Do Entry-Level Databasing Jobs Exist ?

  • I will be graduating in October,2003 with a BS in CIS. I want to get into the databasing arena, but have failed to see a position anywhere for someone to start out in. Heck, I havent even found an entry-level anything in the Orlando area. Anyone got any ideas?

  • I don't know your experience with databases. Most of the time you are considered a junior level for the first three to five years.

    I started out as a network/help desk dude. I made sure to provide extra help with database issues, so that I eventually worked with the database guys more often. Then I slide into a programmer position (Access & Visual Basic). I found a position after four years working with a database mentor on SQL Server. That was another year. Now I work primarily with SQL Server but I also do technical writing (documenting is always important to a DBA).

    I hope this helps

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.


    Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue

  • The way I started was a computer room operator, then I took over our online report viewer system which was under the manager of the DBAs. I then started helping out with minor DBA documentation for our mainframe databases in DB2 then became a DBA. When we started getting SQL Server apps I was the SQL Server dba.

  • If you're talking about someone who sits around and just designs databases...I am not so sure many jobs exist like that? I know where I work, just about every Developer has access to SQL Server and almost all know at least some level of DB programming. Granted, there are a few of us who know a LOT more than others. So, in our company, if you're a programmer, you're expected to know Database design. This has been apparent by the release of DotNET's IDE where SQL Server has been integrated into it (However, you can also connect to Access, Oracle, etc.).

    But like pbirch mentioned, I also started out in the Help Desk and demonstrated by ability to design Databases with ease and efficiency until someone finally took notice =P.

  • I just graduated in May and actually started an entry-level database job in April. I didn't think I was going to find anything either. Like the rest of these guys say, be willing to start small. Even take on an internship after graduation if you have to. Any experience will help. I think that one of the reasons I was hired at my company was because I had two three-month internships, both working with Oracle. The first internship was during college and the second was after I was done with classes and while I was looking for a permanent position. So even though I'd never touched SQL Server before, they felt I'd pick it up fairly quickly. I started out as a Data Analyst, basically just writing stored procedures. I have since moved into more of a data architecture role, designing logical models and working more closely with application development.

    So my advice would be... be willing to take on something temporary... remember that you can work your way up from almost anywhere... and keep a positive attitude... it's a tough market out there right now, but you'll find something!

    Best of luck!


  • Start small in an entry level position, like help desk or operations, and then slowly steer the job to your area of interest. If on the help desk, offer to tackle the tough db questions. You'll eventually be known as the "db guy".

    I encourage you to program though too. Don't just be a sysadmin or dbadmin. It always comes back to some sort of programming. The more exposed and well rounded you are the better you will be at your job.

    As far as programming is concerned, I'm fond of saying "every application is in some way a DB application". If your programs are collecting and storing and re-displaying data (and I don't know any progs that don't do that except games), then you are dealing with DB issues.

    I wouldn't necessarily call myself a DBA right now, though my job requires that I spend sometimes all day doing that kind of work. I'm a db programmer which I personally find more rewarding.

    If you want to be strictly a DBA, from the entry level, I'd focus on SysAdmin type duties. If you want to be a DB programmer, from the entry level, I'd focus on more programming, reporting and application duties.

    my 20 year career:



    Network Admin

    Systems Analyst


    vb Programmer


    rBase, VB, Programmer

    Web Developer

    MS SQL Developer (& DBA when required)

    I never would have predicted this route.. so you probably will also be in for many twists and turns as you get to your final destination.!

    good luck

  • Right now the market is tough. I don't ever hire non-experienced DBA's. Instead I look for people that have at least worked with databases in some fashion - developer, analyst ... If I were you I would start out looking for something that works with databases in some fashion - even data entry, then work up.

    I started as a data entry clerk 18 yrs ago, then data analyst, then developer, now DBA.

  • I got my start via MS Access 2.0 and 95. While going to school, I did very well working with Access in my classes that my professors found me a couple of little jobs with various business. This got my feet wet. After graduation, I found a job as a developer working with both Access and VB. As I continued to work, I picked up SQL Server and worked with it and VB. Eventually, I switched to a SQL Server Developer and Administrator.


  • Mike, the people that have responded have offered some very good advice. If I were to repeat their words here it would be redundant, and since redundant data is not allowed in a relational database I'll just say I echo their words.

    Let me offer this as inspiration: I am in my mid 50's and if you had asked me where I would be 10 years ago I would have never said a database administrator. I come for the retail food industry. I worked for over 30 years in management before the company I worked for was bought out and sold off. At 48, I found myself pounding the street for any type of job. I walked into this office and asked if they were hiring, I was told unless I was a sql guru, there was nothing. I told them I could learn anything and I talked my way into this job. I have spent countless hours studying, reading, and searching websites, like this one, for information on sql.

    So Mike, your fate is in your hands!

    Good Luck.

  • Thanks for the words of advice guys. I was just getting a little intimidated by the current job market. I want to get into software development, but without the experience it has been i bit rough. I am proficient with JAVA(JSP,Servlets,MIDlets), C++,HTML,XML,SQL,Oracle,MS Office suite, etc....and know some VB.NET and ASP.NET(did a web-based catalog). I did a 4 month project for Walt Disney Imaging(Web-based ticket system). And for the last year I have been working in the University IT department(help desk & PC tech). I got a couple offers working as a PC technician for IT depts, but I really want something in software. I gues ill hook up with one of IT jobs and work on my certs(Oracle and JAVA first) while still working towards getting into the software aspect of the field.

  • Mike, pick up any job in the IT field. It's more important to get in the door rather than to wait for the perfect opportunity. We have all worked many different parts of IT. Who knows, once you get into software you might not like it. The beauty of IT is that there is always something else to do.

    Certs are nice, but they won't, by themselves, get you into software. Not anymore.

    One of the problems with IT is that they (the recruiters) will always try and place you in a job just like the last one that you left. So, if you take a job as a PC Tech then you will follow that path until you find a way to do something else. I spent several years as an Access programmer when I really wanted to work with VB, but because I had so much experience with Access few were interested in my VB skills. I changed jobs (a very risky alternative in today's market) to work with SQL Server. I was lucky.

    Something to remember about software is that you are always learning. Your language of choice will change every 18 to 24 months. I know many people who burned out while programming. Also there are fads and languages come and go.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.


    Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue

  • I'll give a different slant on the "pick any IT job".

    I have had several people work for me who I hired for X, and who wanted to do Y and thought that was a good path. More cases than not it led to one or both of us being dissatisfied. If you decide (for example) to take a job as a PC admin thinking it will be a foot in the door to DBA work, better be prepared to be a damn fine PC admin or all you end up with is with your first employer unhappy with you.

    Your best bet (in my opinion) for success at such a tactic is in a very small company, or a very large one. Where small everyone has to do a bit of everything, where large there are often paths independent of your current management. But take our size, with an IT group of 24. Like most companies we are very lean. If I hire a PC Admin it is a very full time job. There isn't a lot of free time to practice your DBA skills, much less demonstrate them. If I had an opening for a DBA, consider the dynamics -- if you are a good PC admin, I'd have to choose between loosing a good PC Admin and getting an unknown quality DBA; if you were a bad PC Admin, I certainly wouldn't want to risk the change.

    I'm not saying it couldn't work -- I've often allowed people to try a job change rather than loose them. But the dynamics are often against it. Now if the company is really large, you might get the inside line to a transfer to a different group, where the guy hiring is not the guy loosing you.

    Your best bet in almost all cases is networking (human type). I'm looking for experienced developers (not DBA's) right now. I told H/R not to send me anyone fresh out of school (ok, everyone can yell at me if you want, but that's the real world). HOWEVER, this morning I'm talking to someone fresh out of school because one of my employees knew him and raved about him. Some of my best employees came through the back door because they knew someone who knew about the job, and I knew them and trusted their referrals. If you've impressed your instructors or others, stay in touch and let them help.

    While waiting for your dream job, find alternatives that demonstrate your worth. It may be a bad idea to take a low-ball salary just to get experience (it may not, opinions are mixed). But consider some consulting, or working for non-profits and doing an excellent job. Having heads of a charity or church (who are often desparate for help) raving about your abilities to a potential employer is a great reference, and that you got paid $5/hour is not noticd because it's a non-profit.

    PS. When you interview, don't pretend to know what you do not know, do describe how you are really good at learning on your own and even your own time (in a down economy no one wants to hear how you are looking to spend the next 2 years in classes), and do not sound wedded to a technology or language. They are all tools to solve problems -- sound like someone who knows how to choose and use tools to solve problems, not someone who can only use a hammer.

  • quote:

    Your best bet (in my opinion) for success at such a tactic is in a very small company, or a very large one. Where small everyone has to do a bit of everything, where large there are often paths independent of your current management. But take our size, with an IT group of 24. Like most companies we are very lean.

    speaking for myself, I started as developer with a small software company of some 30 employees alltogether. I guess it depends on one's own objectives what he wants, but it helped me a lot to 'do a bit of everything'. That included developing, telefone support, inhouse support and training, project work, coffee cooking....I certainly appreciate to look over the rim of my coffee cup.

    And I believe that you cannot tell what you want unless you don't know what you do not want.

    I never thought of working in asset management area, but I always had a strong mathematical background which was the reason that small software company assigned those responsibilities to me.

    While developing algorithms for risk management, portfolio management, assets pricing...I changed interests to asset management (you know, playing around with multi-million dollar trades has a charme of its own )

    Now my preferences are changing again back to development or db administration.

    Bottom line of my lunch break excursion:

    You can't tell for sure what you do five years from now. And most important is that you have fun in your job

    Maybe this thread will also help you

    Good luck!


    Frank Kalis
    Microsoft SQL Server MVP
    My blog:[/url]

  • I don't know if anyone would do this today, but I started out at help desk, and tortured the Network guys every chance I got to learn networks. Then I got a temp job doing network and desktop (a friend got me that one.) They had a BackupExec server and a SQL Server. The IT people were Novel and "dumped" these on me cause they didn't want anything to do with them. The next temp job I got, because I could spell SQL and do desktop. Learned T-SQL and the rest is history.

    I disagree with the gentleman that said you were considered Jr. Level with 3-5 years of experience. It really depends on the size of your database environment and how much responsibility you are given to administer the entire environment. I only have 5 years of experience as a DBA, but I quit being a Jr.-level 3 years ago.

  • Ferguson, Thanks for the different view. Yes, they are hired for one type of position but feel that true bliss is doing something else. That's the nature of any job.

    I have also worked with people who have an inflated view of either their job or the money they should make. I knew several people who decided because they were a DBA (in name only, no experience or training) and after checking out many web sites with pay rates that there were worth a higher salary. They became a bad DBAs since they felt the company was taking advantage of them.

    Dr. Peter Venkman: Generally you don't see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.


    Quand on parle du loup, on en voit la queue

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