The Data Designers

What you need to know to land a job and keep your skills fresh in the database management field.

Name: Michael Seagrave

Title: Lead programmer/analyst

Employer: Harrah's Entertainment Inc. in Las Vegas, which owns and manages gaming establishments in the U.S.

30-second resume: Seagrave joined the company seven years ago with a bachelor's degree in computer science and started as an AS/400 operator/administrator. After nine months, he became a programmer and was creating data reports and working with Informix Corp. products, doing design, coding and data modeling. Seagrave approached a project coordinator to join the data warehouse team. He became a lead programmer last fall and now manages programmers and business analysts on operational data store and data warehousing projects. Seagrave continues to design, model, code and work with Teradata Corp. data tools and utilities, and others.

Skills boost: "Get to see the business through your users' eyes," urges Seagrave. He attends Harrah's supervisor training, where he meets a variety of Harrah's non-IT professionals, who work in everything from gaming to food services, and learns about their jobs. "I see how they use what I create," Seagrave says.

Seagrave also learns by doing. For a recent hot project, he revamped a cumbersome flat-file data-loading practice to an all Open Database Connectivity-driven process, enabling fast, seamless selecting and loading of data from multiple systems into the warehouse. "That took a lot of learning about utilities, the various data sources, how the data would flow," says Seagrave. "Now I'm seen as one of the experts here on Teradata."

- Watson is a freelance writer in Chicago.


• Get experience designing, modifying and working with data models.

• Become proficient with a good database interface tool, and take a course in relational database design.

• Master database utilities like scheduling and version-control languages, and be skilled in designing for programs users rely on, like Word and Excel.

• Be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Database administrators say they often also act as data designers, and data architects may act as project managers.

Bonus tip: Consider adding networking skills to their portfolios.

• Vendor programs and user groups provide practical knowledge about databases; database utilities; extract, transform and load functions; online transaction processing; online analytical processing; and decision- support tools.

Bonus pay?
Salary premiums for three database certifications are rising, according to Foote Partners. The median figure for bonus pay as a percentage of base salary is 12% for Oracle Certified Professionals, 12% for Microsoft Certified Database Administrators and 10% for IBM DB2 Universal Database Certified Solutions Experts.

Market demand: Oracle data architects make about $90,000 in total cash compensation, and Oracle database administrators make about $80,000, with another 5% to 15% in hot skill premium pay. Microsoft SQL Server skills are also hot.

Data architect:
Responsible for the logical and physical design and implementation of data and systems architecture for databases, warehouses and decision-support systems.
Salary: $85,000 to $110,000

Data modeler:
Creates and implements logical and physical data models that are the foundations for database/ warehouse designs.
Salary: $70,000 to $100,000

Database administrator:
Largely responsible for day-to-day management and operations of database systems.
Salary: $65,000 to $85,000

Sources: Maureen Clarry, Connect: The Knowledge Network, Littleton, Colo.; David Foote, Foote Partners LLC, New Canaan, Conn.; Wayne Eckerson, The Data Warehousing Institute, Seattle; Michael Seagrave, Harrah's Entertain-ment; People3 Inc., Bridgewater, N.J.

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Taming Data Chaos

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