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How to Become a Database Developer

Do you enjoy computer science? Do you have excellent planning and leadership skills? As a database developer, you will be responsible for the design, programming, construction, and implementation of new databases for the company you work for. You will spend your days modifying existing databases and building new databases. Database developers work in many different fields, but you will be working inside the IT department.

The skills you possess should be excellent oral and written communication skills, analytical skills, knowledge of database design and structures, and an in-depth understanding of how data is to be managed. If you fit this profile, becoming a database developer could be for you!

Sample job description

[Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced database developer to join our team. If you have advanced computer and technical skills, along with organizational and analytical skills, our company might be the perfect place for you. Database developers design databases to organize and save data while also keeping it safe and secure. They run tests to identify areas of improvement, provide database access to authorized users, monitor the performance of a database, merge old databases with new ones, as well as troubleshoot and fix usage issues and malfunctions. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Ensure that data is secure
  • Identify needs for databases
  • Conduct testing and implement improvements
  • Provide users with access and permissions
  • Merge old databases into new ones
  • Monitor database performance
  • Troubleshoot and fix problems

Education and experience

Database developers need to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. They should receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited program, ideally in a field such as computer science or information technology. Employers with large databases might prefer to hire candidates with a master’s degree, and those with knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL).

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Advanced computer and technical skills, including Microsoft Office Suite
  • Knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL)
  • Strong analytical skills and the ability to understand complex information
  • Outstanding interpersonal and relationship-building skills
  • Ability to troubleshoot and solve problems
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • 8+ years of experience as an Oracle DBA/Application ADBA
  • 5+ years of SQL and PL/SQL Development experience
  • Eclipse 3.3+, Linux scripting
  • DB Schema Design, DB Performance tuning, Oracle 10g+, TOAD 9.6+
  • Working knowledge of Telecom domain and Fiber Planning

Typical work environment

Database developers typically work full-time in the IT department of a corporation. They are needed across all industries and will spend a typical day sitting down in front of a computer. Because of the private nature of the data they work with, database developers may work in a secluded office. However, they also often collaborate with programmers and administrators. Remote jobs are becoming increasingly more available for database developers. When emergencies arise, a database developer may have to work evenings or weekends to fix a critical problem. 

Typical hours

Database developers usually work regular weekday hours, 9 AM to 5 PM, in an office setting, but they sometimes might need to log more than 40 hours a week. They also may have opportunities to work from home or remotely for companies in other locations.

Available certifications

Database developers are in demand, with fewer available database developers than job openings. Getting certified to develop databases will not only help you land a job, but also help you earn a more competitive salary. Several certifications exist to help you get started.

  • Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate. Oracle, which produces a commonly-used database software, offers this certification for beginning database developers. The exam focuses on SQL, the programming language used in designing databases. Candidates should have a strong understanding of computing concepts and experience with command-line interfaces. The exam is 120 minutes and requires a score of at least 63% to pass. 
  • IBM Certified Database Associate. This entry-level certification proves your knowledge of SQL working specifically with DB2 11. The 90-minute exam is 63 questions long, with a score of 43 needed to pass. Courses exist to prepare you for the certification exam, but they aren’t required.

Career path

Database developers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They should then earn a bachelor’s degree in a computer or information-technology discipline. Graduates who go on to receive a master’s degree will enjoy more career opportunities. Some software vendors offer certifications, which can be helpful because some employers require developers to be certified in the products they use.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1242

2020 Employment168,000
Projected Employment in 2030181,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift13,200 increase

Database developers are in high demand, and some employers have a hard time finding qualified candidates. One emerging trend is called database-as-a-service, where a third party does work over the internet, such as cloud computing companies. Smaller companies that don’t have their own IT departments will drive up demand for developers who can work remotely.

The Computing Research Association offers industry news, career advice, and job listings for candidates. The Association for Computing Machinery is another excellent resource.