So You Want to Become an Oracle DBA? Part 2 - Learning Oracle on your own
May 13, 2004
This is the second of a two-part series about how you can become an Oracle DBA in today's almost non-existent DBA job market. This article focuses on inexpensive and effective means of learning Oracle. The bad news: short of someone else paying for your education, you can expect to spend some of your own money to learn Oracle. How much you spend and what you spend your money on is up to you. The good news: there is more than one way to learn database administration (and developer) skills.
What diminishes the good news is the lack of a clear, definitive path on what it takes to become a DBA and what, specifically, the DBA is supposed to know. It's not like becoming a lawyer where the path is defined as graduating from an accredited law school and passing the bar exam. There are many law schools and each covers the same core curriculum, which is good, because it standardizes the body of knowledge required of attorneys. The same cannot be said of what it takes to become a DBA and what the DBA is supposed to know.
There is one absolute involved with the learning Oracle process: you, and only you, have control over the quality and quantity of what you know. If you are trying to learn a particular topic, there is no shortage (for the most part) of free documentation, books, schools (Oracle University or otherwise), seminars, websites, subscriptions and mail groups from which you can scour in your quest to become almost god-like in your knowledge of Oracle. Let's get into the where's and how's of obtaining an Oracle education.
What to avoid
Sorry to say, and probably at the cost of my own personal goal of ever working for Oracle, do not attend Oracle University classes (with two exceptions). A typical 5-day course will set you back $2500. In fact, any instructor-led course (the in-person kind) is $500 per day. What do you get for your $500 per day cost of attendance (assuming you are not having to take vacation time)? You get a cardboard box filled with the official course of instruction for that topic. You get a plastic combination pen/hi-liter and a small spiral bound notebook to use for taking additional notes. You may get documentation on a CD. You get to share a computer/workstation with another student. You get to hear the gospel as dispensed by the disciples of Larry (note: the instructors are typically very good and quite knowledgeable). You get free coffee and beverages and breakfast rolls/pastries, and if you really score, you get freshly baked cookies in the afternoon session. You get some personal attention if you are struggling on one of the several labs you do each day, but the class cannot afford to wait for you.
Don't get me wrong - attending a class from Oracle University (OU) is a great experience. The facilities are nice, you are well greeted and treated and you walk away with the definitive source of test questions for that topic's certification exam. Why should you attend an ILT class from OU? One reason is that someone else is paying for it. The other reason is that you have to in order to meet a requirement for certification.