I would like to know:
- What is the best career path into a data warehousing or business intelligence job?
- How can I make use of my previous database administrator experience?
So you're interested in data warehousing jobs? Well, not knowing anything about your particular likes and dislikes in your current job, I think the best way for a database administrator (DBA) to develop a career is to leverage your database administrator experience into a DBA job in data warehousing. Data warehousing projects use DBAs as well. Let me clarify this because there are two definitions of DBA. One is really more of a System Administrator responsible for the server, OS and DBMS installation and tuning. That function is generally done by SLA from a System Administration 'group' and little data warehousing job experience/knowledge is required. The other DBA, where data warehousing jobs experience/knowledge is required, is the DBA that handles the physical design aspects of the modeling and often does everything for the non-production environments which the System Administration group doesn't support. Quite frequently, although it's better to have a trained modeler doing the data model, that DBA will also do the data model. The latter DBA role is more data warehouse-oriented and is where you can leverage your experience into a true data warehousing job.
Depending on your likes, you can then be opportunistic about data warehousing job possibilities in modeling, OLAP and ETL that come up that you can leverage your way into. A multi-functional data warehousing person is in demand because they can see the bigger picture. Definitely be open and avail yourself to those possibilities. It can lead to program management, and architecture and methodology roles.
As for getting there, I don't know where you work, but joining a data warehousing consultancy that will let you apply your current database administrator skills on data warehousing projects, while apprenticing your way into physical modeling is a good avenue. Your industry domain expertise, application experience or, better yet, specific company knowledge if you're at a company, are all valuable for getting into data warehousing jobs.
All the best and good call about where to take your career – information is power and companies are realizing this more and more.
This was first published in May 2006