Should You Be a SQL Server DBA? (video)

Have you ever wondered if you should be a SQL Server Database Administrator? If you think this might be the right career path for you, watch this video and take our quiz!

Got limited time or need to restart the quiz? No problem, we’ve got a table of contents with time indicators below.

“Should You Be a SQL Server DBA?” Table of Contents:

00:21 – Getting the wrong job stinks
00:44 – Getting the right job is awesome
01:44 – Get paper and pen, it’s quiz time!
02:11 – Question 1
02:38 – Question 2
03:09 – Question 3
03:22 – Question 4
03:39 – Question 5
03:59 – Question 6
05:39 – Question 7
06:41 – Question 8
07:26 – Time to score this thing!
07:33 – Scoring Question 1
08:45 – Scoring Question 2
10:25 – Scoring Question 3
11:38 – Scoring Question 4
12:49 – Scoring Question 5
13:43 – Scoring Question 6
15:37 – Scoring Question 7
17:25 – Scoring Question 8
19:28 – What does this all mean?
20:29 – Traits of a happy DBA
21:33 – Learn more at BrentOzar.com/go/Career

Brent says: if you think this quiz is just for people who aren’t in the DBA business already, think again. Kendra’s title is “SHOULD you be a DBA?” And, uh, some of us probably shouldn’t. (I love this stuff though.)

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24 Comments. Leave new

  • My Score = 29, although I think I should get 3 points for question 3 answer D because after hours calls here are very, very rare and when I do get one, at least its a change in my day to day routine and I just go home early to offset the hours! So, 32 points…….

    Reply
  • 32!

    Reply
  • Denise Crabtree
    April 27, 2015 12:48 pm

    Thank you Kendra.
    This helps me also where I am all too willing to go above and find myself floundering in odd places (OS & Monitoring) Two of your questions really point that out, the SLA and the final question. I need to redirect some of my energy. All in all though — a score of 30 and I do love my job 🙂

    Reply
    • Kendra Little
      April 30, 2015 9:18 am

      If you already have a DBA job and you love it, you’re in the right place no matter what any test says 🙂

      Reply
  • 45. DBA and loving it. I scored 0 on the documentation part, because although I create documents and blog on the company wiki about the processes, i still don’t like doing it. 😛

    Reply
    • Kendra Little
      April 30, 2015 9:21 am

      Honestly, there’s something to be said for not loving every single thing about a job and having a slightly imperfect fit. Having one task you’re not crazy about makes the tasks you do enjoy contrast all the more.

      Reply
  • Hmm, interesting. I was at 19 after the first four questions, then that was it, no points after that.

    Reply
  • I think the area a lot of people have issue with is the communications with the end users and developers. This is continually a challenge with other DBA’s I know and have worked with where they want to do the job entirely through E-mail and instant messages. That can be a very bad move because you don’t get to read people through e-mail and can’t gauge how they are reacting to what is sometimes bad news or telling them that they really need to rewrite that horrendous 900+ line query to make their application run faster. There are ways to say no nicely.

    My score was 33.

    Reply
    • Tough choice, how I want my interaction can vary according to the situation.

      Some days/weeks when it’s back to back meaningless mandatory meetings I just don’t have time to sit with someone for a 15-30 minute block while they tell me they need a development database refreshed from production. Just send it in a one line email and I’ll get it done.

      In other cases, I want the email to cover myself. It’s a work requirement. To lodge change request documentation I need written evidence from the requestor. Also you might have asked me to do something specific and I need to make sure I didn’t misunderstand you. What if the server name you verbally told me was actually the wrong server, and I’m about to overwrite the wrong database?

      But, sure, in other cases I know I’m discussing a controversial topic, such as “Hey I know this is your development server but can you please fix your agent job so it doesn’t fail 3 times a day and trigger alerts for us”, and I’m going to swing by your desk to discuss it because I have enough experience to know that otherwise we’re going to waste a few days arguing over email. Once you see I’m a normal person and I explain that I’m trying to reduce alerts across 250+ instances so I can have time to build that new server you wanted, you will probably come around to my viewpoint.

      What irritates me… is management decreeing that we need more face time (while simultaneously demanding written records on incidents, tasks, change requests, etc). What was one email before, becomes an email, a 15-30 minute meeting with multiple people on side, a follow-up email, and then more emails, and it all gets amalgamated into documentation about one of a million common database refreshes that nobody cares about.

      Reply
      • Kendra Little
        April 30, 2015 9:29 am

        Oh, ouch, that sounds like a culture problem in your team!

        Counter-intuitively, meetings can be a big blocker to face-to-face contact. They take up so much time that it discourages people from having short, meaningful conversations that aren’t part of some formal setup.

        What I’ve done for this in the past is suggested a processes that let the users put requests into a queue that feeds the change request system and contains all the details needed for the change. I used more personal communication to get everyone using the queue and comfortable with the process, but after that point everything became more hands-off. As a bonus, I was also able to get other people to do the work in the queue, not just me 🙂

        Reply
    • Kendra Little
      April 30, 2015 9:24 am

      I agree– trying to avoid in-person conflict often doesn’t work, and makes the situation hit harder when it comes to a head.

      Reply
  • 39.5: I’m almost already a DBA! That’s a relief. Don’t tell my manager I’m .5 points short though…

    Reply
  • I fully endorse this… after having gotten 35/40. But I’m going to use my adult powers to adjust that to 40/40 because I felt the last and only question I failed didn’t exactly capture my workplace scenario.

    Our teams have a division of responsibilities and internal SLAs are meaningless, so I picked where’s the sysadmin. Sure I get involved in clustering and monitoring OS issues which affect us (memory, disk space, time sync, patching, etc), but if the server was literally crashing repeatedly that is pretty clearly a sysadmin task I will pass on after having helped gather primary information. Also, they are the only ones with tools to view the server from a VM host level when you can’t RDP to it, and the only ones with the permission to reboot the server to clear a critical issue.

    Reply
  • 39 and I just recently go a promotion to Technical Analyst/DBA, love this job!

    Reply
  • Excellent video, very thought-provoking.

    Just some feedback about a couple questions:

    Question 7:
    The initial question was framed in terms of a dev group looking for input on the strengths and weaknesses of SQL Server for their project I think that a *good* SQL Server DBA should be willing to admit when SQL Server may not be the best solution for the issue yet have sufficient awareness to be able to integrate various other storage solutions if needed (or be willing to learn).

    I would agree however that someone who learns different database platforms just to learn them may not be suited to be a SQL-Server-specific DBA.

    Question 8 (server crashing):
    In our environment, we do not have an SLA for our servers because we support them as well.

    But lots of fun. I got a 28, so I’m in the groove…

    Reply
  • Nick Winstanley
    May 5, 2015 4:45 am

    34… DBA and loving it tripped up on the last one 🙂

    Reply
  • Thank you… 39. I would like to thank you and your associates for all you have given to the community. Your unselfish sharing of knowledge has made all of us better.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  • Very nice, thank you.
    For a .net developer, scoring 31, and being passionate about this, should be good. I just wish there could be an opening on this path to go for, but unfortunately, chances are very slim within my company.

    Reply
  • Yaroslav Alpizar
    May 14, 2015 3:27 pm

    Hi Kendra, great presentation and useful quiz, got 35 by the way, answerd yes to the “Bring it on, I’m awake nevertheless”…that’s because I don’t have children 😉

    I’m using the quiz on a presentation to our IT team, as a way to make a presentation about SQL Server 2014 and tsql tunning more entertaining to our devs. Hope is not an issue

    Reply
  • Interesting quiz. I only scored a 22, but have been convinced for the last several years that DBA is what I want to do.

    I’ve recently started doing more App development and enjoy it very much.
    It may be that I should switch.

    Reply
  • Hi Guys,

    I have an issue with my SQL DB.

    we have space issue on our DB. its found that one table is continuously growing .. it stores session ID and details etc. This table has no date/time column. now the problem is I can’t delete some random from this table but I want to delete based on the age of the record being inserted. without date/time column how can I retrieve older records from this table?

    This table has no possibility no join with any other tables in the DB.

    thanks!!

    Reply
    • Durga – this question has absolutely nothing to do with the post you’re commenting on. This isn’t a good way to get good answers. You didn’t even subscribe to the blog post comments, so you won’t even know when I type this answer.

      Instead, when you’ve got a question, post to http://dba.stackexchange.com.

      Reply

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