So you think you want to be an Oracle DBA? Well, first of all, let's examine the reality of the profession...
Yes, the salaries for a seasoned Oracle DBA can be very attractive. This has advantages and disadvantages for the DBA. 24X7 on-call duty is the norm, getting calls during vacation, weddings, baptisms, surgery, etcetera, is to be expected. If the DBA is saavy and automates much of their job, they had better find other ways to *visibly* add value to the company, or they will be out of a job.
On the upside, the profession is always changing and always challenging, and that, for many keeps it from ever being boring. The salary can be very good for an experienced database administrator with specialized skills and a degree (six figures), and even better, leadership/management credentials and experience.
A database administrator is not just a mechanic wh
o keeps the database engine tuned and running. She is involved with capacity planning, which has a financial impact for the company. In many cases the DBA has a lot of direct customer contact if the company manages other companies data in anyway, and thus has a huge role in the relationship the company has with it's customers. The DBA is responsible for safe-guarding the security and integrity of enterprise data. Negligence on the part of the DBA can tank a healthy company very quickly.
Ok, ready to get started? If you have finished school and Computer Science was not your degree, it's still possible to break into the field. I have a masters in animal physiology, and started studying Oracle because when I took over the environmental data management program at McNeese State University (mumble) years ago, the budget I inherited did not Here are some initial steps:
First, if possible, position yourself in your present job where you will have an opportunity to work with the current DBA(s), or set up a small database environment from scratch. Perhaps you can propose a small project that won't generate so much data (at least at the outset) that a lot of extra, expensive hardware will be needed. If you propose a pilot project, you may be able to justify getting a small server nearing the end of it's warranty from the spare parts pool. Make friends with the company sysadmin(s). If you are already familiar with Unix, get a Unix/Linux machine. If you are not familiar with Unix, try to get a Windows box to flatten your learning curve. You'll eventually want to learn Linux though, as more Oracle databases run on Linux in the real world than Windows.
Next, go sign up for an account (OTN) at Oracle Corporation's Technet site, otn.oracle.com (I am not affiliated with Oracle and do not benefit from any traffic going there!). It's free, and you'll need this to download software under Oracle's development license (training is a legitimate use of Oracle software under this license agreement). Use this account to get access to the installation documents for the latest Oracle database release. Pay specific attention to hardware requirements.
If the above is not possible, your next option is to purchase some hardware to create a sandbox for yourself. If you can't afford very much, you might want to start with the Oracle XE database. It's small and sleek and can be installed on most laptops. The administration is slightly different on XE, but it's fine for learning SQL, stopping and starting a database, configuring listeners, etcetera.
Once you have your hardware, I recommend you start with the 2-DBA document, the "Adminstrator's Guide," "Concepts" and "SQL Language Reference".
Oracle Database Administration is one heck of a big elephant to eat. It's a large body of knowledge, and it's a moving target. You are not going to learn it two days, in spite of the title of some of the documentation. Take it one small bite at a time. When you encounter problems during your self-training, do a websearch to find how others have fixed the problem. If your company uses Oracle and has an Oracle Support agreement, I highly recommend going to your DBA team and asking them if you can be added to the company's CSI as a metalink user. You'll have to go to metalink and request an account on a specific CSI, so you'll have to obtain that number from the DBA team. After you've made the request, Metalink sends an email to whomever is the administrator for that CSI (Customer Service Identifier), and they have to approve it, so it's better to talk to the DBA(s) first. Just tell them that you want to learn Oracle on your own and would like to be able to read Metalink Notes.
If you have deep pockets, or your company is willing to pay for training, look into taking some courses with Oracle University. My experience is that I get a lot more out of Oracle courses if I've done a little legwork first to get some exposure to what is being taught. Since the courses are not cheap, it's a good investment of your time. Oracle certification, by itself will *not* generally land you a job as an Oracle DBA; however, in a pool of equivalent candidates, it might be the "extra" thing that gets you to an interview. Most companies perform a technical interview when hiring, often the interview is fairly rigorous. Occasionally the interview is overly-rigorous, that is, someone in HR who knows nothing about Oracle has a set of questions they looked up on the internet, and they neither understand the question, nor the answer. This can be in your favor in the sense that you probably won't get many tough follow-up questions... it can work against you though if there is more than way to do something, and the HR person only has one way listed in the expected answers. For example, there are many ways to clone a database... cloning from a cold copy, rman duplicate, export/import... etcetera...
When I first aspired to become an Oracle DBA around 1998, I spent about two hours a day for about six months, while setting up an environmental data management database. I took my certification tests (one of them twice) and became a "Certified Oracle Professional". I really knew next to nothing, but at that point had enough "book knowledge" that I passed Oracle Corporation's 2-hour long technical interview and went to work for them as a junior DBA. I've come a long way since then, and even now eleven years later, I still learn new things all the time in the course of practicing my profession.
- Parents can spend more time with their children and have quality education delivered right at home. They also get reports to help identify the strengths
- Certification training is not the starting place for computer technology. This training needs to start at the earliest possible time.
- The job market for the past several years has been bad in the United States and around the world. One of the few job markets that has never really stopped hirin
- These days there are a variety of courses offering training programs for making their candidates efficient enough to handle all functions related to the field