I’ve seen a good deal of coverage recently that is geared toward those who have recently begun a career as a database professional. Brad McGehee posted this week about some potential topics for a book for new SQL Server developers, and Craig Outcalt is publishing a series of articles on SQLServerCentral.com aimed at new DBAs. Brent Ozar also has a meta page on his site that has links to a number of publications that are helpful to newbie database gurus. Good information all – in fact, one of Craig’s articles was so good that it was plagiarized earlier this week.
There are a lot of folks interested in careers as database professionals, and for good reasons. For starters, experienced DBAs and database developers earn well above average wages: the annual Redmond Magazine Salary Survey reports that that the average base salary for a DBA or Database Developer is $81,495, while Salary.com reports the median salary at just over $84,000. Next, anecdotal evidence suggests that the number of opportunities for experienced database professionals will continue to increase, recession notwithstanding. In addition to the tangible benefits and growth, a career in database management can be highly fulfilling given the right circumstances. Although the hours can be long at times, DBAs and database developers generally work in comfortable and safe environments, and are presented with an interesting array of challenges that keep the job from getting stagnant.
So from the outsider’s perspective, how does one get started as a DBA? How does one make the jump from helpdesk/analyst/cashier to a career in database management? If you ask ten people that question, you’ll likely get ten different answers. Like many jobs in IT, there is no clear-cut career path to becoming a DBA. A college degree always helps – in fact, many employers will only consider degreed candidates. Also helpful is a solid understanding of underlying technologies, including networking, DNS, hardware, OS, and web architecture, among many others. Of course, experience is king – even the most junior database professional must have at least some experience actually performing database administration tasks.
I’ve been asked a couple of different times recently how I got into “the biz”. In my next post, I’ll share my experience in the hope that it can help someone else crack into this industry. In a later post, I’ll share my recent commitment to take it to the next level, an ongoing process that will hopefully lead to many good things down the road.