How to Become
a Database Developer

Education Pathways, Skills, and Certifications

In today’s growing tech industry, database developers are becoming increasingly in demand. Database developers create code for databases that act as an intermediary between applications and data. This field is growing, and 2021 is the perfect year to get into database development.

In this guide, we’ll cover what these professionals do and the best pathways to become a database developer.

What Is a Database Developer?

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A database developer is someone who creates databases and database software. Database developers often work in IT companies or as freelancers. The profession requires proficiency in one or more coding languages. The main tech language used by database developers is SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language.

What Does a Database Developer Do?

A database developer often works in teams, usually sitting between the front end and the backend teams. To visualize what a database developer does, below are several tasks to look forward to.

Brainstorms, Designs, and Creates Databases

The main part of a database developer’s work is to create databases. A developer has to figure out the best way to gather and structure raw data. Once ideas for a strategy are laid out, a developer jumps into the designing process.

The main tool used by a database developer is SQL. SQL is the main language used to work with relational database management systems. Finally, a database developer puts their design into practice and builds a solid and safe database.

Assists Companies and Businesses in Choosing Database Technologies

A database developer can act as an advisor to companies and businesses. When companies start, their tech presence has to be built from the ground up. Almost all businesses and companies collect and use data. A database developer is called upon to provide crucial advice and expertise regarding which data processing systems to use.

Fixes or Upgrades Existing Database Codes

A database developer usually works on contracts at tech companies and businesses. In some instances, a database developer can be called upon if a company’s data storage system has been breached or does not work.

Database code structures are very complex. Only an experienced database developer can root out a problem and provide a solution in most instances.

Database Developer Education Pathways

There are many ways to become a database developer. The most recommended method is to get a bachelor’s degree in computer science or information technology. Four-year programs offer the most concise and well-rounded curricula. However, there are other ways and quicker ones, too.

Database Developer Degrees

Four-year bachelor programs are highly recommended for any career trajectory. Degrees provide you with specialized training in a specific topic. They also allow you to cover soft skills like communication and critical thinking.

There are many undergraduate computer science programs available throughout the US. In light of the pandemic, many schools have started offering online programs.

An associate’s degree can be a good two-year alternative to a bachelor’s. Finally, postgraduate programs can offer further specialization in tech. Graduates with a master’s degree often land higher-paying positions.

Database Developer Bootcamps

The number of coding bootcamps throughout the US has grown exponentially over the last few years. Bootcamps help quench the industry’s ever-growing thirst for tech professionals. If you want a hard yet fast way to become a database developer, attending a coding bootcamp might be worth it.

Programs can be taken online or in-person and can range from a few weeks to a year. Bootcamps like Hack Reactor, The Tech Academy, DataQuest, and Epicodus have great options for aspiring database developers.

Database Developer Courses

Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offer short foundational training for database developers. Among the most popular and useful MOOC providers are Coursera, Udacity, and edX. Courses can last a few days up to a few weeks.

How to Become a Database Developer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Becoming a database developer takes more than just motivation and perseverance. You’ll also need proper training and guidance. We give you the latter. Here’s a step-by-step guide to becoming a database developer.


Get a degree or a certification

As mentioned earlier, earning a four-year bachelor’s degree is the best way to gain all-rounded knowledge in computer science. A certification can also do the trick. Whichever way you go, make sure your chosen education format covers advanced SQL.


Volunteer your skills

This step is optional but recommended. Volunteering for free can make a difference. Once you have a degree or a certification, many businesses or companies will take you on as an intern. This is a great way for you to put your technical knowledge to the test while expanding your network.


Create a portfolio

Whether you have professional experience or not, it is important to create a portfolio of projects. This is a great way to show employers what you are capable of. Use your SQL and database design skills to build a series of personal database development projects.


Create a resume

Now that you have a degree, some experience, and a portfolio, it is time to create your resume. Tech enthusiasts usually use Github as a platform to gather their credentials and past projects.


Apply for work

After creating a strong resume, apply for database engineering work. Seek roles that utilize technologies and languages that you have covered in your education.

Top Database Developer Skills

The main task of a database developer is to design and create data processing systems. To do this, one must have the essential skill set.

Strong Communication Skills

Database development is not a solo job. In database development, working in teams is the norm. To avoid any misunderstanding, therefore, developers must be able to simplify complex ideas and concepts and communicate these accordingly.

Understanding of ETL Processes

ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load. The ETL process is utilized by database developers regularly. ETL allows developers to shift data processing tools from one source to another. The ETL process is typically used to build data warehouses.

Mastery of SQL Language

Knowledge of SQL is necessary for database developers. It is also desirable for developers to understand SQL development in different contexts and database management systems. Database developers need to be able to create SQL code for a variety of operating systems like Windows, Linux, and more.

Database Developer Salary and Job Outlook

Data gathering is becoming increasingly useful for companies and businesses as they shift their operations online. This means that the demand for database developers will continue to grow from 2021 onwards.

Salary estimates for database developers are high. According to PayScale, database developers in the United States earn $75,520 on average. The highest earners pocket as much as $108,000 while those in the bottom 10 percent earn around $52,000.

Entry-Level Database Developer Job Requirements

Database development is a highly technical field. It is necessary to have a computer science degree to get into an entry-level position. Alternatively, you can apply for an entry-level position with certification or a coding bootcamp certificate of completion. The most important thing is to be able to demonstrate fluency in SQL technologies.

How to Prepare for Your Database Developer Job Interview

If you have already landed a database job interview, congratulations. It is important to remain confident throughout the interview. Confidence is acquired through practice, so make sure you arrange practice interviews with friends or family. We’ve gathered a few practice questions to get you fired up.


Database Developer Job Interview Practice Questions

  • What is a common table expression?
  • What is the purpose of the SQL Server Windows Agent?
  • What is the main difference between SQL and MySQL?
  • In SQL, what are the differences between TRUNCATE and DELETE statements?

Database Developer Certifications

You can obtain many certifications to further your database developer credentials. Certifications are a fantastic way to ramp up your resume and impress employers. Below are the top three certifications for database developers.

IBM Certified Database Administrator

IBM is a prestigious tech company with a huge database portfolio. This certification costs about $400 and requires two exams. The program covers a variety of technologies, including DB2, basic SQL, Linux, and Windows.

MTA Database Fundamentals

This certification is offered by Microsoft and covers data management and analytics. The course includes two exams and costs about $127. Microsoft also offers certifications in other topics like database administration and BI development.

Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator

This certification offered by Oracle covers many useful tools and technologies. These include MySQL server, configuring replication, security application, and database administration. The certification costs about $245.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Database Developer?

It can take less than a year to become a database developer. Some coding bootcamps offer specialization programs in SQL. This is a great way to become a database developer fast.

However, four-year bachelor programs in computer science cover more ground. An undergraduate degree gives you time to learn other technologies and set you up for a successful career. Bachelor’s degree holders can apply for better positions and earn higher salaries on average.

Why You Should Become a Database Developer in 2021

The market for database developers is growing As an increasing number of businesses are setting up shop online. The world is increasingly reliant on big data and harvested information to make informed and intelligent decisions. So, 2021 is the ideal year to start learning about database design and development.

Database Developer FAQ

Database engineers need complete fluency in SQL and ETL tools. There are other useful skills to have such as machine learning, Python, or knowledge of algorithm structures. A database engineer’s main tool of work though is SQL.

Database developers sometimes have to work with companies or businesses that use Python. This means knowledge of Python is recommended although not crucial. Database developers sometimes use Python for small-scale ETL projects.

Yes. Like all software engineers, database engineers are responsible for writing code to build tools and infrastructure frameworks.

Being good at math is not a requirement to be a database engineer, although it does help. Database developers work a lot with statistics, algorithms, and probabilities. Other database development tasks like data mining and cluster analysis also require some math abilities.

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