Whew. We’ve worked through a couple dozen posts together in this DBA Training Plan, and you’re still just getting warmed up.
First, pick your specialty. Here’s some of the more popular specializations in the SQL Server business:
- Production administration – managing uptime, building new boxes, troubleshooting clusters, setting up storage, designing virtualization infrastructures
- Performance tuning – taking queries from others and making them faster via rewriting the queries, tuning indexes, and tweaking SQL Server settings
- Business intelligence – working with end users to get what they need from the mysterious database using SQL knowledge plus visualization tools
- SQL development – building long, complex stored procedures and functions to transform and return data
There’s no wrong answers here because all of these will have great long-term markets. You need to pick the one that calls the most to you because you’ll need to spend your spare time learning it. It’s rare to find a company willing to invest in your future skills, so your career needs to be in a specialization that you’re genuinely excited to study. After all, it’s hard to suck up and study after hours when you don’t really love the topic.
Next, pick your favorite learning method:
Reading – books, articles, blog posts. Just be aware that the shorter the delivery method, the more you’re probably going to have to consume to get the desired effect. My favorite free reading resource that walks the line between free/short and expensive/long is SQL Server Central’s Stairways. They cover a single topic well from start to finish, and they’re arranged in single-serving chunks. It’s about as deep as you can get without paying for a book, but when you’re ready for books, check out the free book library from Red Gate.
Watching videos – aside from our YouTube channel, my next favorite free video resource is SQLbits. It’s a UK conference that records videos at all of their sessions and makes them freely available to the public online. You can also search by speakers.
In-person training classes – start by finding your local chapter of PASS, the Professional Association for SQL Server. These local user groups meet monthly, and volunteer speakers talk about a topic for about an hour. Then search for upcoming SQLSaturdays – they’re free one-day conferences with multiple tracks on SQL Server. You may have to travel to get to one, but it’s still cheaper than any other one-day training class options.
When you’ve exhausted those free resources or you’re ready to dive deeper into a topic, we’re here. Sometimes you need to dive deeper into a topic than you can get in blog posts or community videos, and that’s where our paid options come in. For example, our Senior DBA class covers advanced real-world experience on high availability and disaster recovery topics, and our SQL Server Performance Tuning class shows you how to save valuable time and make the server go faster immediately. Learn more about our training now.