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Becoming a database administrator (DBA) is an admirable idea if you are looking for a career that will make you attractive to all sorts of employers across a range of industries and market segments.

Of course, it is also a path that needs dedication and the right set of skills to secure prospective applicants the success they crave.

With that in mind, let’s go through the main skills you should aim to foster if you aspire to work as a DBA, or you are already in this field but you intend to progress further.

Training in and experience of database technologies & processes

There is no getting around the fact that DBAs have to be technically proficient in the running of database infrastructures. This means knowing the difference between blocking and deadlocks, being able to wrangle SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) and having the necessary training to troubleshoot performance problems.

There are specific college-level degree courses in database-related subjects available, and while these are not necessarily a requisite for professional DBAs, they definitely help.

So focus on getting up to speed with reputable courses and qualifications, and your career will get off to a flying start.

Time management

Read almost any job description, and you will probably see that the position requires good time management skills.

This is true to a lesser or greater extent depending on the nature of the role, but for DBAs the ability to organize your schedule and set your priorities is more important than in most other professional contexts.

This is because if you focus on the wrong things or miss deadlines, entire IT infrastructures can be brought to a grinding halt.

And since downtime is hugely expensive for modern businesses, you cannot afford to neglect your time management as an administrator.

Communication

The stereotype of IT employees working in their own little bubble is no longer representative, since it is only through effective interdepartmental communication and collaboration that companies can make the most of their resources.

As such, DBAs have to be great at engaging with colleagues and getting across the information needed to keep an organization running smoothly.

This not only means working on your interpersonal skills, but also being comfortable using various communication platforms, from instant messaging and video conferencing tools to phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

Attention to detail

We touched on the idea of DBAs having a lot of responsibility to shoulder from day to day, and one of the ways that they can mitigate the effects of this is to have an eye for detail.

One aspect of this is of course being attuned to the everyday maintenance needs of stewarding a database so that potential problems can be detected and dealt with before they result in downtime.

Another is being prepared to act when crises do arise and knowing what is required of you and your team when it matters most.

In all, database administrators need to nurture varied skill sets to succeed, and this perhaps explains why it is a profession that is much in demand.