Database administrators (DBAs) sort large amounts of electronic data into quickly retrievable information for end users. These professionals typically earn a bachelor's degree in management information systems or earn vendor certifications from Oracle or another database firm. Even beginning DBAs earn a high salary.
DBA Salaries Start, Stay High:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2012 that the lowest 10 percent of of the 111,590 employed DBAs in the country earned $42,930 annually, or about $20.64 per hour. These tended to be the newest DBAs. The bottom 25 percent surveyed, many of which are also within their first five years of employment, averaged $27.52 hourly, or $57,240 per year. The average salary for all DBAs was $79,120 during the same period. These figures can vary dramatically by region and job subcategory.
Geography plays a significant role in entry-level DBA salaries. States with a large number of DBAs typically start their administrators at a higher salary. The five states with the largest number of database administrators are California, Texas, New York, Virginia and Florida with between 5,950 and 10,501 DBAs statewide. California offers an average starting annual wage of $54,000, while Texas averages $45,000, New York averages $56,000, Virginia averages $51,000 and Florida averages $44,000. Meanwhile, states with between only 30 and 400 DBAs, such as Montana, Idaho and Wyoming offer the lowest starting salaries at $38,000, $43,000 and $42,000, respectively. Supply and demand and cost of living also influence these salary differences.
Opportunities for Better Starting Salaries:
The number of DBAs nationwide is expected to grow 31 percent from 2010 to 2020. This high demand should give new administrators a chance to move beyond starting wages to specialized administrator positions, such as those in application or systems databases. Consider adding specialized training in cyber-security to increase your starting salary. This category routinely hires DBAs and other information technologists to secure data and can lead to higher wages for a beginning DBA, especially in firms that cannot afford to hire a separate specialist. Add a Microsoft or Oracle certification for the best chance of a strong starting salary and to give you a competitive advantage over your peers. Consider beginning your career in the computer systems design or financial services for a higher average wage than in health care or education.
Other Perks DBAs Receive:
DBAs are almost always hired as full-time employees with benefits, including health insurance, retirement programs and paid vacations. Due to the mission-critical nature of keeping a database working, 25 percent of DBAs work more than 40 hours per week and may receive overtime pay or flexible days off. Some DBAs can telecommute, saving travel and uniform expenses and allowing a better work and home life balance. CNN.com reported that in 2012, DBAs ranked No. 5 in the top 100 jobs in America.