Are you thinking of growing your career as a SQL DBA? In this post we share top 5 tips for becoming a SQL DBA.
Forging a career as a database administrator (DBA) is a worthy ambition to hold. Ideally, it will point you down the path to job satisfaction and financial stability.
Of course, it is also an increasingly popular option for aspiring IT workers. This means that there is plenty of competition for most roles in the biz.
As such, becoming a SQL DBA requires dedication, persistence and a willingness to invest in yourself. It also helps to know which solutions and strategies for career development are most effective. This will stop you from making the mistake of spending time on fruitless endeavours.
With this in mind, here are five tips to help you become a SQL DBA. Your efforts will be rewarded in the long run, so embrace a good worth ethic!
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1. Get to grips with SQL
First and foremost, you need to be a whiz when it comes to using SQL. Also known as a structured query language, it is the basis for many databases.
If you are already employed within a relevant role, your employer may offer SQL training. If not, you will have to pursue this yourself, on your own initiative.
Thankfully, SQL is considered to be simpler to learn than other programming languages. You will still need to put your brain in gear and focus to build skills. You will also need to be willing to continue learning and improving throughout your career.
In addition, there are ample online resources available to assist upcoming DBAs. Furthermore, tools like those found on SentryOne.com simplify SQL DBA duties. Becoming proficient is about learning the shortcuts, not just doing things the hard way.
2. Investigate the industry
You can only accelerate your IT career as a SQL DBA if you know the industry. There are lots of ways to go about this, and speaking with experienced DBAs helps. By doing so you will know what to expect and get insider advice to avoid pitfalls.
Another part of this is thinking about which area you want to work in. Do you want to be a SQL DBA for a major multinational corporation? Would you rather work for a small business, keeping a simpler infrastructure afloat? Do you want to secure a full-time role, or work as a contractor?
Your own preferences, skills and experience level will go into shaping your decisions. This is also the point at which studying salaries is possible. Comparing the relative remuneration available from different prospective employers will shape your expectations.
Comparisons of benefits and perks provided by businesses will be part of this process. Your career can only progress if you go in with open eyes. Most of all, don’t sell yourself short or overstate your abilities. Finding a balance is better for you and your employer.
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3. Understand DBA duties
To work out whether becoming a SQL DBA is sensible, look into what the job involves. Again, speaking with experienced admins can help here. Even a general overview of everyday duties will be instructive.
The bulk of your work will involve the use of software to manage data. This means making sure it is stored and organized efficiently. It also involves making it accessible to those that need it.
How you do this will depend on the nature of the database. If it is used internally for business apps, communicating and collaborating with colleagues is inevitable. If it powers customer-facing solutions, like a website, feedback from external sources must be considered.
This leads to the other main SQL DBA responsibility; troubleshooting. Databases, like any other IT resource, can and will encounter issues, errors and unplanned downtime. It is the role of DBAs to combat conundrums and minimize the likelihood of outages.
Troubleshooting requires a combination of manual tinker and the effective use of monitoring software. You will need to optimize SQL queries, identify the source of blocking and address deadlocks.
You will also have to be attuned to database security. Access management may fall within your prevue, covering users and apps alike. Staying on top of permissions and even structuring a permissions hierarchy may be necessary.
More broadly, SQL DBAs must put together the procedures and best practices that control the database. The way you design and document management and maintenance responsibilities really matter. This is because they have to be clear and comprehensible to others, not just yourself. Thus your written skills have to be on point as much as your coding prowess.
Lastly, you will be responsible for rolling out updates and ensuring the database run smoothly afterwards. There are different SQL-powered database platforms, so update approaches and frequencies vary.
4. Study for certification
Having a firm foundation in SQL as a language is essential for DBAs. From a career perspective, certification in the use of specific platforms is also advantageous.
Once more, it depends on the type of database that your employer uses. In some cases, a business may even cover the costs of training and testing.
A good entry level option is the Microsoft Technology Associate Database Fundamentals SQL Certification. It consists of five modules and covers core concepts such as creating and manipulating data. There are successive certifications beyond this from Microsoft, focusing on its SQL Server platform specifically.
If you are more likely to use an open-source alternative like MySQL, certifications differ. Oracle has its own training and education pathways, and this goes for other major players.
Certification is a shorthand way of showing employers that you know your stuff. It is not an automatic guarantee of employment but looks good on your resume. Furthermore, you will learn tons of practically applicable skills through the training process.
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5. Experience other aspects of software development
Even if you are set on working with SQL, expanding your horizons is advisable. Working in software development roles where other programming languages are used will empower you further.
For example, Python is a worthy stablemate for your SQL skills. It can be more potent when it comes to statistical analysis. It is also endowed with a similarly straightforward approach to syntax, just like SQL. Plenty of Python-related roles are available, so your career choices are extensive.
Java is another excellent language to pick up alongside SQL. They are often used side by side in the creation of web apps. Likewise, a knowledge of Java can help you move into mobile app development.
Ultimately you should be opening doors, rather than shutting them. So considering your SQL skills as one tool in your kit is a career catalyst.
From small businesses to globe-spanning organizations, SQL databases are a common sight. And for every database in use, an administrator is needed behind the scenes.
This creates plenty of demand within the industry and gives IT professionals more choice. Becoming a DBA will not prevent you from following other opportunities further down the line. Rather it will be another string to your bow, whatever you decide to do later.
You need a grounding in IT or a related area to get a head start. You also need to know that DBAs are always learning on the job. New challenges arise and new technologies are introduced, so it is never boring. And the sooner you start, the sooner your DBA dreams can come true.
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