SQL for Business Analysts

Why SQL is a Crucial Skill for Analysts

In this article, we'll cover the key reasons why SQL is such an in-demand skill for business analysts and how it can help you at your job.

What is SQL?

SQL is a very in-demand skill these days with the rise of the cloud and big data. SQL, short for Structured Querying Language, is a language for retrieving data from databases. For smaller datasets and projects Excel may be sufficient, but when we start working with multiple, larger datasets we need more powerful tools like SQL. SQL is used to communicate with relational databases, which layman’s terms, means pulling data from various tables that have some sort of relationship.

Application of SQL

Imagine we sell shoes online and want to get more advanced about the way we handle our data. We’d probably look to put our data into the cloud and then use SQL to retrieve the data we need. We would have one table with all our products, product codes, and how much inventory we have left. We’d have another table with all of our past customers’ names, email addresses, and an order ID that relates to an order they made. Then you’d have a table with order IDs and all the product IDs that were sold in that order, and you’d obviously need a table with product IDs and product names.

As you can tell by now, we have lots of data and it would be extremely cumbersome to hold all of that in one table. We wouldn’t be able to have enough columns to show all of the orders and products that one customer purchased. This is why relational databases are so helpful. We can store data in various tables and then using those IDs we created we can link from one table to another. Without getting into the syntax here, if we wanted to know what products customer 555 has purchased then we’d go to our order table and look for all the orders that customer 555 made and find all the product IDs in those orders. Then we could go to our products table and see what all those product IDs correspond to and we have our answer. SQL is the language in which we can tell the computer to perform that operation.

With big data and relational databases being the new norm for most companies, SQL knowledge is a prerequisite for almost any business analyst job. The role of a business analyst is to use data to report, analyze, and inform business decisions with data, and being to effectively retrieve the data you need will likely require some SQL. SQL is a fairly easy language to learn and it can help you in the job market. 

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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