How to become a database developer (with duties and skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A database developer uses various techniques and skills to organise data for a variety of institutions. Organising large volumes of data allows for its easy storage, retrieval and updating and may therefore improve the performance of a company. Learning to become a database developer can give you many job prospects and enable you to develop database systems that companies often require to run efficiently. In this article, we describe what a database developer is, define the components of a database environment, explain how to become a database developer and outline their duties and skills.

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What is a database developer?

A database developer is a software developer who specialises in designing and implementing computer databases. They use code and web architecture to create data systems, maintain existing databases, troubleshoot and correct problems and add new features to existing databases. Databases are important for organisations as they can help organise and store large amounts of data. Database developers may work for corporates in information technology (IT), business management and the healthcare industry.

Related: What is software development? A comprehensive guide

How to become a database developer

You can follow the six steps below to learn how to become a database developer:

1. Learn the fundamentals of creating a database

Consider learning how to create a database as the first step towards becoming a database developer. A database is an organised collection of logically related information that provides ease in accessing, managing and updating data. Some components of a database are hardware, software, data, database access language and the database users.

You can learn about database development by enrolling in a computer science course or a database development module at a computer training institute, college or university. Common subjects in the data science programme may train you in computational processes, data analysis and programming. Also, consider using online modules and resources to supplement your knowledge in the field.

Related: 14 courses for IT professionals: types and how to choose one

2. Specialise in a database management system

You can learn about different databases to sample and choose the one that might suit you the most. Specialising can help you focus and become an expert in particular database management systems. Here are examples of some database management systems you can choose from:

  • relational database system

  • hierarchical database system

  • network-based database system

  • object-oriented database system

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3. Gain work experience

Once you've learnt about database development, consider building experience through practical training. Universities and other institutions that provide database development training may require you to complete a work placement before graduation so that you can practise the technical skills you've gained. You can also apply for internship opportunities in various companies. Internships allow you to join a web development team to support an organisation, learning through apprenticeship and observation.

You can also use the opportunity to network and find mentors in your fields of interest. This gives you a better chance to grow and get the jobs you desire. Practical experience can also enable you to develop soft skills, such as communication and teamwork, which are also important for a database developer position.

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4. Create a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of materials that illustrates your skills, abilities, training and experience in a specific field. Consider making a solid portfolio with a wide range of work to showcase your versatility and creativity as a database developer. You can add work you've completed during your training in an organisation or in your spare time. A strong portfolio may attract potential employers and lead to lucrative job opportunities.

Related: What is a portfolio? Tips and guidelines to create one

5. Create a curriculum vitae (CV)

A detailed CV highlights your professional and academic credentials and showcases your experience and accomplishments. Employers typically use a CV to determine your suitability for a particular job position. Consider adding strong references to your CV to improve your chances of finding employment.

Related: What is a CV? Curriculum vitae writing tips and example

6. Apply for jobs

The last step towards becoming a database developer is applying for a job. Consider making many applications to different organisations that interest you to improve your chances of finding employment. Remember to attach your CV and portfolio to your application to show a potential employer what you can accomplish.

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What are the duties of a database developer?

The roles and responsibilities of a database developer include the following:

  • Design, develop and implement database systems: This involves taking a client's idea, researching the best way to implement the concept and developing a system that is satisfactory to them.

  • Maintain database systems: The role may entail constantly inspecting a database system to troubleshoot and correct any faults. You can also regularly update the system to boost speed and optimise performance.

  • Build database security systems: As a database developer, you often input security measures against hackers or other potential threats to a company's data, as organisations may trust you with important personal and company information. Consider learning the different tricks that hackers use to develop reliable security measures.

  • Create data backup measures: Creating data backup measures can ensure adequate storage of company data and prevent data loss.

  • Research database systems: The job typically entails researching different ways to improve the existing database systems and render the upcoming ones more efficient. You can do this research by studying trends in the IT field.

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Important skills for database developers

You can qualify to become a database developer not only by having a good portfolio that showcases your accomplishments and abilities but also by having a degree, which can increase your chances of getting a job. Here are some important skills and qualifications you may require for this role:

  • Creating database systems: It's important to have sufficient knowledge and techniques for designing, developing and implementing a database according to clients' needs.

  • Programming: Being proficient in programming languages can improve your coding skills.

  • Communication: An employer may place you in a web development team to support a company's IT needs. Having good communication skills can enhance collaboration and teamwork and may allow the team to work towards achieving a common goal.

  • Time management: Consider developing good time management skills, as many database development positions may involve working with deadlines. These abilities can allow you to complete your tasks at a comfortable speed and in a timely manner.

  • Practical experience: You can gain experience by applying for internship programs, volunteering for organisations or through self-practice. Sufficient expertise allows you to build versatility and creativity that may enhance your performance and make you an asset to a company.

  • Problem-solving: You can encounter challenges during the web development process, and problem-solving skills may help you to quickly adapt your plans to accommodate any unexpected developments.

  • Stress management: Working with schedules and deadlines may create tension in your work environment. You may benefit from learning to work calmly under pressure.

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Components of a database environment

A database environment refers to a collective system of components that regulate and manage the use of data. The elements of a database environment include the following:

  • Hardware: This refers to a computer system's machines, wiring and other physical components, such as processors, input and output, storage and printers.

  • Software: This refers to the programs and other operating information that a computer uses.

  • People: This refers to individuals accessing and using databases in their daily activities to accomplish tasks and make queries.

  • Data: This refers to information that you process and store on a computer, such as data you collected for a research paper.

  • Procedure: This refers to the protocols that regulate and control data use.

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