Database Administrator (DBA)
This role is all about data, and more specifically, databases. A DBA may be responsible for database and data schema design (which can be critical in large scale computing environments) as well as database installation and maintenance. Many of these roles also encompass an operational piece, which can include simpler tasks like setting up servers and maintaining backups or more complex tasks, like performance tuning.
Unlike many other technical roles, this is one where certifications actually matter, or at least help to pin down a DBA candidate’s expertise. While many skills translate across technologies, most DBAs tend to specialize in one particular type of database (e.g. Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL). However, it is possible to have a DBA generalist that can navigate several different types of databases.
Typically, you don’t see many DBAs specializing in NoSQL-type databases (most of which don’t have specific certifications), since those technologies are still very new and require big-picture system knowledge. In most organizations, you see NoSQL databases administered by software engineers or DevOps types.
Questions for DBAs:
- Q: When it comes to creating a new schema for a database, what is your process? In your experience, what works well and what doesn’t?
A: Look for a thoughtful process, ideally one that focuses on really understanding the requirements of the users. It is especially useful to drill into their past experiences designing schemas and working with others to bring that data to life.
- Q: What is a database?
A: This is a basic question, but it can be a great place to start because “database” is such a generic term. You can even ask them about the different types of databases and the criteria for choosing one over another. Hopefully they have good ideas and can break things down in a way that makes it easy for you to understand.
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