SQL is one of the most in-demand skills you can master to land a good software developer job. In this article, we will discuss what SQL is and how long it takes to learn SQL for beginners and experienced programmers.
What is SQL?
SQL is the acronym for Structured Query Language. As the name implies, SQL is a programming language that handles structured tabular data stored in relational databases. We use SQL as a data definition language (DDL), data query language (DQL), data manipulation language (DML), data control language (DCL), and transaction control language (TCL).
- Data definition language consists of SQL commands used to define a database schema. The commands consist of CREATE, DROP, ALTER, TRUNCATE, COMMENT, and RENAME commands.
- Data query language consists of SQL commands that are used to query data from the database to obtain information. DQL consists of the SELECT statement.
- Data manipulation language consists of SQL commands used to manipulate data in a database. DML commands consist of INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, LOCK, CALL, and EXPLAIN PLAN statements.
- Data control language consists of SQL commands used to grant and revoke access to tables in a database. DCL commands consist of GRANT and REVOKE statements.
- Transaction control language consists of SQL commands for transaction management in a database. TCL commands consist of COMMIT, ROLLBACK, SAVEPOINT, and SET TRANSACTION statements.
Before getting into how long it takes to learn SQL, let us first discuss why you should learn SQL and what are the different types of software jobs where you will need SQL.
Why Should You Learn SQL?
Every organization uses data to facilitate growth by obtaining information from the data. The data is mainly stored in a database whether SQL or NoSQL. Although NoSQL databases have gained popularity with the increase in unstructured data, relational databases still dominate the data space. To handle relational databases, you need to learn SQL for sure. Following are some of the reasons why you should learn SQL.
- SQL is easy to learn. If you understand English and are comfortable with Set theory, you can learn SQL very easily. The SQL commands are more like English statements than a coding language. For instance, if you have to select “Roll Number” and “Marks” from a “Student” table, the command for the operation is written as “SELECT “Roll Number”, “Marks” FROM “Student”;”. You can observe that the statement sounds as if we are ordering someone to select the desired columns. A more complex statement might be difficult to understand if others write it. However, you can easily understand the code if you are familiar with the database schema.
- SQL is a standardized language. It is certified by ISO and ANSI. Due to this, SQL codes written by different developers for a single task are almost the same. It makes it easy for a programmer to review and debug code. It will make tasks easier for you in your job.
- SQL is stable. SQL does not have very frequent updates in syntax or its implementation. If you learn it once, you don’t need to learn it again. For languages like python, different built-in functions are often deprecated. Updates in syntax are also significant. For instance, the syntax and functions in Python 3 are completely different from python 2. Due to this, you need to learn the syntax of python 3 even if you know python 2. This is not the case for SQL. Once you learn SQL syntax, you can use it for a very long and on various database management systems with little or no change.
- SQL is diverse. SQL provides you with different subsets of language such as data definition language (DDL), data query language (DQL), data manipulation language (DML), data control language (DCL), and transaction control language (TCL) as discussed above. Using these statements, you can control everything from access to versioning of the dataset in your database.
- SQL is reliable. SQL also provides you with ways to perform integrity checks on the databases. You can normalize the databases and remove redundant data easily using just a few lines of code.
- SQL is scalable. With SQL, you can work with 10 data points. At the same time, you can also work with 10 million data points on the same machine efficiently. This is not the case with traditional tools like spreadsheets. If you work with 10 million data points in a spreadsheet, it is possible that your machine might get stuck.
- SQL is fast. If you are well versed in SQL and are able to write efficient statements, you can gain any insight from a billion data points within seconds.
- SQL is multifaceted. If you are working as a data analyst or a data scientist, a software engineer, or a data engineer, SQL helps you in every job role to accomplish different tasks including data analysis, data storage, data retrieval, etc.
- SQL Developers are in demand. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc use SQL in an extensive manner. Therefore, SQL developers are in great demand. Another reason for the demand for SQL developers is the diverse areas in which SQL is employed.
- SQL pays you well. With great demand, the pay cheque of SQL developers is also great. The average pay for SQL developers is around $100,000. With experience, it increases to $180,000. Hence, Money can also be the reason you learn SQL.
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How Long Does it Take to Learn SQL?
How long it takes to learn SQL depends on your experience as a programmer. If you know how to code in other programming languages, it is possible to learn the basics of SQL within a week by studying 3 to 4 hours a day.
If you are new to programming, you might need more time to learn the basics of SQL. In this case, it all depends on how much you want to learn.
Can You Learn SQL Basics in a Week?
If you have no programming experience and want to learn only theoretical aspects of SQL, you learn it within a week from websites like w3schools tutorials on SQL.
If you are well-versed in other programming languages and have knowledge of set theory, you can have a working knowledge of basic SQL statements within a week.
If you are already working with structured data using tools like pandas in python, you can have a good command of SQL within a week.
Can You Learn Intermediate SQL in 30 Days?
To learn intermediate-level SQL, you need at least 25 to 30 days giving 3 or 4 hours a day. After learning the basics, you need to work on practical examples with a dataset to understand different concepts like joins, aliases, foreign keys, stored procedures, etc.
Can You Learn Advanced SQL in 3 Months?
Three months is sufficient time to learn advanced SQL. After learning the basics and intermediate SQL concepts and operations in a month, you can work on capstone projects or do an internship at a company to understand how SQL is actually used in an enterprise. Working on real-world data will make you more efficient in SQL and you will be job-ready after the capstone project and internship.
In this article, we have discussed what SQL is, why you should learn SQL and why you should use it. To learn more about the data domain, you can read this article on data cleaning. You might also like this article on data analysts vs data scientists.
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