Position Description

Database Administrator (Senior)
Job Category Fulltime Regular
ExemptOvertimeEligible Overtime Eligible
Benefits Eligible Benefit Based
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Caltech is a world-renowned science and engineering institute that marshals some of the world's brightest minds and most innovative tools to address fundamental scientific questions. We thrive on finding and cultivating talented people who are passionate about what they do. Join us and be a part of the diverse Caltech community.


Job Summary

IPAC has an opening for a Database Administrator to support scientific data processing for several NASA and NSF funded space missions and ground-based telescopes. We are part of the Physics, Math, and Astronomy Division at Caltech (www.caltech.edu) and provide science operations, user support, data and archive services, and scientific vision to maximize discovery with observatories both in space and on the ground.

This position is an on-site role in Pasadena, California. 

Activities supported by the database administrator will include a variety of small to extremely large databases, both Postgres and Oracle. These databases support several major science archives along with many active and upcoming space and ground missions. Be a part of keeping track of over 5,000 exoplanets, searching for asteroids, or finding supernovae.

Essential Job Duties

Your role as a database administrator at IPAC will be to:

  • Protect the integrity of the organization’s data: guarding against data corruption and developing strategies to recover from database failures.
  • Proactively monitor the state and health of the database using a centralized database monitoring system.
  • Tune database servers as needed based on access patterns and system limits.
  • Provide support regarding access and software debugging and tuning.
  • Facilitate the release of new content by staging and publishing from a staging/test database to the operations database.
  • Handle database backup and recovery: writing scripts for backups and validating them through periodic recoveries.
  • Develop auditing scripts based on each project's requirements.
  • Maintain the database, including purging expired objects, archiving old logs, and refreshing stale statistics, performing software updates, supporting hardware upgrades and regression testing.
  • Support the project development, operations, and systems teams to design and implement database schemas for existing and new endeavors.
  • Provide consultation and assistance to applications developers regarding performance or functionality needs; advise on proposed system changes, upgrades, and optimization.
  • Collaborate with other IPAC database administrators to share methods and tools across projects and consult on solutions to problems
  • Write and maintain documentation on procedures and recipes for managing a project’s database.

Basic Qualifications

If you have the following in your background, then we want to hear about your interest in joining our team:

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in computer science or related field and 4+ years of experience as described below. Alternatively, a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in computer science and 6+ years of experience as described below.
  • Demonstrated ability in installing and administering relational database management systems.
  • Experience with Oracle or PostgreSQL database administration.
  • Experience with scripting and programming languages.
  • System administration skills.

Preferred Qualifications

Beyond these basic qualifications, there are a set of skills and experiences which will add to your ability to contribute to the roles and responsibilities of an IPAC Database Administrator. The following might give you a head-start here, but even if these do not describe you or your experience, we would still like to hear from you:

  • Experience maintaining all database-related server and client software, including user accounts and roles.
  • Ability to perform regression testing following all DB software, operating system, and hardware upgrades.
  • Design of schema with optimization of structures according to use cases.
  • Experience with implementing stored procedures and functions.
  • Familiarity with using database performance monitoring tools, vacuuming (periodic refreshes according to scheduled maintenance), and backup / replication strategies.
  • Demonstrated ability to write and maintain documentation for procedures and recipes.
  • Experience with parallel and/or non-relational database technologies.
  • Experience operating database instances in a cloud environment.

Required Documents

  • Resume

Life at Caltech/IPAC
IPAC is located on the campus of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California by the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Caltech is small, but has an extraordinary science impact, with 39 Nobel Prizes awarded to faculty and alumni. Caltech manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, the leading US center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System. Caltech also operates large-scale research facilities such as the Palomar and Keck Observatories, and LIGO, which in 2016 observed gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time.

Pasadena is a city known for its contributions to science and technology, and its rich history, cultural treasures, scenic beauty, and year-round comfortable weather create a desirable environment for life and ideas to thrive. See Bill Nye’s take on our city.

People choose to work at IPAC for many reasons, and the casual, employee-centric culture often leads to fulfilling, long-term careers and lasting relationships. Caltech’s benefits program offers a quality, competitive benefits package that is affordable for you and the Institute. The program provides a strong base of coverage for you and your dependents, and the ability to choose the plan and the level of coverage that best meet your needs. We also offer a 403(b) defined contribution plan to eligible staff as well as a Voluntary Retirement Savings (TDA) Plan. IPAC staff have access to the Institute’s facilities, including the athletic center, libraries, on-site daycare, professional development and enrichment classes, and Athenaeum club membership.

Hiring Range

$67.00 - $73.50 Per Hour

The salary of the finalist(s) selected for this role will be set based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, internal equity, experience, education, specialty and training.

As one of the largest employers in Pasadena, CA, Caltech is committed to providing comprehensive benefits to eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Our benefits package includes competitive compensation, health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement savings plans, generous paid time off (vacation, holidays, sick time, parental leave, bereavement, etc.), tuition reimbursement, and more. Non-benefit eligible employees will have access to some benefits such as onsite counseling and sick time. Learn more about our benefits and staff perks

COVID-19 Vaccine Required for All Employees

Caltech has implemented a mandatory vaccination policy effective October 15, 2021, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees (with Institute-approved exemptions for religious or medical contraindications only). At present, an individual is deemed “fully vaccinated” when that person has received, at least 14 days prior, either the second dose in a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series (e.g., Pfizer or Moderna) or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., Johnson & Johnson). Upon eligibility, employees are required to receive the COVID-19 booster as part of the vaccine mandate. As a condition of employment, employees must submit official COVID-19 vaccine documentation. More information may be found here.

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Caltech is a VEVRAA Federal Contractor.

To read more Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) go to eeoc_self_print_poster.pdf.

Disability Accommodations

If you would like to request an accommodation in completing this application, interviewing, or otherwise participating in the employee selection process, please direct your inquiries to Caltech Recruiting at employment@caltech.edu

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