A database analyst, or database administrator, organizes database systems so users can easily retrieve information. They design computer systems for insurance companies, private corporations, hospitals and banks, to name a few. To become a database analyst, you need a four-year degree in computer science or a related field, and job-related experience working with computers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median annual salary of $73,490 for database analysts, with growth rate predicted at 31 percent, more than double the 14 percent projected for all other occupations.
A database analyst responds to user requests and needs by refining or developing databases for easier, more efficient or more accurate data retrieval. Once a database is established, analysts run periodic tests of its functioning, developing new modules or correcting programming or system errors. For example, if a user wants to be able to access different areas of the company's database system, he would contact the data analyst, who would update his permissions.
Database analysts work to establish disaster-recovery plans and backup systems to prevent catastrophic failures that can cripple any business. When developing disaster-recovery plans, database analysts use research to generate a list of potential disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and fires. They design a recovery plan based on their research. The database analyst ensures that a secondary system and all key backup records are kept in a building separate from the main database systems.
System Database Analysts
Some companies have database analysts who work entirely on system issues. They protect the physical and technical aspects of a database, installing upgrades and patches when bugs arise. Their responsibilities include applying changes in systems, such as changing a customer number, across multiple platforms at multiple sites, and might include training users on the new systems. Experience in programming and system architecture are essential skills for a system database analyst, as are precision and attention to detail.
Application Database Analysts
Some database analysts specialize in applications. These include databases, word-processing software and company-specific software. Management assigns a database analyst to one application or a suite of applications that serve a similar purpose. They use programming languages, such as structured query language, to write or debug programs. They manage all aspects of these applications to ensure that they run smoothly. Application database analysts complete all tasks that other generalists complete, such as tuning, database design, database modifications, trouble-shooting and database migration, but do so for just their assigned applications.