Oracle Database Management Strategic Directions

1. Best Practices for managing Oracle database servers.
2. Oracle Fusion Middleware products like J2EE, ADF, XML, BPEL, SOA, Web Services, Discoverer...).
3. Oracle Application Servers and Apache.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Getting your First Oracle DBA Job

Getting your first job as an Oracle DBA
I received a comment on the blog about how someone changing careers can get their first job as an Junior Oracle DBA. I thought this a very good question so I thought I would share my answer with everyone. There are specific areas I would work on to get a job as a Junior Oracle DBA.
  • Get certified to demonstrate some basic level of Oracle DBA knowledge.
  • Learn the Optimal Flexible Architecture.
  • Practice to get some hands on experience to develop basic skills.
  • Learn how to sell yourself and understand how to write a good resume, cover letter and prepare for a successful interview.
  • Get comfortable with the Oracle documentation and the key reference manuals.
  • Learn where to go to network.
Get Certified

Changing careers to become an Oracle DBA is a definite challenge. If you are looking at becoming an Oracle DBA and you are new to technology then I do feel the certification will definitely help you. It will at least show a certain level of knowledge and a commitment to learning the Oracle technology.

Learn the Optimal Flexible Architecture

The Optimal Flexible Architecture defines a set of guidelines and standards for how to configure an Oracle database server. Most companies follow OFA to some degree. OFA defines well known best practices for how to configure an Oracle database server.

Practice to develop basic skills

Along with that an Oracle DBA has to work in a technical environment. The more a potential employer can feel you can move into their environment and be successful, the more likely you are to get hired. Basic Unix and networking skills are also important to be an Oracle DBA. Understanding the fundamentals of Unix, shell programming and being able to install and manage Oracle in a Unix environment is also important. The good thing is that with VMWare in can be relatively inexpensive to install VMWare (around $80), then you can install a free version of Linux (i.e. Enterprise Linux) or Fedora or SuSE and you can then go through the installation steps to install Oracle on Unix/Linux. Practicing a little bit every day will add up to a lot over a period of time.

Basic skills you should work on:
  1. Read OFA 5 times and conform to its guidelines.
  2. Install Oracle according to OFA. Be able to setup a tnsnames.ora environment.
  3. Make sure you completely understand the Oracle architecture (SGA, background processes, server processes, data files, system tablespaces, redo logs, archive logs, init.ora and spfile).
  4. Be able to write a Unix script to perform a cold backup using a cron job.
  5. Be able to perform full and incremental backups using RMAN. Practice different recover scenarios.
  6. Get comfortable with the data dictionary main views (DBA_DATA_FILES, V$instance, etc.)
  7. Search on the Internet for Oracle DBA best practices to see what other DBAs are doing.
  8. Be able to set up archiving, perform backups and be able to clean up archived files that have been backed up.
  9. Read some introductory chapters on performance tuning. For SQL tuning understand how to understand an Explain Plan and how to perform a SQL trace and run a TKProf report.
  10. Read up on top 10, 20 top things to tune for an Oracle DBA.

Be able to present yourself successfully to a potential employer

Being able to sell yourself and the positive things you would bring to an organization. This is just as important as your technical skills. Companies are always looking to hire someone that has a strong work ethic, will contribute positively to a team and someone that has a great attitude and fits in with a team. The key part of getting your first opportunity as a Junior DBA is selling a potential employer on yourself.

What do you see as your key assets? What can you do to present yourself well to a potential employer? Read up on how to succeed in an interview and interview tips and interview mistakes. Dress professionally for your interviews and be early for your interview. Read up on the company, see what interests you about working for that company and ask the interview questions about the company that show you are interested in joining a quality organization.

To get an opportunity as a Junior DBA you need to show a potential employer that your personal assets and intangibles can make up for you lack of experience. I can tell you that I know a number of people that have changed careers to become an Oracle DBA and they sold the company on themselves to get their first job as an Oracle DBA. I assure you companies are looking for people that work hard, have great attitudes, are trust worthy and can contribute positively to a team. These type of people are hard to find, finding someone with just DBA skills is pretty easy for a company.

Key Oracle Reference Manuals

Below are key Oracle reference manuals you should be very comfortable with.
  1. Oracle Concepts Manual - has entire chapters on different parts of the Oracle architecture.
  2. Oracle Reference Manual - key chapters on data dictionary views and initialization parameters
  3. Oracle SQL Reference Manual - get comfortable reading documentation to add a tablespace, modify a user, add a redo log group, etc.

Learn how to network

Usually the best jobs you get are through networking. Spend some time going to different local networking events. These events are usually a little uncomfortable for people how are new to them. However most networking groups are very motivated to make new attendees welcome. Networking events are also a great way to develop communication skills, learn about different companies and to let people know you are enthusiastic and looking for an opportunity as an Oracle DBA. Ask them questions you have about business, Oracle and any recommendations they have for companies to look at and apply to.

Good networking events to attend:
  • Local Oracle user groups. Search on local Oracle user groups in your area. Most major cities have strong local Oracle user groups.
  • Local Linux user groups.
  • City Business chamber meetings
  • Local Toastmasters meetings
  • Local small business meetings
The first job as an Oracle DBA can be the hardest to find. Don't give up and develop a game plan on things you can do to increase chances for success.

Good luck!

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At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Almomay said...

Thanks for the tips. I really appreciate them. I'm currently looking for a position as a Jr. Oracle DBA in the NY/NJ/PA area. I recently got certifed as OCP and have a BA in Computer Science. I have experience also working with Ms access and knowledge of programming languages.

If anyone knows of a position as a Jr. Oracle DBA in my area, please email me at:


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