My Favorite Things About Being a DBA

SQL Server

I get to work with everybody. Developers need to push data in and out of the database. End users want to get reports out. Executives want to make better decisions. Vendors need to update code. Anytime something’s happening in the company, I’m one of the first to know.

I get to play with new technologies first. Databases push hardware harder than anything else in the company. When solid state drives started showing up, end users wanted them in the database servers first. When we look at big new servers with lots of memory, odds are they’re for the database.

I don’t have to learn new languages constantly. ANSI SQL has been the same for decades, only incrementally adding new capabilities. I really admire developers who can constantly learn new languages and frameworks, but that ain’t me.

The t-shirts.
The t-shirts.

My work often has a beginning and an end. When someone hands me a slow query, I can use my skills to make it go faster, and then hand them the end result. Granted, sometimes they want it to keep going faster, but at least I know when I’m done.

I’m seen as a problem solver. When something’s broken or running slow, I’m usually called in. The bad news is that it’s because they’re blaming the database, but the good news is that I can help get to the real root cause. When I do it right, I’m seen as a helper and a facilitator, not a blame-game guy.

The other IT staff can’t do what I do. It’s not that I’m better than anybody else – I’ve just developed a set of skills that are very specialized, and I take pride in knowing what happens inside the black box.

I have a highly refined BS detector. Because I work with so many different departments, even end users, I’ve gotten used to sniffing out explanations that aren’t quite legit.

I’ve got good job opportunities. There’s still no real college degree for database administrators, and outsourcing isn’t the problem that we expected for a while. Companies still need DBAs, and DBAs still aren’t easy to find. As long as I keep improving my knowledge, I’ve got great career prospects.

I’m in a community of people that love to help. The SQL Server database community is the envy of many disciplines. We love helping each other with free blog posts, webcasts, user groups, SQLSaturdays, mailing lists, forums, you name it.

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9 Comments. Leave new

  • Yep, Nailed it. My personal favorite item on the list is “I’m seen as a problem solver”
    It’s what gets me out of bed every morning.

  • Don’t forget “I work in a community of smart, funny, passionate people who speak the same language as I do.”

  • Stop reading my mind, you’re creeping me out!

  • Couldn’t agree more. I think one of the best career decisions I ever made was when I turned down the offer to be a full-time web developer and lobbied for the DBA position instead.

  • I also love the diversity of databases you can DBA. MS SQL, Oracle, MySQL, MariaDb, No SQL, Hadoop, Post-relational (UniVerse). There is something for everyone and no end of interesting ways to manage, store, query, optimse data.

  • >The SQL Server database community is the envy of many disciplines. We love helping each other with free blog posts, webcasts, user groups, SQLSaturdays, mailing lists, forums, you name it.

    So true, and maybe, the most important point in this list (with the third one on ANSI SQL ), I haven’t seen anything similar in the different techs I am using.
    Anything related to unix/linux? harhar
    .NET ? Java? Yeah talking about software architecture is like talking politics
    And the best ? the MCM cert with MVP status, we can read and learn from real experts if BOL is not our thing.

  • And I thought that I was special with the BS detector, good to know it’s common with other DBAs 🙂

    I actually started with Computer Engineering and switched to Information Systems in college because I wanted to work with people. It is great to work with all the different groups as a DB professional I feel like we are the “glue” that brings the pieces together.

  • Andrew Grenfell
    October 8, 2013 5:56 pm

    Yes, definitely liked the BS detector bit. And, I’d add, knowing the whole database show “pretty much from the tin upwards”, whereas a lot of Developers struggle with just intermediate-level SQL. I keep pointing them at my set of IBG wall charts on how SQL is logically processed. But, I still get the occasional – but MY left join just doesn’t work (as if SQL is suddenly a broken / bogus language). I still relish the whole 30 seconds or so it usually takes to spot he problem and walk them through it (with the occasionally longer – or “Er, codes fine – it’s just one of your test data tables is empty / wrong)”.


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