If you've been thinking about becoming a Back-End Engineer, you've probably come across SQL in your research. Or, if you're a developer who's interested in getting more familiar with databases, SQL may be a valuable addition to your toolkit. Data Scientists, Back-End Developers, and programmers of all types rely on SQL to perform their daily responsibilities. So, the next question you might be asking yourself is: "Should I learn SQL?"
If you're considering a career in any of the roles above, the answer is yes. SQL is a tremendously useful programming language for all of these careers. It's even quite useful for non-technical professionals who want to learn how to get the data they need for their projects. It can also save time that'd otherwise be spent waiting on a Data Engineer.
To help you decide whether or not you should learn SQL, we'll explore what it is and what it's used for in the paragraphs below. Then, we'll show you where to get started. Whether you're a new or experienced programmer, SQL isn't hard to learn.
What is SQL?
SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It's a programming language used to access data in relational databases. Relational databases store structured data, which means that the data are kept in tables.
SQL allows you to pull data out from large databases easily. For example, you could use SQL to search your customer database for all the people who bought from your store during the last month. You could query the customer ID, total purchase amount, and even items purchased.
As you can see, it's not just Data Engineers that would be interested in this information. Product Developers, Marketers, and finance professionals also find these insights quite useful. There are many potential uses for SQL, and different types of professionals use it for data extraction and data analysis. SQL commands are rudimentary, like SUM() or COUNT(), but that may be all you need in a given situation. In another post, we take a closer look at SQL's uses and defining features.
Who should learn SQL?
As we explained, SQL is a valuable tool for both technical and non-technical professionals. Below, we'll explore its utility for Web Developers, data professionals, and non-technical professionals.
If you're considering a career in web development, depending on your specialization, you'll definitely need SQL. Back-End Developers need SQL to manage a website's server-side programs and databases. Full-Stack Developers, capable of both front-end and back-end development, use it for similar purposes.
Data Scientists and Data Analysts
Data Scientists and Data Analysts use SQL to efficiently mine the data they analyze for actionable insights. These two careers are on the rise, and many organizations are ready to hire data experts to help guide their business into the future. The other great thing about these careers is that you can take your skills with data analytics to any industry. For more information about these roles, check out our data science career guide.
If you're already working for an organization that uses relational databases, you might want to learn SQL. Think about whether your job would be easier if you could hunt down the data you needed on your own. Would being able to query datasets help you make better decisions or create better reports? If the answer's yes, then SQL can help you become much more efficient.
More specifically, if you're a Business Analyst or Strategist, SQL will help you forecast better, report on trends better, and advise leadership with your predictions. Marketers and sales professionals can also use SQL to collect data on metrics like email open rates, where orders originated from (marketing campaigns or search traffic), and even customer locations.
If you work in finance, you'll be able to use SQL to gather the details you need for any monthly or quarterly reporting. SQL databases don't just house business statistics, though. For example, you may be an Engineer at a manufacturing company that needs to access a database containing test logs, fault codes, or runtimes/operational times for certain pieces of equipment. The possibilities are endless because companies gather so much data yet don't always harness it to save money and time.
Lastly, if SQL continues to pique your interest or you're constantly waiting on data from overburdened team members, you should consider the time investment trade-off. Learning SQL isn't a big task, even for a beginner. One full day of taking an online course could end up saving you much more time in the future. In other words, if you're a beginner, don't let that deter you. You can learn SQL!
How to learn SQL
SQL is a relatively easy language to learn. Very similarly structured to the English language, SQL can be understood quite quickly by many people. It's an elegant solution to searching for data in structured databases.
Check out our Learn SQL course to take your first steps with the programming language. We'll show you how to query databases, manipulate data, and more. Or, if you're a little further along in your learning journey and looking for something more advanced, check out the courses below:
- Analyze data with SQL
- How to analyze business metrics with SQL
- Learn Intermediate SQL for Marketers and Project Managers