It’s an exciting time to become a database developer. With data volumes expanding exponentially, and newer data types constantly emerging, organizations are increasingly reliant on skilled database developers to help them harness the power of their growing masses of data.
It’s an occupation offering high salaries, in-demand work, contact with the latest technologies, and promising career opportunities.
Below, we'll explore how you can become a skilled database developer.
While specific duties may vary, the main function of database developers is to enhance business efficiency by improving the way organizations use their data. A database developer creates databases to suit business needs and improves existing databases by expanding their range or functionality.
The role includes developing database code to perform specific tasks – for example:
A database developer may:
Additionally, the database developer may make decisions related to appropriate database languages and technologies, while ensuring development projects comply with database rules.
Now that you know what a database developer does, why would you want to pursue this as a career choice? Is this a career choice with staying power? What are the salary expectations? Let's take a closer look at these questions.
The volume and complexity of data will only continue to grow throughout the information age. This means excellent job, salary, and career prospects for today’s upcoming database developers.
The database developer role is already among the highest paid in any given market with entry-level positions commanding much higher salaries than national averages.
Furthermore, as companies increasingly seek to capitalize on the true value of their data, employment opportunities and salaries are likely to rise exponentially over time. Indeed, according to the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in database administration and development are projected to grow 11% between 2016 and 2026 – significantly faster than the 7% average across all occupations.
Image courtesy of the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Also, the role of the database developer will see exciting changes as organizations lean more towards data-driven innovation. For example, while traditional relational databases often consisted of rigidly structured data, new databases are being built to manage the raw and unstructured data coming in from a variety of modern-day devices and sources.
Such changes will make the database developer position far more complex, challenging, and specialized – thereby generating even greater opportunities and rewards for the well-skilled and qualified.
Now that we’ve had a look at what a database developer does and the career prospects for the position, let’s get to the real question: how does one become a database developer?
Because data is an organization’s lifeblood, companies must ensure their database developers possess a high level of skills, knowledge, and aptitude. To begin acquiring these skills, you can follow many paths to becoming a database developer.
A degree in computer science is a good place to start; however, this is not strictly required.
Many organizations prefer candidates with industry certifications because these actively demonstrate proven competence in particular database technology. Earning industry-recognized database developer certifications is also an ideal path if you do not have the time nor finances to undertake a three-year university course.
Whichever path you take, your database developer journey begins with learning.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is the primary database development language, enabling developers to communicate with the database and perform a variety of tasks. Taking an introductory course in SQL is a great way to begin building your knowledge.
Learning the fundamentals of SQL and database design will also help you as you progress to more advanced courses and explore a variety of related technologies.
Along with your learning, it's important to accumulate as much practical experience as possible.
Start by designing, creating, and querying small databases connected with your hobbies and interests – for example, your favorite music, videos, or your personal finances.
You may also wish to volunteer your database development skills to help friends, family, or small businesses in your area. This will enable you to gain experience, test your knowledge, and build your project portfolio – which will be highly beneficial when you start applying for your first full-time position.
Besides learning the fundamental technical skills, database developers must also possess a variety of soft skills. Due to the complexity of databases and emerging business requirements, critical thinking skills are a must – as is the ability to communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical colleagues.
Database management systems vary, but most are built on the SQL standard. Therefore, as you begin your learning, focus on developing your SQL and programming skills. These fundamentals are highly transferable if you later need to work on different platforms.
Next, supplement your knowledge by learning an SQL procedural extension in at least one specific system; for example, start with Oracle PL/SQL.
Database design is also a key function of the database developer role, so ensure you're well-versed in one or more common database systems, such as Oracle Database and/or MySQL.
Technologies such as XML and Application Express (APEX) are also important to learn. Many database developer positions require additional programming skills such as C, C++, or Java, as well as a solid understanding of operating systems.
As your knowledge grows, it is well worth validating your expertise by earning the appropriate database developer certifications. This is particularly important if you do not yet have much working experience.
Skilled database developers are expected to remain in high demand for years to come. Moreover, the role provides essential experience for advancing to more senior positions – such as database administrator, data architect, data scientist, and IT or project manager. The more skilled and qualified you become, the further you’ll go.
If you're interested in taking your first steps to become a database developer, consider enrolling in the training and certification programs offered by Oracle University.
Share steps you're taking to pursue a career as a database developer in the comments below.