Career as a database developer

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Sarah Roberts works as a database developer for Atos Origin, an international IT services company. Her work involves building and testing all kinds of databases.

What does your job as a database developer involve?

I work within an application development team. Together, we design and build databases for our customers, who use them for a variety of purposes, such as storing staff information, keeping track of sales or stock records, or generating reports.We also support them if they have any queries or problems.

What are your main responsibilities?

The majority of my work involves designing and building the databases that sit behind some of the IT systems used by our customers. I also help to write the computer code used by the various systems to interact with the database. When a new project begins, we initially spend some time designing the database.

Basically, this means that we think about what information we want to store, how we plan to store it and how to link it all together. Once the design phase is finished, we move on to building the database. This is called the development phase. Once the database is up and running, we test it to pick up any problems that may have been missed in previous phases.

What hours do you work?

I work 37 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. Occasionally, I may be required to work overtime if there is a deadline to meet, but I would always be paid or given time off in lieu for these extra hours.

What is your working environment like?

I work in a modern, comfortable office in the centre of a small town. Occasionally, I visit customers in their workplace, but the majority of my work is done from my own desk.

Who do you work with?

I work in a team of about ten people, with a team leader and a project manager.We are all based in the same office and work on similar projects. I have occasional contact with clients, but the majority of my work is done either on my own or with colleagues.

What skills do you need for a career as a database developer?

Obviously, a strong interest in IT and computers is a must. You also need the ability to work on your own and as part of a team. As with most technical IT roles, you need to have good logical thinking skills.

What training have you had?

Since I started in my current role, I have been on numerous training courses, some to develop people skills and some to develop the technical skills required in my job. I also have a Degree in Business Operation and Control.

Do you use any tools or equipment?

Everything I do is PC based. I use a good specification PC with some of the latest database development tools and servers.

What do you like/dislike about being a database developer?

I like the team environment and the technical side of the job. On the downside, things can get a bit hectic when you have to meet a tight deadline!

What are the main challenges?

Technology moves at a rapid pace, so keeping up with new methods or systems can be quite a challenge. This normally means going on courses or doing some online interactive learning.

How do you see your future?

There are opportunities if I want to progress into database design, or I can stay in development. I think I would like to stay in development, as I enjoy being more involved on a day-to-day basis.

Sarah's route her career as a database developer

  • A levels.
  • Degree in Business Operation and Control.
  • One year of work experience with the NHS.
  • Training courses with her current employer.

Sarah's database developer tips

  • Work hard at college or university, then get yourself a good 'trainee' role with a company that will look after you, and give you lots of experience and training.
  • The nature of the work makes frequent training a must, so make sure you concentrate on companies who invest in their staff.

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Salary of a database developer

  • New database administrators and developers may start on around £15,000 to £18,000 a year.
  • Top salaries in large companies can rise to £45,000 or more.

Career as a database developer

  • There is no standard route into database jobs, and roles range from database operators and administrators through to testers and developers.
  • It is possible to take a degree, HNC/HND in subjects such as IT, computer science or software engineering, or BTEC national diplomas and NVQs/SVQs in computer-related subjects.
  • Larger companies may offer training courses, but smaller employers will expect knowledge in specific computer languages, software packages or operating systems.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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