by designing, developing, maintaining and modifying company databases. They troubleshoot any database problems as they arise and are responsible for disaster recovery and conducting performance analyses. It is their responsibility to ensure the integrity of the data and enforce any security policies, such as who has access to the data and who changes it. Administrators also ensure that data is available to users and remain secure from unauthorized access. Working with everything from complex financial information to customer shipping records, database administrators identify user needs to create and maintain databases. Merging old databases into new ones is another key responsibility of database administrators.

Working as a database administrator involves providing data solutions for a wide range of business applications. Database administrators who work with SQL servers and databases need specific skills and experience related to working with Microsoft systems. Specifically, they need to have the ability to design, implement and manage database systems using the SQL database programming language.

Salary and Career Prospects

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects robust job growth for database administrators in the coming years. The BLS expects overall employment of database administrators to increase by 15% from 2012-2022, which is fairly fast compared to all other occupations. As data collection becomes a more important consideration for businesses, increased information security needs should ensure a strong job market for database administrators. In 2014, the BLS stated that database administrators earned a median annual salary of about $80,280. In the same report, the lowest-earning 10% made less than $44,470 in annual wages, but the highest-earning 10% brought in over $123,780.

Requirements

Database administrators usually hold a bachelor's degree in a computer-related field, such as management information systems or computer science. Typically, some work experience in the field is required before an individual can move into an administrative position. Additionally, a master's degree could be preferred for positions with more advanced responsibilities.

With the MCDBA credential now retired, you can look into other certifications to build your professional qualifications. Microsoft suggests four credentials that can currently be earned in place of the MCDBA. These include the Microsoft Certified IT Professional, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MSCE): Business Intelligence, MSCE: Data Platform and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM). For each of these certifications, you are required to pass multiple examinations. Exams may differ based on whether you're just beginning the path to certification or updating a previous certification.

Useful Skills

If you want to pursue a career as a database administrator, you'll need to possess a few important qualities. Analytical skills will come in handy since you'll need to determine when action is required to improve database system's performance. Problem-solving skills will help you decide which action is appropriate to keep a system running smoothly and securely. Working in teams and communicating with managers will be frequent occurrences in your work as a database administrator, so good interpersonal skills are also very important.

What Are Employers Looking For?

A wide range of businesses and organizations employ database administrators to keep important information organized and secure. The following job openings available as of May 2012 reflect some of the possibilities in the current market.

  • A software company based in Arizona seeks a database administrator to ensure efficient SQL server design and implementation. The position requires installing, configuring, troubleshooting and maintaining the database environment. A bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field is required, and MCSE certification may be substituted for the MCDBA credential.
  • A large telecommunications company in Pennsylvania is looking for a senior SQL server database administrator. The successful candidate must be able to use knowledge of existing database platforms to recommend new technologies. A bachelor's degree and at least seven years of related experience are requirements of the position. Experience with SQL Server 2000, 2005 and 2008 architecture is needed, and MCITP certification is preferred.
  • An electric cooperative in Missouri seeks a database administrator for its information sciences division. Five or more years of database administration and design are required. An associate's degree in a computer-related field and MCITP certification are also requirements of the position.

Getting an Edge in the Field

According to the BLS, employers with larger databases prefer advanced degrees, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Information Systems Management (MISM), when hiring database administrators. Certification through software and product vendors was also noted as being advantageous.

Several certifications focusing on the SQL server platform are available through Microsoft. The MCM credential requires extensive experience with SQL servers, as well as both the MCITP: Database Developer and MCITP: Database Administrator certifications as prerequisites. These examinations are also useful as credentials for database administrators, and they cover topics like the installation, management, security and design of databases, as well as programming objects, database tables and servers. To earn the MCSE designations in either business intelligence or data platform, you have two options. You can either upgrade your current MCITP certifications in business intelligence or database development, respectively, or start fresh with earning the Microsoft Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification and passing two additional exams.

Career Alternatives

Computer and Information Systems Manager

If you're interested in a more lucrative career, you might want to consider becoming a computer and information systems management. These professionals plan and coordinate computer-related activities in an organization. Working as an information systems manager allows you to establish IT goals and make sure that a technology framework is in place to achieve them. Computer and information systems manager positions usually require a bachelor's degree and five or more years of experience. The BLS projects average job growth for computer and information systems managers in the coming years, and a median annual salary of $118,000 as of May 2011.

Information Security Analyst

A career in information security might also be attractive to anyone interested in database administration. Ensuring the safety and integrity of an organization's data is the main responsibility of an information security analyst. Occupations related to information security figure to become increasingly vital as organizations of all types store more data electronically. Information security analyst positions generally require a bachelor's degree, and the BLS projects 22% job growth from 2010-2020. In 2011, the BLS stated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $78,000.

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