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What is the Career Path for a SQL Server DBA?

It’s a well-known fact that data is the new dark gold—a wellspring of wealth creation keeping pace with budgetary capital. I started my career as a Junior DBA with no computer background. Here, in this blog, I’ll share my journey of becoming a Database Architect. Also, I’ll share the career path for becoming SQL Server DBA, which I followed.

What is a Database Administrator or DBA?

Database Administrators, or DBAs, are the specialists responsible for the performance and security of a developing list of database types, from relational to in-memory to NoSQL. These databases give the foundation technology of digital business activities like e-commerce, mobile computing, and social media, and are vital to patterns like big data, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT). In any case, here's the rub for DBAs: Cloud sellers presently offer completely managed database services that take over a lot of the day by day tasks of an organization's in-house DBAs. Also, because of automation and economies of scale, those service providers or organizations can regularly do it quicker and in an inexpensive manner.

So where does that leave DBAs?

In a generally excellent position," says Penny Avril, VP of database product management at Oracle. "Data has colossal worth and the significance of the DBA isn't going away anymore. But their role is changing.

While you are withdrawing money from a bank, a few things are happening in the back-end. Thousands of customers might be doing the same thing, which is not at all going to affect your transaction anyway. Since banking is a frequent activity performance is taken for granted. What we are seeking is a vast quantity of data that the bank has to store and provide its customers. This large amount of data is stored in databases. But this data is far more than just DATA. It is-

  • The concept of concurrency lies where data can be accessed by multiple customers
  • The concept of data security where your data is protected
  • The concept of performance where data is accessible in acceptable time frames

These concepts of DATA and its additional functionality are made possible by a Database Management System (DBMS). And the people responsible for managing a DBMS are known as DBAs or Database Administrators. Thus, the database is presented in a wide spectrum of companies, whereas; DBAs are hired to look after this data.

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SQL Server DBAs are involved in a variety of activities:

  • They install and maintain databases
  • They upgrade databases to the newer versions when available
  • They take backups of databases so that data can be recovered if a system crashes
  • They export data across databases
  • They monitor databases throughout the day
  • They run tests to measure the health of a database
  • They plan and implement security measures to safeguard databases

How can one become SQL Server DBA?

  • Formal education
    • Typically a bachelor’s degree in an area of computing in which you have taken at least taken database as a subject
    • You must be proficient in vendor-specific solutions such as Oracle, SQL, or MySql
    • A good grasp of at least one programming language (the more would be even better)
    • Certification is also required to become a DBA 
  • What you do if you do not have a formal I.T degree?
    • Obtain a certification
    • Get into a role that does not require any formal degree
  • Soft Skills
    • You should be good and enjoy problem-solving (it’s really fun, believe me!)
    • Keep yourself updated with the new versions and concepts
  • Imagine yourself as a DBA

Imagining yourself at the place of DBA will make you think similar. This will not only boost your confidence but will also lead you towards the path of a DBA.

Joys and challenges faced by a DBA

Let us start with the joys ☺

A). Joys of the craft

You are part of a very relevant area of work. This area is complex, vast, and dynamic at the same time. Though it is a mission-critical are.

Read: What is SQL Server Replication and How it Works?

B). Domain independent

Being a DBA, your skillset is generally domain independent. This fact makes your skills portable across industries. Today, you might be a DBA in the banking sector and tomorrow in another industry. But a domain or industry may have very specific data related needs. Data in the telecom industry, for example, are highly sought after for their skills in handling huge volumes of data.

Challenges faced by SQL Server DBAs

  • No need to know the businessA DBA does not necessarily need to know the business to administer its data. This fact can make you take this profession easily and not focus on the company’s business.
  • Work Pressure: SQL Server DBAs are always under pressure to ensure that data is always available to employees and customers.
  • Odd working hours: Some companies may run critical operations during certain time periods which may require a DBAs presence at odd hours to ensure that everything runs smoothly. 

Progression path of DBA

Within the organization, you could start as a junior DBA, then work your way to being an intermediate DBA, followed by a senior DBA. At this point, you may have a choice             - you could be a manager or an architect.

Progression path of DBA

A DBA focuses on administering data while Database Architect focuses on designing the look and feel of this data. A DBA manager manages a team of DBAs. On the other hand, there are companies where full DBAs are not recruited. In that case, you could work as a Database Consultant. 

Job profiles of a SQL Server DBA

Job profiles of a SQL Server DBA

I might want to begin with clarifying why a DBA job is significant. We DBAs sit at the ungainly position among frontend and backend. In spite of the fact that we are named as backend, we are definitely not. We are not at any end yet spread over the length of the two closures. The broadness of the databases is tremendous. So it is in every case best to encapsulate divisions. There are three divisions where a DBA can make his career. Development DBA, Production DBA and Infra DBA. Infra DBA is another term. Be that as it may, I suit it to my experience up until this point.

Job profiles of a SQL Server DBA

Development DBAs

A development DBA usually works on development aspects of a database. The role and responsibilities under this profile can be given as:

  • He should have a depth understanding of the SDLC lifecycle and basic programming terminologies. He keeps a close eye on what a developer needs on database end.
  • He also suggests tuning techniques for existing code by making necessary changes to the code.
  • He should be familiar with database administration as well so that he can guide developers on how to write more efficient database code keeping design aspects in mind.
  • Moving ahead, he can switch to the database architect profile in his career with increased salary packages. 

Development DBAs

Production DBAs 

This is the most common profile that includes the administration and monitoring of a database. The role and responsibilities under this profile can be given as:

Read: What is SQL Server? Microsoft SQL Server Tutorial Guide for Beginners
  • He has to perform daily health checks on a database, automating alerts, monitoring databases, and taking all necessary steps that can make a database healthier.
  • He is involved in major activities like install, upgrade, or migrate operations, etc.
  • He has to find ways how to make the data highly available, and data movement should as flexible as possible.
  • It sounds simpler, but a production DBA should take care of managing all issues related to a database.

Production DBAs 

Infra DBAs 

This is a new term in the database world heard very less by professionals. An Infra DBA usually deals with systems and networks. As soon as some issue arises within a network on the server, the role of infra DBA comes into the picture. The role and responsibilities under this profile can be given as:

  • He should have a sound knowledge of infrastructure like server configurations, network storage, design, network setup, etc.
  • He should know how to maintain server storage to run databases effectively without any issues.
  • He should have a sound idea of clustering issues, storage issues, network architecture, and network limitations, etc.
  • The profile of an infra DBA is similar to a system admin, but he is not a system administrator. He has to work on everything that can improve the performance of a database.
  • He works on projects like hardware consolidation, capacity planning, etc. He checks closely either additional hardware needed to improve the performance of a specific database

What should I do to become a SQL Server DBA?

Since we have seen the jobs and obligations of DBA, let us now look at the career path of a SQL Server DBA, which you have to follow. As far as I can tell, a DBA profession works best for individuals with analytical skills and logical thinking. He ought to be tolerant and truly adept at taking a gander at very minute details. This gets created after some time and each level needs additional time as you go up the stepping stone.

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The table below is the average time you should step up this ladder. I have depicted the degree of DBA, and the time it takes to be in each position to pick up the information you require for next level:

Level\Role Junior DBA DBA Senior DBA DBA Expert
Beginner 3 4 5 6
Intermediate 4 5 6 7
Expert 5 6 7 8
Master 6 7 8 9
Tenure 18 (1 year six months) 22 (1 year ten months) 26 (2 years two months) 30 (2 years six months)

This is just an idea, not a hard & fast rule for each individual. The average time is taken for each level generally depends on the capability and learning skills of a DBA. Most of the time, they have to pass through these timelines, so we have given the same in the above table. As a DBA, there are chances of getting promotion after every two years. On average, a fresher DBA can lead the team after a period of 7 to 8 years.

The next important question to focus on as a DBA is the salary package. Well, it completely depends on the knowledge of the subject and your negotiation skills. Some external factors that may affect your salary package are location, type of Company, etc. Here is the standard formula for salary calculation when working as a DBA.

Sal = (Exp*2)*1,00,000 +/- 1,00,000

For example, a DBA with an experience of two years can earn up to 5 lakhs with the right technical skills and expertise. For a justified contribution, there are chances of earning even more. The best idea is working for a Company who can afford more. In the next section, we will discuss how to advance your career when you don’t have a mentor and don’t sure of your career progression too.

Steps to level-up your SQL Server DBA career

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s degree

Most database administrators hold a Bachelor's qualification. Though it is not mandatory, it is always better to have a degree in your hand if you want an advance career. Ideally, a bachelor’s degree in information systems, software engineering, or management information systems (MIS) would be the preferred one. Since businesses nowadays lean toward such candidates. Your bachelor’s degree ought to cover topics such as database systems, web page applications, discrete structures, data mining and data structures, data communication, databases, and distributed systems, etc. Notwithstanding your degree, you should have a go at doing an entry-level position that acquaints you with a scope of undertakings, where you perform the tasks as a database executive. With this experience, you would have the edge over your rivals.

Step 2: Take training

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree or you want advanced database skills, it will be better to enroll for the training. The mode of training can be either online or offline. If you have no education or experience in computer science but are still interested in the database administration landscape, you can try things out by taking up an endorsement course in programming or office frameworks.

Read: Difference Between Stored Procedure and Function in SQL Server

Step 3: Learn the database

You are planning to pursue your career in database, obviously, you need database programming skills. Primarily, it includes-

A). Learn SQL

This is a first step in beginning your career in database administration. SQL is the programming language that is utilized for writing database queries which you have to learn. Be it joining up with classroom training or picking a certification in IT or programming that accentuates SQL specifically. When you choose to learn SQL on the web, you will have alternatives aplenty. Indeed, whatever you learn, you should learn SQL at any rate. Thus, it pays to concentrate on this standard query language, which is bolstered by a few relational databases. SQL IS A MUST.

At the point when you take SQL courses, you will locate that most courses are centered around MySQL that keeps running on both Linux and Windows. PostgreSQL is another well-known SQL database that tech organizations use. You can even take SQL certifications once you have some information in the field or are ready for the test.

B). Learn Oracle

If Oracle is more your style, you can learn Oracle on the web or generally in a manner that would instruct and test your database knowledge in a wide assortment. You can take up Oracle certification programs that offer an assortment of tracks and strengths. Learning SQL helps development DBAs, specifically, who need to deal with coding. But Oracle helps application DBAs who work for organizations that need third-party software, for example, PeopleSoft, Oracle, and so forth. So, plan to get solid essentials when you learn Oracle and attempt to get a few hands-on understanding after you have aced the nuts and bolts.

Step 4: Enroll for the database certification

Most businesses and hiring managers are hoping to enlist somebody with experience. At least a base is a bachelor's degree in any ICT field. However, I have seen previously; some are beginning to forget about this necessity due to certifications.

It is a smart idea to get ensured in at least one business database framework. Your professional education may have shown you the nuts and bolts of database organization, and you may have even adapted some SQL, yet this is just a presentation. Most organizations will concentrate on procuring individuals with accreditation and DBA training in the particular database software they use.

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Here is the list of database certifications for which you can enroll for:

  • Oracle: Oracle DB Certified Associate, Oracle DB Certified Professional
  • Microsoft SQL Server: MCSE (Data platform and Business Intelligence) and the older MCDBA
  • IBM: IBM Analytics Certification
  • Oracle: MySQL Database Developer, MySQL Database Administrator
  • MongoDB: Certified DBA, Certified Developer
  • Cassandra: Certified Cassandra Administrator, Certified Cassandra Architect, Certified Cassandra Developer

Everything covered! Oh, don’t forget!

  • Database installation and configuration
  • Data security
  • User creation and maintenance
  • Database backups and recovery
  • Database performance tuning and optimization
  • Data transformation and loading
  • Reporting and querying 

Are you ready?

With the correct aptitude, the best possible training, and a clear focus on your goals, you can build up the abilities that are essential for a profession in database administration—yet it might take some time. Though the requirement for database executives is one that can't be overemphasized, and that need is consistently developing. After all, DATA is the CURRENCY of future, and if you can set up yourself as an administrator of that data, you’ll be in demand. So take a step forward to increase your demand in this profession by taking up the online training in SQL Server at JanBask Training.

If you still have any further queries, then write in the comment section below!

Read: What Does SQL Stand For? The Structured Query Language Explained

    Janbask Training

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