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How to Become a Database Developer

In this data-centric world, database developers play an important role in ensuring that companies are equipped with the right technology to manage robust databases. This is why there is currently a significant rise in the demand for database developers. If you want to learn how to become a database developer, keep reading to find out more.

Our guide covers what a database developer does on a daily basis. You’ll also learn about the position’s outlook for the future, and what’s required if you want to work as a database developer.

What Is a Database Developer?

A database developer is a tech expert who designs and maintains new databases and ensures that they can efficiently handle large volumes of data. They also work on keeping database management systems secure.

Database Developer Job Description

Database developers design, modify, develop, and troubleshoot database management systems. These experts determine which database management system is ideal for an organization during installation or during an overhaul of the entire system.

They also work to ensure the security of database management software. Beyond these main duties, database developers may also perform database administration tasks or manage data analytics for an organization.

Database Developer Salary and Job Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs related to database administration are expected to surge eight percent between 2020 and 2030. This is about the average rate for job growth across all occupations listed by BLS.

These data experts earn an average salary of $98,860, equivalent to $47.53 per hour. Several factors affect the average income, including experience, location, the job description, and most importantly, the company paying the wages.

Top Reasons to Become a Database Developer in 2021

Why should you pursue a career in database development? There are several reasons, including job security, a high salary ceiling, and the potential for lateral moves within the same industry. We list the most popular ones below.

  • High income. Database developers are among the highest earners in the tech industry. Only a few technology experts earn significantly more than database developers.
  • Plentiful job opportunities. In the United States, there were 168,000 database administrators or developers working in 2020. BLS projects that there will be 13,200 more jobs in 2030.
  • Opportunities for growth. Like other types of software developers, database developers have an opportunity to grow their careers quickly within a short period.
  • Multiple career opportunities. As a database developer, you have the ability to switch roles and become a database programmer or find database administrator jobs. Not only could you work in data science and data analytics, but you could even find employment in software engineering.

Database Developer Job Requirements

While job requirements vary between companies, there are some duties that are the same across all companies. We’ve listed the most common prerequisites for database developer jobs below.

  • Bachelor’s degree. The minimum educational requirement is usually a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science, Database Administration, Data Science, or a related field. However, a company might be willing to employ an entry-level database developer with a bootcamp education.
  • Three years of experience. Most big companies require candidates to have at least three years of experience using programming languages like PL/SQL, Python, and R. For senior roles, you may need at least 10 years of experience. Some companies may be willing to employ you right after you get an education.
  • Database skills. At the very least, you need to be proficient with database software, know Oracle RAC, and be comfortable tuning databases.
  • Soft skills. A database developer must have problem-solving skills and analytical skills. It's also important that they have critical thinking, collaboration, interpersonal, and communication skills.

Types of Database Developer Careers

Besides database development, there are related careers in database administration, information technology analysis, and database application design. We give a few details about these careers below.

Database Administrator

A database administrator is an IT expert who uses database management software to organize, store, and secure data. There is no limit to the type of data that an administrator can manage. It could be anything from financial records to client information.

Information Technology Analyst

These analysts define software specifications and requirements during product development. They may be charged with supervising the development process. The job also includes bridging the gap between business analysis and programming.

Database Application Designer

These masters of database programming are tasked with designing, developing, and implementing computer databases for companies. Database designers install new database management systems and maintain existing systems. They also troubleshoot database management problems and provide solutions.

Database Developer Meaning: What Does a Database Developer Do?

Database developers are information technology experts who are responsible for creating and maintaining database management systems (DBMS) on behalf of companies. They play critical roles in ensuring an accurate and efficient flow of data. Some of the most common duties of database developers are listed below.

Matches Database Management Systems with Company Needs

One of the most important jobs of a database developer is to ensure that the database software available is capable of processing the quantities of data produced by the organization. Businesses rely on vast databases and if they aren’t easily accessible and secured, problems quickly arise.

Programs Software for Database Management

A core database developer designs database management systems either solely or in collaboration with a software development team. Additionally, they install and troubleshoot these systems when necessary.

Helps Companies Transition Away from Paper

When a company wants to transition from using a paper-based system to a digital database management system, they employ the services of a database developer. This may also be the case when they want to transition from one type of digital database management system to another.

Essential Database Developer Skills

Excellent database developers need a specific combination of technical skills to carry out their duties effectively. Some of these skills are acquired during formal education while others are learned on the job. The three top skills every database developer should have are listed below.

Data Modelling Skills

This is the process of making a visual representation of raw data in a bid to help others understand it. Database developers should be able to model data in whole and in portions, both for consistency and for greater ease in making predictions.

Data Extraction Skills

Data extraction involves a developer's ability to use the extraction, transform, load (ETL) programming method to get data from different sources. It can be raw, undefined, or defined data. The developer should be able to extract, clean, and store it in the right system.

Data Security Skills

Another key responsibility of a database developer is ensuring data security across an organization's database. They must ensure that the system is protected against data breaches from inside or outside the organization.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Database Developer?

It takes between six months and four years to become an entry-level database developer. It depends on the educational route you choose to start your career. You can earn a degree from a university, attend a bootcamp, or teach yourself from home using resources on the Internet.

The university route is the most comprehensive option but it takes the most time. Typically, you will need to get either a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor's degree. A graduate degree may also be an option for those who want to gain an edge in the job market.

Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Become a Database Developer?

Yes, the best coding bootcamps can help you become a database developer. These bootcamps are designed specifically to teach students how to become database developers. Programs run for three to six months but might last for up to two years. However, it's important to note that not many bootcamps offer database development training alone.

To get the knowledge you need, you can attend a coding bootcamp for software engineering or data science. Bootcamps that offer courses on SQL, MySQL, Python, databases, and the like are ideal options. Some great options are Flatiron School, BrainStation, and General Assembly.

Can I Become a Database Developer from Home?

Yes, you can become a database developer from home if you have the discipline required for self-study. There are multiple resources available online to help you learn database development on your own. Online platforms like Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, and edX provide several courses and modules for people who want to dive into database development.

Some of the best database development courses for beginners are Introduction to Database Queries by edX, Database Management Essentials by Coursera, and Intro to Relational Databases by Udacity. Udemy also offers a course called Complete SQL and Databases Bootcamp: Zero to Mastery.

How to Become a Database Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

By following the right steps and being committed to constant learning, you can become a database developer.

Step 1: Get an Education

You can get a university degree, attend a data science bootcamp, or teach yourself. It all depends on the path you want to take. The most important thing is that you gain the technical knowledge and soft skills required for the job.

Step 2: Create a Resume and Portfolio

Your portfolio is a compilation of your projects over time. You can take on volunteer database development projects or just work on projects by yourself. You will also need to create a resume. A combination of your resume and portfolio will show prospective clients or employers that you have the required knowledge for the job.

Step 3: Start Applying for Full-time Jobs

With your education, portfolio, and resume in place, you can start applying for jobs. Visit job boards to search for vacancies and check directly on the careers pages of companies. Make sure you follow the instructions for submitting your application.

Best Schools and Education for a Database Developer Career

Coding bootcamps, community colleges, and universities all offer options for learning about databases and database development. The pace, cost, and duration of each program vary.

Database Developer Bootcamps

Bootcamps are gaining a lot of ground as training centers for people who want to pursue a career in tech. These institutes offer accelerated training and cost between $15,000 and $20,000 on average. However, some bootcamps can be cheaper or far more expensive. It's also possible to find free bootcamps.

Bootcamps also offer career services that include salary negotiation training, resume building, LinkedIn profile building, and interview preparation. Some bootcamps have hiring partners, which gives you a better shot at employment shortly after graduating.

Community College

A community college is a postsecondary institution for anyone who has a high school diploma or GED. You can opt for an associate degree as a first step to becoming a database developer. These colleges are more affordable than universities but may not be as highly regarded.

Getting a job with only an associate degree will be a little difficult since more companies prefer a bachelor's degree. However, it's not impossible to get an entry-level position if you attend the right school. Some great community colleges are Scottsdale Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, and St. Louis Community College.

Database Developer Degrees

The most popular college degree option for database developers is a typical four-year bachelor's degree. Universities have spots available for students of every level of education after high school. You can get in with an associate degree, high school diploma, or GED.

Some great places to study databases are National University, University of Massachusetts, Colorado State University, and Baker College. If you already have a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science or a related field, you can apply for a Master's Degree in Database Development or move straight to a PhD.

The Most Important Database Development Certificates

Getting professional certifications after you've mastered database development will help you stand out in the industry. These certifications are typically for people who have experience but want to prove to their peers and prospective employers that they are qualified.

IBM Certified Database Administrator – DB2

This database certification is recognized worldwide and is one of the top certifications offered by IBM. Those who take the exam should have significant professional experience in database administration. To gain this certification, you will need to pass the DB2 11 Fundamentals for z/OS and the BM DB2 11 DBA for z/OS exams. You can register for these exams with Pearson VUE.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate

This Azure-based database certification is a great option for anyone who wants to work with Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Data Services. You’ll need to pass the Administering Relational Databases on Microsoft Azure Exam to earn this certification. Before you apply for the exam, you should have a good understanding of Microsoft Azure fundamentals.

MTA: Database Fundamentals

You’ll only need to pass the Database Fundamentals exam to earn this certification, which can be used as a stepping stone in your career. Earning this certification will tell employers that you understand database fundamentals, can manage and synthesize data storage, and can administer a database.

How to Prepare for Your Database Developer Job Interview

When you're looking for a job in database development, acing your technical interview is essential. Make sure you learn as much as you can about the company you're applying to before the interview. You should also be ready to answer some of the most common database development interview questions. Some of the common questions are highlighted below.

Database Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • How many database management systems have you worked with and which would you consider the best or most accurate?
  • Have you ever worked on data migration? How did you prevent data loss and what protocols did you put in place for data recovery?
  • What are your recommendations for ensuring data security?
  • What database solutions would you recommend for this business?

Should I Become a Database Developer in 2021?

Yes, you should consider a career in database development in 2021. Taking this career path will open plenty of opportunities for you. You can dive into many data-related fields and there is a strong chance that you will always be able to find a database developer role. The more data-centric the world becomes, the higher the demand rises for database developers.


Can You Become a Database Developer Without a Degree?
Yes, you can become a database developer without earning a postsecondary school degree. You can either attend a bootcamp or teach yourself using online resources. The less formal your education, however, the more limited your options will be. With a bootcamp education, you can expect to be adequately prepared for an entry-level position.
Is It Hard to Become a Database Developer?
Yes, it is hard to become a database developer because the career path involves a lot of work. Most database developers have to master software engineering and be comfortable with cyber security and data science.
What Is the Difference Between a Database Administrator and a Database Developer?
Database developers create, maintain, and troubleshoot database management systems. They typically work with other developers within a firm. Database administrators don't create databases. They work on ensuring the free flow of data within a database system. Database administrators use database management software to store and secure data.
How Can I Be a Good Database Developer?
You need to educate yourself in database development and pick up the right soft skills to excel in the field. It is also important that you accumulate real-world experience and get professional database development certifications.
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