Eight Ways to Advance Your SQL Developer Career

By Robert Half on May 22, 2015 at 4:37pm

As a SQL developer, you’ve no doubt spent countless hours helping your organization gain faster access to the data it needs to solve complex problems and uncover new business opportunities. If you want to advance your career as a SQL developer, however, you can’t rest on your laurels.

You need to seek out ways to stretch your abilities further and deliver even more value to the business. Here are eight ways you can do it:

  1. Consider the entire picture. Escape the box of queries and code. Think about the solution from end to end. What kind of system resources do you have to work with? Do you have thousands of SQL instances to manage? Optimize your database for that environment and standardize your configurations to maximize efficiency.
  2. Help demystify databases. Management usually needs assistance understanding databases, and how the business can use them more effectively. Help drive innovation by creating a diagram that will help nontechnical decision makers understand where data is being collected from, how it is being stored, and how databases are interconnected.
  3. Use metrics to demonstrate efficiency. Stand apart from old-school developers who like to keep their cards close to their chest: Embrace metrics transparency. Sharing data can build a common vision, and shows management how the databases you develop are creating value for the organization.
  4. Prepare for audits. If your database contains sensitive information, you’ll be part of an audit at some point. Get ahead of the curve by setting up audit tables and deploying tools that monitor access to the database. (This not only will impress management and auditors, it will help to save you some stress.)
  5. Manage indexes. One of the first things you learned as a SQL developer is that indexing a database can yield incredible performance improvements. Take care to choose the right index for your data and the performance impact could be even greater.
  6. Protect production. If you have a testing environment, you’re already on your way to keeping errors from getting into production. But be careful: Test servers often aren’t as protected as the production environment — and hackers know this. If production data used in a test is leaked it could cause nightmares for the organization. So protect test data with the same measures used for production, like firewalls and encryption, or use dummy or anonymized data.
  7. Understand OWASP. The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) is more than a buzzword for SQL developers. You need to understand each item in the OWASP top 10 vulnerabilities list and how the SQL environment you’re working in might be affected. SQL injection, cross-site scripting and cross-site request forgeries are just a few common methods for exploiting web-based applications. Fixing these issues during the design phase instead of after the application is in production can save the business both time and money.
  8. Focus on business intelligence. More organizations are using advanced analytical capabilities to drive better business decision making and create strategic opportunities. Be proactive about finding ways to help the business derive actionable business intelligence from its big data faster and more efficiently.

Whether you’re considering a management track or looking to become another type of data specialist, doing any of the above is likely to help you impress your current or a potential employer. These efforts will demonstrate that you’re a SQL developer who is willing to go the extra mile to help the organization realize the maximum potential of its data.

Our Salary Guide can help you find SQL developer salary ranges in your city:

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