Technology professionals who are looking to become a database administrator (DBA) have likely been heartened in recent years by lots of good news. The DBA profession is growing so fast that many employers are willing to accept candidates with only a two-year degree, while others are willing to train qualified candidates on the job in many cases. The profession’s growing size and the increasing demand for qualified database administrators also means the salary for this position has skyrocketed over the last half-decade. As more and more companies switch to “big data” and cloud-based computing systems, the importance of database administration will only grow. There are a few key ways to become the perfect candidate for these jobs both now and in the future.
Start with a Good Education in Computer Science
Almost all database administrator jobs will state that a bachelor’s degree in computer science is a requirement. Don’t doubt these required qualifications: Working with databases is big, serious business, and it requires the kind of analytical mind and in-depth training that only a four-year program can provide. While many employers will waive the college degree requirement for the most qualified applicants in their pool, the truth is that the vast majority of DBA professionals got hired after they obtained a Bachelor of Science in a computer science major at an established university.
In a minority of cases, some database administrators may be able to find a job with only a two-year computer science degree, typically if that degree was heavily centered on IT and database administration skills. Employers will typically require two-year degree holders to seek their bachelor’s degree at some point, however, though they may sweeten the deal with a robust tuition reimbursement program if they feel compelled to retain a DBA in this competitive environment.
Get an Internship and Obtain Hands-On Experience
One of the best ways to stand out among other qualified applicants for a position is to bring the right blend of experience and education. Education alone may get aspiring DBAs the interview, but experience can help them improve their negotiating position and command a far higher salary than their competition that lacks any substantive experience in a tech-oriented position. The good news in this area is that most of the top-ranked computer science programs in the country, even those at two-year schools, require their students to seek an internship as a requirement for graduation with a degree in the field. For this reason, advising offices will find it easy to arrange internships on behalf of students and give them the necessary industry experience.
In addition to hands-on experience in the field, aspiring DBAs might want to also take advantage of networking events held on-campus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These events link students with managers, industry leaders and those who will eventually be doing the hiring. It’s an excellent way to make a strong first impression, and it’s a sure way to leap ahead of other candidates while searching for jobs.
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A Growing Field with Strong Demand for Professionals of All Kinds
A highly competitive job environment means that some employers will be able to look past candidates who lack work experience or a four-year degree, but most DBAs who find the right job have pursued a degree in computer science beforehand. To become a database administrator, make sure to combine at last a four-year computer science degree with hands-on experience and the right professional network.