Putting the money aside for a moment, my #1 job advice is always to do something you enjoy. Whatever you choose, you will be doing it for *at least* 40 hours a week and most likely more than that, especially if you include learning. Having said that, salary ranges widely from region to region just like housing costs and overall cost of living. I assume you're looking for an entry-level position since you mentioned you have very little experience in various desired skill areas. $60k for an entry level position might not be a problem in New York, DC, or Silicon Valley, but it would be a lot in some of the less expensive areas of the country. The same is true, of course, in any country. My advice is to pick something you enjoy and dive in. If you like it, spending personal time learning and practicing can actually be fun rather than a burden. I highly recommend SQL Server Developer Edition. It's a relatively inexpensive ($60) learning tool that gives you full access to everything included in the Enterprise Edition. Play with it. Come here and ask questions. Once you get more familiar, try answering questions. All of that will help you not only answer interview questions but also perform well on the job. One final note: be honest. Don't pretend you know things if you don't. There are ways to prepare for an exam without truly understanding the topics covered, but a good interviewer knows how to see through that with questions that test true knowledge. There are some positions that require experience because they want or need someone who has been through enough to have real world knowledge and wisdom to handle various situations. You may not qualify for those (yet), but there are many other positions out there that welcome people like yourself who don't yet have that experience but do have the desire and ability to learn. Good luck!
Personally you could be looking at this from the wrong angle in terms of the salary demands. You will need to start from scratch although your IT experience will help. Now, I'm assuming that you are working in dollars and the US (correct me if I'm wrong) but here in the UK it is around £40k, which for a junior would be a little on the high side. It's not impossible, but highly unlikely that you would get that for your first DBA type job. Now, in your question you state that you don't have much hand on and IMO just watching videos won't get you that experience. However, by download [SQL Express] (or purchasing a MSDN copy) and then stepping through the video's or other learning methods you may find you retain more of the information (most learning videos provide sample DBs/script to make your journey easier). Once you have the basic knowledge try to: - Challenge yourself through things like installing, configuring, optimizing, breaking and fixing basic aspect of SQL Server - Come to ASK and try to answer questions that others seek help on and comment where you feel comfortable doing so - Read SQL related blogs on a daily basis from the likes of [
SQLSkill.com], [Pinal Dave] etc - Find a user group to attend. They are a good source of information and you never know, there maybe a hiring manager looking for keen individuals (been there got the t-shirt) Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions and **keep learning.** :
You need to start attending as many interviews as possible and show some sql experience in your resume. Practice as much as possible but dont hesitate or fear from taking interviews. There are no shortcuts here. Study the topics, practice and find scenarios from this website or some other good portals.
So you're looking for a place that hires people with no SQL experience to do SQL work? I know of just such a place and believe me, you wouldn't want to work there. The manager got hired (and then promoted) through being buddies with the management further up the chain. His exposure to SQL when he started consisted of the MS Access QBE (query by example) grid, so his opinion of people who do invest their time in learning the appropriate ways to use SQL Server, is low. When he hires, it's on the basis of "Are they going to be easy to get on with?", "Are they going to question my methods?" and "Do they know the business?" not "How well do they know SQL Server?" or "How keen are they to learn SQL Server?" Obviously it helps (a lot) to have people who know the business and are easy to get on with, but you can image what a mess you'd be walking into if the organisation didn't see the importance of hiring people with the skills required. There's not much upside to joining an organisation like that. If you go in with the mission of cleaning up the mess, you'll likely be treading on the toes of those who made the mess in the first place and they won't thank you for it. As Groucho Marx once said: "I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER" There are lots of opportunities for getting your skills up without working at a dysfunctional organisation. Earlier @sp_lock mentioned SQL Express. I'd also suggest you look into the Developer version of SQL Server. It's the full enterprise version with all the bells and whistles but it can't be used in a production environment. It costs around USD $60. What a bargain.