Guide to DBA certifications

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

This article discusses what a database certification is, why it is essential for professional career growth, and top DBA certifications to consider.

[Featured Image]  An IT professional browses dba certifications on a desktop computer.

Database administrators are always in demand in today’s data-driven society. As an IT professional, you can position yourself to stand out in your field by earning one or more of the many DBA certifications available. Use this guide to discover the benefits of DBA certifications, common certifications you can pursue, and typical jobs and salary information for database administrators.

What is a database administrator?

A database administrator (DBA) is the person responsible for managing a database environment. The DBA keeps the database organized and ensures it runs efficiently. Using a database management system, the DBA ensures all related applications have the data to function effectively. With so much of the digital environment today dependent on databases, this is important in many business IT environments.

Database administration includes oversight of essential data such as payroll and employee information, customer information, compliance resources, sales, and more. The DBA has to be attentive to detail, able to prioritize, and skilled in data security, management, and optimization.

Read more: Your Database Administrator Career Guide

What is a DBA certificate?

Certification programs demonstrate that you possess specific skills, knowledge, and experience using data. You typically gain certification by meeting particular prerequisites and passing an exam. Many different DBA certifications are available. If you’re considering a database role, it can be helpful to study a particular database in-depth for skills certification. You can prove your knowledge of Structured Query Language (SQL) and other types of databases and better understand the many types of data, such as structured, semi-structured, unstructured, and polymorphic. 

Read more: SQL Developer Salary Guide: What to Expect in 2022

What are the benefits of DBA certifications?

A DBA certification can help administrators keep up with the latest in database design and theory. You can also expand your general operating system knowledge. A DBA certification is a testament to your DBA skills and can help you be more attractive to employers. With the certification, you may have greater success in your DBA career. Typically, certificates also help administrators earn more.

Common DBA certifications

You can become proficient in many databases and seek certification for each type. A DBA can get certified by the manufacturer of a particular database or go the vendor-agnostic route.

Proprietary certifications

Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM are the big players in database certification. Database administrators can benefit from testing their skills in one or more certifications.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate

This proprietary certification teaches the DBA operational aspects of cloud and hybrid platform solutions built by Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Data Services. The required certification exam tests your ability to plan and implement data platform resources, implement a secure environment, perform administration using T-SQL, and more. Microsoft suggests those seeking this certification first familiarize themselves with Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals.

Oracle Certified Professional

New Oracle database certifications are based on the company’s various server releases. It can be a good idea for a DBA to earn certification for more than one release. After all, different clients will be using different Oracle releases. The certification involves preparation for a 150-minute exam from Oracle. There are also Oracle database certifications at the associate and master levels.

IBM Certified Administrator – Db2 

This certification tests DBA skills on the Db2 product on the z/0S operating system. Qualifying individuals can perform database design and implementation, operation and recovery, security and auditing, and more. To prepare for the 90-minute exam from IBM, you might take the assessment exam or sample test and use the manufacturer’s study guide.

SAP HANA Certification

Many companies use the HANA system to manage relational databases and provide high performance and efficiency. You can pursue an associate, specialist, or Professional Certificate to help an organization make the most of its SAP HANA systems. 

Vendor-agnostic certifications

The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) was founded in 1973 to create industry standards. The non-profit today offers several certifications to support high standards among DBAs. The different certifications related to data administration also come at several levels, from foundational to expert.

Certified Data Professional

The primary certification from the ICCP, the CDP, evaluates your competency and currency on fundamental IT concepts. A certification that has been around for decades, originally known as the Certified Data Processor, the CDP is an independent validation of relevant information security skills.

Big Data Professional

A Big Data Professional certificate reflects the move to more extensive, more complex data-processing tools. This certification considers the challenges of capturing data, data storage, data analysis, search, sharing, transfer, and more. The administrator learns about data volume, variety, velocity, veracity, and value.

Read more: What Is Big Data? A Layperson's Guide

ICCP Data Governance & Stewardship Professional

This ICCP certification focuses on managing data availability, usability, and integrity. Securing the data and establishing effective processes are also covered. The goal is to help the DBA enable high-quality data management throughout the life cycle.

Public Sector Data Governance Professional

A DBA needs to adhere to specific considerations when it comes to administering databases in the public sector. The PSDGP certification from ICCP focuses on US regulations and how to improve data governance for government entities and companies that work with them.

Computer Service Technician (CST)

A CST certification demonstrates your ability to service hardware and systems software. This ETA Information Technology certification can be a good starting point for an entry-level database administrator and technician.

Typical jobs for certified database administrators

You can pursue a variety of roles associated with database administration. In 2021, the median pay for database administrators and architects was $101,000 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) [1]. The BLS predicts the job rate to grow 9 percent through 2031, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Glassdoor provides the following salary information in the US  for DBA roles as of August 2023:

  • SQL database administrator: $112,588 total pay per year [2]

  • Senior database administrator: $145,870 total pay per year [3]

  • Database administrator: $105,188 total pay per year [4]

  • Database developer: $105,894 total pay per year [5]

  • Database engineer: $134,863 total pay per year [6]

  • Database consultant: $149,832 total pay per year [7]

  • Data warehousing specialist: $110,295 total pay per year [8]

  • Database technician: $78,077 total pay per year [9]

Read more: 5 SQL Certifications for Your Data Career in 2022

Prepare for your DBA certification with Coursera

You can get hands-on experience with commonly used database services by starting an online Guided Project like the Introduction to Relational Database and SQL. In around 60 minutes, you'll learn to write basic SQL statements to query and maintain a relational database. Or, expand your skill set with the University of Boulder's online program, Databases for Data Scientists Specialization. The beginner-friendly courses in this program can be completed in just two months, awarding you with a shareable certificate for your resume upon completion.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Database Administrators and Architects," Accessed August 7, 2023.

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