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So you’re hearing all the fun that DBAs are having on Twitter and around the intertubez, and you’re wondering how to get in on the fun.  Maybe you’re a developer or a network admin, and you’ve been learning about SQL Server from books and from peers, and you’re starting to look around for your first Junior DBA job.

Where Are the Junior DBA Job Ads?

Search for the terms “junior dba” or “senior dba” on national job sites, and the results are dramatically different:

To make matters worse, drill into the requirements for some of the so-called junior positions and they ask for:

  • “2+ years of hands-on experience administering customer-facing databases”
  • “Minimum 2 years of information technology experience is required”
  • “2 years of database administrations experience including installation and configuration”

These ads make me chuckle because a DBA with two years of hands-on experience isn’t looking for his next junior DBA job – he’s aiming for his first senior DBA job.  People don’t aspire to make lateral moves – they aspire to move up the ladder.

So we’ve started to establish that it’s not just you: there aren’t junior DBA ads sitting around waiting for takers.

Why Aren’t More Companies Hiring Junior DBAs?

Databases are among a company’s most valuable assets.  They hold sales data, payroll data, information about customers and competitors, and all kinds of proprietary data.  Companies guard this data closely, and they don’t want just anybody stepping up to the server to handle backups, restores, and security configuration.

Companies may be willing to hire junior developers instead – for some reason, they don’t have a problem giving a fresh-out-of-college person access to all the data.  But when it comes time to actually managing the data, they want someone experienced.

As a result, even when a small company with a handful of SQL Server instances goes shopping for a DBA, they want someone experienced.  They want to hear from the candidate, “Yes, I can do what you need – I’ve already done this for a much larger shop, and I’ve got experience handling this sort of thing.”  They sleep better at night knowing their DBA is not stressed out trying to figure out how to automate backups for the first time.

Every now and then, big companies will actually hire junior DBAs.  This mostly happens when they’ve already got a crew of senior DBAs, but here’s the odd part: they don’t have anyone internally that wants to get promoted into the DBA team.  That’s very peculiar, because in companies large enough to have DBAs already, they often have people in other teams who want to become DBAs.

Know Your Competition: Other Junior DBA Candidates

The few available junior DBA positions attract a few kinds of candidates:

  • Developers with a year or more of SQL Server programming experience who’ve decided they want to focus on SQL Server instead of development.  They’ve written code that stores data in SQL Server, so they know the basics of T-SQL or LINQ, understand the basics of data models, and maybe they’ve even done a little SQL Server administration on their dev boxes.
  • Windows administrators with a year or more of Windows experience who also want to switch their focus.  These people know hardware, know the basics of performance tuning, have backup/restore experience, and maybe they’ve even built a cluster or two.  They might have even built SQL Servers, but they haven’t been working on SQL Server full time.
  • SQL Server DBAs who’ve been let go, and they’re desperate.  They might have worked for a company in financial trouble, they might have been drinking on the job, who knows.  These are your most dangerous competitors, because at first glance, their resumes kick sand on your resume.
  • College grads or training grads with no experience.

If you’re in that last category, I gotta be honest: you’re screwed.  Go get a job as a junior developer or a junior Windows admin first, and then work your way into database administration.  There is no classroom training that’s going to convince a company to hand over the keys to their data on your first day in the office.  You may see ads for certification programs that promise to make you DBA-ready within a week for a few thousand dollars.  It won’t get you the job – at least, not when you compare yourself to the competition.  After you’ve gotten started in a development or sysadmin position working around SQL Server, come back here and continue reading about how to take it to the next level.

Getting Promoted is Easier than Getting Hired

If you’re a developer or Windows admin, try to get promoted internally rather than switching companies.  You’ve already built up a level of trust with your coworkers.  Make yourself the natural candidate by actively going after the position before the position even exists: volunteer to spend time with the DBAs, help them during scheduled outages, or just ask if you can sit around and watch during the weekend maintenance windows.  Bring coffee, donuts and bacon, and be the most pleasant (but not over-the-top) person in the room.

If you’ve already got a job in close proximity to SQL Server, this is one of the times where getting certified in SQL Server without getting the job first does make sense.  I’ve blogged about how certification is the icing on the cake: don’t get certified without at least some vague experience in SQL.  Developers and Windows admins will gain knowledge from the certification training process, and it’ll buy them a little bit of credibility in the eyes of the DBA team.  Not a lot – but some.

If you dislike the DBA team at your company, I’ve got bad news: you’re probably going to dislike most DBA teams, and switching companies isn’t going to make things better.  However, if you’re absolutely determined to jump ship, there’s a few things you can do to make the hiring process easier, and I’ll explain those in my next post.

Need to practice for your next interview?

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Check Out Part 2 of this Series! You CAN Get DBA Experience Without a DBA Job

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  1. I swear you are reading my mind and answering questions that I’ve been thinking about for weeks now!
    Can’t wait ’til part 2. Thanks!

  2. Ditto. As someone who is trying to advance his SQL knowledge to become a DBA, I am eagerly awaiting your next installment.

  3. Also if you come from a development background, keep an eye open for database developer or development DBA jobs, in addition to Junior DBA. Even though you do a lot of t-sql development, these jobs many times work closely with production DBAs (keeping the server up running well) and may allow you to pick up some more advanced SQL administration skills to use further down the line to obtain a job in a full-time DBA role if that is what you desire.

    If you have experience with writing SQL through a development job, shoot for those jobs that say 2+ years required. You might just have enough experience to fill the requirements of the position, even if you haven’t spent 2+ years fully devoted to supporting/writing sql.

  4. True ;-)

    I’ll wait with David Stein for the next installment of this yet another great Ozar series!

  5. I have been wondering this for 20+ years when I first started looking a job in the computer field and seeing ads for Oracle positions that all required 2+ years. How can anyone get an Oracle job when they all required min 2 years??

  6. I was surprised by this, because I only hire entry-level and junior DBAs and it comes down to money. I can’t afford to hire an experienced DBA, but I can train someone who is smart and eager to become a DBA.

    • Hi Sarah,
      I am Ibrahim Kadtal have completed my dba core and RAC. As your comment in this blog. I am eagerly searching job in dba. I made my passion to be dba but i am strugling due to fresher as said Brentozar. Help me.

    • I eager to become a dba………….

  7. Sarah – you’re totally right, and I talk about that in part 3 on Friday! First-timers should look for companies with a strong senior team that’s willing to mentor them. You’re a great example.

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  12. hello there!
    i have solid training for “sql developer” and try to get stepped in the field, but i don’t have ‘any related experience” at all , & just “associate degree ” in “political science” ,
    also, i don’t want to ‘exaggerate” about my experience in my ‘resume” ,
    what’s ur recommendation please?

    Regards
    kash

  13. Kash – realistically, you’re not going to get a DBA job. You need to get a developer or sysadmin job as I explained in the other posts in the series.

  14. Please tell me about jobs on actual work environment done by Jr. DBA.

  15. I’m looking into starting a bachlors in computer science or information systems but am afraid that I will not be able to find a job straight out of school, I have 10 years of work expierence but not in it. any advice. would a concentration in networking be any better?

    • It depends on your work experience. If you’ve been working with computers for the last several years, then yes. Otherwise, you’re probably going to have a rough time, and you might end up in an internship at very low pay. Generally speaking, a Bachelor’s degree isn’t going to be enough by itself.

      I’d ask why you’re getting into computers. If it’s just to make money fast, those days are over, and you’d do better with a different degree focus that will make you more valuable to more people.

      • If it’s just to make money fast, those days are over, and you’d do better with a different degree focus that will make you more valuable to more people.

        This begs the question. What specifically would you recommend as a degree focus that will make you more valuable to more people?

        Thanks

        • Dennis – actually, I wouldn’t recommend a college degree as a Plan A for a secure living for the rest of your life. College degrees are expensive, and the choice of major comes at a horrible time in one’s life. You’re not really equipped to make a $100k gamble on what degree will work for you personally. I do recommend college just for a year or two of building a network, but if you’re into programming, you might be able to build a startup or go to work for one without slogging through college.

          • Brent, I see what your saying regarding skipping college and its popular advice these days in the blogosphere (James Altucher and Penelope Trunk for example have the same advice). Thank god I came across your blog because my local community college advertises that database administration is a “hot career” where you only have to take their classes and you can be employed as a database administrator straight out of college.
            Would you not agree, however, that accounting is one of the worthwhile exceptions to this advice? My present employer (a megacorp) won’t consider anyone for their accounting department without at least an associates in accounting. I’m actually a 44 year old who is investigating a career switch and accounting is on my list of possibilities. My feeling is that you would recommend that I start a business as a hedge or an alternative to any more college but I have simply no good business ideas let alone one that would be successful. To be honest if just feels “safer” to me to acquire a new skill than engage in business speculation.

          • Dennis – got some tough love here. If you’re 44, and you haven’t built up a network of friends who would love to work with you, and would hire you if you told them you were looking, then you’re not going to solve the problem with a degree.

            Read this: http://www.brentozar.com/archive/2009/10/how-to-get-a-better-job/

  16. I am doing desktop support job for last more than on year. I got Master Degree in computer science then completed my Oracle 8 DBA certification in 2002, but unluckily I couldn’t get any Oracle DBA job. I worked in Telecom field for more than 5 years in technical side. Now as I am back in IT field I want to get back dba side again. it’s Long time now I am untouch with oracle DBA course, but i cannot afford to do Oracle DBA training again. so I need your suggestions in this regard that shall I do SQL DBA, if so which version do you recommend and how should I prepare it, either my self or from some college. Thanks.

    • Hi, David. No, I’d recommend against spending money on more training. I’ve blogged here about why certifications and training alone don’t get you the job in today’s market. Instead, your best bet is to get a job in a company using Oracle and/or SQL Server, and start working with the company DBAs. Ask them for mentoring, volunteer to work late hours with them, and try to get on-the-job experience. No one will hire a DBA without experience, and you’ll need to get that experience rather than more degrees and certifications. I’d hate to see you shell out more money when it won’t help.

  17. hello brent..

    I just want to clear my doubts regarding switching jobs.
    As of now i am currently working as a database Developer in MySQl (open-source) .. & its almost from last 14 months that means i have more than a year experience in MySQL Development which we do using SQL, stored routines etc …
    .But before getting a job in MySQL i completed my Oracle 9i Certification an OCA.

    Now i want to change my JOB …so is it possible to switch from MySQL development to Oracle Developer .. What type of questions can be asked … & what other points .i should know for switching my job from MySQL to Oracle development.

  18. Hi, Brent.
    Thanks for your blog.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your articles. I don’t know where to post my technical question. So I am posting here.

    My company, the State of Maryland is moving from DB2 V8 on z/OS to SQL Server 2008 on Windows. Yesterday I attended a meeting to discuss how to load data from DB2 tables to SQL Server. I’ve had experiences in unloading DB2 data through IBM’s Unload utility and tranfer it to and from mainframe through FTP.

    The project I am in has SQL Server DBAs. But before hearing from them I want to hear any advice or suggestions you can give. Or, could you direct me to any website or articles I can read regarding this? Of course, I have made my own searches on the web.

    Thank you,

    James

  19. Hi Brent, just drifting by checking out your web-blog-site and love it. Soooo do you miss SWS? Keep in touch, now let me continue to peruse your site.

    • Howdy, Chris! Yeah, I do miss SWS – there’s a bunch of really good people there. The Windows team was awesome, and I definitely miss working with Don. You guys carrying on okay without me? ;-)

  20. Brent,

    I am Windows/VMWARE Administrator and later this year, I will be in a short project installing and administrating SQL 2008 server.

    Do you know good books about learning to administer MS SQL Server 2008.

    Thanks

  21. Brent,

    Thanks for you quick response. I will take a look

  22. Hi,

    Does a MS SQL DBA need to know T-SQL (Regular, Inter, or Expert?

    Thanks

    • Yes, it’s a pretty crucial part of getting your job done day to day. The good news, though, is that it’s one of the easiest languages to learn because it has elements of English, and it’s been out for decades so it’s easy to pick up educational material for it. For example, the book SQL for Dummies is a good resource – it teaches cross-platform ANSI SQL that will work on multiple database platforms.

  23. I’ve been a database “power user” for 10 years. I’ve wanted to take the next step and become a true DBA. I’m good enough at what I do that I’ve worked as the DBA in a few small shops, but I’ve never considered myself a “true” DBA. When I found your online series, I cheered! Thanks, Brent for taking the time to help educate those of us who want to take that next step.

    Regards,

    Mike

  24. Brent, for a new candidate which MS SQL would you recommend to study SQL 2005 or SQL 2008?

    Thanks

  25. i m working in a bank.sql server 2005 is the platform.i have started preparing for MCTS 70-431 but now sql server 2008 came.so i m confused should i complete my 2005 certification levels or jump to 2008.my thinking was as i m working on 2005 ,that will be the best option.

  26. i mean i have almost finished the book MCTS selfpaced training kit for 70-431(sql 2005).so should i get a new book
    and start allover.or should i contine with sql 2005 and give one exam to uprade to 2008.because there are no good books available till now .i have searched the websites and saw customer reviews also about these books.

  27. iam a non it experienced candidate of 3 yrs. i want to further start my career as a SQL DBA . I am BE civil.i hv started self study on SQL and need your advice to start and grow in this field.

    • Hi. I wish I could help everyone one-on-one with coaching, but since that’d turn into a full time job ;-), I instead wrote these blog posts with the help. If you’ve got specific questions, feel free to let me know. Thanks!

  28. Brent, how are you doing, I always wonder how intelligent and smart you are and I always wanted to be a smart person like you whom every one admires of; i am great fan of your blog, postings and i even follow you on twitter even though i do not understand much sql server as i know a very little.
    Coming to my question i am in IT from 3yrs, worked for a year and half as ETL QA/tester for organizations like Microsoft(1yr in Redmond, WA) and now working as a Software tester from a year; I wanted a career in sql server/database but do not know what is good like development or dba and do not know where to start; in all of your blogs and postings you mentioned about sys admins or networking or else but you never wrote something for a QA/tester who wanted to pursue database career like me who knows very little abot database, if you dont mind will you plz preach me your golden words of magic for my career, where and how should i start or advice something for qa person who wanted to pusue a career in database.

  29. Hello..!!!
    I am fresher candidate who is doing b-tech. I am in 3rd year doing computer engineering. I am very much interested in database. Regards to this, i hv completed OCP-DBA(4 modules). Gave all d tests of these modules and scored well. Dont hv interest in programming field. So would like to know how should i be successful getting hired in company with no work experience as i have come to know dt companies are always interested in candidates having work experience.
    Thank you..!!

    • Yatin – sorry, but you won’t be successful with that approach. You can’t get hired as a DBA without work experience. If programming doesn’t interest you, you could also consider other career fields like business intelligence developer (writing reports and building cubes) or systems administrator, and those fields can eventually move into database administration after they’ve built up experience.

  30. Thnku so much sir for guidance. Sir can u pls tel me certain fiels which can help me to enter into database field..?? For e.g. if we take systems administrator as a field, then what all courses should i do to get into it..??

    • Yatin – unfortunately, I wouldn’t be a good person to give you a list of courses for each profession. Instead, I’d recommend that you work with your college counselors to explore what courses interest you the most, and then talk to them about what jobs will use that course. I wouldn’t be able to give you the same focused counseling that a local counselor would be able to give. Good luck, and take care!

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  32. Hi Brent Ozar.

    Wel I working at a bank mainframe ops for 5 years.
    I want to change from this environment to SQL 2008 DBA.
    Is this possible, to change to this job?
    Please I need your advice?

  33. Hi Brent Ozar.

    Yes, I am busy with swatting SQL 2008 DBA. I will attend a 30 days course at CTU training. It cost me allot but I like this tipe of work. I am currently chat with other SQL DBA and they are great in assist me with it.

    You see I am a familie man and working long shifts. So I don’t see my kids and wife that match. So I have to change work before I lost my familie.

    Please help.?

  34. Hi Brent Ozar

    Is it possible to go from a IBM mainframe IT ops to a SQL DBA.? After I complited my SQL DBA 2008 course.?

    What complications are there.?
    What can I still do to be able to even get a junior DBA job.?

    Iam currently walking in the dark.

    Thank you for you time.

    • Mathys – like I said, anything is possible. I’ve written extensively here about how to get a junior DBA job. Read the articles here on my site, and when you have specific questions, let me know.

      I gotta be honest, though – it feels like you’re not really doing your homework. If you’re asking this comment on a blog post that TELLS you how to get a junior DBA job, you’re not giving me warm and fuzzy feelings about your abilities to get the job. ;-)

  35. Hey Brent,

    I have been writing loads of SQL in my last 2 years with experience in Cognos BI. I have a Masters degree in Computer Science. I have been mostly working with Oracle and how do you think a transition from Oracle and MS-SQL will be. I have a feeling that it is just the syntax that changes for the most part between Oracle and MS-SQL but not pretty sure. Do you think complete understanding of SQL and T-SQL (PL/SQL) suffice to start of with a steps to a junior DBA?

    • Taylor – interesting question. Why would you want to switch from Oracle to MSSQL? Why not move into an Oracle DBA position? Leverage your peer network, especially since you’ve been working with Oracle and BI folks.

  36. hi brent,its almost been 1.5 yrs working as a DBA.what additional skills should i have which will help me develop in this field.
    right now i have a fair knowledge of reporting and integration services.

    • Hi, Azad. It depends on what you’d like to do – the job title “DBA” has a ton of different jobs underneath it. Your best bet is to work with other DBAs in your area, find a local mentor, and talk to them about the kind of work they do. You can attend your local PASS chapter to get a head start on that:

      http://sqlpass.org

      Hope that helps!

  37. Hi Brent!

    I’ve just recently come across your blog and love it! I was wondering if I can get your advice. I recently completed my BS in Computer Information and am going for my Masters in Information Systems… Now I know I need DBA experience so how do you get in with a consulting company in order to get that Junior DBA job? I have tons of experience with writing SQL and using SQL Server 2005 & 2008. As far as the administrative tasks I have only performed simple backups, created a few simple procedures, etc. I want to get those skills but am having trouble finding the position that will allow me to do that.

    The life of an aspiring DBA!

    Oh… and I love the podcasts as well :)

    • Esli – the answer to that one is pretty simple; call them. Just pick up the phone and call your local consulting companies to find out if they’ve got openings for junior DBAs. There’s no secret magic to that one. Most of the time, however, they’re not going to be hiring outright when you don’t have experience. That’s why I recommend in this blog post series that you get a job as something else (like developer or sysadmin) and work your way into a DBA role. Hope that helps!

  38. Hi Brent!
    Thank you for your advices.I have 2 years software development experience.then, I left my job I move to new city two years ago. I start to learn Oracle a years ago. I want to be a Oracel DBA. I have prepared a lot,I attended the training course, got the certificate, But I don’t have any really work experience, How can start my first DBA job? where I can find the mentoring, volunteer choice?

    • Lily – this entire article series is devoted to just that topic. Please read the entire article by clicking through each post and it has the answers you need.

  39. hi brent

    good news.i got a job in software company as a associate SQL DBA.finally all that hard work paid off.your post helped me a lot.i did all those things that u told me.wish me luck for my new job.

    thanks a ton

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  41. Hi,

    I graduated in 2008 with a BS in CS and I am currently working on a MS in information systems. My title is basically sr. developer/programmer but I’ve managed to earn the trust of my manager and systems admin to take over sql server 2000 and 2008, as the dba (took me 2 years). I’ve setup sql server 2008, reporting server and integration server. I have made maint. plans, manage security, setup emails and such and I am currently working on a migration plan. We are a small shop and we have about 40-50 databases. I am not sure if this is good enough experience to try to move up. I am still called a programmer (get paid like one too). So basically I want my title, job description, and check to be changed and that might not be easy. I expect a lot of resistance from my peers and upper management. So perhaps is best to just find a jr. dba job elsewhere. Anyways my questions are: Will it be difficult to make a transition to another company if not almost impossible? Should I try for senior? I guess I am just concern because we are not a big shop and I was given that responsability recently. Any advice?

    Thank you for the great article!

  42. hi brent
    iam a bsc electronics holder. I have done oracle dba too. but now iam not getting any job as a dba. plz help me

  43. Hi Brent,

    Im going through your blog for the first time and you have been answering and advising all audience,
    Well im a SQL SERVER BI developer worked in FL on SSIS/SSRS/TSQL for nearly an year(Contract ended).
    I really want go up the ladder and become a DBA, i have checked some training videos but nothing impressed me. I would like to take up my next assignment as a Jr DBA , can you give me some advise/directions

    thanks
    JS

    • Hi! If you click Becoming a DBA at the top of this page, I’ve got tons of articles about it. Read through those and then feel free to ask more specific questions.

  44. I am working as sofware professional in an MNC.
    Now i am looking forward to develope my career in ORCALE , currently i dosent had any work experiance in oracle .So i am planning to take OCP in DBA .But when i consult with some of friends i came to know that oracle application developement will more advantage for you to get a openning (Because i dosent had a experiance in oracle).
    I already joined a class for DBA , so for getting an openning for me do i need to take both certification on oracle application developer and on oracle dba ?
    Will it help me to built career? Please give me some reply if possible.

  45. Hi, Brent I have read your blog and it is really help full.I am a student right now going for Database Specialist Certification want to become a SQL Developer but have no job experience so you said in your blog that get a job as junior SQL developer. In order to get a job as junior Developer can you tell me what certification or what class should I take.

    Thank YOU.

    • Generally speaking, junior developers don’t need certifications – they just need to network to get to know prospective employees. Most certs are easy to get in the US, so they don’t carry much weight.

  46. Hi Brent,

    I have 7 month work experience as a SQL DBA(Under the Senior DBA, who is working remotely). I am Little bit confident about SQL Administration Work but now days every requirement wants SSIS, SSAS, SSRS and i don’t have any experience on this field.
    Now i want work in professional environment and i upload my resume on some website but i didn’t get any single client call.
    Can you please guide me what should i have to do?

  47. I’m screwed i’ll get a junior developer then i’ll come back for read the part 2, i promise.

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  49. hi Brent i came to your blog from googling stuff about DBA work and i have to thank you because your articles have answered lots of questions i had on my mind about this career path, i am 36 years old and come from a web designer animator past, as you say in your article its hard for a first timer of getting their first DBA job which is understandable, but you say newly graduates have a better chance of getting hires, my plan is getting my AA in ‘business application & data administration’which has some good classes to train me to get my hands dirty with database work, than focus myself on ms-sql and becoming ms-sql certified. That would make my chances better in landing that first DBA job right? also with most of the develoment IT job being outsourced overseas do you think that the DBA jobs (specifically ms-sql ones) are in danger to be outsourced?

    • Devon – glad I could help! Unfortunately, no, I don’t think an Associate’s degree is going to help you land a DBA job without hands-on experience. Training courses and college are not experience. The best route into database administration as a career is to get database experience at work while you’ve got another job (programming or systems administration) and then transition in from there.

      About the outsourcing – I don’t agree that most development IT jobs are being outsourced overseas, but even if they were, the “most” thing is really misleading. Do you want to do what you love? Are you really good at doing it? If so, there’s always going to be jobs for the people at the top. However, if you’re just looking for a check, and you don’t have a burning passion to do the job, you’re going to find someone else taking your job because they’re passionate about it and they won’t stop working/training/learning on it. That’s the same for any line of work.

      If you want to do database work, use your contacts from your web design past to intern with coders who use databases. It’ll cost you less than getting the AA degree, and it’ll continue to build your network – and that’s where the jobs are. If you’re not willing to work for next-to-nothing on this, then don’t get into it – it’s not your real calling.

      Hope that helps!

  50. Hi Brent,

    About 2 yrs ago i was new in the DATABASE field.In these 2 yrs i have worked like hell and coz of that i got selected in Microsoft GTSC bangalore. During this period your advise has help me a lot.
    I would like to thank you for that.You are my inspiration.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Azad R Sale

  51. Do the best, mess the rest.
    Keep peace in mind and calm like the wind.
    Hot like a fire, power like an ocean.
    A thousand miles road will begin with a single step.

    Thanks for such precious advices. I feel a passion of doing it.

    P.S. Do you know after retired then what a DBAn doing?)

  52. hey i am jst out of colg,nd did attend an interview in a MNC for pl/sql programming job role,so im bit in confusion if i shud tak the job or not,since i wanna be a DBA in the future,dats the reason i completed the OCA exam too..pls do guide me.

    • Ash – if you’ve got an offer for a job, and you don’t currently have a job, you should probably take the job. This is a rough time to come out of college as a computer science person.

      • but vud nt it be a prob later ven i wanna apply for dba job?? since i wont be havin any experience in dat field??

        • Ash – do you have any DBA experience today? If you don’t, then you’re not going to be any worse off later than you are now, right?

          Also, just a side note – your bigger problem is spelling and grammar. ;-) Keep in mind that people will Google for your name and email address, and if they run across comments like this, some managers will have a hard time taking your work seriously. They’re going to think your T-SQL is as bad as your spelling and capitalization. I know, it sucks, but that’s the reality of looking for jobs.

  53. hey i am jst out of colg,nd did attend an interview in a MNC for pl/sql programming job role,so im bit in confusion if i shud tak the job or not,since i wanna be a DBA in the future,dats the reason i completed the OCA exam too..pls do guide me regarding dis.

  54. Programmers work with data and DBAs. Some DBAs I worked with came from programming background. In this economy it seems wise to get a programmer position and learn from it.

    • okay,but will I be able to move to the DBA field later ??

      • Ash – you can move to any field you want, but you have to make a plan. Build a plan to get from point A to point B, and then work the plan. You can definitely move from programming to DBA positions. I’ve been there myself.

  55. It depends on the job openings in the company you are going to work or other companies and how much you learn . Not long ago I asked my manager (DBA team of 6) who she was going to hire to replace a DBA who is going to retire. She told me she prefers to hire a programmer in our organization.

    Programmers closely work with DBAs and some of their skill sets are same as DBA’s such as languages but not all.

    I am not an Oracle DBA. But Oracle DBAs use PL/SQL and so do the developers.

  56. Hi
    i am looking for a job as a junior Oracle DBA can any one please advice me on how to get an Oracle DBA job. i have beeen looking for where to startup my career but everywhere i go to they are asking for 3 or more years real-time experience how can i get a experience without a job. i have a 2.6 experience BPO. its been preety tough but i wont give up. any advice will be appreciated

  57. Hi,
    I got 2+ years experience in .Net Programming. I am intersted in SQL. Now i am thinking to switch over my career to SQL Developer. But I don’t know whether this is a good move or not. Pleae advice.

    • Bala – well, it depends. What specifically interests you about being a SQL developer more than a .NET programmer?

      • SQL Server database administration really attracted me because i am person who loves to take responsibilities and challenges, Also i am very organized in my work.

        you know it isn’t easy to get a job straight as a Jr.DBA. So i found that the transition from SQL developer to DBA is quiet easy when comparing from .Net developer. Also i am quite confident in my T-SQL programming and performance tuning.

  58. Hi, Brent.

    I just wanted to thank you for such an awesome article. I’m sure it’ll help a lot of people who want to become a DBA someday.

    I’m a software dev and I really think there are not much places to go when one needs references and some guidance towards the starting point. This articles helps us to achieve that.

    Someday when I get there where I want to be, I’ll look back and thank people like you, Grant Fritchey, Steve Jones, Jeff Moden and many others who spare no effort to help everyone from the novice to the professional.

    I appreciate it. :)

    Best regards,

    Andre Guerreiro Neto (codebyo)
    http://twitter.com/#!/andre_byo

  59. gud aftn sir, i’m final year IT student. I finished oracle 10G in NIIT. i like to become a DBA. wt i have 2 do. how can i apply for job. pls give me an idea about this field. wt other exam i have 2 write for this and wt other course i have 2 go.

  60. Pingback: So You Want to Get a Job in Information Technology? - Server Fault Blog

  61. Hi,
    I am changing my career, I studied Oracle 8i and upgraded to 11gr2 and now I finished my OCA and heading looking for a job. I wanted to get a entry level DBA jobs or similar to that. How can I do that. Please and thankyou!

    Chandra

  62. Sounds like Brent has studied my Biography, I could not agree more with this post

  63. Hi, once again great article you’ve got, I’ll be getting BSc Degree in Computer Science next year and since I have no working experience even though I wanted to be a DBA, does having Web development experience later on in life can help me to transit back to a DBA in future? Or in your or anyone’s experience have you seen or heard someone from web development experience moved to DBA career…

  64. That’s Awesome, Thanks Brent…

  65. It is nice one, thank you for sharing

  66. Tanks sir.my issue is im very confident of myself.so pls i need a junior dba job thou im stil hopin to write d certificatn.im a nigerian.

  67. Im realy very grateful 4 ur write up.put i have tried to find a junoir dba job wit no sucess.im very confident of my ability as a dba, i just need an opprtunity.im a nigerian.

  68. Thank you for sharing Sir..I’m now working as junior developer and have OCA..I’m very passion to get a position as DBA..this article very helpful and guide me to the what I want. I hope I can achieved it someday. Thanks again.

  69. Hi sir
    i’ve just completed I.T course lst yr in college. I hv 6 months experiance as an Admin assistant in Dept of Edu…i hv done Databases as 1 of my modules(Intro). I wnt 2 bcm a DBA. Do i hv 2 study more abt Databases or wat?

    • Kenneth – that’s a great question to ask. Have you contacted people who are hiring DBAs in your area to see what kind of experience they’re looking for?

  70. Thanks for your response Prof. I haven’t contacted them as yet But i’m willing 2 learn more about Databases (sql). I’m only having the basic part of it which is Intro(intro to MySQL db,data modeling,nomalization,dbms, and etc….)

  71. Hello,

    I am about to start a 3 year Informatics degree that will cover programming and databases amongst other modules. My 5 year plan is to become a DBA. I have ZERO IT experience. What can I do (courses, online or otherwise) in order to spead up the process, i.e. not wait till I finish my 3 year Bsc??

    Any advise would be helpful.
    Thanks

  72. I really appreciate this post. I am a senior DBA person (Data Architect) and my 18 yr old daughter is considering being a DBA. As far as fresh out of college, I think I can help her land being a DBA right out of school. The reason? I have contacts and I will mentor her. I will introduce people to her and she will say she is taught by me. I would suggest others to network with a DBA in their organization and learn from them. They will have a lot of say if someone can be brought in. At my previous company we hired someone who was a programmer with a lot of good SQL skills and taught him. DONT give up hope, Network!

    Michael F. Berry
    MCDBA,MCP,MCTS,MCITP(2005/2008 DBA), MCT
    Contributor to SQL Server Magazine

  73. Brent,

    Thank you for this article I wish I had found it when I graduated college in 2005 as I was looking to get into being a Jr DBA but as you know that isn’t really possible for most people.

    Instead I got a job working as a SQL Developer for a Website company for 2 years building databases and DTS packages to import data. The last 4+ years I have been working as now a DB Support/software support for a company doing data cleanup, database restoring, writing SProcs to pull data from varies other applications DBs and flat file systems, creating maintenance plans, backing up, restoring DBAs, saving corrupted DBs ect. I have experience with SQL Server 2000/2005/2008/2012.

    I am ready to move on from the company I am currently at and they don’t have a DBA to learn from and I have really gleaned most of the knowledge from my older DB co-workers.

    I am hoping with 6 yrs experience I have enough beginning knowledge to move into a Jr DBA position where I can learn from DBAs. I have been going through a SQL 2012 DB Administration to try to get an idea of what’s new and hopefully get a jump. Is this a good idea or should I focus on 2008 R2 still? Working with a large customer base they are spread out between versions of SQL most are still on 2005 though, is the slow upgrade path of SQL typical for smaller companies? Also I know you mentioned certifications if I am looking into that is it better to go for SQL 2008 or study and go for 2012?

    I do have friends at Expedia, MS and RIM hopefully those contacts can help as well.

    I appreciate you taking the time and effort to write this and respond to comments. Sorry for the long post and probably to much info!

    Thanks for the time that anyone might have taken to read this.

    • Jeremy – wow, you’ve got a ton of questions in here.

      First, what version should you focus on, SQL 2008 or SQL 2012? Actually, I would recommend devoting more time to networking. Talk to your friends at other businesses who are doing SQL Server work and ask what they need help with. The specific version doesn’t matter as much as your ability to solve business problems.

      Is a slow upgrade path typical? Yes, once a database solution is in place, companies aren’t usually quick to jump to the next version. You don’t wanna fix what’s not broken – if it works, leave it be.

      Should you get certified on 2008 or 2012? I don’t think the version matters all that much right now to most companies. I’ve written about why certifications are the icing on the cake. Do a minimum of studying, and instead just jump in. Schedule the exam and go for it – otherwise you’ll delay forever thinking you’re not ready. Trying the exam will give you a feel for the question depth and coverage areas.

      Hope that helps!

  74. Hello Prof. Thanks for the great post. Currently im working as a search engine optimizer(SEO). I got 5 yrs of exp in seo field. I want to shift to Database field. Kindly advise

  75. i heard that for fresher dba is not well job, and salry for the dba is also not as much as devloper

    • Rohit – it depends on the market. As I wrote above, I’d actually recommend that you start as a developer instead of a DBA, and then grow your skills from there if you’d like to become a better DBA.

  76. from what I know… DBAs make more money than programmers typically. and its a better job in my opinion. again you can work your way up and also start as a report developer (how I did) which is more focused on SQL anyway:)

  77. Hi, I started my career in mainframe production support. And I have one year of experience in it.
    What should I do now to become a DBA? Will my previous experience count?

  78. Pingback: Want to be a DBA? How to get your first gig: | The Road to Greatness

  79. Hi,i have completed my oracle 10g training and looking for a core dba job…i am btec 2012 batch pass out and after completing my college i did this training.kindly guide me what should i learn step by step.I have made search and found that in India ,there is mostly requirement for DBA who knows about RAC,DATAGUARD,MIGRATION.and i dont have any experience in handling production database.tell me something where to start.I have got offers for sql, but i refused to take it.because i want to do something valuable as dba.

  80. Dear Brent

    Currently I work as application support administrator . And I always wanted to become DBA . but unfortunately its really hard to find DBA job without any experience. I have read your blog and I have got some ideas. and also I’m trying get SQL server certification done. but my question is whats sort of job i should start with? as in like SQL developer or sys admin assistant . Also what sort of programming languages will be an advantage or should learn towards this career path. I would really appreciate if you share your experience as how did you get into SQL DBA (which is in your blog ) or how did you motivate yourself or how did you study.

    Thank you so much for the postings and for your blog.this helps us alot

    Best regards,

    Milinda

  81. Thoroughly interesting read.
    Thanks for posting this mini-series (even if it was 4 years ago!), It has definitely influenced my thinking.

    Regards

    James

  82. Dear Brent
    I want to switch my job now I am IT technical support Person
    which field i choose means DBA /Developer or system administrator ?

  83. I have done B.tech(CSE) then M.Tech(CSE) .After clearing OCJP (Oracle certified java professional Exam) Is there is guarantee that i would get job.

  84. sir i have completed b.tech (IT) in 2012. at present i am working as a back office executive. but i don’t think that this job can help me to shape up my career. i am getting frustrated day by day. i have nothing to learn here.

    Also now days no any one is in a mood to recruit freshers in any profile except bpo (voice/ non voice process).Opportunities are very limited and competition is extremely tough.

    I enjoy writing sql queries and to be very honest i would like to confess that i am not so good in programming. i am also pursuing m.tech (cse) side by side..sir kindly suggest me, what should i do to boost up my career ???

  85. Basically I’m screwed.. Lovely. So in actuality doing a degree makes no sense considering it really doesn’t matter without experience.. I totally feel like I’m wasting my time in college now and it’s only my first year..

    • Well, not exactly – just focus on getting a job that will lead toward the one you really want. If you’re determined to become a DBA, start with a CS degree, for example. And along the way, don’t focus on just getting the degree – make a network of people who are also going into computers. Those people networks are how you get the real jobs – and hey, lots of folks just start awesome sites right now while they’re in college. Go for it!

      • I’m doing Information Technology, which I guess isn’t much of a difference. I can tell you though, this is a bit discouraging knowing now I won’t be able to land an entry level DBA job straight out of college. I mean what’s even the point of the degree if it doesn’t teach you what’s really needed to be known to work in the actual workplace? Recruiters at the same time not making things easier by throwing up advertisements for entry level jobs requiring one to two years experience. Exactly, what makes it an entry level job then?! You need experience to get a job, yet you need a job to get experience? Job market you’re killing me here.

        • Xavier,

          There are not enough DBA jobs for colleges to justify a program to crank them out. This makes it hard to become one, yes, but also makes it not be a dime a dozen job like programmer or web designer which keeps it hard to fill for recruiters and good paying! it makes it a desired job to have and worth the extra effort and time to work your way up!

          • and you will not be wasting your time in college. a degree will be almost needed for a DBA job. shows you are hard working. Best job in my opinion to start out in is as a report writer. that gets you a great knowledge into SQL coding and knowledge of the data which is the most valuable asset in a company. Just my 2 cents. I am a certified DBA and have been a Microsoft certified trainer and published in SQL server magazine too:) its worth the ride. a good DBA will make in excess of 100K US and consultants can make more money than that.
            Just be patient and keep your goals in mind and connect with other DBAs!

  86. Hi Brent. I have recently completed my degree in Information technology with specialisation in oracle database . i havent started applying for the jobs yet because i am doing application server certification. However i am a bit hardhearted by reading the post because i was exactly looking for a junior dba postions and you are right employer do ask for 2* years of experience.
    My question is i only have interest in databases what you you suggest me if i have tough time in finidng a database job where can i start my career as to which field in IT.

    • Hi Saad. Read that article carefully, and I suggest that you can start with either a developer position or a systems administration position. Thanks, and enjoy!

  87. Hi Brent,
    When you say “developer” what do you mean exactly? Do you mean a SQL developer or what?

  88. Hi Brent,

    I am a B.E graduate with no experience, I am planing on getting a DBA certification. But according to the second part of this article, you said its of no use.
    So what do i do ?

  89. hi,
    I am currently working as a Implementation consultant on sql server 2008. My job is doung upgradation of NEXTGEN KBM. I m on contract of 9 mnths. I just want to ask whether this will help me to become DBA in future. I m BE (IT) graduate.

  90. Hi Brent,

    First off thank you for being so brutally honest about your career advice. I feel like most people/ organizations just want to tell you what you want to hear.

    I desire to be a DBA…. one day, however my background is Program Management and HR. I was thinking of starting in a HRIS Analyst role because of my HR experience and using that as a catalyst into the DBA world. Is this a good idea?? I’m also in school for a grad certification in MIS and plan to build a home lab and teach myself SQL as well as using various other training methods.

    Thank you!

    • Kara – that’s what this blog post is all about, talking you through getting another job first rather than trying to get a DBA job directly. Pick a job you really want and enjoy – if that’s HRIS Analyst, go for it – and then follow your dreams. Just make sure each step along the way is a good one – don’t spend a decade in miserable jobs hoping to get a fun one later.

  91. hi brent
    I’am a 2011 graduate IT engineer(4 – year course) from india. I have no experince. I have applied for two posts in uk one for entry level dba and other for it administrator. They have told experience is not necessary. What are the chances of getting selected. Would they hire from india.

  92. I have done B-Tech in IT(2013). N i have done IBM-Db2 and Ibm RAD certifications. I have also done a course on Java Technology as well. Still i am unable to get a job. Could u please suggest me which field would be more beneficial for me right now. As i can see there is point in going for a DBA right now as it requires experience.

  93. I did master in CS in 2002 since then i am doing business and now i want to start my carrier in IT cuz business is not doing good what u suggest me which field i should go ? my favorite subject was database in study days . i am in USA

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