What Is Data Administration?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Data administration is the development, maintenance, and control of databases. This area of computer science covers a wide variety of topics. Data professionals typically need at least a four year college degree to work, and many have special certifications in particular types of databases as well as security techniques. Employment in this sector began growing rapidly in the early 21st century.

Data administration is the development, maintenance, and control of databases.
Data administration is the development, maintenance, and control of databases.

One aspect of data administration involves setting up databases. This requires critical thinking skills as well as a knowledge of programming languages. The work requires thinking about what kind of data will be stored in the database and how it will be used. The data administrator must plan ahead for growth as well as access needs. She may be able to use a commercial product to create the database or could need to code her own to meet the needs of a given situation.

Once a database is established and users start to populate it, maintenance is a concern. Specialists in data administration use cleanup tools to prevent the buildup of extraneous data. They are also alert for signs of corruption so they can maintain the integrity of the data. Security can be an integral part of this process, to control who is allowed to use the database and what they can do in it. A secretary might be able to enter data but not mass delete entries or create new fields in the database, for example.

Data administrators also control databases. When a database needs to be moved or updated, this information technology professional plans and executes the activity. He can also be involved in the development of new security systems as well as patches to address security holes like vulnerable operating systems on the computers of database users. The data administrator can revoke or add access and determine which access level is appropriate so personnel can get the information they need without accessing sensitive materials.

For a career in data administration, a bachelor of science degree in computer science, information technology, data administration, or a related field is usually necessary. It can also help to pursue independent technical certification through a professional organization that focuses on specific types of databases and programming languages. These qualifications can be helpful when seeking jobs. At large companies, administrators start in junior roles and gradually take on more responsibilities, while smaller companies may use a single data administrator and can provide a more autonomous position to a new graduate.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@Mammmood - The importance of this role and the increasing demand for their work is one reason that the data administrator salary is so sky high. Believe me - these people are worth their weight in gold. They often have to work long hours and also come in on weekends or even at night to put out any fires.


@miriam98 - I agree that you don’t necessarily need to have a DBA. Most programmers can be trained to handle some of these tasks.

However the problem is that most programmers don’t want the stress levels that go along with the job. If the database gets corrupted, that falls on your shoulders.

That’s why companies hire DBAs who are skilled in data base administration and know how to build redundant backups and stuff to protect the vital data. Frankly I’d rather that they have that responsibility on their shoulders than on mine.


@NathanG - You don’t necessarily need to have a DBA. It depends on the size of the organization. In our small business we have a network administrator and he does all the stuff mentioned in the data administrator job description, in addition to his usual tasks in network administration.

So he will deal with security issues that impact the network as well as the database. I think scalability has to be the biggest challenge for us and for the administrator. We find ourselves hitting size restrictions and also requesting larger data sets to be loaded into the data.

They rarely give you access to all the data, as this will be a burden on the server. So the administrator has to adapt as needed.


In companies where I’ve worked at the tasks of the database software administrator fell upon the DBA. This person was the head honcho in charge of all database related tasks, from administration to backups to security access and so forth.

He wasn’t a programmer as such – although he could certainly program. Any programming he did was simply scripting, part of the larger tasks of administration. He controlled access and built data models.

So if we wanted access to the database we contacted him and he determined what level of access we needed, like if we needed tables created and so forth.

Typically they didn’t grant us rights to create tables. That type of work was done by the DBAs on an as needed basis. It should be pointed out that all database platforms have their own versions of DBAs, whether you’re talking about Oracle or SQL Server.

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