In this post, we examine how you can start to learn SQL, and why it is an essential skill for managing and manipulating data – the global currency of the information age.
Developed in the early 1970’s, Structured Query Language (SQL) became the standard programming language for creating and managing relational databases. SQL is unlike the majority of other programming languages – rather than being flexible and having a wide variety of uses, SQL is designed for a very specific purpose: to access and manipulate databases. As such, SQL is the bread and butter of the database developer.
Typical functions of SQL include:
In today’s data-driven world, organizations across the globe, and in all industry sectors, do not merely use databases but are fully dependent on them for their day-to-day operations and survival. Databases enable their employees and customers to perform a wide range of transactions and enable managers to analyze data that is critical for making strategic business decisions.
This reliance on data for all facets of business operations has led to huge demand, and significant growth in salaries, for people trained and certified in SQL. With the rise of big data, this trend is not going away any time soon. Indeed, SQL expertise is essential for a variety of today’s most highly rewarded and business-critical roles – such as database developer, data architect, business analyst, data scientist, database administrator, and data analyst.
Because of its prevalence, a strong knowledge of SQL will make you a valuable asset to companies worldwide; and because of its stability and longevity, your SQL learning will stand you in good stead throughout your entire career.
As with any new skill, the best way for you to learn SQL will depend on your learning style, on how much time and money you can invest, and on your desired goals.
You can certainly begin by watching SQL tutorials or by reading textbooks. However, because SQL is a computer-based skill, it makes much more sense to learn via online SQL courses where you can practice your skills as you acquire them.
It’s also important to learn SQL from a reputable source. While free SQL courses can sound appealing, beware that they are rarely of the highest quality, and they may gloss over important information or teach you bad practices and habits which are difficult to break.
We recommend that you start with the SQL basics, such as understanding table creation, basic data management, and performing simple SQL queries – and make sure you have grasped the fundamentals before moving on to more advanced concepts.
Whichever way you begin your learning, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you get stuck. There are many SQL forums online where you can interact with more experienced SQL programmers who will be happy to help you.
The average person can learn the basic concepts of SQL in just a few days, but becoming a highly sought-after SQL master requires continual and in-depth training.
In addition to the SQL courses listed below, Oracle University has developed specific learning paths for the SQL developer and the advanced SQL developer to guide you on your journey to expertise. As you progress, the key is to keep practicing what you have learned so it is always fresh in your mind.
To become an accomplished SQL developer, you’ll also need to be familiar with a range of related tools and technologies – not least, the databases themselves. Oracle is the world’s most popular relational database and is an excellent place to start. It is also worth installing MySQL – a popular open-source database – on which you can practice your newly-acquired SQL skills.
SQL procedural extensions such as PL/SQL are also extremely valuable to learn, as are other programming languages such as PHP, which is highly useful when working with SQL. For example, while SQL is used to access, modify, and analyze data, PHP is often used to represent the data on a website.
Knowing SQL will certainly give your career a boost, but to really get noticed – and get ahead – you’ll need to acquire SQL Certification. Today’s employers frequently filter candidate applications by their level of qualifications – and having industry-recognized SQL certification demonstrates not only your real-world technical abilities but also that you are fully committed to your profession.
Among the world’s most prestigious SQL Certifications today are:
With SQL certification backing up your knowledge, you can expect far greater job opportunities, significantly higher salaries, and much faster career advancement.
SQL is here to stay. Learn how to make sense of the huge amount of data available in the world. Get started with Oracle SQL training online today, validate your skills with certification, and watch your career take off.