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Career Advice Databases

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by Cyndre, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Cyndre

    Cyndre New Member

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    Hi,

    I'm looking for some advice on how to progress with training and career development in my job.
    I was given a project to develop a fuel management system using excel that could replicate the functionality of a program they were phasing out.

    It took me ages to learn the operators and find vba scripts to do it but when it worked I really enjoyed it. The system is now used departmentally and suddenly I'm the departments expert on all things excel though I'd say I'm just an intermedtiate user.

    I was then given training but some of the companies experts on how to access and trouble shoot issues in the Oracle DB they use and this really sparked my interest as I really enjoyed it.
    I started looking at access to change the excel system we are using to access but have not made much progress as I don't really know much about access use.

    What I've realised is I really enjoy working with databases and building applications from them though I have no programming experience.
    My company seems to be asking more and more to do things beyond my current skill level leading me to try find answers on the internet but I'd love to formally train myself to do this on my own.

    What I'd really appreciate is what certifications or path should I follow to properly develop the skills needed to develop database driven applications and interfaces and where to start?

    I have worked in IT before doing hardware engineering but nothing really software.

    Any advice would be really appreciated.
     
  2. Cyndre

    Cyndre New Member

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    I've been seriously looking into this and found their are basically two things I need to do.

    1st is to do a MOS:Access 2010 Expert to aid me with my immediate work and I saw a course on reed learning that covers this (would work in conjunction with the Access 2010 Missing manual I bought).
    Anyone had any experience with their courses or this one in particular?

    2nd is to do an MTA Database Administration Fundamentals but from what I see this is mostly taught as an addendum to degree studies and I can't find any reliable and reputable UK distance learning course.
    Again anyone know of any I could look at?
     
  3. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    Welcome to the forums first off.

    Sorry to start on a wrong foot, but two things here boil my blood. So I might as well get them off my chest:

    Firstly, something written in excel isn't a "System", its an overly complicated spreadsheet. If more than one person is using the excel sheet for this, then I would strongly encourage you to get it off that ASAP. Excel isn't great at multiple people accessing it simultaneously, and just isn't designed to be a database system.

    Secondly, MS Access is an abomination! Steer as far away from it as possible. Dont use it for your application back ends. It isn't a database in the real sense of the word, and leads to sloppy development. If I had my way, every single instance of Access in my company would be revoked. The number of "Systems" we see written in Access by people who think they can program, but actually cant is astonishing. And once those people leave, we are left to support and develop this atrocity.

    [/rant]

    Anyway, as you can guess from my previous paragraphs, I would strongly recommend avoiding Access as your route into Database Admin/Development.

    First off, you need to decide whether you want to be more of a developer or an administrator. The difference is fairly fundamental, and will determine your route. A Developer will use a database, and write applications (in .Net, or another development language) that reads, writes, and manipulates that data. Developers primarily need to know how to interact with the database to create tables, foreign keys, views, etc in order to store and manipulate the data related to the application.

    If you want to go down this route, then you need to be thinking more about learning to program. Since you have VBA experience from excel, you might find starting with VB.Net is a good starting point, as it will expand on similar syntax. Once you have some experience with it, you need to start looking for jobs that will take you in as a junior to get you more experience (or make use of the development in your current place of work).

    Database Admins tend to deal more with high level intricacies of a Database (installation of the database on a server, backup planning and maintenance, disaster recovery, etc). Usually, you will find this type of work to be segregated off from the developers (not always, but often). If this is what you want to do, then it may be more difficult to get into. You can find a basic level admin course that teaches you the basics, but without proven experience you may find that people won't give you a chance. You may just need to find a junior equivalent job that will teach you everything you need to know (or go down the developer route for a while and try to build the experience).

    In either case, I would strongly recommend using a "proper" database to build your skills on. The two most common (in my view) databases in use are MS SQL Server, and Oracle. Both have their strong points and negative points (I think Oracle tends to come out on top, but we're primarily an Oracle house here, so I'm biased), and both have free version that you can make use of. Depending on your needs, this should suffice for starters. You can find many courses around that will teach you the basics of both, and plenty of books that will help you out.

    In any case, I would suggest that you pick up some books on the area you want to look into and get familiar with it all, before splashing out on courses/exams.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  4. Cyndre

    Cyndre New Member

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    Don't worrying about the rant I'd rather be told I'm doing it wrong and get it right than waste my time on skills that will have no relevance.

    The excel was initially set as a requirement by my company and I built the sheet up by learning what I needed online on macro's operators etc to meet the departments criteria for a logging system that could also produce macro'ed reports for hauliers, management etc.
    It is in doing so I've come to realise it is woefully equipped for what I was asked to do but also sparked my interest in this field.

    Access seemed a logical starting point because tbh I don't really know any better and the company provide the software, pretty much everything I am doing is off my own back. But they did provide me a recent opportunity to work with the companies oracle database and it is this which I've been using as my backend with access via I think an ODBC connection.

    What I want to do is go from having to research online and ad hoc it to properly understanding what I am doing and produce robust and effective applications using the oracle db for the department.
    So from what you said I'm guessing this would put me into the developer category.

    Now I'm hoping I've grasped this right but to accomplish my aims and also build up some marketable skills would I be right in saying I need to learn and qualify with:

    VB.Net for application development
    Oracle DB and SQL for the database elements

    Like you say I want to get this right and use my time and resources productively but also keep my job :P whilst developing professional and certifiable skill.
    I'd be very grateful if you could confirm if I'm now on the right track for my needs.

    Again thankyou, your reply was really helpful.
     
  5. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    There's really not "Right" way (These are just my opinions). (On a side note, using Access as the front end with an Oracle back end is way better than just using Access, but I would still avoid it if I could).

    If your company has an existing oracle instance that you can create a database inside, then yes I would suggest that is the best route. It's better to learn on what you have available, than what you might one day get to use.

    This might help you get started (although it is for an earlier version of .Net, it should still suffice). It will help show you how to interact with the Oracle database from VB.

    I would pick up the Express edition of Visual Studio (as it's free). This will start you off developing in the VS environment.
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present
  6. Cyndre

    Cyndre New Member

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    Again thank you that looks exactly like what I should be developing towards.
    Only one other question, would Java be worthwhile looking into as well?
     
  7. Fergal1982

    Fergal1982 Petabyte Poster

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    If it interests you, sure.

    I know almost nothing of Java, and only a little more of Javascript. It's just another language though, and seems to share some similar traits to C#. As a developer, being able to code in several languages is never a bad thing.

    I wouldn't focus on too many things at once though, try to get the general development down on one language before you start expanding your repetoire
     
    Certifications: ITIL Foundation; MCTS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
    WIP: None at present

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