SQL Server Pros Stay the Course

Even as SQL Server pros tackle the sweeping changes of SQL Server 2005, the profile of the database pro remains constant.

2005 has been a year of significant change for SQL Server professionals. Facing the launch of SQL Server 2005, which has been looming for most of this year, and the fundamental changes it brings to SQL Server, SQL Server professionals indicate that their salaries and careers are holding fairly steady, according to the results of SQL Server Magazine's 2005 salary and industry survey. This comprehensive survey gathered data from 775 respondents and examined the multifaceted work environment of the SQL Server professional.

Through hundreds of responses, the survey sought answers about how SQL Server professionals are paid; how factors such as gender, age, geography, job role, certification, and education affect salary differences; and how these issues compared with last year's results. For our detailed findings on how salaries stack up to expectations, see Jason Bovberg's article "How Much Cash Are You Raking In?" page 15.The survey was also designed to determine how satisfied you are with your job and how that satisfaction compares with last year's levels. Be sure to check out the results in Dawn Cyr's article "It's What You Make IT," page 23.

Who Is the SQL Server Professional?

Based on this year's survey, the face of the SQL Server professional is virtually unchanged from last year.The typical SQL Server professional is a thirty-something white male. He probably has the title Database Administrator on his business card and an office on the East Coast where he spends an average of 44.8 hours a week.This IT professional holds a bachelor's degree, has 6 to 10 years of experience in database development or administration, and has been at his current job for an average of 5.7 years.

Although this year's survey shows a slight increase in the Asian ethnicity category (likely because of a 2 percent increase in responses from the Asia and Pacific regions), the overall survey population shows little change in gender or diversity from last year's survey. Women represent 13 percent of respondents. (For more information about survey participants' views about female database professionals, see the sidebar "IT Needs Women!" page 24, in "It's What You Make It.") As Figure 1 highlights, males continue to dominate the IT and SQL Server job market, constituting 87 percent of 2005 respondents (widening the gap 1 percent from last year). Three-quarters of respondents are white, 16 percent are Asian, 4 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and 2 percent are black or African American.A total of 12 respondents fall into the mixed-race, American Indian or Alaska native, and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander categories.

The majority of respondents (45 percent) are between 30 and 39 years old. And the median age of our respondents appears to have increased by just a little more than 1 year. Last year the median age of respondents was 37.8 compared with an average age of 39.1 this year.And 11 percent are under 30 (down 5 percentage points from last year), 31 percent fall into the 40 to 49 category, (28 percent in 2004), and 12 percent reported that their age is between 50 and 59 years old (a 4 percent increase from last year).

What's in a Name?

In reviewing last year's results, we weren't surprised to see that 90 percent of respondents are working full time as IT professionals (91 percent in 2004), and 83 percent said they're performing the same job responsibilities as they were at this time last year. Of the 132 respondents whose responsibilities have changed, 32 percent left their jobs to pursue opportunities at other companies, but almost as many (30 percent) were promoted within their companies.

Clearly, DBA is the primary job title and job function for the largest percentage (37 percent) of respondents. Figure 2 ranks the 10 most common job titles identified by participants. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed have spent 6 to 10 years working with SQL Server. Although job titles and responsibilities vary, most participants spend the majority of their time on database administration, followed closely by database development and database modeling and design, as you can see in Figure 2.A significant number of respondents (765) are programming in their job. Ninety percent use T-SQL?not surprisingly. More than half use VBScript (52 percent), followed by Active Server Pages (ASP)/ ASP.NET, (46 percent), and Visual Basic .NET andVisual Basic (VB) 6.0 (44 percent each). VB 6.0 saw the largest decrease (10 percent) over last year, and C# made a 6 percent gain.

Most respondents typically work between 40 and 50 hours a week. The remainder of those surveyed is split, with 20 percent working more than 50 hours per week and 25 percent working less than a 40-hour week.And how much of that work time do respondents spend in the office, as opposed to working from home? Being present at the office remains the standard for most SQL Server professionals.The majority of survey participants (55 percent) spend between 40 and 50 hours a week in the office, and 55 percent spend an additional 1 to 10 hours a week working at home. A quarter of respondents report they don't work while at home. And when out of the office, 43 percent of survey participants say they aren't on call, 31 percent spend 1 to 10 hours per week on call, and 19 percent (down 5 percent from last year) are on call more than 10 hours. See the section "Increasing that Paycheck!" in "How Much Cash Are You Raking In?" to see whether any of these factors (as well as education or certification) really have an influence on your salary.

Staying Ahead of the Pack

Half of all respondents hold a bachelor's degree (up 13 percent from last year), 24 percent have a master's degree (versus 20 percent last year), and 11 percent have an associate's degree (versus 8 percent last year). Twenty-nine percent of you are Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs), and 20 percent have Microsoft Certified DBA (MCDBA) certification.Another 34 percent plan to complete the MCDBA in the next 12 to 24 months. However, 58 percent hold no additional certifications, and 49 percent have no plans to obtain Microsoft certification in the next 1 to 2 years. See "Increasing that Paycheck!" for more analysis of how education and certification affect salary.

So what about continuing education?Well, an overwhelming number of you are reading to stay current (good news for us!),as opposed to most other options.As Figure 3 shows, the majority of you read books and magazines and surf the Web for articles to keep abreast of industry developments and to supplement your education. In addition to reading, more than half of you attend Microsoft regional events as part of your continuing education, 40 percent attend one of this publication's SQL Server Magazine Connections conferences, and 34 percent participate in local user group events or conferences.The results give weight to free and less costly options, which could be a result of reduced training budgets.

All Over the Map

Seventy percent of survey respondents work in the United States; Figure 4 shows the distribution of US respondents by region. Twenty-seven percent of participants live along the Eastern seaboard, and another 13 percent live on the opposite side of the country. However, when we looked at responses by individual state, California took first place with an 11 percent response rate. Texas (7 percent) and NewYork (6 percent) followed, with Illinois and Florida both close behind at 5 percent.We also had respondents from Europe or Eurasia (12 percent) and East Asia and the Pacific (6 percent). Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia each represented another 2 percent of respondents. "How Much Cash Are You Raking In?" draws out these regional differences impacting compensation.

So although the data suggests little change between this year's survey results and 2004 results with regard to the profile of the SQL Server professional, keep reading. In the other feature articles in this issue, you'll learn whether compensation is balancing out the working hours and just how satisfied SQL Server pros are feeling about their profession these days.

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