“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. – Confucius

It’s amazing how many, and how consistently, I get “reluctant would-be DBAs” in my class. I always do a quick survey or poll when the course starts where I ask the students why they’re taking the class. My classes are part time studies courses, and usually taken by students who are already working and just doing continuous learning, or are making a career change.

I’ve seen different types of reluctant DBAs:

  • Some of the students do say they were “forced” to take the class by their bosses, because they need it for their corporate professional development program.
  • Other students have other job titles (PMs, data entry clerks, accountants, marketing managers), but are taking the course because they were recently assigned the title “DBA” — because they happened to know a little bit more about the data or the system than anybody else in the company.
  • Still other students truthfully admit they want to become DBAs because they heard it’s a stable and secure job, and that’s what they want even though they have no interest whatsoever with databases.

When they ask me “How do you become a DBA?”, I answer them with another question “Do you like working with databases?”

If they say “Yes”, then I go all gung ho, and share all my RSS feeds and twitter people I follow, and articles I’ve read and written. Then I’ll talk their ears out on how I love working with databases too – SQL Server specifically.

If they answer “I don’t know” .. then I think there’s a potential there to start liking databases more as they work on it more. Which is a good thing. That’s when I start encouraging them to learn more about it, refer them to BCIT’s elibrary (Books 24X7) for additional ebooks, Brent Ozar’s site, SQLServerPedia and Brad McGehee‘s book “How to Become an Exceptional DBA”

When they answer “I don’t” or “Absolutely hate it” but they’re there for the title or the job security (what job security? is there such a thing?), that’s when I start rambling that they should try to figure out what they want to do, and that they shouldn’t be in it just because they think it’s a “stable” job, or somebody said “you should be one”.

As with any other profession, becoming a DBA almost has to be a calling. It’s either you like (better yet, LOVE) working with databases, or you don’t.

I don’t discount the fact that you can learn to love working with databases. Take Jorge Sergarra (@sqlchicken) – he mentioned in his addendum to his “3 things post” that

“…One thing I forgot to mention in my post is that in college I HATED the database class. I was almost reduced to tears because I couldn’t figure out who to create a proper stored procedure. It’s funny, years later, that I absolutely love all things database! …”

If after trying the DBA field for some time, and you’re quite sure you’re not enjoying the work, you should get out and find your calling. Don’t choose to be “imprisoned” in a field you don’t want to be in. You’d want to be in a field where you come to work all excited and giddy about what you’re going to do for the day, what new things you’re going to learn, and what impact your work is going to make for the company or people you’re working for.

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Becoming a DBA – the Right and Not-So-Right Reasons, 9.7 out of 10 based on 20 ratings  
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