My Journey to Being a SQL Server DBA

My Journey to Being a SQL Server DBA

A DBA is the most important person in any organization these days. Why I said these days, its because the role of data has grown in prominence, now, think when you want to be a DBA or a Database Administrator for an organization, aka the most critical role as you will be handling the entire data for that concern, do you think you will be hired as a fresher?

If you are planning to shift your career to become a DBA as I did a year ago then this pain you cannot ignore, and you will have to go through it which I would say was worth it. So if you think you are ready for the long term benefits and genuinely interested then you should know some basic parts so you have a better understanding of what skills are required and what you should be expecting at each career step.

The beginning stage of SQL Server Developer

Why only SQL Server? Well, there are other platforms available like  Oracle, DB2, MySQL, but yes, a large majority of organizations use SQL Server for their database requirements. Hence, focus on SQL Server, proves beneficial. Now if you think why not learn all or even a few of them, then technically it is not possible for that to happen in a short span of time and practically it is not useful as you might as well use that time looking for entry-level job opportunities.

So giving you a quick overview of SQL Server, it is basically Windows-based software used by the administrators to creation, storage and querying of data by making use of Transact SQL. Now, the interaction of end-users varies from the interaction of the administrators. The former hardly ever have direct interactions with the server and always access it by reports, web pages, and other custom applications while the DBAs or the database administrators make use of the SSMS or the SQL Server Management System for management of the software.

In addition to SSMS, Database Administrators also use SQL Server Reporting Services and SSIS or SQL Server Integration Services. Former is used for creation, storage, and execution of the reports from different sources of data while the latter is mainly used for creation of cubes that are primarily used in data warehouse scenarios. 

So this was a quick overview of some of the tools which will be your best friends for life if you want to be  DBA. I was working as a designer role and had always looked at DBAs as the most intense and strategic people around, so was always fascinated with their role. My interest in data and databases was another reason I had made this monumental decision.

Let me take you through the role of a DBA, so you also know what you will be looking like to the other people around you. It is said, whatever you become, just be good at it. This one line holds the key to success in any venture you take. I remember, always being drawn to discussions around databases, reading a lot about them, joining forums under a different name, just to observe. As a result, my own trade suffered. Evidently, I had no interest, and it showed in different forms. So I was never good at it. But when I joined this firm as a trainer, I knew my trade and loved it. So, even though getting in was difficult, but my performance and zeal to know more and upskill has given my career the right push. To become a DBA, know the role and see how far you are inspired.

What are the Role and Responsibilities of SQL Server DBA?

Simply put, you are behind the whole show, and one fault at your end will bring everything to a literal and virtual halt. Scary! Yes, it is. So, you are the soul of your organization who has always to ensure that All is Well. Every aspect of the database, conceptualizing, creating, installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, etc. goes in your kitty. You are solely responsible for it. Why solely? Because in many organizations the popular trend is still to have only one DBA. The good part is you rule your space and the bad part is you are the only one responsible. There is no sharing of responsibility or even help when things may hit a glitch. Take heart! Things done correctly rarely take that ugly turn and if they do you definitely will have substantial reasons and fixes. I was always moved by challenges, and it is actually this part of the whole story which made me switch.

You by now know, you need knowledge and guts. Both grow with experience, and there are no second thoughts to it. When I started out appearing for interviews I was never convinced that I am not fully prepared and capable to handle the responsibility. I had to listen to this over and over from different places I applied to. Then when I got my break and joined this firm, you take my words, everything went well, till one day, it didn’t. It was a hard lesson that came in a soft format as my boss who had been a seasoned DBA himself had hired me in order to bring out the best in me. It has been his trust and confidence that I have been acquiring more skills, and am now more confident of any snags and know my job well. Learning has never stopped. When I asked him, what was it that he saw that he hired me in the beginning, the answer will surprise you as it had surprised me- Passion and the Desire to Learn More. Yes, it works. Your passion does sell when you use it well. 

Apart from that, you should have a knack for troubleshooting and always willing to learn. Also, the acceptance of failure is essential. Besides, these yes there are a line of technical skills like the management systems, knowledge of data flow diagrams, parameters, a piece of deep knowledge about database servers, design and configuring off other objects of relational databases, etc. I also took the Microsoft SQL Server Certification from JanBask Training. Great course which I had taken alongside my previous job as a  designer at the flexibility of my timings and pace. You may consider getting certified in MongoDB, Oracle MySQL Database Developer, etc. All I will say is that they are highly useful and yes also essential, looking at the job scene. Further, you can choose which of the certification will be most suitable to your trade from amongst the Design DBA, Performance DBA or the Application DBA. 

Now, I am addressing the basic pain point of almost all professionals until they settle for a job, career, and organization. The salary!

What are the Salary of SQL Server DBA?

As discussed, it is a vital role, and you will be solely handling the most precious resource of your organization. If you talk about the average salary of a DBA it is around $90,000. Yet again, it is commensurate to role, rank, and experience apart from your specializations and achievements in the job. Else you can look at a per hour figure of $26 to $90. 

DBAs is a role for someone who has the poise to plan and execute along with the heart to meet and face any challenge head-on with the same calm. It is not a role for the risk-taking people or the ones that live on impulses. I took up the decision, despite the apprehensions and pressures from your family and core group.

I knew my heart was not into designing. But, I did plan, and it took me time to execute things. Also, I was sure of what I was doing, but still I kept a backup plan, and while applying for new opportunities in the new line, I tried that my performance at my current job should not dip beyond a level, so I can continue if and till needed. Also, be prepared for some weekend jobs and part-time assignments for a long time to gain experience and a real feel of being a DBA.

I am sure; this was helpful but equally sure that you will learn more through your journey and experience. Do share it with us and let us know how it went for you. Also, if you have any more questions, we are there to address.

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