Career Advice

  • hello folks,

    I am posting this question with heavy heart. I have been a SQL server developer through out my career. I love it from all my heart. I love designing efficient database designs based on the business requirement of an existing/new application. I love playing with the data. Problem solving, bug fixing, performance tuning and optimization has been my forte.

    However if there's one thing which in constant is "change". tech world is moving rapidly to new technologies. Even if companies are using same business model with same data load, they are moving to new technologies. This change, unfortunately, is killing/downgrading my skill set. My questions to all the experience senior people in this forum are these :-

    1. What should be my career options going forward ?
    2. What skills should i learn ?
    3. what certifications to get credentials for those skills ?

    I am really confused with tech moving so fast and because of my love for my skill set, i was caught off guarded.


    sql enthusiastic

  • Thanks for posting your issue and hopefully someone will answer soon.

    This is an automated bump to increase visibility of your question.

  • There is no one answer here. Personally, I have been pursuing knowledge of PostgreSQL in addition to SQL Server.

    Why that and not something non-relational like MongoDB? Well, after studying a bit, it looks like quite a few of the non-relational engines are starting to plateau. While they solve a real need, that need is a little more niche than the needs that a relational engine solves, so the growth and adoption of these platforms is a bit more limited. That's not to say there's anything wrong with these technologies, there isn't. I just want to hit a broader swath of industries and relational does it.

    Cool. Why PostgreSQL? Two main reasons, although there are a bunch. First, it's the fastest growing data platform. More and more people are using it all the time, so there's clearly growth there. Second, community. To a very large degree, the community around PostgreSQL is like the one around SQL Server. They share. They believe in a rising tide lifting all boats. They're friendly, open and welcoming. All that means, it's easier to get started in PostgreSQL because there's a support structure.

    Plus, one of the biggest trends we've been seeing is hybrid solutions. Hybrid in terms of multiple database platforms (snowflake anyone) and hybrid in terms of on-premises and cloud. So, having a broader set of knowledge is a good idea.

    However, SQL Server isn't going away. More and more stuff is getting added all the time. All the talk of Fabric suggests that's probably one place where you could focus your learning, but stay inside the Microsoft stack. So there's tons and tons to learn to build both depth and breadth, but stay inside the existing ecostructure. And there's always more to learn in and around Azure.

    I'll add, you should be learning all the time. To maintain a career inside IT without moving to management, you must keep up with technology. It has to be a fundamental part of your week to include some additional learning, even if your management doesn't support you. Heck, especially if your management doesn't support you. Remember, you're responsible for your career, not someone else. Develop that learning habit.

    Hope any of this helps.

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood"
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    Author of:
    SQL Server Execution Plans
    SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

  • Thanks for the detailed answer Grant.

    What I think is any organization mostly tends to use either SQL server or PostgreSQL (or in case of both, % will be very higher in favor of one). Is there anything else which I can learn as ;earning curve and career growth ?

    Some I feel to go for some programming language like python where I can play around with pandas, numpy etc but i feel worried that it will be very steep and troublesome journey and that too I will become a very basic developer in a year.

    Sometimes I think about going into AI/ML but then it's also a vast area and market is full of tools so which one to use and how to proceed, I have no idea.

    Also i feel to work on new warehousing tools like Databricks or Snowflake but whether or not it will help me boost my career and how, no idea.

    Then there's lots of reporting and visualization tools like tableau, qlikview (now qliksense), power BI, thoughtspot etc but seems those are making life easy for business people to use by themselves. So whether learning them will give me edge or not.

    Now you see where I am stuck. I am not able to decide which path to take (basically want to make a step by step precise approach for myself). I will be really thankful if someone can help me/guide me.

  • We are spoiled for choices. I don't think there's a wrong one as such.

    There are ones that are better fits to you as an individual. For example, I went down the AI/ML/Analytics rabbit hole for a bit, and frankly, I simply have zero interest in spending that much time on math. But if you do, cool.

    To me, all this, picking & choosing stuff for your career is a very complex dance. You want to pick things that have a relatively long runtime so you can be employed. You also want them to be relatively popular, so you can be employed. You need to find ones that truly interest you, so you don't get bored and regret your choices.

    It ain't easy and there's no one path. But, be assured, there never has been. I don't have a computer science degree. I don't have a degree. I stumbled into programming & databases, largely by accident. I've worked with Oracle and Sybase before I dug into SQL Server. I went down an SSAS rabbit hole for a year.

    You can have a job managing backups, maybe a whole life's worth, maybe not. Or, you can chase a career, but it's going to be an ongoing active endeavor.

    "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood"
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    Author of:
    SQL Server Execution Plans
    SQL Server Query Performance Tuning

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