How to Learn SQL

Discover the various methods for learning SQL, a standard language for communicating with relational databases, and explore career options related to SQL knowledge. Learn about the importance of SQL in data-driven industries, the different forms of training available, and the potential salary prospects.

Key Insights

  • SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a widely used tool for communicating with relational databases and is utilized by major corporations such as Amazon, Google, and Uber.
  • Understanding SQL is valuable for anyone working with data, particularly developers and data professionals, and can lead to opportunities in many industries.
  • Noble Desktop offers an in-person SQL Bootcamp, teaching core SQL concepts such as PostgreSQL, data aggregation, and filtering.
  • Online SQL training has become increasingly popular, with e-learning potentially helping students retain 25-60% more information than traditional classroom environments.
  • Free online introductory courses on SQL are available for those wishing to learn at their own pace.
  • Proficiency in SQL is highly valued in the job market, and learning SQL can open the door to career opportunities in development and data fields.

At first, the number of options available for learning SQL may seem overwhelming. A variety of video tutorials, books, and classes are available to help with this learning process. Ultimately, the method of studying SQL that you select will depend on your personal preferences, learning style, and professional goals.

This article will discuss the different methods available to help you learn SQL so you can make the most informed decision about what’s best for you.

What is SQL?

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a standard language used to communicate with relational databases. Organizations across industries rely on SQL to access and work with the data contained in their databases. Important business information about products, customers, or orders is just some data an organization may store in a database. Among its many uses, SQL has applications for searching, updating, and maintaining databases. It can also insert or delete records from databases and change the database's actual structure by creating or deleting tables and objects.

SQL operates on local intranet or internet systems and can be used on laptops, PCs, servers, and some mobile devices. Even though SQL is considered to be a relatively simple programming language, it is a powerful tool for helping users retrieve the specific information they need within a large database. Those working with SQL don’t need coding skills and can instead use basic keywords such as “update” or “select” to perform data queries.

Some of the most-used relational database management systems that use SQL are Microsoft SQL Server, Ingres, Access, and Oracle.

What Can You Do with SQL?

For anyone who works with data, SQL knowledge is a must. Many fields and disciplines use this language to communicate with relational databases. SQL’s flexibility is designed to help you use statements based on English to query a database in multiple ways. Because SQL is the most-used database language, nearly every organization that has to store relational data relies on SQL, including major corporations such as Amazon, Google, and Uber. In addition, websites such as Facebook use SQL to store back-end data and process data.

SQL has a wide range of built-in functions that are useful for data analytics:

  • SQL COUNT can count how many rows are in a table
  • SQL MAX provides a way to select the highest value for a given column
  • SQL MIN lets users choose the minimum value for a column
  • SQL SUM totals the values in a column
  • SQL AVG can calculate the average within table columns

In addition, SQL has other useful applications for handling large volumes of data:

  • It can add, update, or delete records within a database
  • SQL can create new databases
  • SQL users can add new tables to an existing database
  • SQL can create views or stored procedures in a database
  • It can establish permissions on views, tables, and procedures.

In-Person SQL Training

In-person study is a popular option for those who thrive in a classroom environment. Students who enjoy the camaraderie of learning with others and receiving support and feedback from the instructor will likely benefit from in-person SQL coursework. For some, this traditional approach to study, in which they arrive for class on time and actively participate in lessons, helps to cement new concepts and foster a sense of accountability in the learning process. In addition, being with others in a classroom can help students network and make professional connections that will last beyond the duration of the course. However, it’s also important to consider that in-person study requires an additional time commitment of commuting to and from class.

If you are the kind of person who gravitates toward in-person learning, the good news is that there are plenty of options currently available from top educational providers. Noble Desktop’s in-person SQL classes are one such option. Their SQL Bootcamp spans just a few weeks and covers core SQL concepts, such as PostgreSQL, aggregating data, and filtering. Noble’s campus is located in New York City and is central to many public transportation options. If you live elsewhere and are interested in finding in-person courses, Noble’s Classes Near Me tool can help you compare in-person SQL courses near home. These course listings feature a variety of top education providers where you can learn SQL near you.

Live Online SQL Training

Online learning is becoming an increasingly popular educational option across the globe. Since 2020, 98% of universities have moved coursework to an online format. Some estimates claim that e-learning can help students retain 25-60% more information than in traditional classroom environments. Live online classes provide a popular alternative to in-person study and offer many benefits in-person study cannot. Students who elect to study online can work from the comfort of their own home or office spaces. This learning option eliminates the need to commute to and from class, battle rush-hour traffic, or have to find parking for each class meeting. The flexibility of virtual study makes it an excellent option for those who need to balance learning SQL with other life commitments, such as work or family.

Although online study is preferred by many, some may find learning outside of a classroom distracting or difficult. Others struggle to connect with classmates in the online format and may find virtual learning challenging. Therefore, it’s essential to consider your learning style and how you most effectively retain information when deciding if online study is a good match for you.

Many SQL training options are currently available in the live online format. Noble Desktop has several live online SQL classes listed for interested learners. These courses are taught in a live environment by an expert instructor. Students meet on a teleconferencing platform such as Zoom, where they can interact with classmates and their instructor in real-time and receive support, guidance, and feedback as they learn new SQL concepts. Noble’s SQL Bootcamp is currently offered in the live online format. Those enrolled receive hands-on training with PostgreSQL, among other relevant SQL skills. In addition to Noble’s SQL classes, other top education providers list courses in topics such as SQL Fundamentals, SQL Querying, and Intro to Data Analytics.

Free Online Courses & Tutorials

If you aren’t entirely ready to dive into a full-length course in SQL but still want to learn more about this programming language, a great option is to begin your studies for free online. In Noble Desktop’s free Intro to SQL, students receive an hour of beginner-level instruction about databases, the professional applications of SQL among Data Engineers and Data Scientists, and real-world examples of what SQL can do.

In addition to Noble’s free introductory video, other top educational providers offer free online resources to help you learn SQL. Udemy currently has free coursework and tutorials devoted exclusively to SQL. It has beginner-level online courses, such as Introduction to Databases and SQL Querying, as well as SQL Foundations. For those seeking more advanced SQL instruction, Udemy also offers Advanced Databases and SQL Querying. If you’re interested in learning SQL’s specific applications in the data sciences, Coursera currently lists SQL for Data Sciences. This free course starts with SQL basics before progressing to more advanced topics, such as writing complex queries, creating tables, and data governance.

Read more about free SQL videos and online tutorials.

On-Demand SQL Classes

If you are currently trying to balance SQL study with a full-time job, family commitments, and other day-to-day activities, enrolling in live in-person or online study may not be feasible. However, plenty of great learning options are available in the on-demand format. A self-paced online SQL class can provide many of the same learning perks as live study. Because on-demand study offers classes that students can complete on their own schedule, learners can pace their studies around their other responsibilities. While this type of learning requires students to be disciplined and self-motivated, it offers the same learning outcomes as other SQL study options.

Self-paced SQL classes are often beginner-friendly. Some in-demand SQL classes are geared toward those without experience working with data or databases. Others are for more intermediate or advanced learners, such as professionals who currently work with databases and SQL but want to learn how to perform more advanced querying. In addition, some self-paced coursework is offered for free, whereas other learning options are available through a subscription service. One of the main benefits of studying in the on-demand online format is that it is largely an affordable option compared to in-person or full-time study.

Which Learning Method is Right for Me?

Because so many resources are currently available to help beginners learn SQL, you may not be sure which one is the right match for you. Everyone has their unique learning style and educational preferences, and some learners may opt to experiment with various platforms and tools to help them learn SQL. One of the benefits of being in charge of your own learning is that you can pick and choose which tool, or combination of tools, most suits your learning needs.

Another important consideration before selecting a learning method is the amount of time you have available to study SQL. For those who are balancing responsibilities like full-time work and family commitments, it may not be feasible to devote the hours needed to complete a structured course that meets at a set time each day. You may instead opt to study SQL by video tutorials or a self-paced online course, which allows you to access course content and lessons at your own pace. However, if you have a relatively flexible schedule, in-person or live online courses provide a helpful learning structure and may be a good match to help you learn SQL.

Why Learn SQL?

Knowledge of SQL is one of the most in-demand skills in today’s workplace. Learning SQL has applications in many industries, particularly those focused on development and data. Developers who create software and websites rely on SQL to communicate with servers and store or display data. Those working in data fields often use SQL to gather data that teams will use for predictive modeling, analysis, or machine learning.

As technology continues to evolve, one constant that remains is that most data-oriented technologies use the SQL interface. SQL Server provides a platform for efficient data mining and data management, and it is especially helpful for data analysis in large databases with millions of entries. SQL can manage data pools with more than 100 million records and combine data from multiple sources, saving users valuable time.

Read more about why you should learn SQL.

How to Learn SQL

Master SQL with hands-on training. SQL is one of the most in-demand programming languages and is used across a variety of professions.

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