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Explore database courses online

Understanding what a database is and how it is used can be critical to organizations. Because data can inform decision-makers who review aspects of business operations, employers can benefit from hiring workers who are experts in databases.

What is a database? 

A database is a collection of information, organized in a useful manner and typically stored in a computer system.¹ For example, a list of names and phone numbers could make up a database. The names are stored in a manner that associates each one with its respective number so that users can easily look up one by knowing the other.

What is the purpose of a database? The contents of databases are organized in tables with rows and columns to allow for the easy retrieval of information. The tables can look similar to spreadsheets. While spreadsheets are designed for a smaller number of users, databases can hold much larger collections of organized information and can allow multiple users to access and search data. 

The computer application used in database development to create the tables and structure and to store and retrieve the data is called a database management system (DBMS).²

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Types of databases

There are many different types of databases. How an organization intends to use data can determine what type of database it needs. These are some examples of databases: 

  • NoSQL database: stores and provides access to data that is not in a tabular format but is instead unstructured or semi-structured and allows flexibility in manipulating data and expanding data sets; also known as non-relational databases.⁴

  • Hierarchical database: stores data items that are related to each other in a hierarchical format, that can look like a family tree where one data item is the parent or child of another.⁵

  • Distributed database: stores data in different locations or databases, whether that be different computers in the same physical location or scattered over different networks regionally or globally.⁶

  • Object-oriented database: uses objects, instead of columns and rows, that have attributes or properties (e.g., represents individual tasks or characteristics). When the objects are grouped together, they produce an outcome that can represent a class or state.⁷

Database course curriculum

The fields of data science, computer science, informatics, business and more, utilize databases for management of information. Database development skills can be attractive to employers. Job candidates and professionals looking for career advancement may find it useful to pursue database administrator courses, database management courses and database systems classes that are available online. Introductory courses can cover fundamentals such as how to apply SQL to process information in a database. Specialized database tutorials online may focus on topics such as database administration, programming tools or supply chain applications. 

Discover database jobs

A variety of occupations are a good fit for professionals with database training. Businesses and organizations across various industries and sectors use raw data. They need employees who know how to access and organize that data to provide meaningful insights so they can continue to operate efficiently. Examples of database jobs include:

  • Logistician 

  • Computer network architect

  • Operations research analyst

  • Data scientist

  • Database architect or analyst

  • Database administration 

How to become a database administrator

What is a database administrator? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), database administrators, also called DBAs, create or organize systems that store and secure data and make sure data can be accessed by authorized users.⁸

Database administrators need to know database languages, such as SQL, and need to be familiar with the specific programming language used by their organization. An analytics boot camp may help with learning more than the fundamentals. However, professionals in this field typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer and data science or related fields, such as data science and engineering. Some DBAs have degrees in business.⁹ Database administrators can also benefit from advanced studies and pursue master’s degrees in either data science or engineering