Best SQL Professional Certifications in 2021

Whether you are just starting out in the tech industry or you’re an experienced professional, getting certified can have immense rewards. SQL certifications such as those offered by Microsoft can open up more job and salary opportunities.

SQL certification validates that you have the knowledge of databases and SQL required for jobs in varied data fields, including data science, database management, and business intelligence. Read on to find out why you need an SQL certification in 2021 as well as the top SQL certifications available.

What Is an SQL Professional Certification?

A SQL certification demonstrates a professional’s expertise in using SQL (structured query language). SQL is the most widely-used programming language for relational database management systems. If you’re planning on working with databases, showing employers you have up-to-date SQL knowledge and skills is a must.

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Getting certified in SQL demonstrates your commitment to learning SQL and your dedication to continuous improvement. Whether you are looking to transition into a new career or seeking to move up in the field, we’d recommend pursuing certification.

Professional Certification vs Certificate Program

Certificate programs and professional certifications are not the same. Certificate programs are training courses offered by education providers. They often give a certificate at the end that shows that the student has successfully completed the program.

In contrast, the role of professional certifications is to validate skills. They are issued by an independent, third-party organization. Professional certification is only awarded after you have passed an examination.

Most certificate programs are beginner-friendly; whether you have one or 10 years of experience, you will gain easy entry into the certificate programs. Professional certifications, on the other hand, often have strict requirements for those wanting to sit the exam.

SQL Skills: What’s Demand Like in 2021?

SQL skills are in high demand in 2021. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for database administrators will increase by 10 percent by 2029. Database-related jobs also come with high earning prospects, with the average database administrator earning $98,860.

With high salaries and a bright job outlook, competition within the field is strong. You’ll need to show employers you have reliable database and SQL skills. An easy way to demonstrate your abilities to employers, and improve your career prospects, is by getting a professional certification.

Importance of SQL Certification

Getting a SQL certification is an important step in advancing your career. If you want to land a new job or a promotion in a database-related field, a SQL professional certification will help you stand out from the competition.

Employers are keen on employing professionals with strong credentials. A SQL professional certification proves to employers that you have mastered a particular skill.

Top 5 SQL Certifications

Top 5 SQL Certifications

We’ve rounded up the best SQL certifications that will help you gain a competitive edge over your peers. These certifications will help you move from entry-level positions to mid and senior-level jobs. Below is an overview of the top SQL certifications.

IBM Certified Database Associate

Cost: $400

Validity: Two Years

DB2 is a family of data management tools created by IBM that use SQL. This certification from IBM validates professional skills in DB2. In particular, it demonstrates your ability to handle the new features and different functionalities in version 11.

You need to pass two examinations. Professionals are tested on the fundamentals of database administration and SQL. They are also expected to possess advanced skills in database design, operation, and security.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

Cost: $99

Validity: One Year

Microsoft’s certification in Azure Data Fundamentals proves your skills in working with data on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. Around 30 percent of the certification exam focuses on working with relational data using Azure SQL.

The certification exam touches on data concepts, working with relational and non-relational data, and conducting analytics on Azure. To prepare, you can attend an online free training session on the platform.

This is a highly-regarded certification for professionals who work with data in the cloud.
It’s also a stepping stone if you want to earn other Azure certifications, such as the Azure Data Engineer Associate.

MTA: Database Fundamentals

Cost: $127

Validity: One Year

If you are new to the industry, this is a highly recommended introductory certification. It’s designed for entry-level professionals who want to prove their knowledge of working with databases and, more specifically, relational databases such as Microsoft SQL Server.

It’s useful to have some working knowledge of databases and SQL, but previous work experience isn’t essential. The platform features free online training programs to help you get exam-ready. You can also choose to take the instructor-led program, but you’ll have to pay for this.

Oracle Certified Professional: MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator

Cost: $245

Validity: One Year

Oracle is one of the leading database technologies in the world. This certification from Oracle is highly recommended for MySQL database administrators. It demonstrates your ability to install and optimize MySQL databases. It also shows your skill in setting up and performing database backups.

To earn this certification, you will need to pass the MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator exam. This 75-question examination tests you on specific skills in SQL, such as database administration, backup, and security. The exam also covers database performance and optimization.

Oracle also offers a certification path in their Oracle Database 12c. Professionals start with the Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate exam. They can then go on to take the Certified Professional and Certified Master exam.

Teradata Certification

Cost: $149-$299

Validity: Five Years

Teradata’s certification exams cover all the features of the Teradata Vantage multi-cloud data platform. There are six certification levels, from associate to master. As you strive for the next level, you’ll be tested on your knowledge of topics like machine learning, advanced SQL, and graph engines.

To prepare for each examination, Teradata offers a range of training courses through Teradata University. These courses are mostly free. You can find sample questions for each exam on its website to help you prepare.

How to Choose the Right Certification

How to Choose the Right Certification

It can be overwhelming trying to choose the best SQL certification to advance your career. You should carefully consider factors such as whether you meet the requirements for each certification, and how they fit in with your wider career goals. Below are a few important factors to consider when choosing a certification.


Certifications are aimed at varying levels of ability. Some certifications require you to have advanced knowledge and experience in the field, whereas others are more suitable for entry-level professionals. Preparing for certification examinations can take a substantial time and money investment, so make sure you choose the appropriate level before registering.


Always go for a certification that is up-to-date and relevant to the profession at the time. There are lots of SQL certifications out there but, as the field changes quickly, not all of them remain popular. Establish the relevance of the certification by checking the requirements of the jobs that are being advertised.

Career Goals

Depending on your career goals, some certifications will suit you better than others. For example, consider whether you’re likely to be working with specific platforms or database management systems such as Azure or MySQL. Earning a certification tailored to your career goals will help you stand out more than a certification that is more general in nature.

Top Courses to Prepare for Certifications

You’ll need to prepare for your certification examinations through training courses. You may be able to access free resources and training through the certification provider. However, in some cases, you may want or need to find your own. Here are some of the best courses to help you prepare for SQL certification examinations.

Database Design and Programming with SQL | Oracle Academy

Cost: Free

Duration: 90 Hours

Format: Self-paced

Outcome: N/A

In 180 hours, professionals get to learn modern database techniques, and how to design databases using different modeling tools. This beginner-friendly program will take you from the basics of learning SQL programming language right up to more advanced functions such as subqueries and working with sequences.

Expect to cover major topics such as mapping, group functions, constraints, and database transactions. It’s an ideal course to learn how to implement advanced queries on multiple databases using SQL.

Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp | Udemy

Cost: $12.99

Duration: 3 Hours 11 Minutes

Format: Instructor-led

Outcome: N/A

This Udemy course will help you learn SQL from scratch. It takes you through the fundamental concepts of advanced database queries. The course is designed to help you create databases and tables and design complex SQL queries. You’ll also run business reports using SQL and real-world data.

There are more than 140 articles and 20 hours of on-demand video to support your learning. As well as serving as good preparation for your first SQL certification exams, you’ll get a certificate for completing this course.

Learning SQL Programming | LinkedIn Learning

Cost: $29.99

Duration: 90 minutes

Format: Self-paced, Instructor-led

Outcome: N/A

LinkedIn provides this course, which is aimed at beginners. It serves as an excellent introduction to SQL as it covers multiple databases including SQL Server, MariaDB, MySQL, and PostgreSQL. By the end of this course, you’ll have mastered how to retrieve information from relational databases.

This course covers data types as well as how to modify and extract data from a database. You will also touch on mathematical operations and learn how to transform data into different formats.

Learn SQL Basics for Data Science Specialization | Coursera

Cost: Free

Duration: Four Months

Format: Instructor-led

Outcome: Certificate of Completion

During this four-month course, you’ll learn how to use SQL commands to manipulate data from different databases for analysis. The course will also teach you how to solve business problems using different datasets.

It’s a fantastic course for beginners with no coding experience who want to master SQL. You will learn data wrangling, SQL analysis, and SQL basics. The course curriculum is available in Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Analyze Data with SQL | CodeCademy

Cost: Free

Duration: Six Weeks

Format: Instructor-led

Outcome: Certificate of Completion

If you would like to be able to draw valid conclusions from large data sets, this is the course for you. You will also learn how to combine different sets of data from multiple sources. The hands-on learning approach will equip you with the skills to write code in SQL.

The instructor will walk you through the basics of SQL and teach you how to calculate aggregates, join multiple tables, and analyze real data with SQL. Toward the end of the course, you will go through interview preparation to polish your interview skills before you begin your job search.

Is an SQL Certification Worth It in 2021?

Yes, an SQL certification is worth it in 2021. Good SQL skills are vital to many database-related jobs, and employers often look for certifications that validate your skills. Adding a certification to your credentials can only be a good thing for your career prospects.

Employers also appreciate dedication to continued learning. Certification is a relatively easy way to show your knowledge and skills are up-to-date. If you want to stand out in this increasingly competitive field, SQL certifications are a worthwhile investment.

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