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May 01, 2012

Becoming a DBA

Over the years I've often been asked how one gets a job as a DBA. In my years of consulting I have, of course, talked to many DBAs who've taken all kinds of routes to where they are now. For instance, a former coworker started as a computer operator. He advanced into systems programming, and then moved into the database group. Another former coworker was a clerk doing paperwork, but she switched into IT and progressed into database administration.

Me, I was hired as a developer for a company that just got DB2. I was assigned to test a new DB2 application, a project that took about four months. When it was over, I was asked if I'd like stay on the database side. In each of these case, it was a matter of someone starting in one area of a company, building relationships and taking the opportunity when it was presented.

If you really want to be a DBA, you should naturally learn as much as you can about DB2. If possible, take a data modeling class and DBA class. But beyond technical knowledge, take the small steps to put yourself in position for the opportunity. Build a good relationship with your friends in the DBA group. If you can, learn the tools they use to monitor your applications. Have them show you when they make SQL coding changes to improve a given transaction or batch job. Doing these kinds of things will make you shine.

I'd really like to hear from the DBAs out there. How did you get your break? Please take a moment and share your story in Comments.