T-SQL Tuesday #165: Database Job Titles Roundup

This month I prompted bloggers to talk about what database job titles mean to them. Thank you to all who posted on this topic! Don’t worry; if you still need help understanding all the database job titles, you could always make up your own, like ‘Database Mystery Manager’!

The responses made me realize gaps in my title ideas; everyone had excellent ideas and points.

Here are the highlights of the posts (in alphabetical order by last name):

  • Chad Callihan – In his post, Chad draws comparisons between database titles and sports, with a DBA being an equipment manager, a database engineer being the athletic trainer, the database reliability engineer being the Physiotherapist, the database architect being the head coach, and the data scientist is the team scout.

    • Chad’s post me of Kendra’s post on database job titles, in which she made a Venn diagram showing how each database job title handles trash.

  • Kevin Chant – In his post, Kevin talks about how “if you ask ten database managers to write a job specification for a database administrator the results will all be different. Due to a combination of business needs and their own interpretations of the role.” He adds, “because enterprises are larger and are looking to work in a more DevOps related way there are other database job titles appearing to cater for them.”

    • Kevin’s post reminds me of conversations around creating job descriptions at previous jobs. Sometimes it’s just everything and the kitchen sink to ensure you satisfy your employer’s needs.

  • Rob Farley – In his post, he talks about how as consultants, “we don’t fit into any of the data-related titles that Josephine listed. We sometimes adopt all of those roles and more. But it’s the ‘more’ that is key here. When we get involved at a client, we’re there to make a difference. To help them “do what they do better”, to quote our website.”

    • Rob’s post reminds me how titles can be nebulous even when “clearly defined.” I had a job title that was Lead Specialist. I wasn’t leading anything, and it seemed nebulous regarding what I was a specialist of, but I was a DBA.

  • Deepthi Goguri – In her post, she responds with a funny tweet and speaks about “unreasonable job descriptions” causing her more stress. For example, “SQL database administrator role mentioning high expertise in the languages – C++, Java, PHP, Python” or “that the company is looking for a senior-level position and mentions the salary as 15 dollars per hour”, or “mentioning the requirement is to have 12+ years of Kubernetes experience when in fact the Kubernetes technology was released in 2014 which was just 6 years.”

    • Deepthi’s post reminds me of a former manager who said we hire people with high IQ and low self-esteem.

  • Steve Jones – In his post, he says, “often what I see is titles are made for HR and pay levels. The job often is very similar. I see DBAs/Database Engineers/Database Reliability Engineer, often doing very similar work.” In his experience as a DBA, he’s “done all the things the invitation lists for various roles. However, I find that if I wanted to be a database engineer rather than a database administator, I could likely justify a higher salary.” He advises you to “pick the title that has a good salary and aim for it. Learn all the skills, since the title might not matter when someone needs work done.”

    • Steve’s post reminds me of a conversation I had with a manager at a previous company. I said DBA isn’t at the bottom, then DBE, and finally DB architect. Understanding that these are distinct jobs with potentially different skill sets is key. One shouldn’t necessarily make more or be promoted to one from the other. That’s my two cents anyway.

  • Mala Mahadevan – In her post, Mala talks about her vision of the different roles. She says that “DBAs were perceived as reactive problem solvers—earning high remuneration but receiving little attention or respect unless a crisis demanded their intervention. In essence, proactive contributions were unacknowledged, and one’s worth was not recognized as value-added to the business.” She also authored a book for Apress, where she interviewed 29 professionals. Check it out to see their takes on their roles.

    • Mala’s post reminds me of the many times that DBA work does seem very thankless. People are trying to figure out what you do as if you do nothing until there is an emergency and they desperately need you; then it’s back to why “do we have you here?” It can be very frustrating.

  • Deborah Melkin – In her post, Deb talks about doing “something really “radical” going forward – like make sure we have really good descriptions of what the job entails as we give some leeway to variations for a given title.” She adds, “we also should do a good job of level settings in terms of junior\mid-level\senior positions. While some titles really do sound better than others, we should also make sure that we don’t lose sight of making sure the other pieces are in place.” We’ll start calling her “Deb the Database Bad A$$,” which stands for “Deb the DBA”

    • Deb’s post reminds me of when I said to call me a DBA special agent at my old job.

  • Andy Yun – In his post, Andy, when asked about the different titles, says, “My answer is simple: nonsense. Seriously.” He adds, “My problem with job titles is that at every organization I’ve ever worked at or with, a given job title has little real value or meaning.” He worked at a company where practically everyone was an assistant vice president, but he was actually a database developer. He finishes, “Call me a data janitor for all I care, as long as the paycheck clears the bank.”

    • Andy’s post reminds me of the numerous times I told my previous manager, “You can call me junior janitor; if the job is the same and pays the same, what’s the difference?” It also reminded me of Kendra’s post again on database job titles and how they would handle trash.

Please comment on this post if I missed anyone, and I’ll add you. Thanks again to all who posted!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.