Next move: how do I get into database administration?

Career advice for IT professionals

How do I get into database administration?

I have been working in IT for six years, mainly in first-line technical support with various firms amounting to four years' experience and two years doing data administration.

I recently gained a MCP in Windows 2003 Server and have just completed a month contract working as network administrator. I want to move away from first-line support and get into a more hands-on role rather than being on the phones. Whenever I apply for roles that are more technical than my current one, I do not seem to meet the criteria as the skill set required is exhaustive.

Should I apply for jobs in IT support, where the market is saturated, or should I get a database qualification in SQL Server 2005?

Also, where can I find out the demands of a skill within a region in the UK? I live in the northwest.

Get real-world experience with database administration

A qualification in databases will always be of help, but often experience is irreplaceable in the eyes of a hiring manager. Your qualifications do show good intent, but applying the theory to practical situations is not always an easy transition. My advice would be to secure a permanent role based on the skills you have, as this will give you more chance to develop than a contract role. Then use any opportunity you can to show interest in cross-training to database skills. This will generally mean limited exposure initially, but the more exposure you have to those technical teams the more likely you are to be considered for upcoming projects and positions.

In terms of ascertaining skills demand in geographic regions, the easiest way is to contact recruitment companies in those areas who should be well placed and willing to give you the information you require. Also, look up Compuer Weekly's SSL surveys - these chart IT employment trends by UK region.

Answer by Jay Pathak, senior consultant at Hudson

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