How to become an Oracle DBA
Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson
Oracle is among the world's most complex and sophisticated databases, and
mastering this complex set of computer programs requires many college-level
Learning Oracle is only appropriate for experienced
computer scientists and information systems professionals with appropriate
Every year, young computer
professionals leave the hallowed halls and ivory towers of college and survey the landscape for
computer jobs. They look at the salary surveys and drool at the
average Oracle DBA salary of $100,000
and the prospect
of earning up to $250,000 per year as a production DBA. Many of them don't know what a
DBA does, but they sure like the money.
An Oracle DBA is a senior-level manager who often earns as
much as a Vice President, and has lots of responsibility, managing the
mission-critical data for the whole company.
WARNING! Some fraudsters
prey on the uninitiated and say that
Oracle is an easy to learn trade. They are trying to sell "DBA Boot camp" training courses to people who
do not possess the academic background to
perform the job. Remember, a Database Administrator is a profession, just
like an architect, business executive or attorney.
Oracle DBA boot camp
Like any profession, becoming a DBA requires years of college
preparation and many years of careful preparation. Most beginning DBA's start
learning Oracle after earning a Bachelors or masters degree in computer
science or information systems.
Also see these related articles:
Since I've been a DBA for 25 years I'm often asked
"How do I become a DBA?", many from neophytes who are enticed with the
glamour and power of the DBA role.
The life of a successful DBA can be
While being a DBA is exciting and lucrative, it's a career choice that
requires years of preparation.
The most important thing to
remember is that the job of a DBA requires a 24x7 commitment. Being an
Oracle DBA can be a very stressful, thankless job, and many DBA jobs require the
DBA to be on-call on Thanksgiving and Christmas to perform downtime maintenance.
Plus, the DBA is expected to constantly keep-up with the rapidly-changing
technology, working nights and weekends on a regular basis.
See these important notes on
It's not uncommon for a DBA to
earn as much as a mid-level manager, and in larger shops the DBA is a vice
president. However, the high high pay is a double-edged sword.
The DBA must constantly justify their salary, and a good DBA who automates many
of their job functions may find themselves looking for a new job.
You cannot fake your DBA credentials
Here are some common questions
that I'm asked about becoming a DBA. Because most Oracle
Applications databases support mission critical systems, a successful Oracle
Applications DBA must have these skills:
- Outstanding Communications Skills - Oracle Applications DBA's
must interface with the end-user community and they must have
college-level communications skills, being able to communicate clearly,
both orally and with written communications.
- Business Degree - Most successful Oracle Applications DBA
staff have advanced degrees in business administration, almost al from
AACSB accredited collegiate business schools. Graduates of
business schools will have very difficult time obtaining a job in
Oracle Applications administration, and a firm understanding of business
processes is essential to perform many of the duties of the Oracle
Applications DBA job role.
- DBA skills - Most Oracle Applications DBA staff have at least
five years of full-time progressive DBA experience, and they sometimes
have Oracle certifications such as OCP and OCM. The Oracle Applications
DBA must also have a good understanding of related technologies,
especially Java (JDeveloper, J2EE, Apache) and Oracle Application
What classes should I
take to prepare for a job as a DBA?
In grad school, all IT and CS
students take courses like Operations Research where they learn to develop
complex decision rules and them apply them to real world datasets. Using
Oracle as the back-end storage of data and decision rules is a great way to
prepare for real-world applications of expert systems, DSS and AI. Also,
advanced statistics courses (multivariate analysis) are a good way to prepare
for a career in Oracle data mining and Business Intelligence (BI). For
details, see my notes on
expert systems and decision support systems using Oracle.
College Degrees are best
for the DBA?
Companies are now requiring a
combination of technical and managerial skills and the best-fits are those with
an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a MBA in Information Systems.
Employers need a DBA who can understand business systems areas (accounting,
finance, marketing) and MBA's are a perfect fir for the DBA job role.
The hard-working kids who have
distinguished themselves by graduating from a top-tier university are
aggressively courted by the major software vendors (Oracle
likes to hire from Harvard, MIT, etc.).
Do I really need a
Masters Degree to be a DBA?
Not always, but articles note
Tech jobs are way-up for those with advanced
Experts say IT hiring up 40% for top college
Remember, there is a difference between working
in database administration and being "the" DBA, the person solely responsible
for the corporations data resources.
How much can I earn as an Oracle
Here are my notes on
Oracle Salary Compensation,
and there is a wide variation according to the responsibilities of the DBA job,
the quality of the DBA, the cost of living, and the experience of the DBA.
Here is a good
Oracle DBA salary survey showing the national average at $65,000 per year.
However, there is a huge variation in DBA salary. Back
in 1981, the average DBA salary was about age+10, and a DBA right out of college
could expect to earn $32k/year, a nice salary back when gasoline was 80 cents a
gallon. Today, inflation
and increased demand have increased the DBA pay scale:
Low Tier DBA
An Oracle DBA without college and less than 10
years experience earns about (age*2), a 25 year-old earning about $50k/year.
Middle Tier DBA
A DBA with a Bachelors degree and ten years
full-time work experience can earn up to (age*3), with a 35 year-old DBA earning
A senior DBA with a Masters degree, 20 years
experience managing mission critical database can earn up to (age*4), with a 45
year-old DBA manager earning up to $180k/year.
DBA Superstars with
advanced degrees and specialized skills (RAC,
Oracle Apps), the pay is often as high as (age*6) and a 35 year-old superstar
can earn up to $210k per year.
In sum, becoming a DBA requires a lifetime commitment. Large
corporations will not entrust their life-or-death data to just anyone, and most
insist on hiring DBA's who have demonstrated a commitment to the profession,
constantly acquiring new certifications, degrees and knowledge.
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Question: I want to start learning how to be an Oracle
DBA, and hopefully with time sit for OCA and OCP certifications
Answer: Most people start learning Oracle right
after completing a 4 year degree in computer science or information systems.
Oracle is the world's most sophisticated database, it is not for people who
do not possess a professional degree.
Are you qualified to be an
The average 2015
salary for a DBA is about $100,000, and it is a competitive market where
years of work experience counts most!
If you have had these 300 level or above courses you
are ready to start learning Oracle!
academy for their suggested College courses
Title: Entry Level Database Engineer Jr. Consultant
Description of duties:
Maintaining the integrity of data.
Running queries against the database.
Go out to client sites.
Install and trouble shoot systems
Requirements and Salary:
0 - 2 yrs. + Bachelors degree, $25,000 - $50,000
0 - 3 yrs. + Bachelors degree, $35,000 - $45,000
Title: Database Administrator Sales
Description of duties:
Extensive analysis and problem solving.
Maintain database configuration and ensure data feed
accuracy and quality
Assist Sales Representatives.
Present Applications and Systems to potential clients.
Project Management and needs analysis
Requirements and Salary:
2 - 3 yrs. + Bachelors degree, $50,000 - $90,000
2 - 5 yrs. + Bachelors degree, $65,000 - $90,000
Title: Sr. Database Administrator Project
Description of duties:
Development, implementation, enhancement and
maintenance of database.
Support and Maintenance of the Databases Management of
product design, engineering, implementation and integration.
Initiating and maintaining partner relationships.
Requirements and Salary:
4+ yrs. + Bachelors degree, $90,000+
5+ yrs. + Bachelors degree $100,000+
> >> I wanted to thank you people again for the warnings
and for letting me know that it's not an easy path
Our expert responds to this reader's note: No
problem! If your boss will pay for it, far and away the best way to prepare
is to take the Oracle university classes.
If not, get several OCP preparation books, and start
by passing your OCA exam and then your
Then, you can apply for a junior DBA position. The best
places to start are shops that don't pay much, hospitals, colleges and
charities. I started my apprenticeship at a university, right after
completing my masters degree.
I read your link on how to become
an Oracle DBA. Is this really correct? How many companies
are really giving salaries that you have mentioned?
Why a person without any Computer Science
and MBA degree background can't shine? The information you have given is
Nowadays companies are asking for real time
experience or Oracle certification to become a DBA. How much of Operations
research are we using in DBA role?
I haven't seen people using any of these
skills in their DBA role. I have to mention that I have over 20 years
experience in IT management. The information you have given in your
website will not motivate young learners or IT professional to become a DBA.
For the salary that you have mentioned and
being on 24x7 is nothing when compared to people who are receiving far
better salaries as oracle consultants.
>> How many companies are
really giving salaries that you have mentioned?
I see that from your e-mail, you live in a
developing nation, and I'm sure you noticed that this is USA data.
Today's salary rate is actually much higher, and mjy salary data was
from 2015. Here is the 2015 DBA salary
A top DBA consultants earn well over
$250k/yr, and a typical Manhattan senior DBA salary is over $200k
Here are the
DBA salary trends.
>> Why a person without any Computer Science and MBA degree background can't shine
Because they don't have the necessary
depth of knowledge for a such a mission-critical management position.
There have been exceptions, but it's quite rare, and I don't know of any
corporation that would risk a multi-billion dollar database to someone
without the proper academic credentials.
>> Nowadays companies are
asking for real time experience or Oracle certification to become a DBA.
Not here in America! Certification has
become a joke!
>> I haven't seen people using
any of these skills in their DBA role
Just check the DBA for any of the Fortune
100 companies . . . My MBA was a requirement for interfacing with the
business areas . . .
>> The information you have given in
your website will not motivate young learners or IT professional to
become a DBA.
It is good to be realistic, as the odds
are challenging! The DBA profession is being
watered-down by un-professional people who think that database
administration is a trade!
The DBA job role remains a VP-level
position in most all corporations, a position of huge responsibility . .
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