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Lessons Learned: Starting down the Oracle career path

Part of the Lessons Learned series, this week's mini-lesson will get you headed in the right direction toward an Oracle job.

Welcome to's Lessons Learned series. Each week you will get a mini-lesson pertaining to a highly specific Oracle database or E-Business Suite topic. The lessons are culled from expert responses and tips written by our panel of Oracle gurus. At the end of each month, you will be tested on what you've learned. Email us your lesson requests today.

   Can I jump right into Oracle basics?
   What are the key roles of a DBA?
   I'm about to enter college. I want to become a DBA.
   What if I'm a programmer and I want to become a DBA?

This week's featured experts:


Brian Peasland



Michael Hillenbrand


Craig Mullins




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Can I jump right into learning Oracle basics or do I need to establish a base first?
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It is definitely feasible to start learning Oracle, especially if you have a solid IT background already. Some of the best DBAs I know have started their careers in another IT-related field, whether it be operating systems, programming or networking. A DBA must have knowledge in all of these areas, as well as in databases, so you already have a good start.

Being a DBA takes a special breed of individual -- some have what it takes, others do not. I would not suggest jumping right into spending a ton of money on Oracle training before you are sure it is the career path for you. I would suggest instead reading up on relational database concepts in general, then jumping into learning Oracle specifically. Since the best way to learn is often to do it hands on, download a free copy of Oracle for testing, do some Internet research, buy some good books, and start playing around with it.

Excerpted from Michael Hillenbrand's "Where to start learning Oracle basics for career?"



What are the key roles of a DBA?
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The roles of a DBA vary from organization to organization. But the following list shows the primary activities that many DBAs are charged with:

  • Back up and recover the database.
  • Install and configure Oracle software.
  • Create new databases.
  • Design the database schema and create any necessary database objects.
  • Formulate optimal application SQL.
  • Ensure database security is implemented to safeguard the data.
  • Work closely with application developers and system administrators to ensure all database needs are being met.
  • Apply patches or upgrades to the database as needed.

Excerpted from Brian Peasland's "Key roles of database administrator."


I'm about to enter college. I want to become a DBA. How can I achieve this goal?
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I would start by majoring in any computer-related discipline that your college offers, which also offers multiple database classes. Degrees in this field are typically known as Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, Information Technology or Information Sciences. You will want to take a class that covers database theory, particularly relational database theory. Any other classes that cover databases will help you as well.

While attending college, it would be very beneficial to try to find an entry-level job somewhere, anywhere, that will let you get your feet wet working with databases. I got my start in this career field quite by accident when I was working as an application developer/DBA while working my way through college. While in college, you can also download and play with an Oracle database by obtaining a copy from Technet.

Read all of Brian Peasland's "How do I become an Oracle DBA?"


What if I'm a programmer and I want to become a DBA?
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If you are a programmer and you want to become a DBA, you should ask yourself some hard questions before you pursue that path. First of all, are you willing to work additional, sometimes crazy, hours? Yes, I know that many programmers work more than 40 hours already, but the requirements of the DBA job can push people to their limits. It is not uncommon for DBAs to work late into the evening and on weekends; and you better be ready to handle technical calls at 2:00 a.m. when database applications fail.

Read the full text of Craig Mullins's "On becoming a DBA."


For more information on starting your Oracle career, read our Fast guide to finding and keeping an Oracle job .

Go to the Lessons Learned library for additional lessons and quizzes.

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