The Best Database Administrator Jobs: How to Improve Your Salary, Part 1

How would it feel to make enough money to buy an Oculus Rift − without thinking twice? How cool would it be to never get nagged about bringing in more money to help with bills? What kind of pride would you feel after earning a senior title and more respect around the office?


You’re already working hard; it’s time to get something out of it.

By creating and following a simple career plan, you can set yourself on a path for more success. And, thankfully, getting to where you want to go is easier – and faster − than you may have imagined.

How to earn more than your current database administrator salary

With the five steps below, your future’s sure to include bigger paychecks and better toys. Here’s how to make your skills and dedication pay off, without having to earn more database administrator certifications.

Step 1: Identify what sets you apart. 

As our recent DBA survey showed, nearly all database professionals are juggling increasing workloads, an absurd amount of instances and new technologies. You have a ton of responsibilities. And while it’s great that you can do so many things, it’s critical to showcase the one thing you do best. This is the first step in positioning yourself as the top candidate for the best DBA jobs.

To stand out from your competition, pinpoint your greatest strength. Ask yourself, what am I known for? What does my team rely on me to deliver, more than anyone else? This is your key differentiator, your specialty and the skill set to leverage when carving out your next role. Distill this into a single sentence that shows the pain you’re most capable of resolving for employers.

Step 2: Understand your value.

After you’ve identified your specialty, evaluate your level of expertise in this area. Continue to look at your best skill as the pain point you’re great at resolving. Ask yourself how many times you’ve resolved it, failed to resolve it, escalated it and to whom. Are there various techniques you use to resolve this specific pain? What documentation have you created for others to follow? What have you learned from your mistakes? By assessing your true value in this area, you’ll feel more confident discussing what you bring to the table and negotiating your worth.

Step 3: Get even better at your specialty.

One of the best ways to build your knowledge is through teaching. Have a conversation with your boss about how you recently used your newly defined specialty to resolve a pain point. Then, ask if he’d let you share your expertise with others by speaking at a SQL Server user group, writing a blog post and building a slide deck to support your story. Offer to keep your organization name anonymous.

This not only makes you look like a super star to your boss, and future employers, but it also gives you permission to share your expertise, which will serve to further expand it. It won’t take long before you can rate your skill set many levels higher than you can today.

Step 4: Know what’s important to you.

Do you need a stable paycheck, benefits and consistent hours? You may be happiest in a traditional full-time role. If you’re willing to take some risks that can deliver a major payoff, albeit a sometimes-inconsistent one, you may be a consultant at heart. If you fall somewhere in between, contract work may be right for you. Knowing just how risk-averse you truly are will help you select a career path that brings you more happiness than stress.

Step 5: Get the word out.

How hard do you need to market yourself? Depends on the role you want. If the security of a full-time gig appeals to you most, you only need to sell yourself when you’re ready to switch jobs. What to be a consultant? You’ve got to regularly promote yourself to multiple clients. To do this, create and market your blog, host webcasts and provide help to build your reputation as an expert. The cool thing about this approach is it puts you in that teaching role we talked about earlier, which is great for up-leveling your skill set. If you want to be a contractor, you can use the same tactics as the consultant, only with a little less effort, as you’ll want to target fewer customers for longer jobs. 

Enter a new dimension.

No matter which path you choose, knowing and marketing your unique value will get you into your dream job – and that fancy pair of virtual reality goggles you’ve been eyeing, too.

On-demand webcast: Career Planning for DBAs

Want more career advice? Watch SQL Server expert Brent Ozar reveal how he quickly grew his career from sysadmin to self-employed consultant – and how you can achieve similar success.