My 5th DBAnniversary

Five years ago today, I officially became a DBA:

Good afternoon.  It is my pleasure to extend to you our offer of employment for the position of Database Administrator

How I got thereHooray you're 5!

I got my first job at a software company in 2003. I had no degree, I had no experience, and I had no idea what SQL Server was. The company was in start-up phase, and I was a warm body with low salary requirements and high ambition. It was a match made in heaven.

It didn’t take long before I was installing SQL Server 2000 on an NT4 server to test our application on that configuration. I learned how log shipping worked, and configured DR for our clients. I did a lot of DBA work, but I wasn’t a DBA.

I did software installations, client upgrades, training, and tech support. I wanted to be a DBA, but didn’t know how to get there.

Anti-Accidental DBA

When I was at that first software startup, I was an accidental DBA…I just didn’t realize it. As odd as it sounds, I longed to be a DBA, not realizing that I already was a Junior DBA.

I worked hard to learn SQL–I read books, blogs, and magazine. I dug into system stored procedures to find out how things work. I learned how to use a bunch of different features, and I learned that sometimes I shouldn’t use them.

I spent the next 8 years working in a few different tech support jobs. Every job was more database-focused than the last. By the time I got my first DBA job title, I was already a good DBA. It wasn’t until I was in that job for a while that I finally realized I had been a DBA for years. Classic impostor syndrome.

The last five years

This topic really deserves a full blog post of itself, so I’ll keep it brief today.

I have a really awesome job and a really great employer. Aside from work, I’ve gotten involved in my local user group. I’ve started speaking at SQL Saturday events. I help organize SQL Saturday in Boston. I blog. I’ve become friends with the MVPs and authors who I look up to, and who I learn from.

I’ve put in lots of hard work, and made lots of mistakes. I’ve had great jobs, and I’ve had terrible jobs. I don’t regret any of it, because I’m happy with where I am now.

I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years brings.


  1. Posts like this show how important is to get involved with the community and set goals for learning. Too many people with 20 years of experience have “the same year 20 times.” I’d hire someone with 3 good years over 10 bad years any day.

  2. Congrats Andy! Based on your relationships with other SQL Server DBA’s, do you think your path is typical? Would you expect that Oracle DBA’s are much different from SQL Server DBA’s in terms of their training and skill development?

  3. Congrats! It’s interesting how many different ways people become DBAs or other roles in the database world. Here’s hoping you have a long and healthy career and don’t go too insane.

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