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Sample SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA) Job Descriptions

Hiring a DBA? Need to get a job description for the human resources folks? Here’s how to get started.

First, decide whether it’s a production or development DBA. Think of the database in terms of a fridge. When you run a restaurant, you need at least one (and probably several) refrigerators to keep your raw ingredients and your prepared dishes cold.

Your chefs rely on the fridges to get their jobs done. They have tons of training to pick the right ingredients to put in the fridge, prepare the food correctly, and know when to take things in & out of the fridge.

If your restaurant absolutely, positively cannot go down, you’ll end up hiring a handyman or facilities guy. He has to know how fridges work, and if a fridge can’t keep the food cold enough, he steps in to diagnose and fix it.

The chefs are your developers.

Development DBAs build your data archiving strategy.

Development DBAs build your data archiving strategy.

When you have a LOT of chefs, you hire a development DBAs to organize the fridge and clean it out. They don’t usually write code, but if they do, the code is inside the database – they’re not writing presentation-layer code in C# or Java.

The handyman or facilities guy is your production DBA. He’s more concerned about the back side of the fridge than the front side. He doesn’t do any cooking coding.

They all work with the fridges, but the similarities end there. Small shops might indeed hire one guy to buy the food, put it in the fridge, cook it, and fix the fridge when it breaks. However, those shops aren’t going to win any awards for food quality, and when the fridge breaks, the cooking stops while he fixes the fridge.

Sample Production Database Administrator Job Description

The open source databases say information wants to be free as in beer.

The open source databases say information wants to be free as in beer.

This position’s job duties and responsibilities include:

  • Ensure all database servers are backed up in a way that meets the business’s Recovery Point Objectives (RPO)
  • Test backups to ensure we can meet the business’ Recovery Time Objectives (RTO)
  • Troubleshoot SQL Server service outages as they occur, including after-hours and weekends
  • Configure SQL Server monitoring utilities to minimize false alarms
  • As new systems are brought in-house, choose whether to use clustering, log shipping, mirroring, Windows Azure, or other technologies
  • Install and configure new SQL Servers
  • Deploy database change scripts provided by third party vendors
  • When performance issues arise, determine the most effective way to increase performance including hardware purchases, server configuration changes, or index/query changes
  • Document the company’s database environment

To do a great job in this position, experience should include:

  • On-call troubleshooting experience with at least one production SQL Server for a year. You don’t have to be the only DBA or have DBA in your job description, but you should have been the one person that the company would call if the SQL Server service stopped working.
  • Finding DMV queries to answer questions about server-level performance
  • Using free tools like sp_Blitz® and sp_WhoIsActive to diagnose server reliability and performance issues

The following skills aren’t strictly necessary, but will make you a well-rounded candidate for bonus points:

  • Tuning T-SQL queries to improve performance
  • Troubleshooting hardware using tools like Dell OpenManage, HP System Insight Manager, and IBM Director

Sample Development Database Administrator Job Description

Ever since we had a BI developer get locked in the data warehouse, we've taken precautions.

Ever since we had a BI developer get locked in the data warehouse, we’ve taken precautions.

This position’s job duties and responsibilities include:

  • Ensure that new database code meets company standards for readability, reliability, and performance
  • Each week, give developers a list of the top 10 most resource-intensive queries on the server and suggest ways to improve performance on each
  • Design indexes for existing applications, choosing when to add or remove indexes
  • When users complain about the performance of a particular query, help developers improve the performance of that query by tweaking it or modifying indexes
  • Conduct SQL Server lunch-and-learn sessions for application developers
  • Advise developers on the most efficient database designs (tables, datatypes, stored procedures, functions, etc)

To do a great job in this position, experience should include:

  • Writing and improving SQL Server T-SQL queries for at least a year. You may have technically had “C# Developer” or “Java Developer” on your job title, but you were known amongst the office as the go-to person for T-SQL questions.
  • Designing tables and picking datatypes
  • Using Profiler traces and other tools to find the most frequently run queries
  • Using free tools like sp_BlitzIndex® and DMV queries to answer questions about index usage

The following skills aren’t strictly necessary, but will make you a well-rounded candidate for bonus points:

  • On-call troubleshooting for SQL Server service outages
  • Deciding whether clustering, log shipping, mirroring, replication, etc are the right fit to solve a business problem

Things I Didn’t Include In These DBA Job Descriptions

You can always tell who's using peer-to-peer replication.

You can always tell who’s using peer-to-peer replication.

If you’re using any of the following technologies, mention it in your job description so that the candidates know what to expect:

  • Failover clustering, SAN replication, and other high availability technologies
  • SQL Server merge, peer to peer, or transactional replication
  • LINQ, Entity Framework, NHibernate, or other ORMs
  • Service Broker
  • Analysis Services, Integration Services, or Reporting Services

There’s nothing wrong with having your production or development DBA work with those technologies, by the way – but they’re special technologies that require prominent placement in job descriptions.

Learn More: Our DBA Job Interview Q&A Kit

Good interviewing is not a talent: it’s a skill you build with study and practice. This set of online videos trains you to be a rockstar in SQL Server database administration job interviews by giving you practice video interviews where you can warm up with 100 real-world questions. You get:

  • 70 technical SQL Server DBA interview practice questions (and answers)
  • 10 “situational” DBA interview practice questions with strategies on how to answer
  • 20 questions for YOU to ask your prospective employer

Buy SQL Server Interview Training
18 months of access for $29
Get-Interview-Training

You’ll learn:

  • 5 things to always do in a DBA interview
  • 3 Rules of a good DBA resume: how to write your DBA story
  • Resume Anti-Patterns to avoid
  • 3 Ways to Get in Front of Hiring Managers
  • How to prepare for technical screenings and in-person inteviews
  • 3 things to NEVER do in a DBA interview
  • How to handle a DBA job offer

Buy it now and get started! For $29, you can watch it for 18 months on your desktop, laptop, iPad, or iPhone.
Get-Interview-Training

Resume Tune Up (Video)

Don’t you just hate updating your resume? It feels so awkward writing about yourself and trying to describe yourself in a single page.

We convinced a few SQL Server professionals to submit their resumes for review, and we’ll help do an Extreme Resume Makeover. Our tips for their resumes will help you too.

Write a Killer Technical Resume in Five Steps

Ever dreaded writing a resume so much that you put it off until the last minute? When you finally wrote it in desperation, were you happy with it? Are you kind of afraid to look at it now?

I know what that’s like, because I’ve been there. But I’ve written two resumes in the last week without any of the pain using a method I’ve found that really works. The method breaks down into five steps.

Step 1: Get the Facts, and Only the Facts

My resume from a year ago, presented as a coloring book.

First, the dirty work. Compile a list of where you worked and when:

  • Company names you worked at (with locations)
  • Your job titles
  • Start and end dates

If you’ve been working a while, stick to the last 5-7 years. I know it’s hard to leave out the cool stuff you did in the 90′s, but just post the pictures on Facebook– hiring managers don’t want to read about it.

Optional items that can set you apart:

  • URLs for relevant online profiles (Think http://dba.stackexchange.com/— even if you’ve just asked questions, that can still say something very positive to an employer.)
  • Certification Titles (be precise)
  • Degrees and graduation dates

You can be selective about how much detail you put on your resume. You do not need to list your graduation year, for example, if you are concerned about age discrimination.

Step 2: Make a Date with a Friend and a Text Editor

Here’s where we take the pain out of writing your resume. For most geeks, it’s much harder to write about yourself than it is to talk to a friend about what you did.

Identify a friend who can type and who you feel comfortable with. Ask them to spend an hour with you helping you rebuild your resume. This person doesn’t have to be a geek at all, they just need to be able to take notes and ask you a set of questions. For safety reasons, pick someone who’s not a significant other or family member.

To prepare for your interview, open a simple text editor. Create a file and enter your name and employment history, with spaces in between.  Make a basic template:

Hermoine Datasmarter
hermoine@thisisnotarealaddress.com

#WORK HISTORY#
##DBA, Stormtroopers International##
Portland, OR (2010-present)

## Helpdesk Supervisor, This Is a Legitimate Business, LLC ##
Seattle, WA (2009-2010)

## Helpdesk Tech, This Is a Legitimate Business, LLC##
Seattle, WA (2007-2009)

Step 3: Get Interviewed on Your Work History

At the appointed date and time, sit down with your friend, open your text file, and hand over the keyboard. Take a few deep breaths. Relax. Your friend’s mission is to interview you about each job and take notes. For each job they should ask you:

  • What did you learn at the job?
  • What are you proud of doing at the job?
  • What technologies did you use?
  • What processes were important to success?

Start at the job that’s farthest back because that’s probably a job where it’s OK to have the fewest details. By the time you get to your current job, you should be in the swing of things. At the end of the interview you should have a giant brain dump of details in a text file about your work history.

Step 4: Craft Your Story

Wait a day or so after the previous step. Then save a new copy of the file and start editing your “Work Mess” with gusto.

Stay in your text editor in this step! Don’t think about formatting or presentation.

Make your edits based on one big question: What story do I want to tell about where I’m going in my career? There are an infinite amount of details you could give about yourself, but you need to limit yourself to only a page.

You may choose to add an “extra” feature to the top of your resume after you finish your work history. If you’re going to do this, just pick one “extra” resume feature, and make sure you it really works for you. Here are some items that can work:

  • List of specializations. This one is common and a bit expected, but it puts buzzwords at the top of your resume. That helps with recruiters and HR. A word to the wise: only put technologies in the list that you’re great at and want to be grilled on, or this will go terribly terribly wrong.
  • Short stories of what you’re proud of. I put three recent awesome projects at the top of my resume.
  • Something playful, but relevant. Jeremiah Peschka put a countdown of information about himself on his resume. That can be risky, but if you pull it off then it’s awesome.
  • How You’re Teaching Yourself. If you’re transitioning or just starting out in an industry, you can include information on what you’re doing to build up your skills before you get a job. I encourage learners to do work in virtual lab environments— if you’re doing that, you have stories you can tell.

There are a few pitfalls that I see commonly. Avoid a statement about what job you’re trying to land. Those statements come off as predictable and meaningless. The top of your resume is the most valuable real estate on it– you need to make a great impression there, so don’t waste it on something forgettable.

Step 5: Get Feedback from a Trusted Advisor

At this point your resume is still in a text file. That’s great. You’ve been focusing on content, and guess what? Many companies are going to make you submit a text version (or a very simplified version) for their database.

Before you worry at all about formatting, get feedback on your story— that’s your resume— from a trusted advisor. After you get feedback, apply some polish and make yourself happy with the content. At long last, you can use a word processor if you’d like.

More Help: Our DBA Job Interview Kit

Good interviewing is not a talent – it’s a skill you build with study and practice. Our training kit gives you 70 technical DBA interview questions and answers, 10 situational questions with strategies on how to answer, and 20 questions for YOU to ask your prospective employer. Learn more now.

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