Structured Query Language (SQL) developers, database administrators and analysts are responsible for installing, configuring, operating, and troubleshooting SQL servers, which are computer systems that hold and manage data and information structures.
Many employers require SQL professionals to have a four-year bachelor's degree in computer science or a related major. Employers may waive educational requirements for significant SQL server experience or other credentials, though it is not common.
Bachelor's Degree Programs in Computer Science
Computer science bachelor's degree programs teach students how to operate and troubleshoot computer systems, networks, databases, and operating systems. Students learn various programming languages and the functions of multiple computer interfaces. Coursework combines traditional classroom teaching with hands-on computer experience. Admission into these programs requires students to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Typical courses include:
- Data structures
- Programming languages
- Operating systems
- Graphical user interfaces
- Networking administration
- Artificial intelligence
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The field of database administrators, which includes SQL developers, is expected to grow 11% from 2014 to 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). It should be noted, however, that this faster-than-average rate could be slowed by software that increases productivity of database administrators. In May 2015, the BLS listed the median earnings for database administrators at $81,710.
Voluntary SQL Server certification from Microsoft can demonstrate proficiency in data recovery and safety, database development and server error reporting. SQL professionals can seek Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) or Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification. Each demonstrates proficiency in a number of SQL-based practices. Certifications are also offered for SQL 2005 and SQL 2008. Both MCITPs and MCTSs must pass a comprehensive SQL Server exam; MCITPs typically have several years of database development and implementation experience prior to certification. SQL developers are not required to be licensed or certified.
Professional requirements for SQL developers include 3-5 years of work experience. Senior positions may require 7 or more years of experience. Entry-level SQL professionals can gain experience by learning more about SQL Servers and pursuing short-term, freelance database administration and computer programming opportunities.
The Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) offers workshops, seminars and training opportunities for SQL professionals. Workshops and conferences are held in various cities throughout the country, as well as online and in several international locations. PASS even offers free one-day training seminars for SQL developers and administrators. PASS also offers career and networking opportunities. The organization maintains a list of SQL Server-related blogs and newsletters, as well as online forums. Technical articles and newsletters are also available, including an archived list of newsletters dating back to 2007.
Most employers looking for SQL developers, database administrators and analysts are looking for students who hold a bachelor's degree in computer sciences and real-world experience working with databases and servers.