How to Get Your Very First Full Time DBA Job

It's about time.

It’s about time.

Step 1: get a job as a developer or a sysadmin.

Step 2: stand near the database.

Step 3: wait.

Almost every DBA I know got their start this way. Sooner or later, something went wrong with the database, and management grabbed the nearest person and yelled, “You! You look smart and helpful! Can you figure out how to get this thing back online?”

This person then spent more and more time doing stuff related to the database until they began calling themselves an Accidental DBA. At that point, the acronym DBA still wasn’t on their email signature, and they still didn’t feel comfortable using that acronym by itself. They were still a developer or sysadmin.

But wait a little longer, and that person’s next job – either at the same company, or another – was full time DBA.

There are no shortcuts. Here’s why.

Almost everyone who isn’t a DBA thinks they can somehow shortcut this process. They think they can present a near-empty resume and say, “I’ve learned a lot about databases by studying them and playing around with them. Give me a job managing your databases.”

Thing is, when companies have enough databases to hire a full time DBA, they’re saying, “Our data is valuable enough to warrant a full time professional watching over them.” That means they don’t want someone without real-world experience. After all, if they have that many databases, they likely also have a lot of developers and/or sysadmins, and they’ve likely been already filling the Accidental DBA role. The company isn’t likely to hire you in as a full time DBA if they have people on staff with more real-world experience than you.

Certifications aren’t going to get you there, either, because the Internet is chock full of braindumps – sample questions and answers that are sometimes from the actual tests themselves. Seasoned IT managers understand that certifications are icing, not cake – they don’t prove that a candidate can do a job. Certification tests aren’t even related to the job tasks that IT workers perform, as I ranted about on the Away From the Keyboard podcast.

If you want a DBA job, start with the job you have.

Stand near the database server. Look smart. Be helpful.

And above all, remember that the people who will hire you for your next DBA job are already around you.

Announcing the Office Hours Podcast (And 78% Off Videos)

Every Wednesday, we get together on a live webcast to take your questions. (We don’t actually give answers, we just admire the questions.) Hundreds of folks attend every week to hear us flail about.

People kept emailing in saying, “I really wanna attend Office Hours, but I’m working/asleep/drunk. Can you turn it into a podcast so I can download it and play it on the way to church/home/therapy?”

Office Hours ArtworkYou got it:

And if you rate us on iTunes before January 31, 2016, we’ll give you a coupon for 78% off any of our online courses. (Why 78? Because we record the show masters on 78 rpm vinyl. We’re hipster like that.)

Here’s how to rate us and claim your 78% off coupon. Enjoy the podcast!

Announcing our 2016 SQL Server Training Scholarship Winners

That heart means something.

We’re serious about the heart thing.

Thanksgiving is the perfect day for us to give back to the community that has given so much to us.

Our SQL Server Training Scholarship program applications were open to folks anywhere in the world working with SQL Server for foundations, non-profits, charities, or other similar companies making a real difference in the world today.

We originally aimed for 25 winners, but with over 300 applicants – many with really eye-opening stories – we ended up with several more than that. We’re not going to name individuals here, but they’re welcome to chime in in the comments if they’d like. Instead, we’re going to share just some of the winning organizations that opened our eyes and made us thankful today:

STARS is a not-for-profit air ambulance service that offers time, hope, and life-saving transport to critically ill and injured patients in Canada. Their VIP Stories – Very Important Patients – will make you pause and be thankful for all the first responders who are there to take care of you.

The International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects the poor from violence in the developing world. Their team of hundreds of lawyers, investigators, social workers, and community activists work by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors, and strengthening justice systems. They fight slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing, and citizens rights abuse. They’ve rescued more than 23,000 people from violence and oppression.

The Wilderness Society protects Australia’s wilderness and promotes nature. Since their forming in 1976, they’ve kept resorts from building atop reefs, stopped uranium mining in a wilderness sanctuary, and enabled legal protection for new national parks and reserves.

The American Library Association believes that everyone needs equal access to information, especially those with literacy-related barriers, economic distress, cultural or social isolation, physical barriers, and more. They actively defend the privacy and right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely. (But not loudly, I guess.)

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation started over 25 years ago as 3 moms around a kitchen table. Elizabeth Glaser contracted HIV in a blood transfusion while giving birth to her daughter, Ariel. Both Ariel and Elizabeth lost their battle with AIDS, but the foundation they started lives on, working in 14 countries to eliminate pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, prevention, care, and treatment programs.

The American Institute of Physics advances and distributes the knowledge of physical sciences and its applications, and promotes the physical sciences to the public, leaders, government, and the media.

The YMCA Twin Cities in Minneapolis puts Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. (I grew up attending YMCA classes myself.)

Mercy Corps helps people survive and get back on their feet when natural disaster strikes, economies collapse, or conflict erupts. They’re 4,000 people in more than 40 countries, and the organization has no political or religious agenda.

The Migrant Education Program helps Washington migrant students get through and graduate high school, then go on to further education and productive employment.

Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri offers birth control, HPV vaccination and screening, exams, HIV and STD testing, and more health services. They give individuals the power and ability to take control of their lives, their health, and their future.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island has been ranked one of the best cardiac care hospitals in the nation for 9 years in a row. Their 17,000 employees handle over 81k admissions, 5k newborn deliveries, and hundreds of thousands of emergency visits and outpatient visits.

WaterAid is a UK organization working to stop the second biggest child killer worldwide – diarrhea caused by dirty water and bad sanitation.

Feros Care supports Australian seniors to live their best life in aged care. They want seniors to remain living healthy, independent lives, connected to their family, friends, and the community for as long as possible.

The American Red Cross responds to disasters, supports America’s military families, and manages blood drives, and in high school, they taught me CPR and first aid.

El Rio Community Health Center in Tucson, Arizona is one of the largest non-profit community health centers in the US. They provide medical services, dentistry, midwifery, and specialized care to over 900 people per day, most of which live at or below the federal poverty level.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is a publicly funded health care system going through a serious financial crisis, possibly to be averted in the coming weeks. While paychecks are probably safe for now, the training budgets probably aren’t, as evidenced by many scholarship applicants from the NHS.

When you read stories like these, it’s really hard impossible to pick tiers of scholarships. (Heck, I started writing this post saying I’d only mention a few of the winners, and I couldn’t even stop there.) So forget prioritizing them.

This year’s winners, as chosen by staff voting, all receive:

  • 18 months access to all our training videos, free
  • Free registration to any of Brent’s SQLSaturday pre-cons through 2016
  • $995 seats in any of our 2016 5-day training classes

As SQL Server consultants and trainers, it’s hard for us to make a meaningful difference in the world. This feels like an important first step on a good journey to reward those who are doing such good work.

Thank you.

Free SQL Server Magnetic Poetry Kits

We were looking at magnetic poetry words on a public bathroom wall (true story, insert TempDB joke here) and thought, “You know what would be really awesome? If there was one of these for databases.”

So we made ’em.

SQL Server Magnetic Poetry

SQL Server Magnetic Poetry

Each of us put together our own favorite database words, so we each have our own sheet.

Availability Group politely fails over app fatally bombs fantastic #SQLpoetry

A photo posted by Brent Ozar Unlimited (@brent_ozar_unlimited) on

AlwaysOn loves and hates. #SQLpoetry

A photo posted by Brent Ozar (@brento) on

To get one, just track us down at a conference or user group. This week, Doug & Kendra will be at the PASS Summit in Seattle, and I’ll be at SQL Intersection in Vegas. The more of us you meet, the more words you’ll be able to work with, since we’ll each carry our own sheets.

Share your favorites with us on Instagram or Twitter with the tag #SQLpoetry. We’ll pick out our favorites and send you a little something special.

Introducing Our 2016 Scholarship Program for SQL Server Training

You work with Microsoft SQL Server – maybe as a developer, report writer, analyst, sysadmin, or DBA.

You want to learn more about how to make it faster and more reliable.

But your company can’t afford training. Maybe it’s a charity that needs to save every dollar to make a difference in the lives of others. Or maybe it’s a non-profit arts foundation, or a small startup that’s barely making ends meet.

We want to hear from you. We’re going to pick 25 SQL Server professionals to get access to a tailored set of training classes that focus on issues relevant to each person’s pain points.

The fine print:

  • You must already have a job working with SQL Server.
  • You must work for a foundation, non-profit, charity, or similar company that’s doing good work. It can totally be a for-profit company, just as long as they’re making a difference. (If you work for Ginormous Profitable Global Corporation, forget it.)
  • Your company or government rules must allow you to receive free or discounted training. (Some companies prohibit their employees from accepting gifts.)
  • You can be anywhere in the world. (Some of our scholarships will involve in-person training, and some will be online video training.)

Apply now – applications close Friday, November 6th.

Free SQL Server Training: Architecture, 2016, Metrics, Index Maintenance, and More

No, we won't teach you how to paddleboard, because we already forgot.

No, we won’t teach you how to paddleboard, because we already forgot.

Do you like to shake sticks?

Because we’ve got more upcoming SQL Server webcasts than you can shake a stick at:

Easy Architecture Design for HA and DR – Clustering, log shipping, mirroring, AlwaysOn Availability Groups, replication – database administrators have so many confusing choices. Microsoft Certified Master Brent Ozar will cut through all the confusion and give you a simple worksheet. You’ll learn how to get the right RPO and RTO numbers in writing from the business users, then turn those requirements into the right features for you.

How to Think Like the SQL Server Engine – normally $29, and for one day we’re giving it to you completely free. When you pass in a query, how does SQL Server build the results? We’ll role play: Brent Ozar will be an end user sending in queries, and you’ll be the SQL Server engine. Using simple spreadsheets as your tables, you’ll learn how SQL Server builds execution plans, uses indexes, performs joins, and considers statistics. This session is for DBAs and developers who are comfortable writing queries, but not so comfortable when it comes to explaining nonclustered indexes, lookups, sargability, fill factor, and corruption detection.

What’s New in SQL Server 2016? – SQL Server 2016 is just around the corner. There are a lot of new features in the box, and improvements to old ones. There’s a lot to learn, and you need to start planning before SQL Server 2016 hits the streets. In this webcast, Jeremiah Peschka will share a high level overview of what’s next in SQL Server 2016.

Prove It!: Collecting the Right Metrics to Show Performance Gains – It’s easy to say adding more memory, faster drives, or a new index will help. How do you prove it really did help? What numbers and counters should I be watching? Doug Lane will explain which numbers matter when trying to show your changes were worth the cost.

Register now by just filling out your name/company/email. See you there!

We need your help.

Doctors Without Borders is a truly awesome charity. Medical professionals volunteer their own personal time to go to war-torn countries and solve issues of world health.

SQL Server community member, MCM, and all-around-good-guy Argenis Fernandez organizes Argenis Without Borders, a giving event to help. Last year, the SQL Server community helped raise $13,000 for this well-deserving charity.

doctors-without-bordersNow it’s your turn. Please donate $25 if you can. It would mean a lot to me, and I know it’d mean a lot to people all over the world who urgently need medical help. You’ve got a great job – it’s your turn to give back.

Donate now. Seriously, right now.

Fake moustaches, barbecue, and SQL Server.

Must be Dell DBA Days:

Join us live as we performance tune – and break – SQL Servers:

  • Thursday Morning: Finding Your Slow SQL Server’s Bottlenecks in Record Time with Wait Stats
  • Thursday Afternoon: How to Prove Hardware is the Problem
  • Friday Morning: SQL Server High Availability, Disaster Recovery, and Licensing Explained
  • Friday Afternoon: Watch SQL Server Break and Explode

Register now and join in.

New SQL Server Management Studio 2015/June – with Check for Updates!

This morning, Microsoft announced a new standalone SQL Server Management Studio download:

This is our first effort to release SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) in a mechanism outside of the SQL Engine releases. Our goal is to update this frequently with new features, fixes and support for the newest SQL Server features in SQL Server Engine and Azure SQL Database.

Awww yeah! Lightweight installer, and here’s the best part: there’s a built-in check for updates.

Check for Updates in SSMS

Check for Updates in SSMS

That’s right: Microsoft might start shipping updates to SSMS outside of the regular SQL Server Service Pack scenario!

This telegraphs a couple of interesting things: first, they had to do it because Azure SQL Database ships updates much faster than SQL Server does, so this gives Microsoft a way to enable those updates in SSMS without releasing a separate service pack.

But more interestingly – to me at least – is that this means SQL Server Management Studio is now considered The Way to Manage Azure SQL Database. There isn’t a separate tool coming, nor will designer/developer tools like Visual Studio become a management tool.

SSMS is finally getting some much-needed love. Rejoice, dear readers.

Announcing the Dell DBA Days: August 25-28

If you want to work on the cutting edge, you can’t just read best practices – you have to go create them. Somebody’s gotta teach you how to use SQL Server 2016, right?

We asked Dell if we could fly out to their headquarters in Round Rock, Texas and borrow a bunch of hardware and storage gear for a week. Doug, Erik, Jeremiah, Kendra, and I will set up shop to do lab tests, experiments, and learning with the latest hardware, shared storage gear, and SQL Server 2016.

And we bet you wanna watch online.

So we’re bringing you Dell DBA Days. Twice a day, we’ll take a break from our work to do a one-hour webcast with you, talking about how we’re testing and what we’re learning.

Here’s the webcast lineup:

  • Tuesday morning – How Do You Fix a Slow TempDB?
  • Tuesday afternoon – TempDB Load Testing with SQL 2012, 2014, 2016, and SSDs
  • Wednesday morning – Introducing This Week’s Lab
  • Wednesday afternoon –  Advanced Shared Storage Features
  • Thursday morning – Find Your Slow SQL Server’s Bottlenecks Fast
  • Thursday afternoon – How to Prove Hardware is a Problem
  • Friday morning – SQL Server High Availability Options Explained
  • Friday afternoon – Watch SQL Server Break and Explode

Register now to watch us live.