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Professional Development

Last updated Mar 28, 2003.

In this section I’ll cover the things every professional Database Administrator should know: business matters that are outside the strictly technical realm. That might lead you to believe that this is the least technical on the site — but that isn't the case. This section is still focused on technology and on databases in particular, dealing with subjects from certification to properly sizing a system and coming up with a disaster recovery plan.

There’s also an easy way to find out when any part of the guide is updated. If you’re using an RSS reader, you can subscribe to these notifications here. We also have a number of blogs you can subscribe to for even more up-to-date information.

The sections in this Guide are designed to allow quick access to what you need. The tutorials and overviews can be read in just a few minutes, and many contain useful scripts and hands-on guides to examples you can follow.

Creating Your Career

You might have landed at this section of the guide before you even have a formal position as a Database Administrator or Developer. In fact, you might not even be that familiar with the various levels within the career field, or the different disciplines you can follow. I have worked in an amazing array of technical positions, from electronics to programming and even IT management, and I have to say that the most enjoyable job I've ever had is as a DBA. There are just so many areas you can specialize in, and you're so much closer to the business, not to mention that it is an interesting area of study.

Think about it: you change applications all the time. How many versions of Office suites have you used? But the data behind all those applications doesn't change. The sales records are still the sales records. Sure, the platform might get upgraded, but the data is king. And that's where you should want to be — with the king!

In this section I'll talk about how you can become a DBA, and I'll also explain the various jobs and disciplines and levels in this career.

Understanding the Basics

When you decide to become a DBA, there are some basics you know first. For one, you need to know how to do basic troubleshooting on your database. But there are other basics that might not be so obvious, or so technical. One of those skills is developing an exit strategy — in other words, before you do anything, what does success look like? What will you do if things don't go well? In this section I'll show you how you can come up with these answers.

Advanced DBA Concepts

Once you have those basics down, you'll be trusted in your company or organization to do more complicated tasks, such as system sizing, creating a disaster recovery plan, and creating an effective data retention strategy.

But no member of a team is an island. You'll need to learn to work within and across teams, and I'll show you how to do things like how to conduct an effective code review and more.

Maintaining and Advancing Your Career

What separates a professional from the average employee? An employee feels that work is useful, and normally appreciates at least the social aspects (and the paycheck) of his job. That employee is not usually interested in the subject of their work outside of the office or place of work, but is quite competent at their job.

The professional feels that her work is important. She spends time outside her job learning more about the craft. She tries out new ideas, and is highly motivated to promote her part of the whole.

But there’s more to being a professional than extensive subject knowledge and enthusiasm. Professionals are defined by what they do, not just what they know. Professionals respect themselves and others, and are always looking for the best solution to the problem at hand, even if it’s not their solution. They don’t care whether they "win" or not; they only care whether the problem is solved.

I'll show you how to get and keep your certifications, and I'll also show you how to keep, and even advance your job in troubled economic times. As I mentioned earlier, data is very important to the organization, and if you're good at what you do, you're often the last to turn out the lights when downsizing comes. There are never any guarantees, but there are always strategies you can use to help secure your position in the organization or business. And you can even use these skills if you want to go out on your own!

In this section, we’ll explore ways to develop your professional database administrator career. I use the term DBA to refer to the development, administration, and data architect roles of the job. This section has less to do then with pure technical knowledge than it does with other professional aspects of database technology.

InformIT Articles and Sample Chapters

Along with learning the technical side of your job, you need to understand the business. Happily, you don't even have to leave this site to do that! Check out this section of the guide for more.

Books and eBooks

One of the new things that IT has been focusing on lately that I don't think is actually a fad is ITIL. You can read a great book on that here.

Online Resources

School teachers are actually evaluated constantly on their continuing education. IT professionals could learn a lot from resources like this.

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