The deeper you step into the forest, the more trees surround you. The same could be said about coding: the more you learn, the more things you find that you should learn next. Are you already familiar with programming and know some basics of HTML or CSS?
If so, you might have set your eyes on SQL too. As this language is currently on the rise, a lot of people seem to be asking themselves - is SQL hard to learn? Why should I learn SQL? Most importantly - how to learn SQL, and where to start? Some great options as you're getting started are online SQL courses, like those offered by DataCamp. However, today, we'll be diving into more suggestions.
We’re sure you already know the name of SQL stands for Structured Query Language. Basically what it does is allowing users to store, access and otherwise handle their data in databases. The American National Standards Institute has declared it the standard language used from relational database management systems. Therefore, knowing it is a must in any data related job, be it a data scientist, a back-end developer, or even a marketing guru.
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Getting Bad Choices Out of the Way
Those who are often faced with decision making always advice to start with elimination. It’s much easier to make a rational choice between a few good options than try to find the gem among fifteen mediocre ones. Getting rid of the flawed methods is also a good idea when trying to decide how to learn SQL.
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You might have already figured out that formal studies are not the best way to learn SQL for beginners. University programs are never the best choice when you wish to master a single language and time is a priority. And it is in this case, as you wish to master something that’s rolling on the wave of popularity right now!
So, it’s only natural a lot of newbies are looking into alternative learning choices. Many online learning platforms, including names like DataCamp, Udacity, and edX, offer SQL courses, ranging from beginner-friendly tasks to more advanced projects.
Another classic way of learning is by reading guides and other informative books on the subject. Anyway, we are rather skeptical about using literature to learn IT topics from scratch. It might be compared to checking the weather forecast in a monthly magazine: technically possible but not advisable.
The thing is, the industry of IT is constantly growing by leaps and bounds. The systems improve, new elements are introduced, and catching up to all of that might not be that simple - especially for the book industry. The process of print takes months. By the time the book reaches you, it might simply be unable to cover everything the program or system has to offer.
How to Learn SQL The Smart Way
Is SQL hard to learn? With the right strategy, it doesn’t have to be.
If you’re a smartypants, you might have already figured out the best way to learn IT is, simply, the IT way. The internet offers endless resources, and you should take advantage of them. If you wish to master SQL, you should be looking for online courses, articles, tutorials, and SQL examples to analyze. By having both your theory and practice at the same computer screen, you will be able to try everything yourself instantly. If that’s not the best way to learn SQL for beginners, we don’t know what is.
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Go At Your Own Pace with Online Courses
When asked for their advice on how to learn SQL, most self-taught professionals swear by online courses. They’re not wrong: learning online offers you the flexibility that no evening courses or boot camps could provide. You can study the material anywhere, anytime, and review it as many times as you need to absorb the new information. This is especially important for most beginners who prefer to step forward at their own pace.
Accessibility is the key to comfort, and online courses are especially user-friendly in this point of view. Most of us are used to using the internet on a bunch of various devices. Therefore, only being able to learn on your computer might feel like a limitation. Luckily, a lot of courses, including the ones BitDegree has to offer, also have mobile access. When choosing among options on how to learn SQL, consider how valuable a chance to use your time wisely is. You could be learning while, say, riding a train - even if you don’t have your laptop with you.
You can find both free and paid online courses. Don’t worry: compared to the old-fashioned courses or boot camps, they are rather affordable still. Plus, unlike informal studies, you can use the materials you received indefinitely.
When looking into options on learning SQL, always make sure you choose a course from a well-known and reliable system, such as DataCamp or BitDegree. While a relatively unknown site might offer a cheaper or free course, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the professionally prepared course and quality material you were hoping for.
Big platforms with a significant user base are usually able to attract more professional lecturers that will help how to learn SQL. Doesn't it go without saying that you should always aspire to learn from the greatest? DataCamp, for example, is known for setting up full learning paths, known as Skill Tracks, to help beginners continuously study and master the subject. In this case, you might be interested in the SQL Fundamentals skill track on DataCamp. If so, you might want to read our full guide here.
As you research various online education platforms, pay attention to those that provide you with a printable certificate when you finish the course successfully. Sure, knowledge is the most important, but no official certificate will ever hurt your resume. Not only will it prove you’re capable of working with SQL, but it will also show you’re motivated, disciplined, and everlearning.
Look into Questions to Find Answers
While it’s true online courses are great and comprehensive, it does not mean you should stop there. The Internet provides you with a ton of other useful resources. As you search the web for how to learn SQL quickly and effectively, you will be presented with a variety of tutorials, articles, and SQL examples.
You probably think it’s way too early for you to be looking for a data-related job that requires SQL knowledge. Still, we would suggest you pay some attention to the articles that cover the usual SQL interview questions anyway. Why? Because they will give you a much better idea of what will be expected from you in the workplace you might apply to.
For the employer, job interviews are the opportunity to get the best possible impression of a candidate in a limited time. That's why their questions are never random but chosen with the selection criteria in mind. That means they cover crucial areas - the ones you should pay the most attention to when studying. In other words, when you’re deciding how to learn SQL, interview questions might give you a good idea where to start.
As you go through the sets of usual Q&As, you might notice some SQL interview questions can be related not only to SQL commands and the language itself but also to particular database management systems. If a certain company exclusively uses MySQL, SQL Server, or some other system, they might want to make sure you are familiar with them as well. By knowing what to expect, you might prepare in advance and make the best impression of yourself.
As you look over the interview questions and other career-related articles, you might come upon some salary statistics too. Take a look at what professional data analysts and other professionals that use SQL in their jobs make each year. If you were still thinking ‘Why should I learn SQL?’, this might give you that bit of extra motivation you needed. A skilled professional is valued greatly in a company, and the financial side of it is also a nice advantage.
Let Language References Guide You
Don’t worry: no one expects a beginner to remember all the relevant concepts or syntax rules. Coding languages are extensive, and even the most experienced programmers don’t know everything by heart. However, as you’ll be looking at how to learn SQL, you might come upon a thing called language references.
Most widespread programming languages have language references. They serve a purpose similar to that of dictionaries, encyclopedias, and manuals. By explaining various elements of a language, it becomes a useful guide for both beginners and advanced coders. Of course, it’s not something you would read in one sitting. Still, you will surely appreciate the opportunity to easily refer to it whenever you need to check something you came upon when analyzing various SQL examples.
Practice Makes A Coder Beta
The simplest and probably the truest answer on how to learn SQL is to write SQL. It doesn’t matter how many courses you finish and how many examples you review if you never pull your sleeves up and start doing it yourself. We can only really see how something works when we’ve witnessed every step. We also only truly learn to solve problems when we face them ourselves.
The most popular database management system in the world is MySQL. It’s a free, reliable, and open source. While it might not be the priority for a newbie, it is also sturdy and powerful enough to handle huge amounts of data. Get on it, create your databases, and start trying out various commands. Enter some random information to your database at first. This way, you can experiment freely without the fear of rewriting or destroying any sensitive data.
By trying everything yourself, you will be able how to learn SQL much quicker. Getting familiar with an omnipresent system will prove itself useful too. After all, more than half of the companies use MySQL. They will surely appreciate it if you know it like the back of your hand.
Two Flints to Make a Fire
One of the most awesome advantages of being a developer is the ability to choose your work style freely. You might belong to a big team of professionals in an international company if you enjoy collaborations and teamwork. Or are you more of an independent soul who likes to control everything on their own? In such a case, you might work in a small office or freelance. The freedom of choice is all yours.
However, just being on your own might not suffice if you’re taking your first steps in coding. All beginners need guidance, advice, and even mentoring at times. Teachers and study mates fill those roles when you’re attending a formal education institution. But what do you do when you’re learning on your own?
When trying to look for ways how to learn SQL, always have in mind that the Internet is full of like-minded people, and you should use that to your advantage. Join online communities, discussion forums, and specialized groups on social media. Having a place to discuss the questions and issues that arise straightaway when learning SQL is extremely helpful. You may often see people uploading SQL examples of their making to discuss, and you can publish your own as well.
Real-life meetings are a great way to find mentors or study mates as well. Try looking for SQL learning groups in your area on Meetup.com or social media websites. Belonging to a community helps your motivation. Plus, your peers are very likely to recommend you learning resources, tips, and tricks that they found useful.
For the Last Page of Your Notes
With so many options readily available, choosing how to learn SQL might seem like a hardship on itself. As the popularity of the language is currently on the rise, no one wants to waste too much time weighing their options, too. However, at the same time, we’re all hoping to make the best possible choice.
As we have already covered, data is a valuable asset. Knowing how to handle it correctly is important not in data analyzing only but in various other fields of work. Learning to write SQL commands and understanding it well will provide you with a highly flexible skill that employers value a lot. Don't forget to check out DataCamp SQL courses to help you master not just the theory, but also the practical uses of this language.
We didn’t cover every possible choice here, and we don’t even think it’s possible to do in one article. Still, we hope this tutorial helped shed some light on your dilemma. Whatever you choose, remember the most important things are patience, determination, and motivation. Becoming a self-taught professional will take time, energy, and persistence. And yet you will surely find it worth that in the end.