Senior database administrator: How much am I worth?

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A panel of headhunters gives its assessment of typical London pay packages. Base salary: 55,000-60,000. Bonus: an average of 15%

As anyone with an even passing acquaintance with newspapers and the internet will know, information has a funny way of proliferating. Little surprise therefore, that organisations need people to keep a handle on all the information they create while going about their daily business. - Welcome to the world of the database administrator, or 'DBA'.

Investment banks use DBAs for everything from managing details of past equity and derivatives trades, to keeping tabs on the names, addresses and hair colour of employees. The tools of choice are similar to those favoured by DBAs in other industries: banks' databases typically run on Oracle, Sybase or Microsoft SQL Server.

Compared to highly-paid investment bankers, DBAs aren't exactly financial heavyweights when it comes to remuneration. But pay is not to be sniffed at. Olly Hode, a consultant at recruitment firm Project Partners, says technology partners with three to four years Oracle or Sybase experience can expect a base salary of 50,000 to 65,000 in investment banking, plus a bonus of 10% to 15%.

While agreeing (roughly) with this verdict on salaries, rival recruiters express varying opinions on the scale of bonuses. "A senior DBA with up to four years experience can expect 60,000, plus another 20,000 in bonus if they're very good," says Brent Harris, head of permanent recruitment at Aston Carter. "DBAs with three to four years investment banking experience can expect a 60,000 to 70,000 base salary, plus an average bonus of 15%" says James Bull, a recruiter at Elan.

As ever, investment banks reward more handsomely than most categories of employer and recruiters say DBAs are attracted to the industry from other walks of life. But there's disagreement over whether outside advances are entirely welcome.

Hode is positive on outsiders' prospects: "You see a lot of people coming into investment banking database administration from the telecoms sector and from companies like Oracle," he says, "It's a bonus to know the products, but not essential."

Bull is more pessimistic: "We get a lot of people applying from outside the industry," he says. "But our clients won't take them. Banks like people who know how things like derivatives, foreign exchange, and prime brokerage work."

The bad news for would-be investment banking DBAs of any hue is that jobs don't seem quite as plentiful as they used to be. "There was a huge rush on DBAs between 1997 and 2001," says Harris, "Since then the bottom's fallen out of the market completely." It could be that information isn't quite as prolific after all - or that systems are getting better at managing it without human intervention.

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