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Database Engineer vs. Database Administrator: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A database engineer and a database administrator are both responsible for the management and maintenance of databases. However, these roles have different focuses and require different skillsets. If you’re interested in working with databases, it’s important to understand the difference between these two positions. In this article, we discuss the duties of a database engineer and a database administrator, and we explain the key differences between the two roles.

What is a Database Engineer?

Database Engineers are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining the databases that power the applications and systems used by a company. They work with developers to understand the data requirements of new features and design database schemas that meet those requirements. They also optimize existing database schemas to improve performance and address scalability issues. Database Engineers write database migration scripts to update schemas and data when new features are deployed. They also monitor database performance and address any issues that arise. In addition, Database Engineers often work with DevOps teams to automate database provisioning and management.

What is a Database Administrator?

Database Administrators are responsible for the performance, integrity and security of a company’s database. They may also be involved in the design and implementation of database systems. Database Administrators typically work in an office environment, but may be required to travel to meet with clients or other IT staff. They work closely with other IT professionals, such as system administrators and network engineers, to ensure that the database system is running smoothly. Database Administrators use a variety of tools to monitor database performance and to make changes to the database structure, as needed. They may also write and test database scripts to automate common tasks.

Database Engineer vs. Database Administrator

Here are the main differences between a database engineer and a database administrator.

Job Duties

Database administrators and database engineers share some job duties, but also have distinct responsibilities within an organization. Database administrators oversee the maintenance of a database, ensuring that it’s secure and operates efficiently. They may perform tasks like designing databases, installing software and troubleshooting issues with databases.

Database engineers are more technical in their job duties and use their expertise to build, test and implement new databases for organizations. They often work closely with other engineering teams to ensure that databases meet user needs. Database engineers also monitor databases to ensure they continue functioning correctly.

Job Requirements

Database engineers and database administrators typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. They might also pursue a master’s degree in business administration with a focus on information systems to help them move into more managerial roles. Additionally, many employers prefer candidates who have experience working with databases, so it’s helpful for professionals to gain some experience through internships or entry-level jobs before applying for positions as database engineers or database administrators.

Work Environment

Database engineers work in a variety of environments, including companies that develop software and hardware. They may also work for consulting firms or other organizations that provide services to clients. Database administrators typically work in an office environment where they can access the database systems they manage. Some DBAs work in IT departments at hospitals, schools or other large institutions.


Both database engineers and database administrators use technical skills to perform their jobs. However, database engineers typically design and develop databases, while database administrators manage and maintain existing databases.

Both roles require an understanding of database concepts, such as data modeling, indexing and normalization. Database engineers need to be able to use this knowledge to design efficient and effective databases. Database administrators need to be able to use this knowledge to optimize the performance of databases and ensure that they are running smoothly.

Database engineers also need programming skills to be able to create the code that will populate a database with data. Database administrators do not need to be able to write code, but they should be familiar with it so that they can understand how the databases they are responsible for work.

Both roles require strong analytical skills to be able to identify problems and find solutions. However, because database engineers are responsible for developing new databases, they also need to have creative problem-solving skills to be able to come up with innovative solutions to challenges.


Database engineers earn an average salary of $110,788 per year, while database administrators earn an average salary of $90,558 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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