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Monday, February 4, 2019

Introduction to SQL: A Beginner’s Guide to Jumpstarting Your Data Career

Interested in jumpstarting a career in data? Now is the time.

The data field is growing exponentially, and businesses are scrambling to hire IT professionals to manage, organize and make sense of their data. As a result, SQL experience is in high demand.

Companies of all sizes, from small businesses to massive IT enterprises, rely on SQL to retrieve and organize information in databases. SQL is ranked second for the most in-demand skills for data analysis jobs.

But mastering SQL doesn’t happen overnight. So where do you begin?

In this blog, we’ll introduce fundamental SQL concepts and cover the training you need to launch your data career.

What Is SQL?

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It’s a programming language used to retrieve data from and interface with relational databases.

SQL works by combing the contents of data tables in a conventional database and locating specific pieces of information. Businesses can use SQL to run complex searches, alter data, extract data and manipulate existing data sets.

Many job roles rely on SQL skills, from data engineers to database administrators to web developers. And gaining SQL experience is a lucrative career move.

Just look at the average U.S. salaries for careers that rely on SQL:

Introduction to SQL Databases

SQL works primarily with relational databases, the standard database type for structured data. Relational databases store data in an organized format, relying on tables with rows and columns to present information.

Relational databases are perfect for most data needs in business environments. They support ACID (atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability) transitional consistency, offer a large ecosystem and come with built-in data integrity.

However, relational databases aren’t designed to handle unstructured or semi-structured data, so they aren’t ideal for big data analytics or IoT loads. Organizations with complex data requirements can use non-relational databases, also known as NoSQL databases, as an alternative.

Here are a few popular SQL databases to become familiar with:

Microsoft SQL Server: Microsoft SQL Server supports a broad spectrum of business intelligence and analytics applications. It’s popular in enterprise IT environments – 98 percent of Fortune 100 companies use SQL Server.

Oracle Database: Oracle Database is a popular multi-model database management system. It’s commonly used for running online transactional processing, mixed database workloads and data warehousing.

MySQL: MySQL is an open-source relational database management system. It runs on virtually all platforms, including Windows, Linux and UNIX.

PostgreSQL: This open-source object-relational database management system emphasizes extensibility and standards compliance. PostgreSQL has a strong reputation for reliability, performance and extensive features.

Introduction to SQL Commands

SQL commands help database administrators and developers route data in and out of database tables. Learning basic SQL commands can help you accomplish essential tasks in a relational database.

Important basic SQL commands include:

  • CREATE DATABASE: Create a new database
  • CREATE TABLE: Create a new table in a database
  • SELECT: Find and retrieve data that matches criteria you specify
  • UPDATE: Update or edit data points that match your criteria
  • DELETE: Delete records or rows from a table
  • INSERT: Add a row of data into a table
  • DROP TABLE: Delete a table and all rows in the table

The more complicated a relational database is, the more commands you’ll need to know to use it.

SQL Courses for Beginners

While you can teach yourself some basic SQL commands, most database jobs require more experience. Learning fundamental SQL concepts through hands-on training will prepare you to handle any data task that comes your way.

You can gain a solid introduction to SQL through hands-on training courses. Microsoft and Oracle offer a variety of introductory SQL courses.

10985 Introduction to SQL Databases

In this Microsoft course, you’ll be exposed to SQL concepts including database types, languages and design. It’s a perfect course for SQL beginners who are looking to build foundational skills before jumping into a data career.

Course topics include:

  • Introduction to relational databases and database languages
  • Data modeling
  • Data normalization
  • Indexing, query performance and concurrency
  • Tables, views, stored procedures, triggers and functions

This course will help you become more familiar with SQL essentials and prepare for advanced training. 

View Course: 10985 Introduction to SQL Databases

20761 Querying Data with Transact SQL

This course will introduce you to Microsoft SQL Server and the Transact-SQL language — Microsoft’s set of programming extensions for SQL. Transact-SQL enables you to use procedural programming, local variables, new support functions and more to interact with databases.

The course’s focus areas include:

  • Key capabilities and components of SQL Server
  • T-SQL elements, sets and predicate logic
  • Writing different types of SELECT statements
  • Writing queries that aggregate data and use built-in functions
  • How to add programming constructs including variables, conditions and loops to T-SQL code

View Course: 20761 Querying Data with Transact SQL

20762 Developing SQL Databases

Interested in using your SQL skills to develop Microsoft SQL Server databases? This course teaches students how to use SQL Server’s features and tools for database development.

Key topics include:

  • Designing and implementing advanced tables
  • Designing and implementing views, stored procedures and user-defined functions
  • Using constraints to ensure data integrity
  • Designing optimized index strategies
  • Implementing managed code in SQL Server

View Course: 20762 Developing SQL Databases

Pro Tip: As a SQL beginner, earning a certification is a great way to validate your SQL skills and prepare you for career advancement. The MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development certification is perfect for individuals who want to confidently leverage SQL in on-premises and cloud databases.

You need to pass two exams to earn your MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development certification. Taking the two courses listed above will adequately prepare you for the exams:

10990 Analyzing Data with SQL Server Reporting Services

Possessing the knowledge to create and analyze reports is a key function of SQL-related job roles. In this course, you’ll learn how to use SQL Server 2016 Reporting Services to analyze data and create reports.

Hands-on course topics include:

  • Creating and publishing reports
  • Working with Report Services data using data filters and report parameters
  • Summarizing report data
  • Extending and integrating Reporting Services using custom code
  • Developing mobile reports

This course is recommended for individuals with working knowledge of Transact-SQL, so it’s smart to take the course, “Querying Data with Transact SQL” before enrolling in this class.

View Course: 10990 Analyzing Data with SQL Server Reporting Services

Oracle Database – Introduction to SQL

This Oracle course introduces aspiring data professionals to advanced SQL features.

The course covers vital SQL topics, including:

  • How to retrieve data using the SELECT statement
  • Restricting and sorting data
  • Using single-row functions to customize output
  • How to display data from multiple tables using “joins”
  • How to manipulate data

New Horizons offers this course in a Vendor On-Demand (VOnD) format. The VOnD course format is perfect for students who prefer to learn at their own pace or can’t take time away from work for traditional full-day classes.

View Course: Oracle Database – Introduction to SQL

Get Introduced to SQL With New Horizons

Almost all businesses rely on databases to store and manage data and run their operations. Adding SQL to your résumé can open the door to new career opportunities in a rapidly growing field.

As the world’s largest IT training company, New Horizons provides the biggest selection of training courses for SQL beginners. No matter your learning style or career goals, New Horizons offers expert-led training for every skill level.

Ready to get started? Browse SQL training courses today.

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