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Run a dbt Cloud job on merge

This job will take a bit more to setup, but is a good example of how to call the dbt Cloud API from a CI/CD pipeline. The concepts presented here can be generalized and used in whatever way best suits your use case.

The setup below shows how to call the dbt Cloud API to run a job every time there's a push to your main branch (The branch where pull requests are typically merged. Commonly referred to as the main, primary, or master branch, but can be named differently).

1. Get your dbt Cloud API key

When running a CI/CD pipeline you’ll want to use a service token instead of any individual’s API key. There are detailed docs available on this, but below is a quick rundown (this must be performed by an Account Admin):

  • Login to your dbt Cloud account
  • In the upper left, click the menu button, then Account Settings
  • Click Service Tokens on the left
  • Click New Token to create a new token specifically for CI/CD API calls
  • Name your token something like “CICD Token”
  • Click the +Add button under Access, and grant this token the Job Admin permission
  • Click Save and you’ll see a grey box appear with your token. Copy that and save it somewhere safe (this is a password, and should be treated as such).

View of the dbt Cloud page where service tokens are created

Here’s a video showing the steps as well:

2. Put your dbt Cloud API key into your repo

This next part will happen in you code hosting platform. We need to save your API key from above into a repository secret so the job we create can access it. It is not recommended to ever save passwords or API keys in your code, so this step ensures that your key stays secure, but is still usable for your pipelines.

In GitHub:

  • Open up your repository where you want to run the pipeline (the same one that houses your dbt project)
  • Click Settings to open up the repository options
  • On the left click the Security dropdown
  • From that list, click on Actions
  • Towards the middle of the screen, click the New repository secret button
  • It will ask you for a name, so let’s call ours DBT_API_KEY
    • It’s very important that you copy/paste this name exactly because it’s used in the scripts below.
  • In the Value section, paste in the key you copied from dbt Cloud
  • Click Add secret and you’re all set!

* A quick note on security: while using a repository secret is the most straightforward way to setup this secret, there are other options available to you in GitHub. They’re beyond the scope of this guide, but could be helpful if you need to create a more secure environment for running actions. Checkout GitHub’s documentation on secrets here.

Here’s a video showing these steps:

3. Create script to trigger dbt Cloud job via an API call

In your dbt Cloud project, create a new folder at the root level named python. In that folder, create a file named You’ll copy/paste the contents from this gist into that file.

├── python
│ └──

This Python file has everything you need to call the dbt Cloud API, but requires a few inputs (see snip below). Those inputs are fed to this script through environment variables that will be defined in the next step.

# get environment variables
api_base = os.getenv('DBT_URL', '') # default to multitenant url
job_cause = os.getenv('DBT_JOB_CAUSE', 'API-triggered job') # default to generic message
git_branch = os.getenv('DBT_JOB_BRANCH', None) # default to None
schema_override = os.getenv('DBT_JOB_SCHEMA_OVERRIDE', None) # default to None
api_key = os.environ['DBT_API_KEY'] # no default here, just throw an error here if key not provided
account_id = os.environ['DBT_ACCOUNT_ID'] # no default here, just throw an error here if id not provided
project_id = os.environ['DBT_PROJECT_ID'] # no default here, just throw an error here if id not provided
job_id = os.environ['DBT_PR_JOB_ID'] # no default here, just throw an error here if id not provided

Required input:

In order to call the dbt Cloud API, there are a few pieces of info the script needs. The easiest way to get these values is to open up the job you want to run in dbt Cloud. The URL when you’re inside the job has all the values you need:

  • DBT_ACCOUNT_ID - this is the number just after accounts/ in the URL
  • DBT_PROJECT_ID - this is the number just after projects/ in the URL
  • DBT_PR_JOB_ID - this is the number just after jobs/ in the URL

Image of a dbt Cloud job URL with the pieces for account, project, and job highlighted

4. Update your project to include the new API call

For this new job, we’ll add a file for the dbt Cloud API call named dbt_run_on_merge.yml.

├── python
│ └──
├── .github
│ ├── workflows
│ │ └── dbt_run_on_merge.yml
│ │ └── lint_on_push.yml

The YAML file will look pretty similar to our earlier job, but there is a new section called env that we’ll use to pass in the required variables. Update the variables below to match your setup based on the comments in the file.

It’s worth noting that we changed the on: section to now run only when there are pushes to a branch named main (i.e. a PR is merge). Have a look through GitHub’s docs on these filters for additional use cases.

name: run dbt Cloud job on push

# This filter says only run this job when there is a push to the main branch
# This works off the assumption that you've restricted this branch to only all PRs to push to the default branch
# Update the name to match the name of your default branch
- 'main'


# the job calls the dbt Cloud API to run a job
name: Run dbt Cloud Job
runs-on: ubuntu-latest

# Set the environment variables needed for the run
DBT_ACCOUNT_ID: 00000 # enter your account id
DBT_PROJECT_ID: 00000 # enter your project id
DBT_PR_JOB_ID: 00000 # enter your job id
DBT_API_KEY: ${{ secrets.DBT_API_KEY }}
DBT_JOB_CAUSE: 'GitHub Pipeline CI Job'
DBT_JOB_BRANCH: ${{ github.ref_name }}

- uses: "actions/checkout@v3"
- uses: "actions/setup-python@v4"
python-version: "3.9"
- name: Run dbt Cloud job
run: "python python/"

5. Test your new action

Now that you have a shiny new action, it’s time to test it out! Since this change is setup to only run on merges to your default branch, you’ll need to create and merge this change into your main branch. Once you do that, you’ll see a new pipeline job has been triggered to run the dbt Cloud job you assigned in the variables section.

Additionally, you’ll see the job in the run history of dbt Cloud. It should be fairly easy to spot because it will say it was triggered by the API, and the INFO section will have the branch you used for this guide.

dbt run on merge job in GitHub

dbt Cloud job showing it was triggered by GitHub