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The Sixty-Second Guide to becoming a SQL Server DBA Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 1:35 PM
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I would not recommend the Microsoft Self Study guides.
First of all, there is a difference between learning to become a good DBA and trying to pass the certification exams. Certification will definitely look good on your resume, but the skills needed to be a DBA are not entirely the skills tested by the exams. And there are skills tested on the exam that you will probably never use in real life.

I am not working as a DBA, but I have passed the Design and Implementation exam. For the purposes of preparing for the exams, my experience with these books is:
(1) what the self study books try to explain they do a horrible job of explaining it, and even if you can figure out what they are talking about
(2) the books don't go to sufficient depth so that you are prepared for the depth of questions you will get on the test.
Post #829252
Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 1:48 PM


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Sorry, scot, that's not been my experience.

-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Post #829257
Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 1:57 PM


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RBarryYoung (12/4/2009)
petertrast (12/4/2009)
Anyone who has earned a Microsoft certification knows that there are some questions on the test that have more to do with Microsoft "best practices" than actual field experience. I am not sure if this is what Barry was referring to when he said learn the answers for the certification but you DO need to learn the Microsoft opinion on some subjects to get those questions right on the test. This plan closely follows my own methodology that I have incorporated into my plan to become an "exceptional dba" (some of you get this) and as a (current) trainer, I find this to be a simple, concise plan that gives new SQL DBA's-in-the-making a good starting point.

I suspect that some of the resistance to that particular comment has more to do with antipathy towards "boot camps" and paper certs (and rightly so). Unfortunately, I see corporate students every week, with an average of 10 years of experience (and more) with little or no certifications. The surprising thing is how many features of the product that they have been using for 2 or 3 years that they have never seen or considered using. Training and especially studying for certifications will expose these to even experienced DBA's and expand their ability to get the job done while increasing the likelihood of job retention in a tough market and provide opportunity for better compensation. The main trouble that I see with career DBA's is that they forget that training needs to happen throughout their career and that few of us, if any, truly "arrive". I have noticed that the most awesome DBA's I have met never stop educating and certifying and I follow those who are successful (I hope :) )

Along with Barry's recommendations I would like to add another awesome read "How to become an Exceptional DBA" by Brad McGeHee (free download somewhere on this site I believe).

Happy querying!!!

Great stuff, Peter. I agree with everything you said (including the some Cert question are more about the "Microsoft mindset" than about actual facts).


Makes me feel good being new to this forum that you would agree

I just want to clarify that while experience in the field may seem to contradict the Microsoft opinion on some scenarios, I tend to agree with the vast majority of Microsoft best practices since they have served me well overall and I find few exceptions where I have what I feel is a better way. That is a major reason that I am a huge proponent of training and certification and have personally reaped the benefits of both during my IT career, both in getting the interview and in being offered greater compensation specifically because of my certifications.

Cheers!


Peter Trast
Microsoft Certified ...(insert many literal strings here)
Microsoft Design Architect with Alexander Open Systems
Post #829261
Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 2:51 PM


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scotjmcdermid (12/4/2009)
I would not recommend the Microsoft Self Study guides.
First of all, there is a difference between learning to become a good DBA and trying to pass the certification exams. Certification will definitely look good on your resume, but the skills needed to be a DBA are not entirely the skills tested by the exams. And there are skills tested on the exam that you will probably never use in real life.

I am not working as a DBA, but I have passed the Design and Implementation exam. For the purposes of preparing for the exams, my experience with these books is:
(1) what the self study books try to explain they do a horrible job of explaining it, and even if you can figure out what they are talking about
(2) the books don't go to sufficient depth so that you are prepared for the depth of questions you will get on the test.

My impression of the Self-study series is that you are expected to have some experience to make sense of the material based on the assumption that anyone prepping for a cert is NOT a newcomer to the technology. Certs are supposed to be pursued after you have SOME experience.... BUT even a newcomer can learn something from these books, especially if you do all of the labs and test prep material in the books.

But I agree Scot, the book cannot give you everything you need. It is just one tool to learn about the technology and prepare to be certified in it. That is why I teach Instructor Led Training, to add the missing parts in a classroom environment and that is the value of class training: having a mentor/guide to navigate the troubled waters of training and cert prep to achieve your IT career goals. That is why IT education is STILL a booming business, because it still has real value. You might consider finding a local IT training center where you live to augment your self-study.

Let me know if I can be of any assistance in your IT career planning!

Chin up and all that


Peter Trast
Microsoft Certified ...(insert many literal strings here)
Microsoft Design Architect with Alexander Open Systems
Post #829289
Posted Friday, December 4, 2009 10:11 PM


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I thought this was an excellent article. I agree with Barry's suggestion regarding certification. It's simply one of the things you can do to guide your training in new areas you might not otherwise experience in your day-to-day work. Speaking from experience, it does help you become a better dba.

When I first became a dba, I got my SQL 2000 certification after working through a lot of self-tests and training materials. Later when I was much more advanced, I got the SQL 2005 certification with very little trouble. I worked through the sample tests, and that's it. Then when I got my SQL 2008 certification, I didn't study for it all. I just walked in and took the tests.

Certification itslef didn't make me a better dba, but the training I pursued to get it definitely did make me better.




My blog: SQL Soldier
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Post #829342
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 1:31 AM


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Great Article, and, while a quick, short read, it covers the basics of pursuing the goal of becoming a DBA admirably.

I've read through all the comments (and am glad finding a local chapter of PASS was mentioned) but one thing that I would add would be to follow SQL Tweeps on Twitter. Lists of them can be found easily enough. The answers that can be obtained through them and, even more so, the links and blogs and sheer volume of information tweeted about SQL Server nearly every day makes it an awesome resource.

dyfhid on Twitter
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Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 12:03 PM


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Robert Davis (12/4/2009)
I thought this was an excellent article. I agree with Barry's suggestion regarding certification. It's simply one of the things you can do to guide your training in new areas you might not otherwise experience in your day-to-day work. Speaking from experience, it does help you become a better dba.

When I first became a dba, I got my SQL 2000 certification after working through a lot of self-tests and training materials. Later when I was much more advanced, I got the SQL 2005 certification with very little trouble. I worked through the sample tests, and that's it. Then when I got my SQL 2008 certification, I didn't study for it all. I just walked in and took the tests.

Certification itslef didn't make me a better dba, but the training I pursued to get it definitely did make me better.

Thanks, Robert, my sentiment exactly.


-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Post #829431
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 5:34 PM


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dyfhid (12/5/2009)
Great Article, and, while a quick, short read, it covers the basics of pursuing the goal of becoming a DBA admirably.

I've read through all the comments (and am glad finding a local chapter of PASS was mentioned) but one thing that I would add would be to follow SQL Tweeps on Twitter. Lists of them can be found easily enough. The answers that can be obtained through them and, even more so, the links and blogs and sheer volume of information tweeted about SQL Server nearly every day makes it an awesome resource.

dyfhid on Twitter

Thanks, dyfhid!


-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
Post #829460
Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 6:14 PM


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I made my first reference to your good article for a post today, Barry. If it keeps up, I may just have to add the link to my signature line.

--Jeff Moden
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First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

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Posted Saturday, December 5, 2009 8:38 PM


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Thanks, Jeff...

-- RBarryYoung, (302)375-0451 blog: MovingSQL.com, Twitter: @RBarryYoung
Proactive Performance Solutions, Inc.
"Performance is our middle name."
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