Database related careers

What types of data/database careers are suitable for someone with reasonable SQL skills but not so comfortable with programming such as .net, C#, Java etc?

Does the lack of programming skills seriously hamper careers available in data/database field or not really at all? There must be more than DBA roles in companies around data/databases?
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pma111Author Commented:
Even job titles so I can search local area for terms and what the companies ask for for such roles
How about something like business analyst - where you create/maintain reports, either in SQL or business intelligence tools like Business Objects or Crystal Reports?

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pma111Author Commented:
Thanks, may well look into that field. Any other suggestions folks keep them coming.
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pma111Author Commented:
do DBA's get involved in programming? Is it neccesary for a DBA to posses programming skills?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>do DBA's get involved in programming?

I would say that you need some level of 'logic' and programming abilities.  Every organization is different and uses the term 'DBA' to mean different things thus requiring different skills.

Many DBAs need to write scripts and 'tools' to help them in their day-to-day activities.   In many shops they are also seen as the Subject Matter Experts for the specific database being used.  They will need to be able to interact with the development team for best practices and tining advice so should have at least a basic understanding of programming.

pma111Author Commented:
Any specific languages?
I would find it extremely unlikely for a DBA not to have any programming skills outside SQL. At the very least, typical DBAs are exposed to programming throughout their careers (either via educational courses or simply on the job).
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
Languages are 'organization' specific.  Anything Object-Oriented (OO) should be a good place to start.  Once you learn how to code in an OO language moving to a new one is just learning new commands and syntax.

If you are going to work in Oracle from either a developer and/or DBA, you will eventually need to learn Oracle's procedural language, PL/SQL.
pma111Author Commented:
Thanks all.

Re the comment:

>>Many DBAs need to write scripts and 'tools' to help them in their day-to-day activities

What kind of scripts would these be, what kinds of things would they "do", and what language would they be written in, in say MS-SQL environments?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
I can only speak to Oracle.

Again this all depends on the environment you find yourself in.  For me personally, I have a Stored procedure that runs every morning and emails me everything I consider important to track.  For example: Our apps have 'error' tables.  If anything shows up in those tables, I want it noted in the email.  I also have certain Queues and important tables I want the status of.

You might want disk spaces, top SQL, ???  Anything you deem important.  Granted, most Enterprise level databaess have GUIs that will set all this up for you but I suggest you not rely on GUIs until you understand what the GUI is doing for you.

When I interview people I ALWAYS try to weed out the GUI folks from the 'I truly understand' folks.

Hi pma111,

First of all, if you know only SQL, it is not enough to get a job in the database environment. It is like saying HTML would get you a job related to the web...

1) You should make a clear choice between databases and get a serious training in the programming language that is specific to your database. In other words, an example would be TransactSQL for SQL Server or PL/SQL for Oracle.

2) Additionally, you should know the OS programming language that would allow you automatisation from an OS point of view. For oracle, for example, I would strongly suggest you to know shell scripting.

At this point you would be able to perfectly work with the database. => You could go towards reporting or anything that would be only related to data exploitation.


I just saw your comments about DBA job.

From my point of view, being a DBA would involve at least everything form my previous post + a very good knowledge in how your RDBMS system works. In other words a thorough training in administering the database of your choice.

A DBA does not need to program in any language other than the ones I have listed. If you want to be a DBA, stick to your database and to closely related technologies. You will have a lot of challenge related to the database (networking, storage, etc.) and I'm sure you don't need any extra work...


slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>It is like saying HTML would get you a job related to the web...

For entry level jobs, that would count.  As such, so would SQL knowledge only in a database related job.
>>If you want to be a DBA, stick to your database and to closely related technologies. You will have a lot of challenge related to the database (networking, storage, etc.) and I'm sure you don't need any extra work

This is risky advice, imo. In this field, I think you should always try to keep up with emerging technologies and that may include new (or existing) db features. For example, I don't think Oracle will do away with Java after acquiring Sun. Similarly, in a MSSQL environment, it might be useful to have some basic skills in .Net.
pma111Author Commented:
Do the business/data analyst roles pay well or are they pretty low down the structure? In say comparison to a DBA?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
DBAs tend to get paid a premium in most organizations but this varies.  I suggest you look at job postings in the areas you wish to live in/move to.

Analysts are typically lower level but they are a good entry level position.  Rarely will you get a chance to jump right into an entry level DBA job without some real-world experience.
pma111Author Commented:
Ok thanks, out of interest what kind of things do they analyze? and what does their analysis do to benefit the organisation?
"Ok thanks, out of interest what kind of things do they analyze? and what does their analysis do to benefit the organisation?"

The short answer is that analysts work with data in some manner. "Analyst" is more of a catch-all job title than anything else, and the actual job will depend on each company.

As for some examples:
- run DB queries
- create reports, spreadsheets, charts, etc
- validate data
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
The best thing to do is go to a major job board like Monster and search around.  This will give you variations on the responsibilities for each job.
pma111Author Commented:
cheers for all the advice will share the points at some point tommorow

>> For entry level jobs, that would count.  As such, so would SQL knowledge only in a database related job.

I agree it would count. Additionally to some other skills...

Let me put it this way : there's lots of people who have skills like Java, PHP, ASP, etc, who also know HTML and who are targetting the same position as a person who only knows HTML. Who would you hire, assuming you can't get any other info than skills on these persons ?

I don't say SQL is not enough in a dynamic growing economy. I'm saying it is not enough in a moment of crysis when very skilled people search for a job.


slightwv's suggestion to check job boards is a very good one. That will give you an idea about what jobs you can get, and what skills are needed for some specific jobs.


When I'm talking about 'closely related technologies', I do talk about technologies including 'db features'. But I'm trying to exclude '3D modelizing of particles movement in C++'...

As about Java, I know lots of DBA's who are not able to write a line of Java. But they still are aces when it comes about managing a db, tuning some SQL, doing backups & recoveries...

pma111Author Commented:
Do microsoft do any certificates in ms-sql, transact-sql, if so how much are the exams/training material and are they worthwhile pieces of paper for the CV or not really sought after qualifacations?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
Every vendor has certifications these days.  

For SQL Server it is the Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA):

For a general overview of MSoft certs:

for entry level positions Certifications help get you an interview but may or may not help land a job.  In my opinion, real world experience means more than no experience and a certification.
pma111Author Commented:
Thanks - and agree with what your saying. Any idea on the cost of the certifacations/exam?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
>>Any idea on the cost of the certifacations/exam?

It should be on the site or at least the site for testing providers.  For Oracle it's about $150 per exam but some discounts are available.

I've never taken a MSoft exam.
pma111Author Commented:
was your oracle one a case of just buying reading material then taking the exam? or did you have to go to some local college or university to study with an oracle company training specilalist?
slightwv (䄆 Netminder) Commented:
Oracle has an 'Oracle Education' requirement where you need at least one (sometimes more) Oracle class.  This depends on the cert you are going after.

It also requires a lot of study (unless you can memorize the training material).
Oracle Certified SQL Expert doesn't require any courses, just an exam:

For SQL Server, some of the MCTS certifications don't require a class, either:

Whether they are worthwhile or not, that depends on (surprise) the company. In a highly competitive market, pretty much anything that sets you above the competition should be worthwhile.
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