How to Learn SQL Skills (With Tips and Career Opportunities)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Interacting with modern databases is common in technology careers and requires structured query language (SQL) skills. Professionals with advanced SQL competencies can sort and analyze data more efficiently, a valuable trait in employees. If you want to pursue a career that involves database management, then understanding the best way to learn this language can help you prepare. In this article, we define structured query language, detail how to learn SQL, share tips on learning the language, and list careers that rely on SQL.

What is SQL?

Exploring how to learn SQL starts with understanding the definition of structured query language (SQL). It's the standard programming language for developing and maintaining databases that use relational architecture. Relational structures rely on a series of matrices that comprise columns and rows of data. The columns categorize the data while the queried row sets parameters to collate the data to a point of relativity. An example of SQL is a client database, where the column is usually a list of names and the row consists of location data.

How to learn SQL

SQL is a straightforward language that requires little programming experience to begin your studies. You can use the following steps as a guideline when considering how to learn SQL:

1. Start with the basics

The first step when learning SQL is to begin with the fundamentals by ensuring that you understand the SQL process. You may download an SQL program that allows you to use the developer and keep the rights to your databases. Using the information your developer service can provide a basic understanding of how to use the database system.

Read more: How to Become a Freelance Software Developer in 9 Steps

2. Study online

There are many resources available online to provide you with SQL knowledge ranging from fundamental to advanced. Using your developer software, you may complete various tutorials and practise alongside the videos. Many tutorials offer interactive training, while others require a separate development program to run simultaneously. You can also keep a record of the lessons you learn using an SQL database to develop your portfolio.

3. Take an official course

Many employers value an official SQL credential and you can earn this certificate through Oracle, the designer of SQL. The company offers several credentials, such as the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Certificate. Oracle is the company that establishes SQL standards through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and operates as the industry-standard for this programming language. The official course provides informational authority that adds to the value of the credential, both to the student and to prospective employers.

4. Practice with a database

Once you complete the course, you may practise your skills using advanced tutorials and experimentation. To get experience, you can pursue internships in database management to gain a practical understanding of SQL in the workplace. With this experience, you can pursue freelance work on SQL projects. Practising your SQL while working lets you add to your resume and maintain current skills.

Read more: A Guide to SQL Interview Questions and Sample Answers

5. Advance your skills

SQL is a fundamental programming language that provides the information necessary to pursue other computing languages, such as C++ and JavaScript. By developing more programming skills, you can improve your resume and become a more hireable candidate for database-related positions.

While you diversify your programming skills, you can also remain current with SQL best practices and techniques. The technology originated in the 1970s, entered the open market in 2016, and since inspired other query languages such as language integrated queries (LINQ) and resource description framework (RDF) queries, so understanding SQL can also show your appreciation of the history of programming development.

Tips on learning SQL

Learning SQL is a popular way to begin to program as the language is highly prevalent in the technology sector. It can lead to other languages or qualify you for work in database administration and development. Some tips for learning this relational query language include:

Setting clear objectives

You may start by determining whether you plan to learn SQL to advance in your current career or to pursue a different job. Next, you can set a realistic timeline for learning it, considering your level of coding experience and available time. Establishing specific goals and creating a plan to achieve them, including a list of resources and a schedule, can also help you commit to learning SQL.

Practising frequently

One reason SQL remains so popular is that once you create a database using this type of development technology, you own the rights to that database. This can allow you to practise regularly by maintaining existing databases and remaining up to date on new query methods. The platform also encourages user interaction and can help you improve your programming skills through trial and error.

Learning best practices

Using SQL in the workplace requires you to understand the best practices to follow with the programming language. A career in programming requires diligent maintenance of your code through proper syntax and strong writing habits. If you take the extra time to develop proper programming form when you learn SQL, it can help you professionally by improving your overall skill set and fostering consistency.

Understanding error codes

Programming involves implementing code that sometimes results in errors. Studying SQL requires a thorough understanding of error codes so that you can troubleshoot issues and correct them quickly. There are hundreds of potential errors that may relate to either the column data, row data, or both. These issues can range from simply missing a punctuation mark to login credential security issues. Learning how to identify and repair SQL code issues starts with an understanding of error codes in this programming language.

Read more: Popular Web Developer Interview Questions (With Examples and Answers)

Learn database systems

SQL refers to a specific type of query language, and you can find it hosted through different database systems. Among the options are MySQL, Oracle, and IBM, each with unique features that work better for certain purposes. For example, some systems suit large-scale data analysis, while others store and organize client information for small businesses. Understanding different development systems can help you determine the best SQL solutions in the workplace.

Read more: How to Become a Database Administrator (With Average Salary)

Engage in coding challenges

To maintain your programming abilities, you can participate in coding challenges online. SQL development programs typically supply advanced challenges to encourage query language development. Skill-testing programs provide instructions and a clear result for you to target. Many sites let you network, challenge other programmers, and gain skills you can use to grow your career.

Employ a code editing software

Most programming languages require a code editor, and while SQL can operate independently of one, it's still best to use an editor. Most software is compatible with the standard SQL development software, which you can use to program databases efficiently. It also highlights any errors and encourages best practices by suggesting fixes. Beginners can use basic, front-end software such as Interactive SQL for Oracle. Advanced users can rely on multi-platform editors that work with universal databases.

5 careers involving SQL

Learning SQL can qualify you for many positions, including these five career opportunities:

1. IT support

National average salary: $49,856 per year

Primary duties: IT support staff install and configure computer systems for companies of all sizes. They set up hardware and software for staff, maintain the system through routine updates, and solve technical issues in the workplace. Companies that use relational databases rely on IT support to perform system administration using SQL.

2. Database specialist

National average salary: $55,203 per year

Primary duties: Database specialists convert physical records into digital formats, usually relying on SQL technology to create the infrastructure for the data storage. The specialists oversee the process of converting hard copy records into a database. They perform quality assurance tasks to ensure the accuracy of the information and its proper filing within the database.

3. Database administrator

National average salary: $70,055 per year

Primary duties: A database administrator monitors databases to ensure efficiency and informational security. They build databases to store data efficiently while collating it using a range of variables. These administrators work with a software team on special projects, such as data analysis or creating redundancies.

4. SQL developer

National average salary: $83,285 per year

Primary duties: SQL developers use Oracle technology to provide business solutions, including data organization, retrieval, maintenance, and storage. They create system architecture to optimize data analysis, security, and storage efficiency. These developers routinely test and update the systems to improve functionality and integrate the SQL architecture with other applications.

5. Data warehouse engineer

National average salary: $54.16 per hour

Primary duties: Data warehouse engineers work with developers and IT professionals to create safe, effective data storage infrastructure. These professionals create strategies to achieve business goals, including choosing programming languages and implementing databases. Data warehouse engineers help ensure data accuracy, process its efficient extraction, and uphold informational security protocols.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organization‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌ ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌, ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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