Hi there. I'm sure this question has been asked before, but I just don't know where to start. I have my BA in Accounting (20 years ago) and have been doing Accounting/Finance for my entire career. I have taught myself database design and development, but only in Access. I understand a database and am very good with large amounts of data, data validation, systems and processes. I would like to take it a step further and become some sort of Finance Systems DBA, but I have no idea where to start in the SQL world. Sorry for the rambling. Thanks for your help. Red.
There are quite a few differences in Access and SQL server but I am sure you know that already. In the MSSQL world there is tons of free training available to you. I wrote a blog about it here [blog](
http://timradney.com/2011/06/28/getting-ahead-and-getting-involved/) Something new I have come across in the past several months that I AM recommending to anyone starting out in their career is a 5 book and DVD set from Joes2Pros. It is a great resource for anyone who is a novice or mid level DBA. You are guaranteed to learn something new and this series prepares you for your MCTS on SQL Server with practical hands on experience. Check it out [here](
http://joes2pros.com/?wpsc-product=joes-2-pros-sql-server-2008-5-volume-book-and-dvd-certification-training-kit), it is a very small investment of $199 but if you attend a SQL Saturday that Joes2Pros s sponsoring you could win a set. The easiest way to get started is download developer edition or SQL Express edition of Microsoft SQL Server and start playing around with it. The links in the blog post I mentioned above will give you access to hundreds of hours of SQL training that will give you lots of insight, but the Joes2Pros books is an actual curriculum that is self paced and might be better for your immediate need. Once you get going in your career, this website if your go to resource for specific questions to your day to day challenges.
I'll chime in as well in addition to @Tim's advice. The SQL community is very vibrant and there are a number of folks that will help to point you in the right direction. Given that, I'd look around your area to find a local SQL Server's user group. This would help get you in touch with other SQL Server folks. While a user group doesn't have to be affiliated with PASS, a number of them are. You can check out
www.sqlpass.org to see if there is a group near you. DISCLAIMER: I'm a user group leader for my area. @Tim mentioned the SQL Saturday, which is another great place for free training/resources. Just about any given weekend you can find some location that is hosting an event, however it might be around the world from where you are at. Regardless, check out
www.sqlsaturday.com and see if there is an event coming near you. The cost is zero for the training, usually <$10 if you want lunch. I highly recommend investing the $50 for a Developer copy of SQL Server. This will allow you to everything the product offers at the Enterprise Edition, so in my mind it's worth the investment. Blogs. Start following some bloggers, such as: Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp, Brent Ozar, Grant Fritchey, Steve Jones, Jonathan Keyhias, Thomas LaRock and there are countless others, but you get the idea. Just another place for free information about the SQL World. Hope this helps! Oh yea, welcome to the #sqlfamily! ;-)
How to get started: **Join in**: - Become a watcher of forums, such as this one and
www.SQLServerCentral.com and see how you would answer the questions there. Use them to learn about topics within SQL Server and DBA work in general. - Join SQL PASS, as has been mentioned, they have great free training content on there and you will hear about events near you. - Find you local user group, whether its a PASS chapter or not, and go and listen, talk and learn with other DBAs. **What you need** - SQL Server. Get it in Developer flavour via MSDN or get the free SQL Express version as a download in its own right. There are some subtle differences so paying a few $$ for the Developer one may be something you plan for mid-long term - Get some books to learn from - Simple Talk have electronic versions of their titles that are free -
http://www.simple-talk.com/books/, this book, in my opnion, is worth twice it price - TSQL Fundamentals by Itzik Ben-Gan
http://www.amazon.co.uk/T-SQL-Fundamentals-Microsoft-Server-Azure/dp/0735658145 **Finally** - Something to put it into practice. Find a reason to write a database. Whether its a catalogue of your Music or Films, details of your exercise program, your vehicle maintenance schedule, weather station data, anything that you are interested in. If you have the interest and can see the worth of doing the work then you will continue to do the work and you will continue to learn. Google (or Bing!) is your friend. If you get an error that you cant resolve by research in Books OnLine/MSDN then paste the error into a search engine and find other people with the same problem and review how they fixed the issue. Disclosure: I am a Friend of Red Gate so will have a positive bias towards their products and services. Keep in mind there are other providers of tools and support for the SQL Community. Take a look at all of the options available and then come back to Red Gate for your solution ;)  forgot to add that you can get on Twitter and follow or use the **#sqlhelp** tag to get replies from some of the best DBAs in the world. Use it sparingly and it can be a really useful quick Q+A tool.
Aside from everybody else's answers (which are quite good and will keep you busy for a while), Sean and Jen McCown (the Midnight DBAs) have their [DBA Roadmap], which is potentially right up your alley: a lot of their material covers things like building a resume, finding jobs in this area (especially if you aren't already a DBA), etc. It's not very expensive ($99) and reviews have been positive. They also have a lot of free videos on [another of their sites], so if you happen to be more of a visual learner, it's a nice starting point to combine with the books, Developer's edition, etc. that you see in the other responses. :
There is a lot of good advice here. I will specifically echo that unless you are on an extremely tight budget, developer edition is worth it. I know some will disagree with me, but I also personally recommend pursuing a certification. I find that preparing for certification helps give a structure to my study and can help keep me on track. A certification can also be valuable on your resume early in your SQL career when you do not have much directly relevant work experience to list. But I know some will disagree with me, that some companies do not care at all about certifications, and that certifications generally stop mattering once you have some real experience, so it varies. Finally, I would suggest eventually learning at least the basics of at least one other programming or scripting language after you have learned the basics of SQL Server. Having at least one other one will give you a way to automate things that can't (or are very awkward to) do inside of SQL, which can be a big time saver. It will also give you a better understanding of what the developers that you will be working with are doing. It is no secret that I am fan of [Python], but for many DBAs either C# or [PowerShell] may be more practical. If your goal is to become a DBA, another language outside of SQL is definitely secondary and should come later, but I think it is a huge advantage. :