Starting Your SQL Server Career

You might be asked how did you learn about SQL Server, or how you got started using SQL Server. This is a question that has been asked of SQL Server Administrators and users for many years. I have been asked by several people how they can get started with SQL Server and what educational goals they should follow for a productive and rewarding career.


If I was new to information technology, and wanted to be a database expert, where would I start? Each person has their own method and techniques for learning that works best for that person. Some people learn best by formal classroom instruction, while others learn easily reading a technical book on the subject. Some can pick up the knowledge they need by reading a few blog entries, or by asking a friend a few questions. I sometimes use classroom instruction for the introduction to new complex subjects, followed by one or two books to fill in the more technical details, and then use friends and blog entries to get the specific details or examples needed for me to start using the new technology.

Once you have a basic understanding of databases and how they are used in business and applications, you can then target your career path. There are many options available for you to choose. The obvious career choices dealing with SQL Server are listed:

  • SQL Server Data Analyst
  • SQL Server Developer
  • SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA)
  • SQL Server Business Intelligence (BI) Developer
    • SQL Server Integration Services
    • SQL Server Reporting Services
    • SQL Server Analysis Services
  • Windows Applications Developer
  • Network Administrator

Career Selection

Once you understand a little about databases and SQL Server, you should target your education to meet your career goal. You might not want to spend time learning about reporting services if you have no interest in writing reports. If you goal is to become a Network Administrator, you might not want to learn the details of how SQL Server Transact-SQL works, but you might ant to focus your efforts on understanding the server requirements, backup options, and connectivity details with networked clients.

SQL Server Data Analyst

The data analysts job description frequently includes importing, cleaning, transforming, validating or modeling data with the purpose of understanding or making conclusions from the data for decision making purposes. The job may include presenting data in charts, graphs, tables, designing and developing relational databases for collecting data, and in some organizations it also includes building or designing data input or data collection screens. The data analyst may have to write Data Definition Language (DDL) or Data Manipulation Language (DML) SQL commands, be responsible for improving data quality, and for designing or presenting conclusions gained from analyzing data using statistical tools like Microsoft Excel, SAS, SPSS and others.

Data analysts work in diverse domains including healthcare or social sciences and they come from a diverse background. Some data analysts have backgrounds in technology, information management, relational database design and development, business intelligence, data mining or statistics.

SQL Server Developer

SQL Server Developers analyze, design, and support applications that interface with Transact-SQL. Individuals pursuing SQL Server Developer careers typically obtain advanced education in computer information systems through an associate’s or bachelor’s degree program. A SQL Server Developer job duties include developing SQL databases and writing applications to interface with SQL databases, as well as writing and testing code. Development often consists of designing tables, stored procedures, views, and various database functions.

This position works with project managers, businesses owners,analyst teams and clients, building database prototypes to validate system requirements. They also document code, provide progress reports, and perform code review and peer feedback.

SQL Server Database Administrator

A database administrator (DBA) career involves helping companies manage information by identifying the best ways to organize, store, and present complex data according to the needs of the user. As a growing number of applications and websites rely on databases, and there continues to be a strong demand for information technology professionals with this very specialized expertise. A bachelor’s degree in computer information systems can be the foundation of a successful DBA career.

Building, maintaining, administering, and supporting databases are the primary job duties of the DBA. A DBA keeps data secure by managing access, privileges, and information migration and are also responsible for installing and configuring database management software, translating database designs, and diagnosing database performance issues. Other job functions include installing software upgrades, managing hardware upgrades, and maintaining computer servers. They also develop backup and recovery strategies, and monitor servers to ensure capacity is not exceeded. At times, database administrators may help devise network strategies, test network systems, and develop system standards.

SQL Server Business Intelligence Developer

Business intelligence (BI) developers have a variety of responsibilities concerning warehousing and intelligence applications and databases, including the design and creation of objects such as tables, diagnosing and repairing user and performance issues, as well as testing, monitoring and tuning software. Careers in the field of BI development require strong coding, troubleshooting and debugging skills, as well as the ability to translate and present all applications in an understandable and user-friendly manner.

The BI specialist can specialize in Integration Services (SSIS), Reporting Services (SSRS), or Analysis Services (SSAS).

Windows Application Developer

There are different types of developers; application developer is one such developer who creates some software by the help of different source code written in the target programming language. Developers may use different languages and work on different operating systems. A Windows Application developer is one who develops applications which can able to run in Windows operating systems. The main aim of the application developer is to create an application which could help the user to perform a particular function in a proper way. They usually create an application on the basis of the need for the application that if there are clients or customers prefer the application then these developers create the application. They should have good knowledge about the software development cycle. They should be experts in programming languages such as Visual Basic, C#, and database  development languages like Transact-SQL.

Network Administrator

The network administrator is the person responsible for making sure a company’s computers can communicate with other computers, printers, and servers on the network, as well as the Internet and any other services outside the company. This could include FTP servers, virtual private networks, and gateways. A network administrator is responsible for keeping the network functioning at optimal levels. This includes the internal network (LAN), a company-wide network that encompasses multiple locations (WAN) as well as the connection with the outside world through the internet. Depending on the complexity of the network, other duties can include server maintenance and backup, email administration, assigning and maintaining user logon and access privileges, the actual hard-wiring of jacks and workstations and protecting internal users from outside threats, including hackers, viruses, spyware and malware.


As you can see, it is a little more complex that just saying take this class or that class, read this or that book, or even keep reading this blog. The true answer is usually, “It depends”. What you need to do to get into the field of databases is dependent on what specifically you want to do with databases. Once you know that answer, you can target your educational goals to met that overall goal. That way you don’t wasting time learning those subjects which you are not interested in, and being distracted from your ultimate goal.


4 thoughts on “Starting Your SQL Server Career”

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  3. Pingback: Starting Your SQL Server Career | Ragnarok Connection

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