SQL means Structured Query Language. It is a domain-specific language which is used for communications and also manipulation of data which is stored in the RDBMS database. SQL finds its use in several domains and comes loaded with different concepts and theories. If you are looking at a career in SQL, it is essential that you master these concepts. The market is replete with jobs in SQL as it is present on-premises and also on the cloud. This has further accelerated the manhunt for SQL professionals. Although the pace of development of technology is very fast, skills like SQL last forever and are highly helpful in taking you forward towards your dream job as a SQL consultant. The demand for the SQL professionals who are also endowed with sharp analytical thinking skills which can be applied to SQL is never less.
What is SQL Server?
It is software which is run on the Windows Server and allows its users to both stores and fetch data in a database using the TSQL language. It is rare that end users have to directly interact with SQL Server, but they can only access data in the form of reports, web pages, and some other applications. The Database Administrators make use of the SQL Server Management Studio for looking after the software. The databases and other users who have authorized access to query the data in the database.
Role of the Database Administrator
A typical database administrator is responsible for the management of all the components of SQL Server ranging from the installation, patching, and even creation of databases. DBA is also the person who will grant permissions to the users for using the databases. The major role lies in the maintenance of the performance and also data protection. DBA is basically a consultant who will advise the management on the effective use of the SQL servers. He is the one who has to ensure that the database does not go offline or there is no loss of data as any such eventuality has a tremendous impact on the customers.
How to become a SQL Consultant or a DBA?
The most difficult aspect of becoming a DBA is getting the first employment opportunity as there are hardly any businesses who will want to hire a fresher with no previous work experience and give access to the most prized possession of a business-its data. Even a slight mistake can have a devastating effect on the business like an apparent loss in revenue or even worse, a loss in data. Although it is human to make errors, the businesses believe that the possibilities for comitting them significantly come down if they hire a seasoned DBA than a Junior first-time person. Also, as most businesses have only one DBA, so there is no one in the organization generally to guide them or coach them going forward.
So, it is a common trend that most DBAs actually start as developers or system administrators who are involved in installations and patches. These people start with basics and then upskill gradually. Some people even start doing the ETL work (extract, transform, and load) but they have an apparent liking for the databases. Thus, mostly it is seen that the DBAs are hired from the already existing staff as they have shown keenness for work, demonstrated a level of trust and are well aware of the requirements of the business.
The foremost requirement for learning is a proper place to learn. To begin with, you will need a reasonably modern PC/ laptop, recent Windows version, and enough space for the installation of the basic databases. For beginners, you may start with a basic and free Developer edition of SQL Server on the virtualization platform of your choice. You may also use Azure hosted virtual machines. There are a lot of skills which you will have to learn so you may start with the ones which you will be used as a DBA. These will be the fundamentals which will also be helpful for you to grasp the tougher topics. Here is a list of skills which you should possess as a DBA for a beginner:
- Installation of SQL Server and application of the latest service pack in addition to setting up jobs and email notifications.
- Creation and management of users, logins, and other roles at the database level.
- Should have thorough knowledge about GRANT, REVOKE and DENY.
- Creation and modification of tables, views, functions, etc.
- Writing of queries by INNER, LEFT, FULL, and even CROSS JOINS.
- Using COUNT, GROUP BY, WHERE, UNION, and even UNION ALL in the TSQL queries.
- Understanding of various recovery models and the techniques to change them.
- Knowledge about how to restore a backup.
- Understanding the working of indexes and statistics.
Importance of Training and Certifications
It is not necessary that you have to take training for the above as many successful DBAs have taken up skills by themselves reading from books or online videos at their own pace and availability. If this is not your cup of tea and you need to be coached, then you may prefer short courses which focus on SQL Server administration. It is quite obvious that you will not be able to become a master in 5 days, but the course will put you on the right track as it will act as a first step in the learning curve. If you are already employed the high course fee is shared by the employers.
Alternately, there are many options for SQL online training from sites like SQLServerCentral, MSSQL Tips, JanBask Training. Once you have learned the basics, you should also consider certifications as they add credibility to your knowledge. They act as proof of competency. Microsoft maintains certification tracks for the SQL Server. Latter also continually updates them alongside the new releases. Microsoft also publishes books about each of the exams. Every exam has a fee, so it is advisable that you prepare well before you appear.
There is a lot of scope for a career in SQL as it finds use in multiple domains. You have to acquire suitable skills and certifications to be able to enter the job market. As most organizations hire only one DBA, so the choice is a vital one for them. It is a known trend that mostly such vacancies are filled from the existing staff members who were working on different roles but have acquired the DBA skills along with their career. Getting into a DBA role as a fresher is a tough bet. It is a good choice to be a part of the SQL Community. It will keep you updated about the latest trends, jobs, and other discussions relevant to your core.