Databases are organized collections of data stored on, and accessible from, computer systems. In this era of big data, databases are especially important because of the vast amounts of information organizations need to sort and analyze. In the business world in particular, the ability to leverage data effectively to generate actionable insights is a major competitive advantage, making databases a critical resource.
Once a database design is created, data can be stored in it and managed with the use of a relational database management system (DBMS) such as MySQL, Microsoft Access, or Oracle. For a quick exploration of a database, a data scientist can use a query language like SQL (Structured Query Language) to retrieve the data needed for the analysis, and then use a programming language like Python or R to process it and present the findings through data visualization.
Long-term decision-making requires the ability to query multiple databases. Business intelligence software like Pentaho or Tableau have the needed extract, transform, load (ETL) capabilities to merge data from many different sources in a data warehousing process that can give executives greater insight into corporate performance over time.
The ability to work closely with data is increasingly essential for many jobs. Whether you are a sociologist querying databases on policing data for a research project or a chief operations officer trying to harness data analysis for process improvement initiatives, database skills can help you discover important insights.
Database administrators (DBAs) work particularly closely with databases, and are responsible for ensuring that database management systems are operating efficiently, free from errors, and protected from security breaches. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, DBAs make a median salary of $83,750 per year, and their expected job growth is faster that the average for all occupations due to the increasing use of data in all sectors of the economy. And, with small and medium sized businesses increasingly using cloud services, DBAs are needed more and more for third party cloud databases.
Yes! Coursera offers courses and Specializations on database and data science, including topics in Python, cloud computing, and data warehousing. With these courses, you can learn remotely from top-ranked institutions and organizations including the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of Michigan, IBM, and AWS. The opportunity to complete coursework on a flexible schedule can allow you to add skills to your repertoire whether you are supplementing your current career or preparing for a new one. Coursera Projects also offers Guided Projects on databases and SQL, enabling you to learn with step-by-step tutorials from experienced instructors.
Having skills and experience in SQL is important before starting to learn database because, even though the language has been around since 1997, SQL is still among the most popular languages in database work, many companies use it including big names like Google and Amazon, and a majority of job positions in database require SQL. Learning other languages is also helpful, including Python, C, and Java. If you don't already have your high school diploma or GED, you should be working toward it as you start learning database, especially if your goal is to be a database administrator. Expect to earn a college degree, preferably in computer science, if you want a future management position in database.
The kinds of people who are best suited for roles in database include analytical thinkers because analyzing large amounts of data is an integral part of the field. Being skilled at recognizing patterns in unstructured data is another key trait, as well as being flexible and open to change since technology is a rapidly changing field. People who are good at problem-solving and have good organizational skills are also well suited for roles in database. And those who have good communication skills and can explain complex information in clear, understandable ways are likely to be successful in database roles.
Learning database may be right for you if you enjoy working with numbers, data, statistics, and computers. If you're preparing for a career in information technology or computer science, learning database is most likely right for you. Learning database can prepare you to either create databases, manage databases, troubleshoot problems in databases, or analyze databases for various roles with the database field. If any of these sound interesting to you, learning database is right for you.