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Oracle DBA salaries on the rise

Despite the past year's economic turbulence, compensation for Oracle DBAs rose, but so did the workload.

If you were an Oracle database administrator (DBA) over the past year, you likely navigated the turbulent waters of The Great Recession much better than your colleagues in other parts of the IT operation.

The severe economic downturn has taken its toll on IT shops in the form of delayed or canceled projects, cutbacks on personnel and resources and salary reductions. Despite the harsh economic environment, IT shops continued to place a high premium on DBAs, continuing to pay them the same or slightly higher base salaries, but with more bonuses compared to last year.

According to the 2009 Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) Salary Survey, conducted in concert with Unisphere Research, DBAs involved in the operational side of database sites averaged just under $96,000 in base salary. However, 44% of Oracle database professionals received some type of bonus over the past year with the average being $7,566, bringing their overall compensation to more than $100,000.

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The rise in compensation is, in part, because of expanding roles for DBAs. In many cases, DBAs find themselves assuming responsibilities for managing increasingly complex sites, which often means taking on responsibilities and specialties.

So Oracle DBAs are better paid and getting more glory, but in many cases they are also working harder. It's hardly a free ride.

"I can certainly verify that phenomenon," said Eugene Lee, a DBA for a large bank in Charlotte, N.C., referring to higher compensation to go along with more work. "As we have consolidated departments within the bank, as well as consolidating sometimes three or four branches under one roof, I have taken on many more Web sites, internal and external, along with overseeing all the personnel involved."

While Oracle DBAs have largely endured the downturn unscathed, about 25% admitted that the economy has negatively impacted their jobs. More than 16% said their job has been restructured over the past year to accommodate more responsibilities with 4% saying they were moved out of IT and into other parts of the business.

Along with added responsibilities and leaner overall IT budgets comes pressure, which makes the work life of some DBAs nerve racking.

"(With raises) comes an increase in work pressure," said one respondent to the survey who requested anonymity. "Here they are seeking full dedication and error-free performance. To keep our jobs in the safe zone, we need to be creative and implement new ideas that are profitable and also revenue generators."

In other survey results, 48% of the respondents reported salaries in the range of $85,000 to $110,000, with the level of those making over $100,000 remaining unchanged from last year, at around 25%.

Well over half of the 481 respondents to the survey were DBAs, with 16% analysts or developers. The respondents were from a range of different sized companies, with a third from companies with less than 1,000 employees. A little over 16% were from IT service companies and 14% were from government organizations.

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