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5 Tips for Learning SQL for Beginners

Being data-driven is a hot trend right now. Employers are looking for people who can work with databases. This is why you should learn SQL. In this article, I'll explain how to go about doing so.

Yes, learning SQL may be the right thing for you even if you have never seen a line of code. As with any new skill, it requires the right approach and the right resources.

Think SQL is not for you just because you have never heard of it or because you have no IT background? Don't worry! You can make it happen.

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is designed to "talk" to databases. How is that possible? What are databases? And why is SQL used?

Data in Your Life

Look around you and try to find the data source closest to you. It may be a cookbook with your favorite recipes, an article in a newspaper with the top places for vacationing, your mobile phone with contacts, an email inbox, or any of the many things you see every day.

Data is everywhere! We live in a data-driven world.

But what does that mean? We use the internet every day. We buy and sell things online, search for things with Google, look for new jobs, inspiration, or love, pay our taxes, and play games.

Whether it's an online store or an official portal, it collects a huge amount of data. And with our every move, we leave behind another heap of data. As you can imagine, it is a lot of data.

We need a place somewhere to keep it all organized. That's what databases are for. They allow us to store a lot of information. They are a part of every website, program, digital tool, accounting application, and many more.

There needs to be a database server for us to be able to use all that stored data. The server is responsible for data security and allows users to read and modify the data. As an example, in an online clothing store, you may have tabs with buttons for different categories so that you can choose men's or women's, jeans, t-shirts, etc. Behind this filter, there is a hidden server with data. You may only be a user, or you may be a customer in a store.

Or you may need to go deeper by connecting to the server to read the information stored on the server. To do this, you need to know SQL.

The history of SQL goes back to the early 1970s. It was developed at IBM by Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce. At first, it was called SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language) because it was supposed to be a sequel to SQUARE.

SQUARE was the first relational database language they were working on at IBM, but it was difficult to use. They started to develop a language to manipulate and retrieve data stored in IBM's quasi-relational database management system (System R). This language later became SQL.

Why Is Learning SQL Worth it?

SQL is the most popular and commonly used database language of our time. It is used in small businesses, start-ups, and big corporations. This is not just in the tech industry. It's used everywhere: in marketing, finance, small online businesses, and many other areas.

SQL for Beginners

Every organization that has data and wants to improve its performance needs someone who can analyze that data and draw conclusions. Sure, you can use a good old Excel file. It may be suitable but only for small datasets. SQL comes in handy in preparing reports, obtaining statistics, and performing calculations. With SQL, you can compare data and find relationships you may overlook otherwise. It improves everyone's work in the office.

If you want to change your job, SQL is a big asset on your resume. If you want to advance in your current role, a new skill helps you grow. If your organization is not yet using SQL, you can convince your boss that the whole organization can take a step forward by taking an SQL course.

Moreover, SQL is not difficult to learn. It is a declarative language. You write queries and set conditions. You learn functions and their syntax. You don't need to know exactly what happens after typing the query. You just tell the database what you want, and it gets you what you need.

If you still question whether SQL is right for you, give it a try in an online course that starts from the very beginning. See how easy it is. You will change your mind.

A First-Aid Kit: Tips for Learning SQL for Beginners

The decision to learn SQL is the first and the most important step. But I have to say it's not the toughest one.

When I started my training path with SQL, it was just as I described above. I quickly figured that learning SQL is intuitive, easy, and fun. It was a bit like a game for me. I was enjoying the different exercises, the small hints, the immediate effect, and the feedback. It was satisfying, and I was proud of myself for learning a completely new thing.

After the first few simple lessons, I moved on to more complex ones. It was time to start learning for real. It was still game-like, but I needed a good strategy if I wanted to win.

So, from my experience, I share these tips for learning SQL. Let's make sure you start your learning path with a good approach.

1.   Find the Right Resources

There are a lot of options for learning SQL online. You can follow YouTube channels, watch tutorials, and listen to podcasts. Find what suits you best. But those resources need to be complemented to complete your learning path.

Online interactive SQL courses make the entire content available in one place. This was the path I chose. I work in the e-learning field, so I knew this would be perfect for learning a new language.

Most importantly, courses like SQL Basics let you learn by doing. You type in the code and check if it's correct right away with immediate feedback. You move through the lessons at your own pace.

If you find something difficult, you can use the hints provided, discuss it with a community of users, or ask for help from the admin. You usually get unlimited access to the course, so that you can go back to the lessons you found difficult or for which you just want to deepen your understanding.

2.   Schedule Your Learning

When I was thinking about learning SQL, I questioned whether I could manage to work and learn a new skill at the same time. I wanted to keep my job but learn new skills after hours. I needed a well-prepared, solid plan for learning.

SQL for Beginners

I determined how many hours per day or week I could spend on training. Initially, I didn't think I had any free time to learn. Usually, I was really tired and didn't want to do anything after work. But then I checked the facts.

I wanted to finish my first SQL course in two weeks. From the description, I knew it would take around 10 hours. That would be 5 hours per week, so an hour a day, and I would even have the weekends off. That did not sound bad at all. Suddenly, something that seemed unattainable became quite realistic. Plan your learning goals so that they fit your schedule.

3.   Practice Every Day

It is good to divide learning SQL into smaller parts. Do not try to go through the entire course in one or two days. It is possible – but your brain becomes tired, and you don't remember much after a marathon like that.

Take your time, be consistent, and try to learn every day, even if it is just for an hour. It is important to develop a learning routine. If you feel you want more, you can always reach for a set of exercises designed to practice SQL.

4.   Take Care of Yourself

Don't forget that learning online is not only a mental effort but also a burden on your body. Take care of your physical condition. Take regular breaks. Stretch your body, do some yoga, or go for a walk. Get something good to eat, and drink plenty of water.

All these small gifts to your body translate into better performance. You can spend more time learning SQL, but most importantly, your mind learns faster and more effectively when it is rested.

For more tips, read about how to keep focused while learning at home.

5.   Visualize What You Want to Achieve

One of the most important things while learning SQL, or any new skill for that matter, is motivation. Focus on what you want to achieve.

Every time you don't want to do it, you are tired, or you have thousands of other interesting things to do besides learning SQL, ask yourself: why did I decide to learn SQL in the first place? Change your job, earn more money, support your team, or start your own business. Every reason is good as long as it is something you really want to accomplish.

SQL for Beginners

A positive approach and a clear vision of the result help you complete the learning path and become an SQL specialist.

You Can Learn SQL!

You now know how to approach learning SQL. Even if it seems like an unattainable goal at first, trust me – with a little motivation and a good plan, you can achieve anything!

If you have your own story of becoming an SQL expert, don't hesitate to share it in the comments section. Your learning tips may help someone else!