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What steps should I take to prepare to enter the field of a Database Administrator?

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Alok’s Answer


Let me try to answer your question by asking more questions and going on answering them:

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What are Databases? They are the place where data primarily resides.

What data resides in there? Its any data. It could be right from your School/College library listings to the amount of money your Doctor has in his bank account is data. So is the number of goods inventory in your nearest retail store to the number of times you have visited your Friends FB/Insta page. Its all data!

What does an Database Administrator do? Administers Data! Yes, that simple but dont quote me on it yet! Administering is not simple. It requires you to handle several complex scenarios

What are the complexities? An Database Admin (DB-admin) needs to ensure that data is complete (not lost or partial), quickly accessible (don't like it when you have to wait for a long time in the self-billing queue, do you?), highly available (what if the computer where you project is saved locally refuses to turn up? Think if that happens to the money in your account!) and restorable in case of emergencies.

How can you prepare to be a DB-admin?

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Begin with the basics. Your course curriculum should cover you here. If you secure a passing grade, you should be good.

Devil is in the details: Any robust Database is designed to maintain ACID (search around). This basically means that in severe cases, the DB is designed to keep your losses to a bare minimum. Spend some time understanding how EXACTLY this works. My suggestion is to go with the good old Oracle Database, to understand how exactly it works (architecture, way data resides and moves about in disks and memory). You can choose any DB of your liking. Remember, the main idea is to get a clear DB-technology agnostic understanding of why it happens (and not just what happens). Once you have a strong clear understanding, learning other DB technologies is just a matter to some tweaks and a no-sweat task. I speak of this from my experience.

Familiarize yourself with the main tasks of a DB-admin: Understand the concepts of High-availability, Disaster Recovery, Parsing, Nodes, Backups, Restore, Point-in-Time recovery, redundancy etc. Then understand how the technology of your DB achieves this.

Finally, nothing beats good old hard work. Try to work on an actual database. Not on a test one or one you setup at home on your local machine. Try to secure an internship or project that has a database that is actually being used (however small the scale). With such a scenario you will not just learn how to operate on a database but understand the criticality of the simplest of tasks that go with it.

Remember, Every Enterprise has a large and a complex setup of databases to ensure very High availability and rely on DB-admin & Technology to keep the business running.

Remember: Data is the new Gold! You aim to be a custodian of Gold.

Good luck!

Alok recommends the following next steps:

  • Basic understanding of what databases are. Can rely of school/college curriculum
  • Learn one DB, properly. Give it highest quality time. This is the foundation on which everything else will rely.
  • Familiarize with the implementation scenarios
  • Try projects or Hands-On