SQL skills are highly prized in our increasingly digitized economy. As the number of businesses collecting customer data grows, so too does the demand for talented professionals to make sense of all that data. Aside from addressing the crucial question “how long to learn SQL?”, this article looks at why SQL skills are worthwhile and just how easy it is to get the ball rolling.
It should take an average learner about two to three weeks to master the basic concepts of SQL and start working with SQL databases. But in order to start using them effectively in real-world scenarios, you’ll need to become quite fluent; and that takes time.
The great news is that you can pick up this fluency on the job itself, as long as you have the fundamentals under your belt to begin with.
What Is SQL?
SQL or Standard Query language is a standardized language accepted around the world in working with relational databases. SQL is generally used to enter, search, modify, and delete database entries. The more time you spend as a practitioner of SQL, the more effectively and creatively you can utilize the platform to get the answers your business needs from the sea of data available these days.
SQL was initially developed by two IBM employees, Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce, who were inspired by IBM computer scientist Edgar Codd’s internal research paper on how to efficiently organize data sets within databases. The first few iterations of SQL have been commercially available since 1979 and continue to stay relevant almost 41 years later. Surprisingly enough, a recent survey involving developers across the world found SQL was voted the third most popular programming language.
Why Is SQL Popular?
The data trail we create every single day as we jump between apps, sites and social platforms is being mined by companies for various uses. But data in its raw form is useless without data analysts.
These professionals use programming languages like SQL to organize and analyze large data sets. In doing so, they’re able to derive information and correlations that can be turned into business insights, which in turn can help companies grow their business. As this pile of data grows larger by every passing second, so too does the demand for people who are skilled in SQL.
Now more than ever is a great time to get upskilled in SQL. You can start by picking up a book, watching videos online, completing an online course, or attending a developer bootcamp. Try whatever works best for you, and you’ll be an SQL assassin in no time.
A Few Good Reasons to Master SQL
Before you invest time in learning SQL, you probably want to be certain that it’s going to be worthwhile. We’ve put together a list below of the top reasons why learning SQL is a good idea, which will help you stay focused on your goal of dominating databases.
- SQL is easy to pick up – SQL’s basic commands are easy to retain and utilize as they’re quite similar to the English language. Commands like INSERT, DELETE, and UPDATE are obviously rooted in our everyday language. This makes it simple for a new learner to get up to speed with its functionalities. Another advantage that comes from devoting time to SQL is the fact that if you get down to studying the more modern programming languages like Python and Java, you'll find it much easier to understand.
- You can manage vast pools of data – For years, spreadsheets were the go-to method to store and analyze data sets, but they could be restrictive when it came to handling large pools of data. Spreadsheets can only cope with small to medium sized data pools. SQL on the other hand has made lives for data analysts much easier because it can handle enormous pools of data much more efficiently. Whether you want to store 500 records or 500 million records, SQL is equipped to meet all your business needs.
- You’ll find the right information fast– A person well-versed in SQL can, in a matter of seconds, pull up relevant information from enormous data sets by just tweaking the queries within the program. The simple reason for this is that SQL stores the data in a much more organized manner than most of the available alternatives. So SQL brings up vital data at your fingertips, thereby helping your business function much more efficiently.
- SQL is a powerful troubleshooting tool – SQL makes it incredibly easy for you to troubleshoot any issues that might crop up in daily use. A simple syntax error or misplaced indicator that might normally go by unnoticed is highlighted by the program. And you can correct yourself on the go while writing the program, instead of coming back to it later to fix it after you find the bugs while running it. By being adept with SQL, you can save yourself a lot of time and grief.
- SQL is very versatile – SQL has now crept into almost all business fields as the world becomes more reliant on computing. Finance, social media enterprises, data analytics firms, scientific computing, website and game development, and even the music industry now employ SQL experts to handle their data pools, both large and small. Multinational corporations like Microsoft, Uber, Amazon, and Facebook still use SQL, as it’s so versatile. It can be used by sales teams to study sales figures and decide on tactics that work. Accountants use SQL to analyze a company's financial health, while scientists use it to pore over the data from their tinkering around in labs.
- SQL is standardized – SQL, as mentioned, has been around for almost 41 years now and is not likely to go anywhere for the next few decades, seeing how relevant it still is. SQL commands and basic syntax have not changed for decades, which means that once you're grounded in the basics, you do not need to keep studying to update your skills.
- SQL helps you mine your data better – SQL helps you update your relational databases with ease, which sets it apart from other options in the market. You can monitor and update data in tables and in the database, as well as filter data as per relevant time intervals. This makes it much easier for companies to ensure optimal functionality, as SQL can pull up data from a profitable quarter and help you discover what was done right.
- SQL makes combining data sets from multiple sources painless – Let’s say your role requires you to work with data that is compiled from multiple sources. This can be quite painstaking and time-consuming. SQL can play the savior in this situation by making it much easier to combine data from multiple sources. You can utilize SQL’s UNION operators to choose fields or databases that need to be combined.
- Demand for SQL is at an all-time high – Because huge corporations like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft still use SQL, developers with these skills are in demand across the workforce. This is only expected to rise as the internet continues to churn out vast amounts of data. Companies rely on data analytics to ensure their gameplan responds to the insights collected through the data. As per estimates, jobs in the information research field are expected to grow by 17 percent by 2028, which only means that your SQL expertise will be richly rewarded in times to come.
- SQL developers are paid well – In 2020, Glassdoor listed the average pay for a SQL developer as $81,000, steeper than many other salary packages being offered in the tech industry. And the more experience you have, the more you can expect to get paid.
Learn SQL with Thinkful
Thinkful offers some great options for those looking to upskill in SQL. Our SQL Basics course is the perfect entry-level starting point for anyone debugging data or using ORMs of any flavor. It includes coverage of relational database fundamentals, SQL programming, Reporting Services, Integration and Analysis Services, as well as coverage of ASP.NET Webforms.
If you’re interested in a more comprehensive developer program that incorporates SQL, enroll in our online Web Development Bootcamp. You’ll learn this in-demand skill as well as everything else needed to become a fully qualified full-stack developer.
If you’re ready to get started, schedule a call with our admissions reps to go through your options at a time that works for you.