A Full Guide on How to Become a Database Administrator

by Olateju Oluwatomisin
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The world generates over 320 million terabytes of data daily and around 120 zettabytes annually. The number is projected to rise to 147 zettabytes by 2024. These data are stored in a database and managed by a database administrator.

Database administrators also known as DBAs are the gatekeepers and managers of the treasure trove of information. In this guide, we’ll examine everything you need to know about how to become a database administrator in Nigeria. 

Who is a Database Administrator?

A database administrator is responsible for the management, organization, and maintenance of a company’s database system. Their role involves designing the database structure and ensuring data integrity.

Moreso, a database administrator helps analysts, IT personnel and managers make sense of and freely navigate the database management system of an organization.

Duties of a Database Administrator 

DBAs are often versatile when it comes to database management, as they perform a wide range of activities on the database. Their duties include the following:

  • Build, manage, and monitor database management systems and related software.
  • Monitoring the operational well-being of the database to ensure they are working under optimal conditions.
  • Installing and upgrading the database server and/or application tools.
  • Performing preventive measures like clean-up and patching. 
  • Ensuring data integrity and verifying the authenticity of data using the knowledge of data science.
  • Prevent the loss of data by ensuring constant data backup and facilitate the recovery process.
  • Set up new databases for the storage and organization of new data.
  • Ensure the company’s/users’ data remain confidential.
  • More often than not, they work alongside IT professionals like analysts, computer scientists, and database developers.

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10 Important Requirements to Become a Database Administrator 

Becoming a database administrator in Nigeria is a lot easier and less challenging unlike becoming a rocket scientist. So if this career path interests you, ensure you read this guide to the end and implement it.

The following are the requirements to keep in mind if you aim to become a database administrator: 

  1. Educational qualifications

A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for an entry-level role in database administration, but it is not enough to secure senior database administrator roles.

Having a bachelor’s degree in any of the following courses is a great way to start:

  • Computer Science
  • Cloud computing
  • Data Science
  • Information Science
  • Computer programming
  • Software Development
  • Information Technology 
  • Management Information Software ( MIS)
  1. Certifications

While traditional degrees are not always a prerequisite for database administrator roles. Professional certifications are a must-have, as they are proof of competence. 

Common professional certifications in this field include:

  • Oracle Database Administration Certified Associate
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate
  • IBM Certified Database Administrator
  • SAP HANA Certification
  1. Choose between Oracle and Microsoft technology

Microsoft, MySQL, and Oracle are the most widely used database management systems in the world. They have a lot of differences even though their programming language is the same. 

As a budding database administrator, it is better to specialize in either Microsoft or Oracle or if possible learn both.

It is important to note that you must know how to write in the language you specialized in. Although you won’t be doing much compared to a database developer, still, it is a part and parcel of the requirement.

  1. Understand advanced database technical terms

Anyone can learn the basics of something. It is the advanced stage that separates the committed ones from the frolickers.  

Understanding advanced SQL and other database-related topics is the first step toward building a career as a DBA.

Such database-related topics include:

  • Database objects 
  • Database design 
  • Advance SQL 
  • Query optimization 
  1. Become familiar with database administration

Database administration is a completely different ball game, but most of the skill sets required to play excellently have been listed out. Part of which is the ability to write SQL.

It also requires you to create users, assign roles and prevent unauthorized access. Lastly, it involves monitoring, installing, and managing database management systems.

  1. Hard and technical skills

Below are some crucial hard and technical skills required to become a database administrator:

  • Proficiency in Structured Query Language (SQL) is essential for managing and querying databases.
  • Proficiency in operating systems software and also database designs and data modelling.
  • Expertise in popular DBMS frameworks like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or MongoDB.
  • Knowledge of database security, backup, and retrieval.
  • Ability to optimize database performance by identifying and addressing bottlenecks.
  • Familiarity with scripting languages like Python, Bash, or PowerShell for automation tasks.
  • Knowledge of data migration techniques when transferring data between systems. 
  • Problem-solving skills to diagnose and resolve database-related issues.
  1. Soft skills

While technical expertise is crucial for a database administrator, soft skills are equally important to succeed in this role. Here are some essential required soft skills:

  • Excellent communication and writing skills.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Adaptability.
  • Good time management skills.
  • Ability to work in a team.
  • Attention to detail.
  • Security conscious.
  1. Programs and software used by database administrators

A DBA works with varieties of programs and tools to perform their duties efficiently and timely.

Below are some of the programs and tools they use:

  • Microsoft Azure SQL database: Azure SQL is a cloud-based relational database service by Microsoft. It handles structured data using SQL Server. Its admin tasks include provisioning, security, monitoring, and backups. It also offers scalability and reduced maintenance.
  • MySQL: MySQL is an open-source relational database management system (RDBMS) widely used as part of database administration. It involves tasks like installation, configuration, security management, performance optimization, backup and recovery, and ensuring data integrity.
  • Windows operating system: Windows allows users to perform tasks such as file management, running applications, and accessing the internet. It’s widely embraced for its user-friendly interface and compatibility with a wide variety of hardware and software.
  • Oracle database: Oracle database is a popular RDBMS developed by the Oracle corporation. It’s known for its robustness, scalability, and security features. Additionally, the Oracle database uses Structured Query Language (SQL) to manage and manipulate data. It’s widely used in enterprises for various applications, ranging from transaction processing to data warehousing. 
  • PHP: PHP is a popular scripting language used for web development. It’s often used in conjunction with databases to create dynamic web applications. In the context of database administration, PHP is designed to interact with databases, execute queries, retrieve and manipulate data, and update records. 
  • Python: Python is commonly used in database applications. It has libraries like SQLAlchemy and Django ORM that make it easier to interact with databases, perform queries, and manage data.
  • SQL: SQL is a language for handling databases. It lets you ask questions, add, update, and remove data. It’s crucial for managing relational databases.
  • Unix: Unix plays an important role in database administration by providing a stable and powerful environment for managing and maintaining databases. It offers various command-line tools, scripting capabilities, and permissions management that database administrators use to interact with and optimize database systems. 

Other database administration programming languages and tools include:

  • See Sharp C#
  • Hypertext Markup Language HTML
  • Linux
  • IBM Db2
  • Java
  • Microsoft Access, etc.
  1. Gather experience 

The best place to start as a database administrator is a junior position as a database developer. This is not necessarily part of the prerequisite for database administrator roles. However, as I said earlier, it is a good place to start building relevant experience.

Starting as a database developer has the following advantages:

  • Technical proficiency
  • Understanding application needs
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills
  • Transitioning opportunity
  • Practical knowledge and experience 
  • Portfolio building, etc.

This opportunity affords you the luxury of practising the skills you’ve learned and building your future career along the way. Working on real-time database development projects allows you to write SQL, design databases, and run queries for different reasons.

  1. Apply for junior database administrator roles

After working as a junior database developer for a while, you can move into your career path now by applying for a junior database administrator role.

Junior DBA roles may imply that you have no prior experience as a database administrator but as a database developer. This allows you to learn more because working as a database administrator is a completely different experience. It can be quite overwhelming and may require some time to adjust.

Another thing about the junior DBA role is that it allows you to work in a team of Senior DBA, learn from them and grow with them.

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To become proficient in database administration, you need a computer-related background, professional certifications, and technical skills. 

Becoming a database administrator also requires a hotchpotch of organizational skills, soft skills, and the ability to adapt to evolving technologies.

Lastly, deep mastery of database management systems, SQL languages, cloud platforms, data security, performance optimization, and disaster recovery strategies is crucial. 

Edited by Priscilla Ajayi.

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