SQL Server is a powerhouse system for helping organizations store, process and make sense of complex data.
As a database professional looking to take the next step in your career, having basic SQL Server skills on your résumé won’t cut it. There’s a big difference between writing a basic query and provisioning a highly available database from the ground up.
So how do you develop the skills needed to snag that senior-level job you’ve been eyeing or become a valuable business asset?
In this blog, we’ll cover the advanced SQL training you need to master the platform and take on greater database responsibility.
1. Know the Difference Between Beginner and Advanced SQL Server Skills
A company’s success hinges on responsible, accurate database management. Organizations rely on highly available data to complete all sorts of tasks, from creating marketing reports and invoicing customers to setting financial goals.
Data professionals like analysts, developers and architects are tasked with creating, optimizing, managing and analyzing data from SQL Server databases – and there is little room for error. When databases aren’t built or maintained correctly, it’s easy to mishandle or lose valuable data.
Once you decide to pursue a senior-level role, fine-tuning your SQL Server abilities is a requirement. There’s a significant learning curve between entry-level and advanced SQL skills.
Beginners are typically expected to know basic SQL syntax, understand how to select and filter data across multiple tables and be familiar with normalization, indexing, transactions and locking.
Expert SQL professionals are responsible for more complex database duties when it comes to provisioning, managing and optimizing SQL databases. Simply knowing how to complete tasks and filter data in SQL isn’t enough. You’ll also need to understand the inner workings of a database and leverage the platform to solve business problems and increase ROI.
Growing your SQL Server knowledge can seem daunting, but the effort pays off. Senior database developers earn an average salary over $115,000 in the United States.
These are some concepts you’ll be expected to know when applying for senior SQL Server positions:
- When and how to denormalize a database
- How to set up distributed transactions across a database
- How to set up a database for high availability and data recovery
- How to use performance counters and understand the database load and behavior by monitoring them
- How to read an execution plan and how different parts of the query affect it
- How to work within multiple database management systems
- Data warehousing and reporting
Many job posts that require advanced SQL knowledge will expect you to prove your mastery of fundamental SQL concepts, including:
- Triggers and stored procedures
- Cursors (when to use, how to avoid)
- Design expertise: defining tables and types of indexes
- Performance tuning expertise
- Query optimization expertise
- Procedural SQL
Many job roles also require you to be up to speed on SQL Server 2016, the latest version of the platform. You should be familiar with the new features, including:
- CTEs (Common Table Expressions)
- UDFs (User Defined Functions)
- Fulltext search extensions/integration
- Performance tuning with new partitioning schemes, filtered indexes, sparse columns, etc.
- XML support and integration
2. Take Advanced SQL Training Courses
One of the most reliable methods to sharpen your SQL skills is advanced, expert-led training. Professional training courses cover the latest SQL Server techniques and give you a chance to practice what you learn in a hands-on environment.
The following courses are geared toward database professionals who already have a few years of experience working with SQL Server.
10986 Upgrading Your Skills to SQL Server 2016
Are you currently working on an older version of SQL Server? This training course is a segue into the latest version of the platform. You’ll learn about the new and enhanced features offered in SQL Server 2016 related to security, performance, data access and reporting.
20767 Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse
Sharpen your database management skills and learn how to provision, upgrade and configure a SQL Server 2016 database.
SQL Querying Advanced
In this course, you’ll learn how to identify and use advanced querying techniques to manipulate and index tables.
10987 Performance Tuning and Optimizing SQL Databases
Expand your knowledge of SQL Server’s architecture and components. This course covers best practices, architectural concepts, troubleshooting and techniques needed to identify bottlenecks and improve database performance.
10990 Analyzing Data with SQL Server Reporting Services
Discover how to use SQL Server Reporting Services for data analysis in your organization. You’ll learn how to visualize data, create paginated reports, summarize report data and much more.
Don’t see the training topics you’re looking for? New Horizons offers SQL Server courses for data professionals at every skill level. Browse more SQL Server training courses here.
3. Reinforce Training With Hands-On Experience
Naturally, some of your SQL Server training will come from real-world experience. Take the concepts and strategies you’ve learned from training courses and apply them to your company’s SQL Server environment.
Apply these concepts to stretch your knowledge and hone your advanced SQL skills in the workplace.
- Optimize your databases. If you want to prove your SQL Server expertise, you need to think bigger than queries and code. Take initiative to identify inefficiencies, assess your system resources and map database activities to business needs. Develop strategies to optimize your database and make data processes more efficient.
- Simplify databases for management staff. Management typically has a hard time understanding databases and how to use them effectively. Create diagrams and reports to help non-technical decision makers visualize where data is being collected, how databases are interconnected and why they’re important to the business.
- Prioritize metrics and reporting. Reporting on data doesn’t come naturally for many data professionals. Make an effort to share data frequently and embrace transparency. Proving you know how to extract valuable data and report on it will set you apart from your colleagues.
- Focus on business intelligence. Business intelligence is a growing field – and for a good reason. BI helps companies learn more about their customers, optimize processes, produce more accurate data and extract greater ROI from business decisions. As you learn more about SQL Server on the job, find ways to gain actionable intelligence from big data faster and more efficiently.
4. Earn Your MCSE: Data Management and Analytics Certification
Obtaining the right SQL Server skills is one thing. But proving your expertise to a potential employer is another.
If you want to validate your advanced SQL skills and look more impressive on paper, consider earning a professional certification.
The MCSE: Data Management and Analytics certification is Microsoft’s expert-level certification for data professionals. The certification curriculum puts a heavy emphasis on SQL Server 2016 and business intelligence.
Earning this certification validates your ability to build enterprise-scale data solutions and leverage BI data in both on-premises and cloud environments. It’s the ideal résumé booster for any IT professional with proven experience managing and building data solutions.
You must possess one of the following MCSA certifications: SQL Server 2012/2014, SQL 2016 Database Administration, SQL 2016 Database Development, SQL 2016 BI Development, Machine Learning, BI Reporting or Data Engineering with Azure.
You need to pass one exam to earn this certification. Microsoft lets you choose from a pool of 12 exams to customize the certification to your specific job role and interests.
70-473 Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
70-475 Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
70-464 Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases
70-465 Designing Database Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server
70-466 Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server
70-467 Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server
70-762 Developing SQL Databases
70-767 Implementing SQL Data Warehouse
70-768 Developing SQL Data Models
70-773 Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R
70-774 Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning
70-775 Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft Azure HDInsight
70-777 Implementing Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB Solutions
Gain Advanced SQL Training With New Horizons
No matter what stage you’re at in your data career, investing in SQL Server training is the best way to fine-tune your skills and set yourself apart from your peers.
New Horizons offers hands-on SQL Server courses for database developers, analysts, engineers and architects at every experience level. Courses are designed to prepare you for real-world database tasks and launch your career.
Discover SQL Server training courses happening now.