How Do You Handle the Stress of Being a DBA?

This is a reprint of my editorial at There is a lively discussion at the SSC forum on this topic, or feel free to comment here.

While being a DBA has many benefits, it can also be a job with many stressful drawbacks. Some of them that come to mind include:

  • As the organization’s protector of the data, DBAs often have great responsibility. A careless mistake could potentially cost your organization thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars (and your job).
  • Many DBAs don’t work typical 40 hour weeks. Many work weeknights, weekends, and holidays, all without any overtime pay.
  • Getting called at home in the middle of the night or on weekends, and often having to come into the office to fix a problem.
  • While one crisis at a time is enough for anyone, there are often situations where multiple crises occur at the same time, creating a very hectic environment.
  • Getting blamed for problems that are beyond your control, such as the poor performance of a badly-designed, mission-critical application.
  • Being told to do one thing by one manager, but then being told to do something different by another manager.
  • Being assigned a project without the necessary resources and time to complete it successfully.
  • Having developers give you a bad time because you are trying to enforce best practices and to protect the integrity of the organization’s data.
  • As a DBA, you often see a bigger picture of how IT works than others, giving you a great perspective on how to make things better, but only to have your ideas for improvements ignored.
  • And on and on.

While you may not have experience all of these drawbacks, I am sure you have experienced some of them. So my question to you is: What’s the best way to deal with the inevitable stress of being a DBA? Are you the type of individual who thrives on stress, do you just tough it out, do you take action to reduce stress as much as possible, or do you have other ways of relieving stress? Please share with us how you cope with the stress of being a DBA.

4 thoughts on “How Do You Handle the Stress of Being a DBA?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Do You Handle the Stress of Being a DBA? | SQL Aloha --

  2. I do my best to control the “fist of death” …

    Actually, I have hobbies and pets that function well as de-stressors. After a rough day at work, a little “goat therapy” in the barn, followed by a glass (or two) of wine work quite well. So does spending several hours in my sewing room creating interesting garments to wear.

    Sexy lingerie underneath my work clothes also help me keep my cool … and no, I won’t show you them. 😉

  3. Caffeine, baby. Caffeine. I don’t suffer from the stress – I enjoy every minute of it.

    Buck, You are the only person I know who “really” thrives on stress. 😉

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