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Don Burleson Blog 








Becoming an Oracle expert

Oracle Database Tips by Donald Burleson

Also, see these important related notes on becoming an Oracle guru, how to get an Oracle DBA job, how Oracle DBA jobs will be different in the year 2020 and Oracle DBA job duties. Also, many folks ask how much is a college degree worth?

What is the benefit of purchasing a Oracle Database: SQL Certified Expert certificate?

The term "expert" is used with abandon in the database industry and many people complain that there cannot possible be so many "experts" in Oracle technology.  I disagree. 

Can you be an Expert without experience?

The word "expert" shares its roots with the word "experience", and I don't think that the OCE exam requires evidence of work experience. Back in Oracle7 days, the Chauncey Oracle7 Certified DBA program required a signed statement from your employer, to warrant that the candidate had enough experience to be considered an "expert" in Oracle database administration.

The brilliant cartoonist Wiley Miller makes this point that you cannot be an expert without experience in his award-winning comic strip Non Sequitur:

Oracle is the world's most robust and flexible database, yet the complexity of Oracle is not rocket science and anyone with a decade of real-word Oracle experience is likely to be an Oracle expert. 

Let's examine what it takes to rightfully call yourself an Oracle expert.

The criteria for the title of "Oracle Expert"

In my humble opinion, it's difficult not to become an Oracle expert after a decade of full-time experience.  However, it's the nature of the experience that matters most:

  • Real-world experience - The path to true Oracle expertise is paved with working on real-world, mission-critical Oracle databases.  No amount of at-home experimentation can compare with the learning from working on a real production database.  Many aspiring Oracle experts will work for free for non-profit charities in order to get this experience.

  • Quality experience - There is a wide variation in the quality of experience in the Oracle workplace.  Not all experience is created equal, and a challenging high-performance database job will provide far more expertise exposure than baby-sitting a stable database.

  • Broad experience - A broad base with many different types of Oracle database is essential for developing expert status.  I've been in shops with over 20 DBA's, where job duties are highly segmented and Oracle professionals are relegated to "niche" work, like security administration, or full-time patch application.  On the other hand, a single DBA is more likely to get a broader range of experience.  The best place to get experience is as an Oracle consultant where you are exposed to dozens of novel databases each year.  A well-rounded Oracle DBA will have experience in many areas including OLTP, OLAP and batch databases.

We see these general types of Oracle databases, and an Oracle expert should have exposure to these types of Oracle databases:

What type of Oracle expert are you?

Today, Oracle technology has become so broad that we see areas of expertise emerging.  We also see these common "types" of specialty Oracle DBA's, each with their own specialized areas of expertise.  Again, 10 years of real-world full-time experience is enough to fully master these areas:

  • Oracle replication expert - Experience with multi-master replication, Data Guard and Streams can make you an expert at Oracle replication.

  • Oracle RAC expert - Experience deploying production OPS and RAC database is all it takes to garner Oracle RAC expert status.

  • Oracle tuning expert - Many large Oracle shops have DBA's who specialize in performance optimization, instance tuning and SQL tuning.

  • Oracle warehouse expert - These Oracle DBA experts have experience with VLDB administration (partitioning), Oracle OLAP tools (Discoverer, Oracle warehouse Builder (OWB), and Oracle Data Mining (ODM)).

  • Oracle apps DBA expert - These Oracle DBA's handle the Oracle Application Server, Oracle 11i eBusiness suite, and the concurrent manager.

In sum, becoming an Oracle expert requires three things, real-world experience, broad experience and quality experience.

What about OCP certification?

I don't believe that OCP or OCM certification, by itself, makes anyone an Oracle expert.  I've worked with dozens of "newly-minted" OCP holders, many of whom take the OCP test to advance from a position as an Oracle developer of programmer.  The OCP only measures rote memorization skills, and many brand-new Oracle DBA's are not capable of managing a real-world Oracle database without hands-on experience.

Next, see my notes on becoming an Oracle guru.

If you like Oracle tuning, see the book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.



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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

Verify experience! Anyone considering using the services of an Oracle support expert should independently investigate their credentials and experience, and not rely on advertisements and self-proclaimed expertise. All legitimate Oracle experts publish their Oracle qualifications.

Errata?  Oracle technology is changing and we strive to update our BC Oracle support information.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback.  Just  e-mail:  

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