Find out what you need to know to get started on the road to a rewarding career as a SQL Server DBA.

“I want this area of the blog to be your one stop resource for information about being a SQL DBA. No question goes unanswered here and if you can’t find the answer to what you’re looking for I want to know about it!

How Most Junior DBA’s Earn Their Stripes

Acquiring your very first role as a Junior SQL Server DBA is not an easy task. Just browse any one of the many job sites advertising SQL Server DBA job vacancies and you will quickly come to realise that almost all Junior positions list a number of years of SQL Server experience as a necessary requirement.

The truth is that a significant proportion of SQL Server Database Administrators (DBA’s) start out in an alternative discipline, that is to say they are Accidental DBA’s. For example, a Windows Server Administrator may also be tasked with looking after the businesses SQL Server infrastructure, perhaps as the result of a DBA having left the company or through cross training opportunities within the organisation. These individuals acquire the necessary experience on the job within their existing role in order to make the transition to a Junior DBA position.

If you are seriously interested in either starting out on the path to becoming a SQL Server Database Administrator or perhaps wish to make a lateral move from an alternative IT discipline, this revelation can be quite disheartening. You may feel that it is somewhat of a no win scenario, as right now you have limited experience working with SQL Server, hence why you are considering junior opportunities in the first place.

How To Become an Outstanding SQL Server DBA

Well fear not my friend, for all is not lost. It may surprise you to hear that I am of the opinion that SQL Server experience alone is NOT the most desirable quality of a Junior SQL Server DBA!

You see the Accidental DBA will often be self taught and so although more experienced than perhaps you are currently, they have acquired their knowledge of SQL Server the hard way. The very same knowledge can be passed on to a newly hired Junior DBA by an experienced mentor in a fraction of the time. For this reason there are a number of very desirable qualities other than SQL Server experience alone, that can provide you with a serious edge over the competition. See Top 10 Junior DBA Interview Tips for examples of what I am talking about.

Over the years I have interviewed many aspiring data professionals and I want to share with you what I believe you need to know to become a SQL Server DBA. Below you will find a variety of posts that look at what it means to be a SQL Server DBA and how you can take charge of your professional development.

Thinking about becoming a SQL Server DBA? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or send me a message.

What’s It Really Like To Be A SQL Server DBA?

I get a lot of questions and emails from you asking:

What it’s really like to be a SQL Server DBA and how do I know if it is the right career for me?

These are great questions and they are not easily answered in a few short sentences. I wanted to find a way to provide you with some really good insight and so I came up with the idea of inviting members of the SQL Server community to share their experiences with you, here on the blog and created the What’s it Like To Be a SQL Server DBA guest post series. Each author tells their own personal story of how they became a SQL Server DBA and share advice for those interested in this career path.

How To Learn About SQL Server

  • Essential Reading – There are so many books available about SQL Server that it be hard to choose what’s right for you. Here are some of the books that I recommend.
  • Jump Start Your SQL Server Learning Today – Find out how to get your SQL Server learning on the right track.
  • Blog your way to becoming a better DBA – Blogging is one of the most powerful and rewarding ways that you can learn the DBA art.
  • Top 5 SQL Forums – Forums are one of the best places to learn about SQL Server because they enable you to not only find answers to your own questions but to also see what others are asking. UPDATE: We now have a  Forum here for you to enjoy.

3 Essential Steps Toward Becoming a SQL Server DBA

I get  a lot of questions from you about how exactly should you go about getting started towards becoming a SQL Server DBA. I wanted to provide you with something sufficiently detailed and easy to follow, so in reply to one reader email in particular, I created the following blog post series. I hope you find it useful. Your Road To Becoming a DBA:

Interview Tips and Advice

SQL Server Certifications

What you need to Know About Being a DBA

Essential Technical Stuff

There’s More To Being a DBA Than Just Technical Knowledge

Your Questions, Answered!

I love answering your questions, so much so that sometimes I write entire posts about them. Here are some of my posts in reply to readers just like you.

Do you have a question about being a SQL Server DBA that you can’t find the answer to? Let me know about it in the comments below! You can also contact me privately.

Thanks for visiting and good luck on your own journey to becoming an outstanding DBA.
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  • Nate

    Hello! I’ve been working with Microsoft SQL while in a business analysis role for 2 years and have decided I want to become a DBA. I have a degree in information systems management and turn 30 next year. Someone told me I’m to old to want to change careers so drastically. Is that true? I was going to start studying for a Microsoft cert this summer. Any additional advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • chrissie1

      I changed careers at 20 (gardener to something scientific with plants) at 30 (from the previous to forensics) and 40 (full-time developer). At 60 I will retire so I need to figure out something for when I’m 50, any suggestions?

    • Thomas Rushton

      Hi Nate

      If it’s any help, I only became a full-time DBA last year, and I hit 40 earlier this year… OK, I had been working with SQL Server for 15 years before then, but it had only ever been a small part of my work as a programmer, consultant, workflow systems guru, IT manager etc! The thing I’ve been able to offer to potential clients / employers is the breadth of experiences that most younger people just cannot have had.

      As for certification, I’ve not yet done SQL2008 MS certifications either. But I am old enough to have had the MCSD and for it to have lapsed due to too many new versions of Visual Studio & SQL Server! I’m hoping to do them some time later this year.

      I keep reading blogs and books, and hang out in one of the brighter SQL Q&A forums – – where I learn an enormous amount from some of the other guys out there.

      • bhavani

        Hi sir,
        Some companies are asking about developing skills(sql scripting,.net,c++ etc) along with DBA skills.Is it necessary to have developing skills?.If it is then what are the languages we have to learn.I was having 2 1/2 yrs experience on sql server DBA and have some experience in oracle DBA also.

        • John Sansom

          Hi Bhavani, in my opinion to be successful as a Data Professional in the current market it is essential to develop a variety of skills (and not just technology focused skills either for that matter). Initially you might want to focus on T-SQL, considering that it will be very useful for working with a technology that you are already familiar with (SQL Server) from your experience as a DBA.

          There is no “right” choice of programming language/technology platform to then pick to explore further, with people often choosing to learn skills that can be put to work in their current role or studying a technology simply because it is something that interests them.

          Professional development should be approached as an ongoing journey. Each and every step that you take forward is a valuable one.

          • Bhavani

            Thank you very much for your valuable suggestions.

  • Fatherjack

    I don’t know whether this is a warning or a recommendation but I became a DBA when I was 29 (near enough to 30 that I think it’s relevant!). I have spent the last few (12) years working as a DBA in a small team and have had some awesome experiences with other DBAs on various training and community events. I am now a SQL blogger, User Group leader and forum moderator. As John says, if you want to do it then your age is not a factor to consider. Personally, I am banking on the SQL events being the first ones to offer discounts to SAGA members.

  • Heather Mounts

    I am in the process of migrating from the GIS Spatial Database world into becoming an IT DBA. I have worked with Oracle and MS SQL Server for around 10 years but never to the depth that I feel is needed to migrate over from the GIS world. It’s as if I am a mile wide and an inch deep and going no where. :)

    My thought process was that I should study and take the MCITP exams. This would allow me to gain tons of administration knowledge so that I would be able to compete with the true DBAs.

    Do you know of others that were able to migrate over to a DBA coming from another field by simply getting their certifications?

    Thanks and I love your blog,


    • John Sansom

      Hi Heather, I somehow managed to miss your comment so sorry about that!

      You can definitely move from a similar discipline such as GIS to Database Administration. You will certainly have a strong understanding of the value of data and its’ importance to the business. Interestingly enough I actually had some of my first experience as a Data Professional working with GIS technology, for a company called CACI.

      I think you should absolutely consider studying toward certification in order to increase your administration experience. Check out My Guide to Passing Exam 70-432 ( for the right way to go about getting certifed. 

      Also, keep an eye out for a post this week that’s all about how to get started toward becoming a DBA.

      Thanks for your comments!

      • Shrikant Khode

        how many years of experience is required for being junior DBA.

        • John Sansom

          Hi Shrikant, I think that it depends on who you ask and what the specific role entails. I would say it could range anywhere from 0 to 5 years. Any cross transferable experience you have, such as working in a similar I.T. discipline, will also work strongly in your favor.

          Are you thinking about embarking on a career as a DBA/Data Professional?

          • Shrikant Khode

            Hi john,
            I am working on sql server and I have 1+ working experience on it.Mainly dealing with performance tunning. So I hope you will guid more in details.

            Thanks .

  • BrownDezBar

    Hello John,
    Thank you for your advice and posts.  It’s great to know that there are others striving to become a DBA. 

    My question: I just purchased coursework to take classes for the first 2 Microsoft certifications (70-432/450}.  It is advisable to load Microsoft SQL Server 2008 on my computer and spend 2-3 hours a night getting ready for the exam?

    • John Sansom

      Absolutely! You definitely want to set up an environment which you can use to practice and experiment with what you are learning.

      Best of luck with your studies and the exam! Let us all know how you get on.

  • Ali Shaik63

    hello john,
      i joined in a company as a dba ,,,we are having 15 to 20 employees,,they told me that we are not having not much more work in database administration so they suggested me that u have to work as a sql developer,,,,,,then tell me how can i reach my goal as a DBA?? give me suggestions  that i could follow 

    • John Sansom

      Hi Ali, that’s a great question and one that I think needs a post of it’s own to answer! I’ll post the link here once published.

  • TW

    Thank you for the road map! I am new to the field and desperately looking for ways to gain my knowledge and experience. I just came across one of your post. I am surprised that I found the guide for my career development. Thank you very much!

    • John Sansom

      You’re welcome! Thanks for your comments

  • Aitchy2110

    Hi John,

    Just wanted to say thanks for this website, its by far the best resource i have found on becomming a DBA. Im an accidental DBA and have been for the past year, i wizzed off ahead, learnt the language and can prouduce some wondefully complex reports using SSRS, however i kind of skipped out all the basics and now need to play catch up!

    Hopefully with the help of your website i will be able to become a good DBA by choice!

    Thanks again!

    • John Sansom

      Hi, thank you for your kind words and welcome to the accidental DBA club! You’re in great company :-)

      It’s sounds to me like you are off to a fantastic start on your own journey to becoming a DBA.
      The first step to becoming an Oustanding DBA is choosing to be one, so well done.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • Lee-hardman


    I am really interested in starting a career in SQL.

    Basically i never went to university and started up as an admin in a big company. I have now worked my way up to a business analyst role and i am looking to progress further in my career.

    Recently we have implimented a new software for the business ‘Lagan Frontline’ which requires SQL knowledge to be able to create reports and maintain the program.

    What path can i take to begin SQL as a first time learner?

    Your information and guidance would be great!

    I tried to email using the contact me feature, which seems to not be working.



    • John Sansom

      Hi Lee, thanks for your comments.

      Are you wanting to learn SQL in general or do you need to learn a specific flavour of SQL specifically for your software solution? For example T-SQL is the implementation of the language that SQL Server uses.

      Thanks for pointing out the issue with the contact form, it’s now fixed.

  • Sameer chavan

     Is there any coding skill required to become an DBA proffesional………..bcoz im very poor in coding….

    • John Sansom

      Hi Sameer, personally I consider it to be a very important skill for a versatile DBA to develop.

      We all have to start learning from the very begging at some point and even though it may seem like an impossible task now, even the tallest mountain can be conquered by taking one step at a time.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Gga Ganesh

    Hi John sansom,

              i am Ganesh.G ,presently i m working as a junior SQL DBA ,  but here no that much of work related to dba positions,40% i have to work in Excel n exce VAB and remaining in MS SQL , hence i planned to move in ‘.net’ side ,Because the job have to give and have to teach new things , but i m not learned any new things.
    i dont know whether i m goin in correct path or not .
    i m very interested in MS SQL DBA ,and is there any way to become a  DBA ,after getiing 1-2 year experience in .Net side.
    What i have to do please help me..

    • John Sansom

      Hi Ganesh,

      In my opinion there is no such thing as the correct path. It’s about finding out and doing what is right for you, so that you may build your own path forward to your ideal career. I talk about this a lot more in my post series Your Road to Becoming a DBA, where I outline how you can go about creating your own career path to becoming the Data Professional that you want to be.

      You ask “Can I study complimenty technology such as .Net whilst still walking the DBA path”, absolutely you can! No two DBA roles are the same after all and in my opinion it’s important to be a dynamic and versatile Data Professional in the current job market.

      The classic DBA role is dissapearting fast and is instead being replaced with hybrid skill sets. Even Microsoft are recognising this, as seen in the recent changes to their certification roadmaps for SQL Server professionals which I talked about in my post Where Have All the DBAs and DB Devs Gone.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Hotshibuya109

    Hi John,

    I graduated with BS on Mechanical Engineering. Right now I’m in Japan and got myself a job. The company told me that I’ll be part of a team that is going to build a database system (SQL & Oracle) linking all their companies overseas with their headquarter in Japan. I told them during interview that I have zero knowledge about database and they said that they have specialist to do the job. Seems like I’m the only person in the department that speaks English, so they want me to be like an interpreter or something so that the company can get feedback from their overseas branches while building the system. Therefore I am hoping that you could recommend a book or two for me to read so I can have a better understand on what’s going on. And by the way you have a really nice website, keep it up. And thank you in advance.


    • John Sansom

      Hi Terry,

      Congratulations on your new job. It sounds as though you have a challenging and interesting project on your hands!

      From what you describe of your role communication will be your most vital skill to success, with you potentially being the middle man between the business folks and the technologists. 

      With this in mind I would suggest that your primary goal for your research and study should be to empower your communication. Rather than looking to focus on a specific database product (such as SQL Server or Oracle) I think you will see the most benefit, and in the shortest time, from looking to study database technology in general, specifically by focusing on design areas, such as Relational Theory and in particular Data Modelling. 

      If you did decide to pursue this route, a text written for a University course might prove ideal. Something like Database Systems by Thomas Connolly is considered a classic. This could be used as a reference, by no means am I suggesting you read it cover to cover, it’s about 5 inches thick!

      Thanks for your comments and best of luck in your new role. I’d love to hear how you get on.

  • Bouke Bruinsma

    Hi John,

    I work for a software development company. We do not have a separate dba role but I think there should be one. Plenty of our employees know there way around SQL Server but I have seen multiple examples where we have not achieved maximum results in terms of performance tuning, deployment advice to our customers and a whole range of other issues. Moreover we are moving to SAAS more and more and we are hosting the architecture ourselves. I am thinking of drawing up a business case for a DBA. Do you have any advice?


    • John Sansom

      Bouke, from what you describe of your company and circumstances I believe that you would absolutely benefit from having a dedicated DBA on the payroll.

      Having developers on the team that are skilled with SQL Server is most certainly an excellent asset however their potential to deliver the most value is maximised by focussing on their strengths, which is of course development. With a dedicated DBA on the team, knowledge workers can focus on where they can deliver the most value.

      That said, depending on the size of your infrastructure you may not have the need for a DBA to be on staff full time. You may instead wish to consider using a consultant for example. Your existing teams expertise may be sufficient for the majority of tasks and perhaps you just want the flexibility to tap into expert knowledge as and when needed. Often clients already have the required skill level in house, sometimes they just need to be able to leverage the wider experience that a consultant can bring to the mix, perhaps in order to accommodate an environment experiencing rapid growth for example.

      Ultimately you need to decide what’s the right balance for your business and your future plans. I hope I’ve answered your questions and please feel free to drop me an email if I can help further.

      Thanks for you comments!

  • Manisha

    Hi John,

    I am fairly new to the idea of becoming a DBA. I recently changed my career focus from M.I.S to DBA due to not wanting to work the grave yard shift hours. I have a B.S degree in Business Administration with a focus in M.I.S and I wanted to go back to school for some DBA training……Should I go the route of getting my MBA or just take some classes to become more knowledgeable and updated on current technologies. HELP! lol

    • John Sansom

      Hi Manisha,

      You know this may come as a shock to the internet however I’m not actually sure what to suggest to you on this occasion. My thinking is that your studies so far have opened up a variety of exciting career paths for you. I don’t however think that an MBA would directly help you toward becoming a DBA but it would certainly be a great asset to you whichever career path you choose. For this reason I would not want to steer anyone away from such a great opportunity. I think this is a decision that you must make on your own.

      I would be interested to know what other readers think.

      Thanks for your comments!

    • Dave Green

      Hi Manisha,
      I’d say that an MBA may be of limited help to you in your day-to-day life as a DBA, but it may well be of assistance in getting you an interview. A DBA who ‘gets’ business, and how the business values things, will be a very much more attractive proposition, and more useful to the business!

      Best of luck, whichever route you choose.

      • John Sansom

        An excellent point sir!

        • Karthik

          Hi John Sir,
          I am presently working as a database support engineer,I want to persue a career in SQL server database administration. I took a initiative by completing the course in SQL Server DBA and planning to do 70-432 certification. Now I got some knowledge about daily activities of DBA, But I lack practical knowledge since I don’t have practical experience of being a DBA. How can i proceed from here to become a DBA. Awaiting for your valuable comments.

          • John Sansom

            Hi Karthik,

            I somehow managed to miss your comment so apologies for the late reply. Your question something that I get asked by a lot of readers, about how to go about gaining the experience needed to become a DBA. I’ve put together an entire blog post series on this subject to try to answer this question, I hope it helps. Here’s the first post, Your Road To Becoming a DBA: Laying a Strong Foundation.

  • Lulu

    Hi, Thanks for the informative website. I have average knowlegde of SQL 2005 and rarely worked on it. I have recently been employed as Data analyst and the company used SQL server 2005. Now on the verge of re freshing my knowledge, I am thinking of doing MCITP 2008 DBA or MCITP database deveoper. Now due to budget constratints, I cant take both courses. Can u advise me on which course a data analyst would mostly need , SQL developer or SQL administrator?

    • John Sansom

      As a Data Analyst you will get the most value from the Database Developer MCITP in my opinion. It will teach you more about T-SQL and how you can query data stored within SQL Server. I would still however encourage you to pursue the DBA track once you have achieved Developer certification. The insight it provides into how the database engine works will help you to write queries that perform even better.

      With regard to budget considerations, you don’t need to go on a course in order to study toward a certification path. Personally, I prefer to purchase a suitable study guide and teach myself (See: My Guide to Passing MCTS Exam 70-432 for an example). This can significantly reduce the overall cost to certification, meaning that your employer might potentially be able to cover all your costs.

      You may also wish to consider looking at the now available 2012 Certifciations for SQL Server.

      Thanks for your comments and good luck with your studies.

  • James

    I live in Nashville, TN and the city is booming with IT jobs. Currently, and for the past 4 years I have been the Database Administrator at a non-profit. That is my title at least. All I do is maintain our donor database through a fundraising software called Raiser’s Edge. I build simple and complex queries and exports directly through the software, run reports, data hygiene, and I am the primary user. it’s pretty easy. I started back to school last Fall at a community college to earn a AAS in Computer Information Systems. I am only able to take 1 or 2 classes per semester and I will be done around 2015. I do not know anything about SQL, Java, C#, etc, etc, but I am eager to learn these things so I can take my experience and job title and get into a higher paying and more challenging job in the I.T. field. In your opinion, am I headed down the right path? What would you do if you were in my shoes to fast track this thing? What certifications will help me the most in regards to getting my foot in the door?

    • John Sansom

      Hi James,

      Thanks for your comments!

      Are you headed down the right path? Only you can know for certain. If your path is one that you have consciously chosen to follow and it’s headed where you want to go then absolutely.

      My intention is not to be cryptic but we all want different things from life. The “right” path for you is not going to be the right path for another Data Professional.

      With regard to creating your own career path towards becoming the DBA you want to be, I try to give guidance on this in my post series Your Road To Becoming a DBA.

      I suggest rather than forming a fast track learning mind-set, it’s not a race to the finish (this path just leads to burn out), that you look to optimize/maximise your learning process instead. What can you do to take your learning to the next level and step it up a gear? My post Jump Start Your SQL Server Learning Today looks at this directly. The post series I mentioned previously also has a number of ideas/suggestions in this area too.

      I hope this helps!

  • Prashant

    I am from Nepal and currently studying B.E computer science.I really want to know what steps should i take to be a DBA.I have studied Database Management for 4 month and have no clue what to do next. could you please help me??

    • John Sansom

      Hi Prashant,

      That’s a great question. How should someone wanting to become a DBA get started?

      It’s a tough one to answer briefly, so much so in fact that I created an entire blog post series on the subject. Here’s the first post in the Your Road To Becoming a DBA series. I hope you will find them helpful.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • Krista

    One thing I didnt see here was the average pay for a junior DBA. What would that be?

    • John Sansom

      Hi Krista,

      That’s a good question. Rates depend on your local market to quite an extent. There are some web resources that you can use to get an “indicator” of what the current market rates are. For example, itJobWatch. Another option would be to speak with recruitment consultants directly about what to expect.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • willy

    hi john,
    i wanna start i career in sql dba.But i know nothing about sql dba.So could u please suggest me how to start learning sql dba on my own.

    • John Sansom

      Take a look at my post series Your Road To Becoming a DBA for information on how to get started on a career as a DBA.

      The “very first” book you should read when starting out on the road to becoming a DBA is Thomas Larock’s DBA Survivor. It provides brilliant guidance on what it is like to be a DBA as well as what you should do with regard to your learning. You can find it under the Professional Development heading, along with many other titles that I recommend on the Books area of my blog.

      Thanks for your comments!

  • sreenivas

    thanks a lot for giving valuable information.

    • John Sansom

      You’re welcome sreenivas!

  • WilsonC

    John, thank you for this wealth of information.

    I am a ‘dinosaur’ IBM mainframe DBA and have worked as such over 15 years. I am comfortable with relational DB concepts.I work for a large Insurance company that has decided to migrate from the mainframe to MS Server based system. The database system of choice will be SQL Server.

    Some of the older guys will maintain the DB2 system until the bitter end (may take years for full conversion). As they are close to retirement age, this is fine for them. I have the option of looking for work elsewhere or to begin cross-training and learning SQL Server DB administration.

    Have you known of people jumping from DB2 to SQL Server?
    Would the transition be easier based on my experience with relational DBs?
    Would you suggest a different course for me to start my cross-training?

    • John Sansom

      Wilson, thanks for stopping by sir.

      It sounds like you have an exciting opportunity here to leverage your existing expertise to play with and learn something new. Let those content to stay put do so, more fun for the rest of us!

      Jump ship to SQL Server? There’s no leap of faith needed here, you’ll be up to speed in no time and before you know it, wondering what all the fuss was about.

      The transition to another RDBMS will most certainly be easier than for someone new to the field. You already have the fundamentals locked down, to get started is simply a case of leaning a new tool, a bit like driving someone else’s car. Sure it looks and feels different but it’s still a car right.

      I would suggest you get a lab environment set up, install an instance of SQL Server and start having a look around. Learn how to perform all the administrative tasks that would do in DB2. Sure you could go the structured learning route, attend courses etc. but I bet you find that you can pick it up quickly without needing to. The technical community for SQL Server is awesome! If you have a question about how to do something in SQL Server, you are almost spoilt for choice for resources to use.

      I’m genuinely excited for you, as I think you have a great opportunity here to become the SQL Server go-to-guy for your company. Take it!

  • Andy Bodnar

    so as a student pursuing a BA in CS, what is a good educational path to get acclimated in SQL to be prepared for an internship?


    • John Sansom

      Andy, is your Computer Science course modular?

      If so there will likely be some obvious high value choices such as “Database Systems” and programming (this will help with SQL to an extent) but to be honest I would actually say choose the subject that you would find most interesting! Almost everything that you learn on a Computer Science degree will benefit your development as a Data Professional. Consider that although a subjects’ content may not be directly relevant, it’s valuable to know and understand parallel disciplines. Databases interface with software, networks, etc.

      Sure you aspire to becoming a Data Professional now but over the course of your studies you may discover that you have a real talent for software engineering or computer graphics.

      I guess what I’m saying Andy is that by choosing to study Computer Science, you’ve already taken a great leap in the right direction toward a plethora of technology careers. Having an end goal in mind is great but you also have the opportunity to explore things a little.

  • I Mizra

    Hi John,

    Thanks for an awesome blog. I am in a dilemma and I will really appreciate your advice. I started my career as a developer and have developed a number of desktop database applications mainly in foxpro and a couple in dot Net. I had the opportunity to implement and maintain an SQL server database for 50 users and have been doing this for the last four years. I also have a lot of experience in implementing windows 2003/2008 based infrastructure. I am a graduate but don’t have any certification.

    I liked working with SQL server and want to get full time into DBA role. I am approaching 45 and not sure if I should pursue. Also what would be your advise in terms of certification.

  • Andy

    Thanks for the input! I actually enjoy all aspects of the technic side, as far as programming I just got my mathematics to the proper level to be able to grasp the programming side. I’m thinking programming as a educational path, as well… They do dive into SQL

    But I look at the journey I will endeavor to junior DBA is more positive through this role than just a broad “I.T. Guy”.

    I’m not sure where this exactly will land myself, but I have a 2 year old daughter to think of and a computer science degree will be some where positive.

  • Arooj Ahmad

    I just now got job as SQL DBA. I am fresher. My daily duty is check the maintenance plan, backup and running job. After checking all the thing, I don’t know what extra I need to do as a DBA.? Can anyone please suggest me .

    • John Sansom

      Hi Arooj, that’s a great question and one that there are a lot of possible answers to. It’s a perfect question to post on the SQLBrit Community Forum, where you can benefit from the wider experience and input of the community, including my good self of course.

  • wishall

    Hello, I am totally from a different educational background.I have done my MBA in finance and want to learn SQL which would help me in my banking activities (later, i want to involve myself totally into tech domain). But really confused as to how should I start my career in SQL. I have to learn SQL from scratch. Can you please advise me on this?

    • John Sansom

      Hi Wishall,

      I assume you are asking after the language of SQL rather than the database product SQL Server?

      As an aside you might want to post your question on the forums to get input form the wider community on your question.

  • wishall

    Yes, you are right.
    I would follow your advise.. :)

  • Elaine Scott

    Hello John Sansom,

    I feel like I am the only one in the world with this, but I decided I wanted to study and be a SQL DBA. I have a BA in Business Management, a Masters in Education Media Design & Technology, an interest in technology, and lastly I am currently taking the SQL Server 2008 R2 Certification course. Is it uncommon or even possible to go into this career with minimal experience or background?

    I want this opportunity and I am being challenged with my studies. I am seeing that studying DBM is NOT like other studies. I guess I could use some advice and suggestions to get me rolling in the right direction and with some momentum. I don’t just want this to be a fleeting attempt. I am really serious about doing well and retaining the information learned.

    Please help. Thank you for your website.


    • John Sansom

      Elaine, I know that when starting out with something new it can certainly feel like you are on your own but I guarantee you that is not the case. Look at all the comments prior to yours and you will see people aspiring to learn, grow and try something new just like you. We all started out at the beginning at one time or another and the community is here to support you.

      You’ve posed some great questions that deserve detailed answers and so rather than just offer my own feedback I would encourage you to post you questions to the SQLBrit Community Forum. It’s an incredibly friendly place and you get to tap into the knowledge and experience of others in addition to my own.

      Talk to you soon!

      • Elaine Scott

        Thank you John. I signed up with the SQLBrit Community. I look forward to receiving some helpful advice.

  • Rajan Dubey

    Hello John Sansom,

    I am a system Engineer(Technical support on SQL 2008) and this my first job but I want to change my profile. I want become a DBA I have little Knowledge of SQL server. pls assist me.


    • John Sansom

      Hi Rajan,

      Take a look at my post series Your Road To Becoming a DBA for information on how to get started on a career as a DBA.

  • Shree

    Hi John,
    I’m currently with the technical support team but aspire to get on to the Analytics Team; heard that they requir ppl with skills on MS SQL/SASS/BI related skillsets. I am an absolute beginer..please help me with a road map…there are so many links online that each rout to a diffrent skill and it has become so very confusing. Thank you.

    • John Sansom

      Hi Shree,

      I would think that the best people to ask that question would be the Analytics Team within your existing company. They will be able to tell you exactly what the requirements for a role/position within the team are.

      I’ve also sent you an email with some general information on how your can get started with SQL Server but again, I think you should start with the team at your current company.

      Best of luck!

  • Shree

    Thank you John, for the quick response!

    A casual intrection with our Analytics team yelded not much information except that I will have to aquire skills related to BI and doing SAAS and MS SQL Server will be helpful.
    I was wondering if you or any in the forum can guide me with a road map.
    Thank You!

    • John Sansom

      Personally I would be disappointed with a weak response like that. I’d also be questioning whether or not that’s the sort of team that I would want to work in. Not to jump to conclusions though, perhaps you just caught whomever you spoke to at a bad time.

      I would suggest attempting once again to find out more information, preferably from the team manager. Make sure to show your enthusiasm for data technology and to sell yourself. You could be talking to your future boss after all.

      Absolutely, feel free to post a question on forum! The folks there will almost certainly be able to offer you additional advice and suggestions.

  • Tejal

    Hi John,
    its a beautifully made website with tremendous support and knowledgeable people.
    I am not even a beginner in this field as i have no idea what SQL or DB or relevant technical jargon mean.
    I am type of person who needs lot of motivation from others to do something. Before reading your blog , (no offense) i didn’t even knew you existed because i never read about DB or SQL before. but after all the replies above, i realized this is one of the best website/community i have come across where you actually get reply to your questions.

    basically i am not in this field at all. i am inside sales rep with technical bend of mind and desire to learn something new. my strength lies in troubleshooting .

    to make things short, I am working in a company and they had purchased a custom made software based on SQL DB from an IT company . well for some reason or other, so far we haven’t implemented that software, since it was put on back burner, to take care of daily activities. Now my company has finally decided to make use of this custom made software for internal use. Now the problematic part:

    the original source code is outdated and with lot of errors and many of the files might be missing, not sure. The IT company from which we purchased this software , now they are charging ridiculous amount of money just to get rid of some functional errors from the source code and install that software on our server.

    I am personally unofficial tech “guy” for my company. solving minor issues here and there. I want to tackle this problem myself of removing errors from source code and installation. But i have absolutely no knowledge of SQL or DB for that matter.

    Can you suggest how i can go about it? do you recommend making a call to my IT co and pay fees or call some SQL tech guy that can resolve it. but my personal preference is to learn everything about this myself and resolve this issue, being a “tech guy”, although i am women,lol

    Sorry for such a big write up. but after reading your reply to every question, i have become hopeful that i will get guidance here.

    • John Sansom

      Hi Tejal,

      Thanks for your comments.

      May I suggest you submit your comment as a post on the Community Forum. It’s a much better platform to support a conversation of this nature.

      You’ve raised some great points for discussion and I’ll certainly do what I can to answer them there. I’m sure the rest of the community will offer their insights too.

      Talk to you soon…..

  • Tapiwa


    I am a learner sql server student and I have done the course. however whats left is for to write the exam. i am really afraid. I am good at the practical side but I seed not to understand the exam, each time i write a practice test I fail.

    • John Sansom

      Tapiwa, what course/exam are you studying toward?

  • kishore kumar G

    Hello john,

    I’m really very happy abt getting this oppurtunity to txt you. On your experience i need a feedback about swithching from a ‘system admin role’ to a ‘sql DBA/server mgmt’ after holding a 2.5yrs of experience as a system administrator will it be possible to stabilize us in this DBA field. If so, what kind of certification do you prefer.

    thanks & regards

    kishore kumar G

    • John Sansom

      Hi Kishore,

      Absolutely! You can indeed switch from a similar technology role to a junior DBA position.

      I would suggest however that you avoid thinking of certification as a direct ticket to a SQL Server DBA role because in my experience the majority of employers do not view them is this manner. As is often the case, experience is the key and is something that I discuss on my post series, Your Road To Becoming a DBA. I think you may find this to be a helpful read because I try to address some of the challenges with creating your own unique career path as a data professional.

      Best of luck! It’s a great time to be starting a career in I.T because the market is flexible to professionals wanting to make their own unique career paths and to build the ideal role they desire.

      • kishore kumar G

        Hi John,

        Now I got an idea about what i’ve to look for. The Link “your road to becoming DBA” has really inspired me like you. It’s being a pleasure to discuss about my career with you. If I need any further Clarifications about this DBA career, You Have to support me.

        Thanks & Regards

        Kishore kumar G

  • Anuj Choudhary

    Hi John,

    i am working in IT Support from last 3 i want to learn database and become DBA.
    for this i have some questions for you,

    1.only the programmer or developer can become DBA,i do not have any knowledge of either programming and development,so please suggest if i can become DBA much time it takes to become DBA? will be the future in DBA for me.

    i woulb be grateful if you will reply my queries.

    thank you for yuor attention.
    Best Regards,

    • John Sansom

      Hi Anuj,

      1. Can you become a DBA? Absolutely!
      2. How long will it take? That depends on a great many things and naturally there is no precise answer I can give you.
      3. What will the future be like for you as a DBA? Whatever you decide you want it to be.

      Your questions are quite open ended and are ripe for further discussion. A lot of our community members are already having similar conversations in the community forum and I’m sure you could find more answers there too.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • santosh pohar

    Hi John,
    I am a started of SQL server. Could you please guide me how to start with basics of SQL?


    • John Sansom

      Hi Santosh,

      Take a look at the post series Your Road To Becoming a DBA, where I offer the answer to your very question. I hope it helps.

      • santosh pohar

        Thanks John!!

        Will this help in improving my PeopleSoft knowlwdge?


        • John Sansom

          PeopleSoft is a completely different product suite. That said, some of the professional development posts are applicable to a great many areas.

  • sudarshan

    hi m sud
    i am doing b.c.a (bachelor of computer application) and i want to become DBA so i want to know what courses i have to do for becoming a DBA .

    • John Sansom

      Hi Sud,

      What are the modules/course options that are available to you? Focusing on data related subject areas could be advantageous however at this level, all knowledge is valuable.

  • Anuj Choudhary

    Hi John,

    please do revert back for my below query,i will be very thankful for this.

    i want DBA which able to look up the server part but not develping and programming.
    regarding 1 ques., I want to know that person from Support Team can become DBA and secondly after becoming DBA my Support my experience will count or not.

    your resopnse is much awaited.

    Thank you for yuor attention.

    • John Sansom

      Hi Anuj,

      What you are describing is the more traditional DBA role, that of pure administrative tasks and responsibilities only. For the most part these roles no longer exist. It’s one of the reasons why people choose to use the term Data Professional to more accurately describe the responsibilities of the modern DBA. The role of the modern DBA can be quite different from one organisation to another.

      I would advise you against avoiding learning to program. In my opinion programming is an incredibly valuable skill to posses, particularly when it comes to task and process automation.

      With regard to technical support skills being transferable, absolutely they are. All previous experience can be considered as potentially valuable. There’s a lot more to being a Data Professional than technical skills alone.

      Thanks for your comments.

  • Surbhi Arora

    Hey..m pursuing B.Tech in CSE field and m having RDBMS as a subject in my course. It seems to be interesting in studying further about DBMS. I have completed my 3 years of course and wants to pursue career in DBMS field. What type of courses will you suggest to me and what certification i will need to become skillfull DBA?

  • Kafalva

    Dear John,

    Your site is so practical, direct, and inspirational, I can’t thank you enough for all your time in sharing your experience and info for all those currently in various IT/tech positions, or for those planning a dramatic and daunting switch–

    Either way, this can be a scary but rewarding path without direct signs along the way (despite the binary nature of the work!) and your words of encouragement, knowledge, and emphasis on self-motivation and perseverance are like manna on that road.

    Am I overstating it?

    Not from where I sit today… I can’t wait to better process and dig into your other suggested posts and, despite a lifelong curiosity with computers, to finally stop the excuses I’ve indulged myself in for far too long. Which end here.

    I hope these words speak for others, but in my case you should know that I am an (older) woman grateful for the peek behind the Wizard’s curtain… Thanks again for the can-do spirit and humble advice. Best in your endeavors!

    • John Sansom

      Hi Kafalva, thank you for your kind and generous comments.

      Hearing that posts are motivational and have ignited passions is absolutely wonderful. I’m delighted that you have chosen to take charge of your professional development and invest in yourself.

      Thanks for sharing you story and experiences.

  • Sapna Rao

    I am from Life Sciences background. I don’t have any experience in the IT industry. Can i still become a certified DBA?

    • John Sansom

      Yes absolutely Sapna! There are no prerequisites other than a passion for learning and the desire to succeed.

  • Pallavi

    Hi..can you let me know the professional cetification exams for becoming a sql server dba.

    • John Sansom

      Hi Pallavi, details of the certifications that are currently available for Microsoft SQL Server can be found here on the Microsoft Learning site.

  • Deepa

    Hello John,

    I come from a completely different background that is Finance background. Now I want to change my field and get into IT by doing SQL DBA. Could you please suggest me if its right thing to do. I’m 31 now. I’m really interested in doing this course.

    Please advice.


    • John Sansom

      Deepa – I can’t tell you if this if the “right” decision for “you”. Only you can answer that sir.

      Regarding age and experience however, take a look at my post What’s the Age Limit to Becoming a DBA where I answer a readers question similar to your own.

      Good luck.

  • Kourosh

    Hello dear John
    I used to work as a software support team, at that time I felt excellent when I was working with mssql server. After that i work a little on programing, c#, java. Then I work as an IT supervisor in a commercial company, to manage and support network, software and also hardware.
    As u can see I’ve worked in different fields. But i’d like to work as a DBA. Do you think that I can start over to study and learn to be DBA? And how?
    I’ve got bachelor dgree on software and i’m 32.
    Kourosh A.

    • John Sansom

      Kourosh – It sounds to me like you’ve got some excellent experience of the I.T. landscape. This will really make your transition and learning of the DBA art easier. You’re not starting over that’s for sure but are instead just taking a different road forward in your career.

      Take a look at my post What’s the Age Limit to Becoming a DBA. There’s some fantastic discussions in the comments which I think you will find both helpful and interesting. Thanks for your comments.

  • Vash

    Hi i am a MS server administrator. I m jus one round away from getting selected for a MS sql admin role in another company. Since i ve no experience with SQL. Only thing i know is about installing SQL server. And the company i m talking about is a new company and i feel like it would be a right place to start my career as a DB professional. I need to know what kind of skills should i develop. What should i start learning to achieve a long and prosperous career as a DB professional.

    • John Sansom

      Vash – Congratulations on your want to become a technology professional! It really is a wonderful time to be working in technology.

      Knowing how best to begin your journey toward becoming a DBA can be tricky as you’re discovering. I’ve created an entire blog post series about it called Your Road To Becoming a DBA. I think you will find it helpful.

      A must read book for people looking to start out on the road to becoming a DBA is DBA Survivor by Thomas LaRock. It provides excellent in-depth guidance on what it is really like to be a DBA and what you should do in your first days on the job. I cannot say enough good things about this book.

      One excellent away to develop DBA skills is by studying toward SQL Server Certification. There are a number of progressive levels and tracks that can be undertaken. With regard to study, I’ve written about how I like to approach certification here.

      I would also encourage you to join our free community forum. It’s a super friendly place for Data Professionals, experienced and new, who are all passionate about technology. We’d be delighted and privileged to share your journey with you, providing support and guidance should you wish.

      Good luck.

      • Vash

        Hi John

        Thanks a lot for the quick reply. U r doin a good job. I wud definetly read the book. I was thinkin abt the certifications too. . i wud definetly join the comunity. I happy tat there are so many to help me out.

        Thanks again ..

  • Gaurav More

    Hi john ,
    I hv jus cmpltd my B.E (IT) nd started working as an Implementation Speciatlist in an organisation b4 2 months. I work on server setup such as settng tomcat,ftp,MSSQL nd Mysql servers. Bt my goal is to become a DBA .
    i am also going through a few queries and database concepts . so what should i do further to become a junior DBA.

    • John Sansom

      Gaurav – Knowing where to begin can seem daunting and it’s why I wrote the blog post series Your Road To Becoming A DBA. I think you will find it helpful.

  • Mary Kerrigan

    I can’t believe some of these comments – Nate thinking he’s too old at 30 to change careers – when I was 30 I was a secretary, became a DBA at age 36, that was many years ago and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Age 30 is much too early to think you’re stuck in your career. Medical science is allowing our life expectancy to increase with every generation and people can no longer depend on retiring at 65. Don’t ever feel that you are too old to learn and develop in your career!

    • John Sansom

      Mary – well said. Learning I’m is a lifetime pursuit and that’s a great thing.

  • Namit mohan

    Hi John

    I was working as a Assistant Manager Operations in a BPO, Now I have got a chance to move into IT and got a role of Capacity and availability analyst, I am looking forward to build my career in DBA and project managment please advice how to start and what all certifications I have to take, please keep in mind I do not have deep technical knowledge.

    Looking forward to your reply egarly regards Namit Mohan

    • John Sansom

      Namit – That’s a BIG question and one that we can’t really do justice in the comments. I suggest you post your question in Forum(Linked from the Menu at the top of the blog), where you’ll get the benefit of the input from the entire community.

      Update: Link to Forum thread

  • Joe Schuttler

    Hi John,

    I just obtained a degree in Information Systems with a focus on database administration. I wish I can say I learned a ton, but honestly most of what I know has come through self-teaching and the degree is more of just a piece of paper to help me get into the field. I currently work a tech support job and now that I graduated I would like to push my career forwards. So I guess my question would be is there a particular field you would recommend over anything else to get started? For instance, would I be better served focusing my efforts on extending my knowledge on MS SQL or Oracle? Do you think the best route would be to strongly focus on learning SQL or TSQL and attempting to get a job as a developer to gain experience, or dive right into learning the fundamentals of being a DBA? There are so many different paths I can think of I just can’t decide which would be the best for my future. I have a million questions in my head, but I’ll stick with these for now. I look forward to going through the information here as well, hopefully it can answer some of my questions.

    Thanks so much for all of the information here, although I have only scratched the surface it. Overall my biggest question is which direction I should begin moving towards in order to have the best chance of success. Again, I greatly appreciate all of the work you have done here!


    • John Sansom

      Joe – You’ve raised some great questions that require a reply of substance. Something the comments area is not ideal for and so I’m going to put together a post on the blog next week with my thoughts. I’ll post back here with link when published.

    • John Sansom
  • Nora

    Hi John,

    I just got my degree in my bachelor studies in Computer Engineering, and I want to study master in Database Management Systems, but I’m not sure if that is really something for me!!!

    1. I am a very CREATIVE person, are Database studies something for me?
    2. Do Database Administrators, get bored easily from doing this job?

    Thank You!

    • John Sansom

      Nora – Most Data Professionals that I know absolutely love the work they day. You’ll often here them talking about the variety of work they undertake, with each day brining new challenges and problems to solve. Most DBAs will tell you that they’re too busy to be bored. As with any profession, it might not be right for you personally but only you can know/decide.

  • rafiq ahmed

    Hello there,

    As i am new to sql server administration, i would like to hear out from you people regarding the possible solution to my query.

    will explain in details below.

    1)I would like to run a schedule backup every week on a particular day on a particular time.

    after the backup happens i want to shrink the log file and again after the log file shrinks

    I would like to re-run whole backup once again, all this process should happen on a weekly basis without any human interference. Kindly let me know if this is possible to do on a production server. is there any query to run this?thank you in advance.


    • John Sansom

      Rafiq – Thanks for your comment however as it is not relevant to the content of this page, I suggest you post it to the forum.

  • farhana abid
  • abhiiii

    hiii john

    1) i have completed my BE(IT) but there are some kind of problems in academic background like year down so is there any criteria for freshers get into MNC company .

    2) And i read your step to become Dba. so can you plz tell me

    how much part of programming in DBA. beacause i am not intersted in programming type of field.

    waiting for your answer.
    Thank you

  • Deepti Rasapalli



    Hi John, I have been working as a Business analyst in IBM GTS since 2013.I am from a Life sciences background in my graduation, but still i want to pursue my career as a SQL DBA as my husband is an SQL DBA. He is guiding me right now, but can I start as a fresher for DBA with my 6 months experience as business analyst.I troubleshoot the technical issues faced by the users of Altria. I work as an end user support for them.Suggest me some way to become a DBA.

    • John Sansom

      It sounds like you have a potential mentor already. What’s stopping you right now from pursuing the career you wish?

  • Tony

    I’ve just graduated from my local community college and landed a Junior SQL developer position at a local company. I’ve been in the service industry for all of my life, but have always had a passion for technology. Now that I’m starting my career, without any real world experience, could you offer any advice that could help an somewhat overwhelmed individual?

    • John Sansom

      Congratulations. First, grab a copy of my ebook DBAJumpStart, it’s packed full of advice for SQL Developers(as well as DBAs) just starting out on their careers. Next, create a professional development plan outlining what you need to learn over the next 2-6 months in order to be successful in your company as a Junior Developer. Your manager “should” be able to provide you with some guidance/support in this area, particularly with regard to Goals but don’t go to them empty handed. Arrive prepared with a possible plan already outlined that you want to get their thoughts on/discuss.

      • Tony

        Thanks for the kind words. I’ll be grabbing a copy of your ebook shortly. I’ll take your advice to heart and keep you updated! Thanks again!

  • priya fredrick


    I am totally from a different educational background.I have done my M,COM and want to learn SQLSERVER DBA . (later, i want to involve myself totally into tech domain). But really confused as to how should I start my career in SQL SERVER DBA. I have to learn SQL from scratch. Can you please advise me on this?

    i wanna start i career in sqlserver dba.But i know nothing about sql server dba.So could u please suggest me how to start learning sql server dba whith books ?

  • Rahul

    Hi John,
    I am working in an IT company as a first point of contact for the application hosting services. I own 5+exp. My work profile is to make sure that the client work has been done in time and for that we need to communicate with the n numbers of teams in our origination. We work on Peoplesoft, Oracle, Cronacle (JOB monitoring tools) and Autosys (JOB monitoring tools) and for all this we work on remedy for the client tickets and CR (Change request)

    I have done ORACLE course and later I found that it’s not my cup of tea because there you need to be well versed with 3 techonolgies i.e. SQL/UNIX and ORACLE. I worked hard but because of lack of support in the company, I was not able to do handon exp. and without that it’s not worth expecting job as a ORACLE DBA.

    So, please suggest should I go for SQL DBA because I want to switch my job but I am looking for a stream. It’s very hard to work like this and thinking of a secure carrier with no domain.

    Your advice will be of great help John.

  • Vamsi Krishna Bezawada

    Hello Mr.John Sansom, up to what extent I need to learn SQL functions to become a good DBA
    Should I learn them deeply or can I know what are those functions all about an keep them light

  • ranadheer

    hi, i am completed an mcsa certification
    how can i become sql sever dba

  • Tariro

    Hie John…

    I’m a computer science graduate who is more interested in Database Administration. I have currently been trying to build my skills in MySQL Database, so when I visited your website, I got a bit confused with these two topics: MySQL Server Database and MySQL Database. Do those two talk about or mean the same thing? Please help.

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  • Tj Chin Arellano

    hi john, I am a 31 year old fresh graduate of BS information technology here in Philippines, very versatile on T-sql and using SQL Server 2008, I want to become an aspiring DBA and I want it to be my career. My question is,I do not know where to start?… and still looking for a job..

  • Anne Toonen

    Thank you for this info.
    I’m a 26 year old Application Development student and i work for a ISP in the netherlands.
    I came in as a junior C# ASP.NET Developer, but at the moment a make reports of mirrored databases. Because my company needs a FTE DBA i try to learn from the external DBA and the internet. This helps set a better path to learn.