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How to Learn SQL: Advance Your Data Science or Business Intelligence Career

Thinking of pursuing a career in business analysis, data science, database administration, software engineering, or web development? If you’ve looked into these jobs, you may have noticed that learning SQL is a prerequisite for all of them.

The programming language SQL can put you on a path toward one of the best tech jobs. In particular, it’s a key part of any job that involves database management.

If you want to learn SQL but don’t have a background in data science, we can help. Below, we’ll discuss what SQL is and what it is used for, in addition to the best SQL courses.

What Is SQL?

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SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a popular programming language used to manage and retrieve data from relational databases. These databases are developed using programming languages such as C++, Java, and PHP.

SQL is then used to edit, store, and retrieve data from those databases. It is like a mediator that communicates with your database to help you get the data you need.

To pull data using SQL, you must send an SQL statement query to the database. The database will then process your query and provide you with the answer.

As mentioned, SQL is used specifically in relational databases, which means the information stored there is interconnected according to an intuitive set of relationships, allowing for easy access. 

What Is SQL Used For?

SQL is used for more than just retrieving data. It is also used for data analysis, manipulation, and storage. Since SQL was developed by IBM in the early 1970s, the programming language has had a huge impact on the world of data.

Companies across many industries have started using relational database management systems (RDBMS) such as MySQL because it enables them to locate data more quickly. This includes major players like Microsoft, Dell, Accenture, and NTT Data.

Below are some of the most common ways businesses use SQL.

Data Organization

Databases contain huge amounts of information, and it is very important to keep that data organized. If a database is not structured, then conducting operations such as data retrieval, data management, and data analysis will be next to impossible. 

SQL allows you to avoid the chaos. Data scientists use it to organize information into sections. The data is categorized and stored in ascending and descending order, which makes data retrieval easy for the client.

Multiple Data Requests

SQL also allows multiple view requests to be made at once, which means you will be able to pull and combine multiple data files.

To do this, SQL creates a virtual table for dynamic views. The table contains rows and columns of data pulled from different databases. All of the data requested by the user is then displayed together in one virtual table. 

Code Portability

In our current age of remote work and virtualized systems, being able to transfer data easily is crucial. SQL queries are portable by nature, so as long as two system environments are the same, you can input your data query from anywhere.

For example, if you live in Dallas but work in IT for Amazon’s Seattle branch, you can input queries on your work laptop, and SQL can transport your command across operating systems.

Learn SQL: Step-by-Step

SQL is arguably the most widely used domain-specific RDBMS programming language of the past 40 years, and it has applications in many industries.

So, there are many benefits to learning SQL. As one of the most useful programming languages, it will help you manage huge sets of data, and increase the likelihood that you’ll land your dream tech job.

If you’re an SQL beginner, follow the steps below to get up to speed. 

1. Research the SQL Basics

The first step to learning a new subject is to look at the foundational elements. Browse the internet to read more about SQL and its uses. You’ll find many articles, video tutorials, and blogs.

2. Enroll in a Beginner’s Course

Now you’ll be ready to enroll in a course. Take a class that will teach you how to navigate databases and make queries. There are plenty of coding bootcamps and free courses you can choose from.

You can also read beginner-level SQL books to get additional background. Some possible reads include SQL: A Beginner’s Guide and SQL in a Nutshell.

3. Take Advanced Classes 

After learning the basics of how to code in SQL, it’s time to take an advanced course. At this point, you will be learning about topics like data query with Transact-SQL, database development, and data analysis. You should also now understand the difference between SQL commands. The best SQL courses offer certification and hands-on experience.

4. Download and Install an SQL Server

Now that you’re ready to start using the platform on your own, you can download one of the open-source SQL servers that are available for free online. Install an SQL database on your computer and start practicing.

You can do this using your own datasets, or find one online that you can use while you practice writing queries. Once you feel confident, you may want to reach out to clients on freelancing platforms to test your knowledge of the SQL language through small projects. 

5. Join SQL Groups  

Networking is a great way to learn more about any subject. You can join an online SQL group or community such as the We Learn SQL group on Facebook or an SQL group on Meetup. 

The Best SQL Courses

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SQL is an easy and essential language with many real-world applications.

If you want to work in data science, it is important that you learn SQL. Luckily, there are tons of online courses that can help you do so. To make it easy, we have compiled a list of the very best online SQL courses and bootcamps.

The Complete SQL Bootcamp 2021: Go From Zero to Hero

As the name states, this Udemy bootcamp is the ultimate guide to learning SQL from scratch. This includes how to make a query, analyze data, and perform GROUP commands.

Analyzing Big Data with SQL 

We’re all aware of the current demand for big data analysis. If you want to build a career in big data, this Coursera course is a good choice. Knowledge of SQL is a key part of understanding big data.

This course will teach you how to apply SQL to data analytics using Apache Hive and Apache Impala software.

Introduction to Structured Query Language 

This free Coursera course on SQL is intended for beginners who want to study the basic syntax of SQL and how to use it for data analysis. The course also covers database design, how to set up multiple tables, and how to use SQL with the Apple website software MAMP. You have the option of paying for a certificate at the end of this course.

Learn SQL Basics for Data Science Specialization 

This Coursera class is a great way to learn the basics of SQL for data science work. You will learn data analysis, SQL commands such as query strings, and how to use the Apache Spark and SQLite software.

Learn SQL

This course by Codecademy will teach you how to use SQL on relational databases to manipulate data and make queries. The program also includes four hands-on projects. 

SQL for Data Analysis: Weekender Crash Course for Beginners 

If you’re an aspiring data analyst, this 3.5-hour course is a great course to kickstart your career. This Udemy course will teach you how to use SQL with popular relational database management systems such as MySQL, Oracle SQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. 

An Introductory Guide to SQL

This course by Educative is for anyone interested in learning SQL, even if your job is not highly technical. In it, you will learn the foundations of the language, including how to build a database. The course then covers how to execute queries, set up tables, and update data.

SQL for Data Science 

IBM offers this beginner’s SQL data science course via EdX. This is a free course that covers the basics of the language. It also touches on cloud-computing database frameworks and string patterns. The course also goes into how to analyze data using Python. Upon finishing the course, you will have the option to purchase a certificate for $99. 

SQL From A to Z

LearnSQL.com offers this complete guide to SQL. It includes four courses covering SQL data inputs and updates, functions, reports, and recursive queries.

Is Learning SQL Right for You?

If you want to qualify for a high-level job in data and improve your data analysis and programming skills, then learning SQL is right for you. SQL has been a dominant force in database management since the 1970s, and it isn’t going anywhere soon.

It is used by major tech leaders including Facebook, Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Uber to manage, edit, and retrieve their most important information.

But SQL isn’t just used by mega-companies. Even start-ups and midscale ventures employ data specialists who have an understanding of SQL. This programming language is ubiquitous in the world of data, so to get your start in tech, we highly recommend you start studying it.

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