SQL Server is a huge product with thousands of features, tools and techniques. No one person can know everything there is to know about database administration, but thankfully, no one needs to learn that much. Managing SQL Server means knowing what's important to do the job at hand.

The Types of SQL Server DBA Jobs

Two of the most common SQL Server jobs are:

  • Production SQL Server DBA - Production DBAs manage dozens or hundreds of SQL Server instances, making sure the servers are always online, backed up, and corruption-free. They manage clustering, SAN storage and security.
  • SQL Server Developer/DBA - Developers store data in SQL Server, and Development DBAs help them get that data in and out more efficiently. They focus on data modeling, writing T-SQL, and performance tuning the code.

These jobs often overlap each other, especially in small companies. DBAs cross over from one field to another and wear multiple hats. In Brent Ozar's article on DBA career paths, he likens the database server to a refrigerator. A production DBA is like a fridge technician; he's responsible for making sure the fridge stays below 40 degrees F and the freezer stays below 30 degrees F. He focuses on refrigeration technology to make sure whatever gets put into the fridge doesn't spoil. A development DBA is like a chef; he's responsible for cooking things that will be stored in the fridge. He needs to know what food goes into the fridge, what food goes into the freezer, and the appropriate containers to use.

There's some crossover: the production DBA might know the basics of cooking, and the development DBA will get better results if he knows the basics of fridge technology. For example, the developer shouldn't expect to start with an empty fridge, and then load a hundred pounds of boiling-hot soup into it all at once: the fridge won't be able to cool it down fast enough to avoid contamination.

However, when getting started with training, it helps to focus on just one of these areas (production, development or BI). At SQLServerPedia, we've got training materials for these areas, and to make it easier on readers, we've developed recommendations on what to learn first.

Training Prerequisites for Both Career Paths

Whether you're trying to become a production DBA or a SQL Server developer/DBA, there's a few topics that all SQL Server professionals should learn first:

  • Database Design - explains the different types of applications, OLTP and OLAP.
  • Security - explains roles, object ownership, and best practices.

Specialized DBA Career Training

After covering these basics, it's time to branch out into one of the two career paths.