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I am brand new on this site and look forward to interacting with each of you. I am graduating in June with my Bachelors Degree in Computer Information Systems with hopes of become a DBA in the future. I am currently taking a Database class now and studying SQL Server/T-SQL on the side. My experience in IT is limited to managing an Access database at my last employer for two years. What are the chances of landing a junior DBA position after I graduate?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 4 '11 at 21:27

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I recommend reading: brentozar.com/sql/how-to-get-a-junior-dba-job –  OMG Ponies Feb 6 '11 at 18:38
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3 Answers

There isn't enough information to answer what your chances are, but here are some items to help you improve your chances:

Looking at it from the perspective of someone on the hiring committee I'd suggest downplaying the Access database unless you can clearly explain why from a design standpoint it shouldn't have been implemented in MSSQL. The reason for this is that there will very likely be a bias against Access databases on the part of people making a hiring decision in a situation where the position in question is a Junior DBA. There may be very valid reasons for Access to have been chosen, but unless you can explain them don't rely on that as a major reason you should be hired.

So between now and when you are in your interview what can you do to make yourself appealing to your future employer:

  • Go looking for an established open source project that uses databases. Go over every line of every script they have for setting up and maintaining the databases in the project. You'll encounter practical real world solutions to the problems that crop up. If you can contribute to the project this gives you something to put on the resume.
  • Search the web for answers to database problems you've already encountered, and when you find a well written solution look to see what else the author has written. Blogs by DBAs would be good.
  • Pick up both the theoretical and practical vocabulary of the trade. Some of this can come from books, some from blogs
  • Your university or college may have a subscription to the O'Reilly Safari Bookshelf. This would let you read any of their books for free. If not go to your school library and see what they have.
  • Check to see what office hours the professor(s) who teach database classes have. Go talk to them. They will know things that apply locally for your region like who has hired previous students and which employers are good.
  • If you haven't taken a database class go sit in on one. Check not only your department but to see if their is an MIS set of classes.
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Unfortunately, while there tends to be pretty strong demand for experienced DBAs, the demand for junior DBAs tends to be rather limited. Database vendors are getting better and better at automating the basics that used to be delegated to junior DBAs. And as vendors make their databases more and more reliable, a larger and larger fraction of downtime is the result of human error rather than hardware or software glitches. That tends to make organizations rather risk averse to hiring a junior DBA.

If you want to be a DBA, one common approach is to start out as a database developer and move over to the administration side after you've got a few years of experience. Often, organizations will separate the operational DBA work (keeping the production servers up and running, doing backups and recoveries, etc.) from the application DBA work (data modeling, database architecture, and a general resource to the development team to work effectively with the database). It's relatively common that a strong developer will transition into an application DBA role which then tends to open the door to the operational DBA side of things.

Another option is to find a smaller organization that needs a "jack of all trades" administrator that can administer the servers, the database, and probably the network as well. Those shops aren't going to attract many experienced DBAs so they can be an excellent way to break in to the field. Of course, the downside is that most of your time will probably be spent on tasks other than working with the database. After a few years of that, though, you should have the experience to go after a more full-time DBA position (or the company will grow and you can naturally transition into a full-time DBA role when they have to bring on more specialized admins to cover other things).

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Probably pretty good. Data is growing at a very fast pace, and companies are struggling to cope with and manage the demands of the information age we live in. There is particular emphasis on analytics and making sense of large data sets.

If you are clever and enjoy extracting meaning from large data sets, and you are skilled in SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, or increasingly NoSQL databases, you will stand a good chance of being employed. It's important to understand database scalability and performance too.

Check out some of the job listings on stackoverflow careers if you want to see what positions are available.

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