Computer skills in the workplace are crucial for a large proportion of modern roles. When applying for a job, nearly all office workers should be able to confidently say that they are competent with word processing or spreadsheet software.
For databases, however, the skill gap widens rapidly. Often, businesses employ external expertise to develop databases for their companies, which can be expensive and leads to isolated pockets of skills. The expert may come in and develop the database, with only a limited transition to the core personnel, which means that, thereafter, they are potentially able to extract data from the database but cannot really maintain the database properly.
Database skills are crucial in nearly every business environment. Modern stock control systems are built around databases of varying complexity. Personnel records generally are stored in secure databases. Any digital repository of information or data is probably stored in a database. Databases are common across nearly every sector of business.
What that means is that individuals with good database skills are very much in demand. Employers are often required to pay a premium for contracted database resources. In-house personnel with good database skills can demand good salaries. The reality is that, with applied thinking and some planning, it is not difficult to master database skills.
From the outside looking in, databases appear complicated and convoluted; indeed, in some ways, many are. However, the principle of how databases work is actually a simple one, and one that can be applied regardless of the platform or nature of the database. Developing core database skills is therefore important, as it will allow you to apply the skills to any business, using any kind of database software.
Realistically, specialism is largely inevitable. There are too many database software packages to become an expert in all of them, so once the basics are mastered, it is likely that you will specialize in a particular type. That can be driven by your career plan, by market demand or a combination of the two.
Ideally, developing database skills should form part of your existing role or could be sponsored by your existing employer. External training quality can be very strong but also can be expensive to fund on your own.
That aside, any investment in development and training is likely to pay off in the medium to long term as the availability and income from database-related roles is consistently good for well-trained individuals.