Getting Your Worth the Struggles with Moving Ahead

I often get asked for advice on how to get started in a career as a DBA or in IT in general. I make the often regurgitated information such as getting a few good books, a copy of SQL Server Developer Edition, watch webinars, attend user groups and SQL Saturdays, ask to do some free work for a local charity or ask to help out on a project from someone else in the field to get some real world experience, etc.

Once someone gets their start in the IT field there is still much mentoring that needs to occur. Two of the major things I have found newbie’s need to work on is continuing education and on negotiating their worth.  I recently put together a chart to use as an illustration to show some discrepancies I have seen.  I have several friends in the HR field and I have requested some round numbers on entry level salaries for a DBA I, DBA II, Senior DBA and Lead DBA.

The following numbers may not be true for your area, however the delta’s between the positions should be similar.  The numbers I got averaged from 45k, 53k, 70k, and 83k.  When asking what are the difference in requirements between the positions it really came down to time and experience in the field. DBA I = 1-2 years, DBA II 3-5 years, Senior DBA 5+ years and Lead DBA was 7+ with some discretion on what makes a lead.

With that being said, lets break down the entry level positions and see how many years working in each role you would have to spend in order to increase your salary to reach the next level position. DBARaises

Based on the numbers to the left, a level one DBA would have to spend 6 years working with a 3% raise in order to earn the same beginning wage as a level two DBA, 15 years to earn that of a Sr and 21 years for that of a Lead.

For a level two DBA, they would have to work 10 years to earn the starting pay of a Sr and nearly 15 years for that of a Lead. For a Sr level DBA, they would have to work 6 years to earn the starting pay for a Lead DBA.

What does this mean for those entry and mid level people starting out in IT?

The reason I am writing this is to show that very early into your career your knowledge gain will outpace your salary gain. As IT professionals how do we address this issue?  It is a tough spot to be in. For one your company has invested in you to get this knowledge as most of it is probably from on the job training, possibly getting to go to some paid training events, etc.  Chances are you have also given of your personal time to attend free weekend training events, purchased books on your own dime, spent your personal time reading blogs, watching webinars, reading books etc.

You have proven yourself, you have proven your loyalty to your company and are working hard to do the best you can for them right? What can/do you do to address the money situation? Often times I see individuals that will job hop. An article on Forbes even addressed the job hoping situation. “Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less” There are some very valid points to Cameron’s logic in his article however there are a lot of miss truths in his article. The point I am trying to make here is that highly skilled workers such as those in IT are often times finding they have to job hop in order to get decent raises.

Several years ago I was told that IT Professionals should be interviewing every two years if for nothing else to keep your interview skills up. During this same talk I heard a statistic that the average tenure of a DBA is 18 months. I didn’t believe it at first but as I paid attention on social media it does seem like every week another person is taking on a new role with another company. I often ask those who changed jobs what was the motivating factor. For many it was salary, others it was opportunity to work on different projects or they felt they had outgrown the company they worked at.

So what do you do if you like your employer but you are caught in this very low merit increase dilemma?

I like to ask people when was the last time their manager came up and gave them a pile of money for doing a good job? Occasionally someone will say this happened for them in the form of a bonus of some sort, but typically I get laughed at. If you think about it from an employer perspective, they work for shareholders. There job is to maximize profits and minimize expense right? We as employees are a big expense. The company has to juggle keeping talent while trying to keep payroll down.

I also like to ask people “when is the last time you went to your boss and presented a business case that you deserve a salary adjustment”, sadly most of the time the answer is never. For those that have asked for the salary adjustment the response varies. Some have been able to get an increase because they presented the data and facts to justify the company investing in them. For others they have presented the case and the company just cannot or is not willing to invest in that individual. In those cases it is in the best interest of the IT Professional to begin seeking employment elsewhere. It doesn’t mean it is a bad company or bad management, it could simply mean the IT resource has out grown the companies need.

The important part is for us IT Professionals to know our worth, keep striving to increase our knowledge and always do the best job we can. As I tell my scouts “Do Your Best” or as Lowe’s reminds me “Never Stop Improving”

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#Summit14 Embarcadero Book Signing

Tim Radney

The blessings continue as Embarcadero offered to support my new book by hosting a book signing and providing 100 copies to PASS Summit 2014 attendees. You will need to come by booth 224 on Thursday November 6th between 3pm – 4pm to be able to pick up a signed copy by myself and John Sterrett. My good friend Pinal Dave will also be present and hopefully will sign the back cover for you since he was so kind to share his feedback about the book on the back cover.

Don’t miss out on being able to pick up a signed copy of our book covering SQL Server 2014 backup and recovery techniques. This book includes step by step instructions on getting started with backup encryption and backing up to Windows Azure Storage. After reading this book you should not have any issues defining a solid backup and recovery plan for your organization.

 

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Managing Geeks – A journey of leading by doing

I am proud to share that my good friend Andy Leonard has just released a new book. This is also the second book published by LinchpinPress.

Over the years Andy has blogged about his experiences with managing technical teams. Andy wrote over 50 post on the subject and has shared some excellent insight into his experiences. My only regret with reading this new book is that I didn’t read it years ago before stepping into managing my own set of geeks.

Our good friend Karen Forster was able to take all of Andy’s blog post and compile them into a flowing series and turn Andy’s random lessons into a fantastic work of art. I was honored to be able to work with Andy and Karen on getting this book to print and in doing so got a sneak peak before it was published. I was also able to recruit my brother Todd Radney of Yesterdays Photography to take the cover photo of this book as well.

Linchpin People will have 100 copies of this book available at their booth at the PASS Summit for Andy to hold a book signing. Make sure to find out the times so you can get a free copy, or if you can’t wait for Summit or will not be able to attend, pick up a copy now on Amazon.

managinggeeks

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SQL Server 2014 Backup and Recovery

In early October my third book was published. I have been blessed to be able to work with Joes2Pros for my first two books, however Joes2Pros is focusing its time and energy into video content. When SQL 2014 was released and new features were added for backups, there was a need to revise my first book titled SQL Backup and Recovery.

In October a publishing arm of Linchpin People LLC was formed. Linchpin Press was birthed and I am happy to announce that the first book published was SQL Server 2014 Backup and Recovery. The book has been available on Amazon for a few weeks and there will be two book signings at the SQL PASS Summit next week in Seattle.  So if you are going to be at the PASS Summit, track us down and get a signed copy.

With my first book, my friend Rick Morelan gave me the opportunity to become a published author, then for my second book I was able to collaborate with Rick and Pinal Dave for a SQL 2012 Administration book. For this last project I was able to pay it forward and collaborate with my good friend John Sterrett. My friend John is a brilliant SQL Server guy, blogs a lot, speaks at events all over the place and had a great story to tell about how important knowing how to restore your databases can be.

In additional to collaborating with John on the book, we had the most awesome editor in the world. Karen Forster is a miracle worker. John and I both learned a great deal from Karen and she is fantastic to work with. Also my brother Todd Radney of Yesterdays Photography took the cover photo. It was very cool to be able to share this experience with my brother.

With that said, I am proud to introduce the very first Linchpin Press book.

sqlbackup

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SQL Server 2008 SP4 Released

On September 30th 2014 Microsoft released service pack 4 for SQL Server 2008. This service pack contains all cumulative updates since SP3 was released as well as all updates from previous service packs.

Today begins the day we should all begin testing in Dev with SP4. You can get information about this service pack and links to download here http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2979596

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What PASS is to me #sqlpass

I found out about the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) in 2008 when I attended my first PASS Community Summit “SQL Server Heroes UNITE”. For those who don’t know what the PASS Summit is, it is the largest SQL Server and BI convention in the world. A SQL Nerd Herd. While attending the PASS Community Summit I learned about our extensive SQL Community on twitter, learned about SQL Saturday’s and PASS Chapters.

I quickly got much more involved in the SQL Community by attending and speaking at SQL Saturdays and user groups across the south east. By my involvement with the community I have been able to increase my knowledge of SQL Server much more quickly by having access to very talented SQL Server professionals. Our community is strong. I have connected with other professionals from all over the world.

Over the past six years I have watched and helped PASS grow.  Way back in 2008 the SQL Saturday count was low, the first one I attended was in the 30’s. The first one I spoke at was in the 60’s. Now they are in the 300’s. The PASS Summit continues to draw record crowds. SQL Saturdays have been offering full day precon sessions for years. We have 24 Hours of PASS, SQL Rally, SQL Saturdays all over the globe, a record number of PASS Chapters, BI focused SQL Saturdays, virtual PASS Chapters, and more.

Over the past few years I have taken over the local PASS Chapter in my town, have been a regional mentor for my region, was recognized as an outstanding PASS volunteer, have spoken at over 30 SQL Saturdays, dozens of user groups, given several webinars, written books, blogged, etc. None of this would have been possible had it not been for PASS to provide the infrastructure and our awesome SQL Community.

Over the past couple of years PASS has tried to grow into the Business Analytics space. A new event called PASS BAC has been started. The Business Analytics world is getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. You can just as easily interchange Business with Data. I have been working with a data scientist over the past few months. This person works heavily with MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, R, SAP, Excel, Oracle, Hadoop, MongoDB and other technologies. For this person he doesn’t really care about the database engine he is pulling data from, however he does care a bit about where he is storing his analytic data. Learning about this persons role has been eye opening.

As this field continues to grow, PASS has seen an opportunity to expand and try to grow into this region of data analytics. This is evident with the creation of the BAC event. Part of this decision ledPASS to drop the full name of the chartered organization from published content. PASS will be simply PASS instead of the Professional Association for SQL Server. When this announcement went out via a blog post, it was met with a mixed reaction from the community. My personal reaction was a feeling of hurt. I felt a bit jaded that the community that was built for SQL Server users was going to lose the attention on the Microsoft data platform. The initial communication sharing the news of PASS dropping professional and SQL Server from the name was not as clear as it could have been. It caught many of us off guard. In reaction to the community chatter, our current PASS President addressed it well in a blog post. I loved the analogy of building a bigger umbrella.

Does this change affect my PASSion for PASS, no. PASS is still an awesome part of our SQL community that I love. Our community makes PASS, however PASS helps provide a lot of the infrastructure to help grow the community too. Will I continue to share the experience of PASS with others as I travel and speak about Microsoft SQL Server, absolutely. Should you be a member of PASS, heck yes. If you are not a current member, it would greatly benefit you to sign up to “connect, share and learn”. sqlpass.org

 

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4 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner

I was recently called out by Tim Costello on a blog series started by Mike Walsh.  http://www.interworks.com/blogs/tcostello/2014/08/27/4-things-i-wish-i-knew-sooner-bi-consultant

The series calls for each blogger to list 4 things they wish they had known sooner in their career as a data geek.

1) Knowing how to query data != DBA. You will be insulted. There is a tremendous amount to learn and most technologist have no idea how much they don’t know about your field. What I found after becoming a data professional is that in the world of SQL you can take many different paths for your data career such as TSQL developer, DBA, report writer, ETL, BI, BA and more. What you will find is a run of the mill technologist that can write a select statement will also call them self a DBA. Let it go, don’t bother arguing with them.

2) Know Recovery – I was shown how to make sure we have backups early in my new role as a DBA, quickly after that we had 100% turnover (roughly). Soon after that came a time when we had to restore a database to a point in time. That process took much longer than it should have.  Know your backups and know your restore processes. Practice them often.

3) Your Enthusiasm will not become contagious – You might become very enthusiastic about your DBA related career. You may find yourself attending free online training, going to user group meetings, attending SQL Saturdays or any other number of events to boost your career. Others in your work place may simply view their job as a job. Not a career like you. You can encourage them to join you but don’t let their lack of self learning impact you. Also as you become more successful, don’t let their jealousy impact your desire to learn and be the best person you can be.

4) Pace yourself- You will have to learn to balance your work life and home life. This also includes your study time. Work life balance is very important, not only from your employer working you to hard, but also your time with self learning, blogging, reading, etc. Don’t miss out on those special family moments, but also don’t miss out on a few sacrifices to ensure financial stability. It is a balance after all.

 

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An error occurred while executing batch. Error message is: Arithmetic Overflow

Recently an incident came across my desk where an end user was receiving an error trying to retrieve some records from the database. The error message the customer received was “An error occurred while executing batch. Error message is: Arithmetic Overflow”.

Experience has taught me that this message is related to an invalid dataset within a record or invalid column size. In this particular event the column was FLOAT and a data entry contain characters and symbols. Obviously an error in user entry or an import.

The issue that comes up is how can you query the data if it continues to give this error each time you try to query a set of data that contains that record. The easiest way is to convert the column to another data type. In my case I converted the FLOAT data type to NVARCHAR.

SELECT CONVERT(NVARCHAR(255),COLUMN) AS Column_Name
FROM TABLE
WHERE Value = ‘ABC123′

I am then able to query the dataset to my range of data to see the invalid record. I can then run an update statement to correct the values or null them out.

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Microsoft SQL Server “Most Valuable Professional” MVP << I am one #mvpbuzz

1780-mvp_horizontal_fullcolor-550x0

Today I received an email notifying me that I have been awarded the Microsoft “MVP” award. An excerpt from Microsoft’s website states

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award is our way of saying thank you to exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.”  reference

It is a huge honor to be given this award just as it has been extremely humbling to be nominated for this award by friends within the SQL Server community. I feel very lucky to be part of the awesome SQL Server community, to have made friends all over the globe and now to be part of the MVP community.

Little did I know how much my life was going to change when on 10/28/2008 my boss told me that our training budget got reinstated and did I want to go to the PASS Summit. I quickly registered and when I arrived in Seattle and felt the energy of our community I was hooked. During that Summit I was attending a session on DMV’s when Grant Fritchey shared with the audience about SQL Saturday’s.  I took note of it, attended the next two in the South East USA and then started speaking at them.

My passion and desire for learning never let up. I have attended every PASS Summit since, attended or spoke at dozens of events the past few years, contributed on forums, written blogs, been a PASS Regional Mentor, Chapter Leader, PASS Big Brother, etc.  As much as I try to give back I still feel like I am receiving more from this community then I can contribute. The friendships I have made and the lives I have been able to touch make all the time and energy put into it worth it.

There are so many others deserving of this award world wide. If you know someone who consistently gives of themselves back to the Microsoft community please take time to nominate them today.

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I am speaking at the PASS Summit 2014

I am super excited to announce that I have been selected to speak at the 2014 PASS Summit. This is considered the Super Bowl of SQL Server Conferences. It is the worlds largest gathering of SQL minded nerds. Consider it a SQL Server Nerd Herd.

Kidding aside it is the best opportunity to learn as much as possible about SQL Server. There will be over 170 different sessions to pick from over the course of three days as well as the option to attend two days worth of precons. Attending my first PASS Summit in 2008 changed my life and I have not missed one since.

I am very excited that the PASS Summit will be back in Seattle this year and that I get to be counted among the speaker pool.

SpeakingSummit2014

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