Database professions and skills
Skilled database professionals are always in demand. During the past three decades, database technologies have been a crucial component for all kinds of applications and computing tasks. This also reflects the maturity of database technology and its integration into most aspects of commercial, scientific, and academic computing. As you read about the various database programs, it's useful to classify different database job responsibilities (1):
Database administrators install, configure, and maintain a database management system (DBMS).
Database developers work with generic and proprietary APIs to build applications that interact with a DBMS.
Database designer/database architect researches data requirements for specific applications or users, and designs database structures and application capabilities to match.
Data analysts/data scientists analyze data from multiple disparate sources to discover previously hidden insight, determine the meaning behind the data, and make business-specific recommendations.
Data mining/business intelligence (BI) specialists dissect, analyze and report important data streams, such as customer data, supply chain data, and transaction data and histories.
Data warehousing specialists assemble and analyze data from multiple operational systems (orders, transactions, supply chain information, customer data, etc.) to establish data history, analyze trends, generate reports and forecasts, and support general ad hoc queries.
Careful attention to these database job roles highlights two important technical issues for would-be database professionals to consider:
First, a general background in relational database management systems, and an understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL), is a basic prerequisite for database professionals of all stripes.
Second, heavy-duty database skills and knowledge are tied to specific platforms, including various Oracle products (such as the open-source MySQL environment and Oracle itself,) Microsoft SQL Server, and IBM DB2. That's why most of these certifications relate directly to those enormously popular platforms.
Top database certifications
It is a good idea to get certified in one or more commercial database systems. Your college degree may have taught you the basics of database administration, and you may have even learned some SQL, but this is only an introduction. Most companies will focus on hiring people with certification and DBA training in the specific database software they use. Some of the big players and their database administrator certifications are (2):
- Oracle: Oracle DB Certified Associate, Oracle DB Certified Professional
- Microsoft SQL Server: MCSE (Data platform and Business Intelligence) and the older MCDBA
- IBM: IBM Analytics Certification
- Oracle: MySQL Database Developer, MySQL Database Administrator
- MongoDB: Certified DBA, Certified Developer
- Cassandra: Certified Cassandra Administrator, Certified Cassandra Architect, Certified Cassandra Developer
There are many other database certification programs available to further the careers and professional development of IT professionals who work with database management systems.
While most colleges with computer science programs offer database tracks at the undergraduate, master, and Ph.D. levels, there are few well-known vendor-neutral database certifications. The Institute for the Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) is part of this unique group, offering its Certified Data Professional and Certified Data Scientist credentials. Find out more about ICCP certifications here.
Credentials from Google, MarkLogic, Teradata, and SAS may also be worth considering. All of these credentials represent opportunities for database professionals to expand their skill sets – and salaries. However, such niches in the database certification arena are generally only worth pursuing if you already work with these platforms or plan to work for an organization that uses them.
Many of these database administrator courses and training are available online. Simply pay a fee, download the course and train yourself. Online programming platforms (such as Lab.computer) are also available and are very useful in learning and teaching DataBase courses.