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How To Get a Job as a DBA

I put this page together in an effort to help others learn more about being a DBA. People often ask me how to interview for a DBA job or how to become better at being a DBA, so I decided it was time to put all of my reference material into one place.

 

Want to know how to get a job as a DBA? Read on.

 

Blogs for DBAs

I maintain a list of prominent SQL bloggers. These are the people you should start following if you want to gain some additional insight into database administration. The blogs I track are a mixture; some are more technical than others that might be more professional development oriented. If nothing else, they serve as a good base.

 

In addition to those bloggers, I offer links to other articles written by myself and others:

 

How Did I Get Started? where I offer details on my background as a DBA.

How To Get Hired, where I detail the different development levels.

How To Get Hired, Part Deux, where I follow-up by describing the different managing styles.

The 5 DBA Interview Questions You Have To Ask, where I offer up five question to ask during the interview.

5 More Questions For Interviewing a Database Administrator, where I offer five more questions you can ask.

Junior DBA Interview Questions, where I discuss examples of the style and type of questions I would ask junior DBAs.

Junior DBA Interview Questions – Updated, where I add in questions that help show the breadth of experience for a potential junior DBA.

Interviewing Tips, where I recount how an interview is like dating.

The Break Up, where I explain what it is like to resign from your current employer.

SQL Server Training Resources, where I list free training resources.

Ten Things I Hate About Interviewing You, where I list ten things you don’t want to do when interviewing for a job.

Ten Things I Hate About Interviewing With You, where I list the ten things I don’t like seeing from employers.

 

Job Websites for DBAs

There aren’t any. Seriously. If you are scouring websites looking for a job as a DBA, and you have never previously been a DBA, then you are doing it wrong. I have networked with thousands of database professionals, and whenever I ask them how they got their job as a DBA the answer is never “I applied for an ad I found online.” DBA jobs go to people that are already known to the potential employer or to trusted recruiters.

 

And there is the key word: trust. Companies need to know that their DBA is someone they can trust. The reason you find so many ‘accidental’ DBAs is that they are already known and trusted in their company and their company decided to take a chance. It is rare that a company would ever just hire someone with little or no experience to be a DBA, and even more rare that they would hire someone completely unknown.

 

Still, if you want to do things the hard way, then check out this post I did on job search techniques: Before The Interview: Job Search Techniques

 

Do not underestimate the power of networking, it will help you find a job faster than CareerBuilder or any recruiter.

 

Books for DBAs

I have a library set up on this blog already, but can highlight a few books here as well. If you want to immerse yourself in reading materials, then the books listed below are a great way to start your own library. Starting with my own book, of course, where you can learn more about what life is like as a DBA.

 

SQL Server Technical Books for DBAs

Here are the books I recommend in terms of building a base technical knowledge on all things related to MS SQL Server.

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Internals (Pro – Developer)

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 T-SQL Fundamentals (PRO-Developer)

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Management and Administration

SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled (Expert’s Voice in SQL Server)

 

Database Design and Modeling

Here are the books I recommend with regards to database design and modeling, skills that are a lost art these days due to advances in hardware. Powerful CPU, lots of memory, and fast disks are able to overcome and hide bad database designs. Bad database designs are often exposed only after being deployed to production. I hope these books can help someone to avoid such a situation.

Designing Effective Database Systems (Addison-Wesley Microsoft Technology Series)

Pro SQL Server 2008 Relational Database Design and Implementation

A Developer’s Guide to Data Modeling for SQL Server: Covering SQL Server 2005 and 2008

Kimball’s Data Warehouse Toolkit Classics: The Data Warehouse Toolkit, 2nd Edition

The Data Warehouse Lifecycle Toolkit

Beginning Database Design: From Novice to Professional