Five Tips for Becoming a More Effective Database Professional

Database professionals are the backbone of any modern company. They are responsible for managing, organizing, and analyzing vast (and rapidly increasing) amounts of information.

Their work helps organizations make informed decisions, remain secure, increase efficiency, and stay ahead of the competition. The next generation of data management capabilities is essentially a prerequisite for companies seeking to implement cutting-edge technology and processes such as AI and AIOps.

Becoming a database professional is a challenging yet rewarding occupation. Just like any other exciting career, you will constantly need to learn new skills, refine your techniques, and seek help when needed to stay at the top of your game. Whether you are just starting in the field or an industry vet, here are five tips to help make you a more effective database professional.

Get Your Hands Dirty and Teach Yourself

Many of the best coaches, teachers, managers, and leaders agree: Regardless of your pursuit or profession, there’s no substitute for diving in headfirst and getting your hands dirty. This advice rings true in IT and the database field. One of the most important things you can do to become a more productive database professional is teach yourself new skills and technologies. Proactively taking these steps can be challenging, but it’s essential if you want to be effective in your role.

Thankfully, numerous resources (many of which are free) are available online, including tutorials, blogs, and forums that can help you learn new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

Another way to teach yourself is to experiment with new technologies and tools in non-production test environments. Practicing in these test environments will allow you to assess your knowledge of systems and tools without risking critical systems or data. Experimenting with new processes is a great way to improve your skills and knowledge and make you more confident in overcoming challenges that will inevitably arise. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you will learn more from mistakes than successes.

And while teaching yourself is critical for your development, you can’t learn everything alone.

Seek a Mentor and Learn From Others

No matter how experienced you are, there will always be something new to learn. Asking for help and learning from others are essential to being a productive database pro. Finding a mentor is one of the best ways to learn and expand your skill set. Having a mentor as a database professional is valuable for several reasons. A mentor can provide support, guidance, and insight based on their own experiences. They can offer advice on navigating complex projects and help to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Finding a mentor means having someone who can provide constructive criticism and feedback on your work so you can better understand what makes an effective database professional.

And while finding a more senior mentor with deep experience can be valuable, don’t stop here. There is also plenty to learn from your peers and colleagues as well. Every database professional has different specialties, knowledge, and experiences. Some of your peers may specialize in data modeling and design, others in performance tuning, and some in backup and recovery. No one is an island.

Take Industry Courses and Earn Certifications

The IT industry—specifically, the database field—is evolving and changing. New tools and technologies frequently emerge, with each requiring new skills. AI, machine learning, autonomous operations—all of these advanced technologies of today and tomorrow rely on data and the ability to effectively manage that information. As such, taking industry courses and earning certifications are critical.

Professional development courses can provide you with a structured learning environment and access to experts who can teach you the latest techniques and technologies. Courses cover a range of topics, including AI, database administration, data modeling, and so much more.

While not all courses and certification programs are free, don’t let this deter you. Check to see if your employer covers the costs of professional development courses like these. Speaking of your employer, some organizations also offer additional internal training and courses. If your company does, make the time to receive such training and take advantage of these opportunities to grow.

Plan Ahead and Stay Organized

One of the most important tips for being a productive database professional is to stay organized and plan ahead. Careful planning and organization can help you avoid mistakes and ensure your databases are running efficiently, which in turn enables your company’s applications and services to be highly available and highly functioning.

One reason planning is important is because it allows you to anticipate and prevent potential problems. For instance, having data backup and recovery plans in place can help you and your organization minimize the risk of data loss in the event of an incident. Additionally, planning ahead for future growth can help you ensure that your databases—whether they are located on-prem or in public or private clouds—have the capacity and resources required to meet the increasing storage and computing demands.

Staying organized is another important tip. As digital transformation efforts accelerate, more companies rely on hybrid IT models, and the amount of data businesses control is increasing rapidly. As a result, it can be easy to become disorganized.

By maintaining a well-organized database structure, you can reduce the time needed to find and access data and ensure that your company’s applications and services are high-functioning.

Staying organized as a database professional is also critical for helping your organization remain compliant and secure. By tracking who has access to data and making sure that sensitive information is properly secured, you can minimize the risk of data breaches and protect the organization from potential legal and financial consequences. With more data privacy laws in place than ever before—including GDPR and CCPA—staying organized is critical.

Utilize Observability

No matter how much you learn, how many courses you take, or how much time you spend perfecting your craft, today’s IT environments are still too complex for humans to manage independently.

Tools like observability are here to help. With observability, database professionals receive singlepane-of-glass visibility, regardless of how complex your organization’s IT environment is. Today’s solutions—some of which are powered by machine learning and AIOps—have advanced capabilities, including anomaly detection, which use algorithms to identify potential issues by determining if the wait times for a database instance are higher than usual.

Features such as these can help identify and even predict bottlenecks and other issues that may impact performance, enabling you to take corrective action before they become significant problems. With observability, database professionals can also receive performance data that identifies improvement areas and actionable insights for ways you can optimize your database.

Becoming a talented database professional requires hard work and dedication. By teaching yourself, learning from others, and leveraging technology, you’ll become a better, more effective database professional in no time.