Re: DBA Skill tree

From: Kerry Osborne <>
Date: Fri, 3 Apr 2009 17:17:39 -0500
Message-Id: <>

Actually, I really believe experience (i.e. practice) is necessary. I know that guys can have years of experience and not have profited from it, but without some minimum amount of practice there is, in my opinion, little hope.

The guys that have lots of experience but are not proficient are kind of like a guitar player that sits in front of the TV and noodles for several hours a day. No doubt they become better, if for no other reason than that they are keeping their fingers limber. But they will be left behind by someone that works hard for several hours a day on increasingly more difficult pieces. (but I digress)

For me the number one trait, far and away, is good problem solving skills. I don't usually do technical interviews (someone else in my company does that). And by the way, I also believe strongly that there is a technical knowledge threshold that has to be attained, just like the experience threshold. So anyway, I am usually left with interviewing candidates that have the required background and have passed a strenuous technical interview. And I am almost always trying to figure out if they can really solve difficult problems or not. I usually just pick on some topic or problem, usually that the candidate brings up, and dig into how they solved the problem, what they thought about along the way, etc... If they don't bring something up, I usually will start talking with them about something that I have been working on or thinking about and ask their opinion. Even if they have never seen it or thought about it before, you can still observe the thought process they go through (or don't).

I did like Mark's comments about skills in related areas, by the way. I think guys with backgrounds that include jobs as Sys Admins, Network Admins, non-object-oriented programmers - all have big advantages. Back to the RPG kind of idea, these guys would be your combination characters (whatever they're called). Takes them a long time to get dangerous, but when they get there, they are really hard to stop.

Kerry Osborne

On Apr 3, 2009, at 11:08 AM, Dan Norris wrote:

> I'd again have to disagree on using experience as a measuring tool
> of anything. I think instead of experience, you mean proficiency or
> competency (hope I'm not putting words into your keyboard). I'm sure
> we can all think of people we've known or worked with in the past
> that were "experienced" but not competent to perform the tasks that
> were part of their job. At least I can. Part of my work is made
> possible by those fine individuals :).
> Dan
> Bobak, Mark wrote:
>> Going along w/ Kerry’s comments about a certain threshold of
>> experience being important, it seems to me, the best people are the
>> ones who have at least some level of experience as C programmers
>> and unix admins *before* entering the DBA arena.
>> Honestly, if someone asked me the required skills to be a great
>> DBA, they’d be:
>> - Good solid understanding of algorithms and data structures
>> - 3-5 years experience as a C programmer
>> - 3-5 years experience doing unix admin
>> - 2-3 years doing storage admin
>> - 2-3 years doing Oracle development (SQL, PL/SQL, Pro*C,
>> Java, etc)
>> If someone starts with that base of experience, and can manage to
>> enter the DBA field and still be curious and interested in
>> learning, they’ll soar to the top in no time. Then, it becomes a
>> matter of staying there. Staying engaged, interested, and ready to
>> learn more. Cause you know the next Oracle release is always
>> around the corner, and ready to unleash a bunch of new features.
>> -Mark

Received on Fri Apr 03 2009 - 17:17:39 CDT

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