How to Find a Rewarding Job that Leverages Your SQL Skills

In 1990 Bill Gates made one of his more memorable keynote speeches at the COMDEX trade show, where he shared a vision of a world in which Microsoft would provide information at your fingertips. Thanks to improvements in technology, that vision (except for it being Microsoft-centric) is a reality 25 years later.

Memory is faster, has orders of magnitude more capacity, and is much more affordable. Hard drives have gone through similar improvements in price and performance, and with more people using mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers, users can access information from practically anywhere. More information at your fingertips means more databases, and this means numerous opportunities for those skilled in structured query language (SQL).

How to Find a Rewarding Job that Leverages Your SQL Skills


Setting up the Work Environment

One of the first issues SQL job seekers need to resolve is whether or not they can work remotely. Companies are more open to the idea of letting employees work outside of the office than they were before, and this includes jobs involving SQL or other database work.

If you want to work remotely, you’ll need adequate space and furniture to set up a home office, and a reliable computer with a broadband internet connection. You have all the equipment you need to do most jobs from home. You no longer have to pay a king’s ransom to get decent online speeds. Many affordable plans, like ones offered by Frontier Fios, start as low as $19.99 per month.


Which Job Description Fits Better: Database Administrator or Developer?

Most jobs requiring SQL skills fall into two categories: database administrator (DBA) or database developer.

A DBA’s job in a nutshell is to ensure that database operations run smoothly. One of the key requirements for such a job is experience in performance tuning. This could include several tasks like making sure the database has the right amount of space allocated, examining how the number of active connections fluctuates, configuring hardware and operating systems to meet demand, and optimizing execution plans.

One type of execution plan that gives DBAs nightmares is the dreaded table scan, where a query must examine every record in a table to find the desired result, because the table is not indexed properly. It’s like looking for a word in an unabridged dictionary page by page, without using lettered tabs, until you find the right word.

DBA job requirements will look mostly at years of experience (including tuning), the size of the databases the applicant worked on, and what kinds of systems, OSs, and hardware the applicant worked with.

Database developers typically need to be able to write queries in SQL, and work with other languages like C, C#, Java/JavaScript, or Perl. The combination of the two allows developers to create applications or webpages that access data. Queries can be created on the fly from an application, often known as an ad-hoc query, or through queries that are used frequently and don’t change, known in some SQL environments as stored procedures.


Searching for the SQL Job You Want

The old adage that ‘Google is your friend’ applies when it comes to searching for a job, but it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of the process. Searching on job forums for some combination of keywords like ‘DBAs’, ‘developers’, ‘SQL’ is a good start. Including words like ‘telecommute’ and ‘remote’ might help, but you have to see what kind of results you are getting. If you enter too many keywords at the search engine level, your results may be limited.

A better approach may be to enter more general keywords at the search engine level, then examine the results. Many results may be posted on job sites, which have their own filtering criteria. If so, then a general search from a search engine followed by a more specific search. As you get more familiar with which job sites have the best quality listings for SQL jobs, it may be easier to use those sites directly and skip the search engine. There is no hard and fast rule for a job search; it takes a lot of trial and error to get the best results.

There are many job opportunities for people who have a background in SQL as long as they have other valued skills to go with it. More than ever, people want information and they want it now. The only way that is possible is with numerous people behind the scenes to build and provide access to what has become a vast data infrastructure.

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