A database architect (DBA) creates and manages large and expansive electronic databases to store and organize vast amounts of data. This is a highly skilled profession that is integral to most modern businesses. A database architect will help companies grow and expand into new marketplaces and help create a vision to meet strategic goals. A person in this position will work closely with software designers, design analysts and others to create comprehensive databases that may be used by hundreds if not thousands of people.
Database architects will begin by studying the needs of their employer. They will assess the current data infrastructure and have discussions with employees and users to figure out where changes in the database need to be made. The DBA will then prepare and map out how the electronic database should look and function. From there, often working with a team, the DBA will oversee and partake in the creation of the database using the ETL Architecture Standards.
Using coding skills and data access, database architects will then write the code to create the database. Once the database is created the DBA will work to troubleshoot any problems and locate and correct oversights. During the creation of the database DBAs will work closely with employees in the company to make sure that the database meets the company's expectations. The type of database created can be anything from a system that handles payroll to one that deals with inventory or customer satisfaction.
A strong database architecture is central to most modern business, and mistakes made within it can cost upwards of millions of dollars. It is for this reason that a DBA must be sure to have a strong attention to detail. Database architects must also be able to understand the current and projected database needs of their employer and be able to create a platform that functions over multiple systems in multiple areas. The DBA must be able to write strong and useful code, as poorly performing code will have a large negative impact on the performance of their architecture. The DBA will also be essential in creating and maintaining security for the database and they will need to create standards for all users to ensure that the system is safe from outside interlopers. The database will need to be able to collect information from several different platforms and be able to convert this data and make sure that it transfers to the database and remains uncorrupted.
Continuing maintenance, updates and upgrades are also an important aspect of a DBA’s ongoing career. They will have to be able to identify and fix problems in these areas as they arise and make sure that the hardware and software used by the database is in working order and that it keeps up with the ever changing flow of technological development. DBAs will also have to identify trends in the database users, and use this information to improve performance and recommend new ways to improve the existing database. DBAs must also schedule times for upgrades and repairs that will have a minimal impact upon the company; this may require working nights or weekends to ensure that the database is up and running by the start of the business day.
Database architects must have, among others, strong reading, writing and math skills. DBAs must be able to handle large volumes of information and a heavy workload in conjunction with strong time management skills as they often work under a deadline with a strict timetable. They will have to motivate their employees and make sure that everyone remains on target and works to common goal of completing the database on time. This is often a leadership position as the DBA may have several people working with or under them in the creation of the database. Database architects will have to be able to take criticism and be able to improve and change their work depending on client specifications.
Most importantly, database architects will usually need several years of experience coupled with an education in computer programming, or computer sciences, specifically in areas of database architecture. Computer programming is a fast-growing field and individuals looking to advance in the field should pursue a master’s degree. There are also many certificates in database architecture and other computer programming areas that will help a potential applicant stand out from the crowd.
The University of Denver offers advanced degrees in Database Design and Administration. Carnegie Mellon University, Stanford University and The University of California, Berkeley are all top performing schools for those looking for a degree in computer science.
The largest number of database architects work for computer systems design and related services firms, such as Internet service providers and data-processing firms. Other DBA’s are employed by firms with large databases, such as insurance companies and banks, both of which keep track of vast amounts of personal and financial data for their clients. Some DBAs administer databases for retail companies that keep track of their buyers’ credit card and shipping information; others work for healthcare firms and manage patients’ medical records.