When people that are not somehow related to computers ask me what I do - I tell them I'm a programmer. This profession has become enough of a commodity in the last years, so that there everyone know what a programmer looks like. The knowledgeable ones ask in which language I do my programming. Then it gets tricky.

-"Well you see, I'm not really a programmer, I'm actually a DBA!"
-"What's a D'bah?"

Now it's down to two options:

  1. Explain what databases are, and what part they take in the products they know and love. Explain why it is different from programming, and why you have a specific person to do it. Dive into the implicit and explicit duties and responsibilities of a DBA, and describe how a person in this spot interacts with the development team and management.
    Usually this a great choice if you want to be left alone or be met with bored looks.
  2. Say "It's like playing with Lego for money." or "It's like herding data."

How can you explain that being a DBA is different from being a programmer? Maybe it shouldn't be? What really defines a DBA's role?
The answer is the typical and classic reply you'll usually get from a DBA: "Well, that depends".

I'll try and go into more detail about this in another post.

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