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What's Your Education Worth?

By Steve Jones,

You have learned a lot of things about SQL Server in your career, and I'm sure that there are many more things that you want to learn, or feel you need to learn, to continue on in your career. Some of them you can learn on your own, and some you might need help with. For those that you're looking for help with…

What's your education worth?

Kalen Delaney, one of the most knowledgeable SQL Server exerts in our industry, wrote an interesting editorial for SQL Server Magazine with the title: What's a Little Education Worth? I encourage you to read it, and I thought it was a thought provoking piece for me.

When I started my education as a DBA, I read everything I could. I read all the v4.2 manuals, I read a few magazines, and looked around for as much other information as I could find. There were no user groups or MSDN events at that time, but I found a few books and invested in them to further my career.

And I coded a lot. I mean I wrote lots of production code, lots of test code; I experimented with T-SQL. I learned how to dig into the system tables and find out what was happening on my instances. I continued that effort through the various versions, buckling down more once I started this site. I got my employer to pay for some training here and there, but for the most part I was self-taught. Outside of a few books, I didn't invest a lot of dollars in my education, but I did invest a ton of time. Today, I think I might change that a little and invest a few more dollars in my education, for the sake of saving time.

I think your education in technology isn't a lot different from developing software. There's a time/cost tradeoff that you make. If you want things done quicker, it usually costs more money. If you want to save money, it takes more time. I know software doesn't always follow a linear tradeoff between these two, but there is a trend that if you spend money on more developers (or better ones) and have test machines properly sized, you can save some time. I feel education is the same way.

You can do it yourself, stumble around, and teach yourself, but it takes time. You can go to free events like SQL Saturday, and learn a few things, you these aren't deep presentations, and honestly, how much can you learn in an hour? Not much, but you get ideas and learn a few things that you can investigate yourself. It will still take you time, but you're guided along the way.

Or you can go to a class and get your hand held as you walk through some topics in amazing detail. It costs a lot of $$$, but you learn quickly. And trainers like Kalen Delaney and Kimberly Tripp, offer fantastic courses that will help you get up to speed quickly. There are plenty of great trainers out there, but I know these two ladies and I would recommend their classes. I'll also disclose that I own SQL Share, and we offer training in Orlando, FL.

I might argue that some of these immersion classes offer too much information in a short period of time and you can't learn it all. I'd like to see some of these trainers offer classes over a period of time, more like a college course, where you could get 3-8 hours of training a week for some period of time, say 10 weeks, and have some level of live interaction with the instructor. That's hard to do in remotely, but I think it's easier if local training centers could offer something like this, using the "college" model. Or with today's LiveMeeting technology, that could happen remotely and let you get information from amazing trainers like Kalen Delaney.

So I ask you, what's your education worth? To you? In time and money, yours or your employer's?

Steve Jones


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