Saturday, July 13, 2013

I know nothing about Oracle... but I want to be a DBA.

I see numerous posts on LinkedIn groups and forums from people who currently have no knowledge of the Oracle database but want to know where to begin learning so that they can start a career working with it. This is a perfectly reasonable goal. There are thousands of highly skilled Oracle professionals in the world today, but at some point in their lives, every single one of them knew absolutely nothing about the Oracle database. In this article I will suggest some ways for people starting at or near ground zero to begin acquiring knowledge.

Possibly the single best starting point for someone completely unfamiliar with Oracle is the Concepts Guide. This book is part of the documentation for every release and can be easily located from a Web search. It is free to download, well written, and provides an excellent grounding in the Oracle database. Locate this book and read it cover to cover.

Choosing a second step is a bit harder because there are many possible options. If you do well learning from reading, there are a number of other books in their online documentation you could read next. Oracle has several manuals intended to provide an overview of information for a given area that are designed to be covered in two days. There is a 2-Day DBA book that would be a reasonable second step in your Oracle introduction. Like the Concepts Guide, this and many other books are easily found online and freely available to download.

Alternately, there are a number of Oracle video tutorials available on YouTube. Some of these are quite good and might be a better second step if you learn better in an environment where information is presented by an instructor. I have put together links to a number of these tutorials in the exam details page for the SQL Fundamentals exam on my Oracle Certification Prep website.

If you complete all of the sources above, you will have started building a foundation of Oracle knowledge. One option to move forward might be to study to become an Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate. If you go this route, you should understand that what makes the OCA valuable is that it gives you a defined set of curriculum to learn. The topics selected for the exams are intended to give you a reasonable set of knowledge areas that beginning DBAs ought to be aware of. Too many individuals starting out with Oracle believe that the value of the OCA is in the piece of paper you get for passing the required tests.

Moving forward from this, there are dozens of sources of information about the Oracle database. The Internet is filled with thousands of articles about the Oracle database. There are hundreds of books available on the subject. The more you learn about Oracle, the less you should need someone suggesting what to learn next.

The biggest pitfall that I see far too many people fall into is looking for shortcuts and easy answers. The use of brain dumps to pass exams and books with answers to interview questions both seem to be increasingly popular. Both have the same basic intent -- to make someone appear to have knowledge they really do not. The reality is that you cannot build a successful career with Oracle by faking competence with it. There are plenty of legitimate sources available that will allow you to learn everything you need to become an Oracle professional.