Oracle differs from other database programs because it is complex and meant for large-scale companies. Other database programs, such as Microsoft Access, are ideal for smaller businesses since they hold fairly small amounts of data. In contrast, Oracle can hold an immense amount of data. Furthermore, unlike Microsoft Access, Oracle is targeted for users trained in software development-or at least those who are fluent in Structured Query Language (SQL). Therefore, it requires a software expert to administer it and keep it functioning. In addition, Oracle is a multi-user application which makes it a network application. It is capable of being accessed by thousands of users at one time, making it especially ideal for global corporations.
An Oracle database administrator's first task is to set up the company's database structure on Oracle. This means the administrator inputs information into ''primary objects'' like tables, grids, indexes, and other organizational units that sort and store all kinds of company information. For instance, one unit of tables will hold employee information, while another group will contain vendor information. In order to easily navigate the database, Oracle administrators set up searches that make it simple to retrieve data. For instance, an administrator can set up a search that instantly retrieves information about the company's current inventory. The most effective searches are those that utilize a ''primary key'', or a piece of information that is unique to each unit. For instance, one primary key is a social security number because no two people will have the same number.
When an Oracle administrator installs the database, he makes sure that plenty of storage space is available to the database. If the database exceeds the storage allotment, the administrator first tries to reorganize the data, deleting outdated information. If that is insufficient, the administrator can submit a request for additional storage space to the Oracle Application Express Administrator section on the software.
Besides initially setting up the Oracle database, the database administrator may be employed full-time to make changes to the database and reorganize information. Often, the database administrator stays on full-time to monitor the database's security functions. Oracle maintains internal controls such as user-ID and passwords to screen its users, and can also display a history of the users who log into it and the specific changes they make to the data. This auditing enables the database administrator to view who may be responsible for inputting false information that threatens the company's data integrity. Oracle also allows users to encrypt private information such as social security numbers and mailing addresses. Since Oracle is not geared to people untrained in computer science, it is up to Oracle database administrators to encode tablespaces and regulate the security functions. It is also an administrator's responsibility to ensure that Oracle is properly backing up information.
When Oracle database administrators first work with a company, they also make sure that the company's hardware is compatible with the Oracle software, which means that the hardware has enough memory to store Oracle. If the hardware checks out, the database administrator installs Oracle on a central computer where he can execute server commands and transmit the data to remote computers that have Oracle .Net drivers (which enables them to connect to the central computer).
After installing the server software, the administrator configures the organizational structure that will hold the data, customizing the design so it contains the name of the company and other identifying markers. Another manager often oversees this process to make sure the data is being organized in a company-specific way. That is, the manager and administrator work together to logically determine which information will be inputted into each table. Oracle contains a Database Software Assistant to facilitate the inputting of data. However, using their knowledge of the Structured Query Language (SQL), many administrators forgo the Assistant to implement their own scripts for the most specified database creation.
While inputting the data, the administrator makes sure that the hardware is efficiently handling the Oracle server. Furthermore, he ensures that the software is acting normally, and saving each new piece of data correctly. From that point on, the database administrator makes changes to the data per the instructions of upper management. He also installs upgrades to the software and continually fine-tunes it to keep it running as smoothly and securely as possible.
Oracle database administrators typically major in computer science or database management at college. Either way, they gain knowledge of many programming languages and database servers. If they decide to specialize in Oracle, they take internships with larger companies that show them how Oracle functions at a business. They may work with a senior database administrator who explains to them the job responsibilities of a database administrator. After graduation, many Oracle database administrators gain certification in Oracle through the Oracle Corporation. The corporation's certification programs include the Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) or the Oracle Certified Associate (OCA). The OCA is the recommended starting certification for entry-level database administrator jobs.
Oracle database administrators may either work full-time for companies or as contractors for about 4-6 months. If they work as contractors, they are paid well for their time and work more flexible schedules. They may work as independent contractors or as contractors for Information Technology (IT) firms.
The average salary for a new Oracle database administrator is about $55,000 per year. After five years on the job, they may advance to professional-level positions and earn about $71,000 per year. After ten years or more, they typically have senior database administrator jobs and make $80,000-$100,000 per year. Their salaries will likely continue to rise because Oracle database administration jobs are exponentially increasing.