7 Important Skills for Database Admins
Whether you are an aspiring DBA or you are looking to hire a talented individual to take care of your database for you, having an appreciation of the skills required to fulfill this kind of role effectively can be useful.
Here are just a few of the main abilities that database admins should bring to the table, which could be handy to factor into interview questions if you are recruiting at the moment.
The smooth running of a database should be the administrator’s main focus, and fixing faults as they arise is central to this process.
A lot of troubleshooting in a database context comes down to proactively looking out for issues that are likely to spiral out of control if left unchecked. Scrutinizing wait times in SQL Server, or taking an online Java course to ensure that you are up to date with the latest ins and outs of your preferred programming language will be of use in this respect.
Dealing with database administration requires some highly specialized knowledge and training, but this will only get you so far; you also need to be able to speak with non-experts in the organization and explain issues in terms that they can understand.
Clarity of communication is important in most jobs, so it is certainly a skill that DBAs should do their best to develop early on and demonstrate to prospective employers.
Working as a DBA involves a degree of routine and regimentation, and the best administrators are those who are well organized at all times and prepared for every eventuality that they might face over the course of the day.
Of course some people are naturally more organized than others, so if you know that this is not a skill which you have innately, it is worth working to remedy this if possible.
Aptitude for learning
Database technology does not stand still, but rather changes over time and so a good admin will be able to change with it, learning about the latest updates and improvements as well as keeping on top of industry news relating to security issues, bugs, and other potential problems.
Employers need to be supportive of on-the-job learning for DBAs since this will benefit admins and the organization as a whole.
Administrators need to keep databases in good working order not just so that the information they contain can be leveraged by others in the business, but also to prevent malicious third parties from exploiting it for their own gain.
Data breaches are at an all-time high and so a DBA will need to show that they are attuned to current cybersecurity trends and also able to adapt to ongoing changes in this area.
Just as database admins need to be able to communicate effectively with people in other teams and departments, they also have to show that they are well-positioned to collaborate with their colleagues and pull together on projects that have multiple moving parts.
Prior experience working as part of a team can be hugely beneficial in showcasing a candidate’s abilities, especially if the role they are applying for will involve a lot of group participation.
It should be a given that DBAs will be able to work with mainstream languages used to create databases, but it is also important for them to have the ability to design and alter databases to improve efficiency, reduce errors and improve performance.
DBAs can command competitive salaries and a good grasp of database design can help you to justify your worth to would-be employers.
Kevin Kline serves as Principal Program Manager at SentryOne. He is a founder and former president of PASS and the author of popular IT books like SQL in a Nutshell. Kevin is a renowned database expert, software industry veteran, Microsoft SQL Server MVP, and long-time blogger at SentryOne.