Database administrator


The role of the database administrator (DBA) varies according to the size of the organisation and the organisational reliance on the database. A database administrator is responsible for ensuring that data stored in the database is available when needed and that security of the data and the database is maintained at all times. A database administrator is also responsible for ensuring that the database runs at an optimal speed so that users can access the information quickly.

Generally, a database administrator will have a number of tasks that are common across the role:

  • installation and upgrades: install and update the platform the system is running on
  • configuration management: understanding how large the database will become over time; ensuring that the database is placed on the correct server so that it is available to the correct people and ensuring that the correct type of storage is used for the information collected through the database
  • security and compliance: understanding the security options for information held on the database
  • monitoring and tuning: ensuring that the database is running to optimal levels and understanding the table structure within the database in order to 'tune' the database
  • backup and recovery: understanding the options for backing up and recovering data held within the database. There will be local policy and procedures for each of these processes
  • trouble shooting: investigate an issue and work to find the root cause of why there is a problem with the system. They must also be able to implement a solution to address the issues.

A database administrator exhibits a combination of capabilities from the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and the Leadership competencies for Queensland.

SFIA profile

Within the SFIA profile, the database administrator has level 4 and 5 capabilities, i.e. enable, ensures and advises on the skills outlined below.

Refer to the framework for descriptions of the seven levels of responsibility and accountability.

SFIA skillSFIA skill codeSFIA skill level of responsibilitySFIA skill code descriptor
Database administrationDBAD5Develops and maintains procedures and documentation for databases. Identifies, evaluates and manages the adoption of appropriate database administration tools and processes, including automation. Contributes to the setting of standards for definition, security and integrity of database objects and ensures conformance to these standards. Manages database configuration including installing and upgrading software and maintaining relevant documentation. Monitors database activity and resource usage. Optimises database performance and plans for forecast resource needs.
Database designDBDS5Provides expert guidance in the selection, provision and use of database and data warehouse architectures, software and facilities. Provides specialist expertise in the design characteristics of database management systems (DBMS) or data warehouse products/services. Ensures that physical database design policy supports transactional data requirements for performance and availability. Ensures that data warehouse design policy supports demands for business intelligence and data analytics.
Information securitySCTY4Explains the purpose of and provides advice and guidance on the application and operation of elementary physical, procedural and technical security controls. Performs security risk, vulnerability assessments, and business impact analysis for medium complexity information systems. Investigates suspected attacks and manages security incidents. Uses forensics where appropriate.
Security administrationSCAD4Maintains security administration processes and checks that all requests for support are dealt with according to agreed procedures. Provides guidance in defining access rights and privileges. Investigates security breaches in accordance with established procedures and recommends required actions and supports / follows up to ensure these are implemented.

Leadership skills

Leadership competencies for Queensland describes what highly effective, everyday leadership looks like in the sector. In simple, action-oriented language, it provides a common understanding of the foundations for success across all roles. The profile describes three performance dimensions (vision, results and accountability) and 11 leadership competencies required against five leadership streams.

Leadership streams are not connected to a level or classification, but rather reflect the balance between leadership and technical skills required of an individual. Individuals can consider the value proposition of roles rather than the traditional lens of hierarchical structures or classification levels. The five leadership streams are:

  • Individual contributor (Leads self and does not supervise others)
  • Team leader (leads a team and typically reports to a program leader)
  • Program leader (leads team leaders and/or multiple areas of work)
  • Executive (leads program leaders or other executives)
  • Chief executive (leads the organisation).

When developing a role description, identify the role type and then focus on the most important attributes and create a balance between SFIA skills and leadership skills.

Entry points

Most staff who work as a database administrator possess a degree in areas such as information technology or corporate systems management.

Industry experience or a diploma level qualification are also held in high regard and may be of some assistance in gaining entry to a career as a database administrator. Diploma level qualifications can generally be obtained through participation in a TAFE course.

Learning and development

Development or improvement of skills as a database administrator can occur in a number of ways.

Courses to increase general knowledge and skill in database administration are readily available through organisations such as TAFE or universities. Private companies offer courses that increase skill in specific database product. These courses are generally offered by the companies who market or sell a particular database.