My (belated) US$0.02...Back in the 1980s, I worked for a company that had built some really cool applications in the area of travel reservations. Eventually, the travel providers (i.e. airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, etc) caught on to what we were doing and did it themselves, effectively putting us out of business overnight. So, it came time to sell the company off in pieces. We tried to sell the applications, but nobody wanted them -- they had their own, or could buy or build better. We sold the hardware and facilities, but for pennies on the dollar. Then, when we tried to sell the data, we hit the jackpot -- everybody wanted the data, and we were able to sell it over and over again, to multiple buyers.
I never forgot that lesson, and several years later traded being a programmer for being a DBA because (as Michael just said, below) I like working with data. Data, not programs, is the only thing that matters -- applications are transient and have no value except to acquire, manipulate, and display data. Data is the only thing with value. The long-term value of data is the reason I've moved toward data warehousing and business intelligence, too.
Data is important. Databases manage data. DBAs architect, configure, and manage databases. So, being a skilled database administrator will always be necessary as long as data exists. If the state of the art ceases advancing, then automation will finally catch up to extinguish the DBA role/job. But until then, being a DBA is a career.
I have one kid starting college this year, and another in 3 years. I figure on staying in this industry at least another 15 years, to get to the point where I can sleep late, bicycle, snowboard, and travel all the time. The only way to make those all into good years is to work like crazy to retain past lessons, learn new things, share them, and make things happen. It's worked for over 20 years, so I hope it'll work for another 15...
Michael McMullen wrote:
"Get a permanent job instead of contract gigs and first time one hits a work problem, try to solve it instead of running away to another gig." This doesn't sound like Oracle DBA future more like somebody's bitter past. For me, I became a DBA because I like working with data in its' raw form, (ie I don't like building pretty apps), and I also like solving problems. I think there will always be a job in getting people their data, whether that is a DBA or not, I don't know. -- http://www.freelists.org/webpage/oracle-l