Why and How to Learn SQL

Whether you’re keeping track of your vast Pokémon card collection or categorizing users on a global social media platform, knowing how to manage and query a database is invaluable. Organizing, indexing, adding, removing, and deleting — these are some of the most prevalent verbs in data management. Data is the biggest thing on the internet right now and we’re seeing more and more demand for it everywhere we go.

Anyone who wants a piece of that sweet data action needs to start by learning SQL.

What is SQL?

SQL (pronounced “sequel”) stands for Structured Query Language, but unlike Java, Python, or C++, it’s typically not a procedural language (i.e. where you write a string of commands in a certain order to complete a task; see PL/SQL for more on that). Instead, SQL is a language that communicates with table-based databases to find, add, delete, or modify information.

Many people confuse SQL with Microsoft’s SQL Server, or MSSQL. Microsoft did popularize SQL in the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially since they included the SQL acronym in their product name. However, several competing products, such as Oracle DB, have used SQL as an ANSI- and ISO-compliant language since the 1970s and 1980s.

The more you know, huh?

 

Why learn SQL?

Perhaps you don’t think your job requires “coding,” or maybe some gatekeeping developer on Twitter told you to learn one of the procedural languages instead. But if you are in a technical data position or want to work for an organization that uses SQL databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, or many others, you will want to learn SQL.

And nowadays it’s extraordinarily likely that any organization you work for will keep their records in an online database, so if they have a SQL-based database (a good chance, as it’s one of the most widely-used database management systems), SQL knowledge allows you to perform advanced database analytics, present rich data visualizations, build and deploy on-premises and cloud solutions, and protect your organization’s data.

Though there are many different query languages, SQL is the most widely used. Databases that don’t use SQL include are called “NoSQL” or “No SQL” databases because, well, there’s no SQL to be found. You can learn more about NoSQL databases, like MongoDB, DynamoDB, and Cassandra on Wikipedia.

 

What jobs require SQL?

You can go into a position that’s very SQL-specific like a SQL developer or SQL server database administrator, or if you are in positions like a data scientist, ETL developer, business intelligence administrator, cloud database expert, or big data architect, SQL will be extremely valuable, if not completely necessary.

If you’re at an entry-level IT position or want to be, learning SQL is highly recommended. Even IT administrators use databases, or may be in the position of keeping database servers online. Software developers also write a lot of SQL for applications that interact with SQL-based relational databases. Even if you run a WordPress blog, you’ll probably end up needing to know some SQL.

The most SQL-heavy jobs you’ll find on the market are called DBAs or Database Administrators. “DBA” is a generic term for the role of supporting or maintaining a database. So, unless you see “Microsoft DBA” or “Oracle DBA,” you could end up supporting one or more competing SQL products in the same role.

Try as you might, there’s just no escaping SQL if you work with online applications. It’s just that big a deal.

 

How to learn SQL

You can learn a ton of SQL just by watching tutorials on YouTube or going through basic free courses all over the web. But beware of free tutorials! Because you’re essentially learning another language (though perhaps one that’s a bit easier to grasp than high school French), it’s easy to miss out on some foundational principles or you might need to ask some questions.

This is where New Horizons comes in. (You had to know  it was coming… Right? Right?)

When you sign up to learn SQL with us, you’ll start with the fundamentals: using SQL as a tool to retrieve information, organizing your data, modifying a table structure, and indexing tables. As you learn, you’ll pick up skills like data modeling, advanced table designs, optimizing indexes, and implementing SQL data warehouses.

Our SQL Server courses provide in-depth SQL Server training to everyone from entry-level IT professionals to database developers to data scientists and business intelligence professionals. 

 

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Author: Ellis Fitch
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