SQL is most useful in data-focused careers, but it’s also valuable for Web Developers and Software Engineers. While learning SQL alone won’t get you a job, it’s a great place to start. In combination with other programming languages like Python, SQL can help you launch your career as a developer or data specialist.
There are various relational database management systems (RDBMS) that data professionals and developers can use with SQL. Each RDBMS uses its own syntax of SQL but serves essentially the same functions.
Data Scientists, Data Analysts, Machine Learning Engineers, and Data Engineers typically use MySQL, a free and open-source RDBMS. SQL is used to pull information from a database by way of an RDBMS. SQL is by far the most common tool used by Data Scientists. Data professionals can also use SQL in combination with Python and its frameworks, data science best practices, and mathematics.
Data Analysts spend most of their time evaluating data for insightful conclusions and predictions while Data Engineers and Data Scientists focus on writing algorithms and creating programs. Data analysts can specialize even further to provide valuable insights for businesses. The majority of Business Analysts utilize SQL Server from Microsoft alongside other Microsoft tools. Business analysts use SQL to retrieve data, explore and analyze data more efficiently, and create more in-depth reports.
While SQL is important for data science and analysis positions, it’s probably the most important to Database Administrators. Database Administrators can choose to specialize in any SQL syntax or RDBMS they’d like. They can look for jobs based on their preferred RDBMS or default to the syntax and RDBMS that the company they work for chooses to use.
SQL isn’t the main driving force behind web development, but Web Developers and Software Engineers use SQL to display data on their websites or to store and retrieve user information. They can use almost any syntax and RDBMS but typically choose PostgreSQL or MySQL.
SQL Career Options
Here are a few career paths for which you’ll likely need SQL skills in order to succeed. We also include additional info about their average salaries, their day-to-day responsibilities, and a link to learn more about each career.
Software engineers use their extensive knowledge of user experience design, operating systems, and programming languages to develop software. They can create different types of software, from games to operating systems. After analyzing a client's needs, they design, develop, and test software to meet that need. Software engineers can be divided into two distinct career categories: application engineers and systems engineers.Learn about becoming a Software Engineer
.NET developers use the Microsoft framework to design, develop, and maintain software applications. Working with computer scientists and web developers, .NET developers create original code to meet client needs. After development, .NET developers analyze the user experience and iterate as needed.Learn about becoming a .NET Developer
Back End Developer
A Back End Developer builds the server-side of a web application and integrates front end development components.Learn about becoming a Back End Developer
Python Developers typically choose to focus on back end web development, data science or analysis, scripting, or product development. They build the server side of websites, processes for data analysis, and create automation scripts.Learn about becoming a Python Developer
Full Stack Developer
Full Stack Developers build web applications for both the visible front end that users see and the back end that powers the applications.Learn about becoming a Full Stack Developer
Machine Learning Engineer
Machine Learning Engineers create computer programs that enable machines to take actions without being specifically directed to perform those tasks. This job combines computer programming and data science to enable systems to learn and improve from experience automatically by using machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence.Learn about becoming a Machine Learning Engineer
Data Engineers create the infrastructure for data and format data into a useful system which Data Scientists use to analyze large amounts of data. Data Engineers can specialize in pipelines, databases or platforms, warehouses or infrastructure, or be generalists.Learn about becoming a Data Engineer
SQL Developers design and build databases and applications. They can find work at a wide variety of employers including software development firms, online retailers, information technology organizations and consulting firms, staffing companies, healthcare organizations, data companies, universities, and banks.Learn about becoming a SQL Developer
A Database Administrator uses software to securely store and organize data and make sure that the data is available to authorized users. Some Database Administrators specialize in Systems or Applications while others work on all aspects of database administration.Learn about becoming a Database Administrator
Data scientists collect, organize, and analyze large sets of data, providing analysis that is key to decision making. Governments, non-profits, and businesses of all types rely on data for forecasting, risk management, and resource allocation. Data scientists discover and analyze trends in data, and report their findings to stakeholders. They will use algorithms and models to simplify and mine data sets to create data-driven recommendations. Data scientists are needed across a handful of industries, especially the ubiquity of data and the reliance on it for business decision-making.Learn about becoming a Data Scientist
Data analysts review large amounts of data to summarize, analyze, and visualize it and provide insights. Working from data from multiple, relevant sources, they create and maintain databases, and use statistical techniques to analyze the collected data. Data analysts must be able to communicate with others about what the data shows and to be able to provide realistic recommendations based on their analysis. Many industries such as healthcare, advertising, and retail rely on the work of data analysts to inform their business decisions and strategy.Learn about becoming a Data Analyst
Business analysts use business, technology, and project management skills to analyze business problems and propose data-driven solutions. Grounded in technical expertise, business analysts perform risk analyses, manage project plans, and translate technical information such as diagrams and blueprints. Experienced business analysts can become business or project managers, which puts their professional expertise to work with the management of project deliverables and other people. Business analysts can put their skills to work across a variety of industries, companies, and job functions.Learn about becoming a Business Analyst