My path from a junior to a senior DBA

A non-technical post but something I have been asked about few times so I thought that I would put pen to paper and tell you about my journey on becoming a senior DBA. You might find it fun to read.

Time travel minus 10 years ago fresh out of University, Relational Database Management Systems was absolutely my favourite area where I learnt about *cough* *cough* Oracle.

Now let me be honest I was not a top student but I was very interested in the idea of working with databases. I actually enjoyed the data mining courses the most. I never heard of Microsoft SQL Server back then, it was only when I entered the real world I noticed that smaller / mid-sized companies used SQL Server quite heavily.

Key point 1 – I became naturally very interested in RDBMS.


After graduating I moved around jobs and settled into a “junior” level SQL Server role, nothing major here and I was doing tasks very typical with someone with hardly no experience think of writing / executing TSQL, monitoring backups etc. However it was from that moment something just clicked and I wanted to stay with the SQL Server product and make a living with it. I then decided to study very hard for the MCITP qualifications which took me about 1.5 years to do.

Key point 2 – If you are new to something I really believe that certifications is a good thing at the start, assuming you actually study and not go down a boot camp route! Don’t cheat, you are cheating yourself. So what if you fail a few times, I failed twice!


About 3 years later with multiple MCITPs and couple years of experience I had an interview for a “normal” DBA role. What was evident here? PASSION! I passed the tests but it was my passion that stood out from others. I mean come on, who else here scribbles CHECKDB commands on the shower door whilst taking a shower?? …..

Key point 3 – Find something you have a passion for, there is nothing worse than getting out of bed wishing for the day to end. Get up and tune that SQL Server!


Another 3 years down the line I felt like I was stagnating, enter Paul Randal and his mentoring scheme (back in 2015), talk about great timing. From that moment I changed as an IT professional. Couple of things happened here. Firstly I started my blog (I hope you enjoy it) but more importantly I realised how little I knew (and I still know little) but I wanted to address that so bad. It literally became my obsession; I would actually stop the car when driving and pull out of phone and go read something if I forgot about it whilst driving. Is that weird? Maybe!

Over the following 9-10 months I kept working on my weak points but it wasn’t enough, I decided to use my savings and enrol in the SQLskills training program (10 days) and it was after that I came back to the job and changed so much internally and my performances enter the realm of “Did he really just do that?”.. Yes I did Bob!

Key point 4 – Get a mentor! It made me more self-confident and it gave me the platform to get to the next level. (After the program that is, during the program I was actually beating myself up, I am VERY critical of myself) and get some quality training – think SQLskills or Brent’s Senior DBA training which looks cool. If budget is an issue I would sign up with pluralsight.


 Key point 5 – Enjoy it. Technology is ever changing and if it feels like a burden keeping up to speed with the new stuff then maybe you need a holiday.


So for me the formulae was = Interest + passion + hard studying (sacrificed family time for this element) + mentor.

10 years ago I never had a goal of becoming a “senior” my journey took me to it.


15 thoughts on “My path from a junior to a senior DBA

  1. Pingback: My path from a junior to a senior DBA - SQL Server Blog - SQL Server - Toad World

    • When I met you at the IE1 it was actually your words that pushed me to continue the blog – so I thank you too my friend! It was tough though as my daughter broke her leg few days before IE1 so it was hard to concentrate on the data internals module – but I did though! 😉


  2. Pingback: How I became a:________________ -

  3. Hey…I’m an Oracle Apps DBA and I totally agree with you in regards to the certifications. I’ll be honest and say it was the money that motivated me initally, but after failing my test the first 2 times, I buckled down and found an appreciation for the database and an awesome career in the process. I have heard so many horror stories about the bootcamps people attend, I really wished more people would do extensive research when it comes to picking who they train with. I come across a lot of people who are interested in the money and think that it’s supposed to come in 6 months. They throw thousands of dollars away for nothing. Anyways kudos, awesome post, will keep checking for updates. Thanks for the notify button, its checked!


    • Thanks for the comment. Someone once told me that if you are passionate about something then don’t chase money, it will chase you. (Not that it’s chasing me but I liked that saying)


  4. Pingback: My path from a junior to a senior DBA – Toad World Blog

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