From SQL DBA to BI Developer: Where to start?

Javier Javier   Apr 21, 2021 · 6 mins read
From SQL DBA to BI Developer: Where to start?
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All roads lead to Rome. This is a famous proverb of medieval origin that tells us that many roads or ways that lead to the same goal.

I want to explain to you that you can follow many paths to pursue the goals and get the achievements that you aspire to.

I started my data career as an Oracle Application Support many years ago. On the road, I got my experiences working with multiple developers and DBAs. I found it super interesting and helpful because I have learned many things from them, such as different ways to achieve my goals, and how to have a built-in a criticized voice if the code that I am developing is correct and the best way to solve a problem.

When I decided to write this post, I was thinking of how to help Junior DBAs and data professionals in their journey to a better career and how to move from the Database Administration or Support roles to roles in the Business Intelligence(BI) world.

In my opinion, you need to understand the foundation concepts of business intelligence, not only the know-how to create reports or coding SQL you need to understand data modeling.

The Business Intelligence developer needs to be a person with the following skills:

  1. Very good knowledge of SQL Coding and understand how to write efficient queries.
  2. Understand the software lifecycle and knowledge of programming languages.
  3. Warehousing and ETL data modeling.
  4. Batch and massive data movements.
  5. Power BI or another vizualization tool.

Handling those concepts in your toolbelt you will become a great BI Developer, but the path to learning about these concepts and tools is another important part of your career.


Before making my career move to the BI area, I was trying to understand what a BI Developer does? What are their responsibilities and duties? A mentor was the key to understanding these questions.

Five years ago had a significant influence on my BI path. My boss was a great mentor.

Mentor-next-academy-unsplash Photo by NEXT Academy on Unsplash

When I explained to him about my interest in growing my career, he told me, you can have possibilities to be a better BI Developer if you can understand how the company data is flowing and how the data can help to explain things about the current and future position of the products or services of the company.

You need to understand how to give value to the information that is stored in the database; however, the essential thing that you need to know is how to explain these visualizations and how to talk with the people that make the decisions.

You need to be clear in your speech and transfer it to them. How is the company losing or gaining with its services and products?

Always try to talk clear when you explain and avoid massive visualizations that can show a narrow path or can be complex to understand.

The BI Developers or Analyst often they are great problem solvers and based on this, you need to translate your experience in visualizations and data mining to increase the leadership that you can offer, for making the right decisions, and helping others to understand the current and future events.

My mentor set my guidelines on how to move in the right direction, but the rest of the things are part of my homework to try to become a Business Intelligence professional. A mentor is a leader that shows you the way to get knowledge, but you are the person in charge of how to draw your future.

Dev communities can be a great place to learn from others what can be a kind of mentor in your career, Local IT meetups groups, PASS Summit groups, online forums like Stack Overflow, slack groups, or Twitter communities are great examples.

Online resources

When we are starting to learn about some new programming language or new skills, we are wondering where you can find a suitable course or resource to learn about that?

The simple answer most of the time is the internet. However, the internet is a big ocean to dive into without any direction.

Stack Overflow

An excellent place to start is the developer communities, where we can find professionals answering questions, and you can check the answer valuation that other developers in the community give to this person. When you have identified two or three gurus you can move forward to follow them in the community, blogs, or social networks.

In my particular case, I have some preference to look into the Stack Overflow communities to look for a great professional sharing his knowledge. The next step on developer communities is starting to pull the trigger to ask questions about doubts or issues that you have, and trying to answer questions that others have.

Doing it will give you some experience dealing with real issues with real scenarios, even if your answer is not the best approach you will learn about other methods or ideas from developers with different experiences than you.


My experience with this online course platform is amazing, I started to use Pluralsight when Microsoft gave me a free subscription for 3 months. Sincerely, you can find on this site multiple data courses that can help you improve your knowledge.

Power BI Courses:

Getting started with Power BI - Stacia Misner Varga.
Getting Started with DAX Formulas in Power BI, Power Pivot, and SSAS - 
Eugene Meidinger. Highly recommend this course to start to understand and work with DAX formulas.

Analysis Services

Organizational BI with SSAS 2012 Tabular - Bill Pearson. This is a great introduction to the Analysis Services.

Data Warehouse

Introduction to Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence - Robert Cain. A classic of the BI Warehouse courses. Designing a Data Warehouse on the Microsoft SQL Server Platform - Anna Voicu

Integration Services

Dimensional Modeling on the Microsoft SQL Server Platform - Christopher Smith.

Other sites to learn to find good in-depth courses with practical labs are:

  • DataCamp - Visual Studio Dev Essentials benefits include two months of free subscription.
  • - Free
  • SQLServerCentral has a good collection of stairways that can be a good point to read and understand concepts of DAX, MDX, BIML.

In particular, I would like to recommend the

I hope this brief post can be a help in your path to becoming a great Business Intelligence developer from SQL DBA role or from any role that you have now.

The Business Intelligence area is so big and offers many ways to be successful the most important part here is for you to have the desire to be successful.

You can follow me on @DataSlugger for more articles and news of the data community.

I would thank you for reading my post. See you

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Written by Javier Follow
Hi, I am Javier, a data professional, former baseball player, love to explore new ideas and I'm passionate to write. I hope you like this personal project life!