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Top 5 Beginner Online SQL Courses in 2020

Looking for an exciting new career? Data analysis won’t disappoint you! The simplest way to make this possible is by learning SQL, and online SQL courses are the most effective learning method. Don’t know where to start? Here’s an overview of the best online SQL courses for complete beginners.

There are infinite reasons for changing your industry. You may want to land a new job because you’re burnt out. You may be bored and want something more challenging. Perhaps you simply want to earn more or turn your private passion into a real profession.

No matter the reason, diving into data analysis will pay off. We’re living during dataism, or the importance of Big Data. The demand for data analysts is already huge. More importantly, everything points to the fact that it’s going to keep growing!

Once you’ve decided to go into data science, you may wonder: Where do I start? What will give me the foundation for getting some analytics experience?

The answer is simple: Learn SQL.

What Exactly Is SQL?

SQL stands for ‘Structured Query Language’. It’s a programming language used mainly for data analysis purposes (or, to be more precise, for accessing and manipulating data). SQL queries, i.e. commands written in that language, allow you to communicate with a database to retrieve or modify information.

Why would you want to use code to access data instead of just dealing directly with the information? Well, while your home budget may take several dozen rows and a couple of columns, tables used for commercial purposes typically need hundreds or thousands of columns. Finding a specific value on your own is likely to take hours.

Instead, you can write a simple SQL query and get your data instantly. The word ‘simple’ is not random here. It’s really easy to learn SQL, as it’s logical and extremely learner-friendly. But don’t take my word for it: Rebecca McKeown dispels all doubts you may have in her post Is it difficult to learn SQL? .

This simplicity has made SQL the number one choice of data analysis novices around the globe. There are other languages used in data science, such as Python, Scala, or R. However, when looking for your first data analysis position, you’ll certainly be asked about SQL.

The Best Place to Learn SQL

If I’ve already convinced you that SQL pays off, it’s time to get down to learning! There are a variety of methods. I’m a huge supporter of online SQL courses, as they’re cost-effective, quick, and more flexible than traditional methods like books or university courses. (And that’s just the short list; check out my previous blog post to see more reasons.)

Due to the language’s popularity, many platforms offer comprehensive SQL courses. However, it’s worth mentioning that they teach SQL in different ways. You should base your choice on your individual preferences.

A major difference between courses lies in their interactivity. Videos are the Internet’s favorite content format, so most popular e-learning platforms use them (and only them) in their SQL courses. If you prefer listening to lectures and starting with a theoretical background, this may be a good way to start building your knowledge.

However, learning to code is all about practice; you won’t become proficient in writing queries unless you… well, write queries. That’s what interactive SQL courses provide. They feature realistic programming environments that let you write and revise your code directly in the browser. There’s no need to install any external software. If you prefer learning by doing – or if you want to add solid practise to all that video-based theory – interactive SQL courses will be better for you.

No matter your initial preferences, it’s good to know all the pros and cons of video-based and interactive courses. This article will help you decide what to look for in a SQL course.

Best Online SQL Courses

Having said that, let’s get to the point: my list of the best online SQL courses, both interactive and video-based. They’re all introductory courses meant for complete beginners, so you don’t need any prior knowledge to start them.

SQL Course #5: Weekender Crash Course for Beginners (Udemy)

Udemy is a well-known community-run e-learning platform. It allows users to upload courses on whatever topic and monetize them according to their popularity. Many specialists treat it as a source of passive income; once a course is uploaded, it stays on the platform until deleted by its author(s).

Udemy appeals to many programmers that want to benefit from the current high demand for developer skills. Thus, you’ll find there are numerous SQL courses both for beginners and advanced developers on this platform. I recommend SQL for Data Analysis: Weekender Crash Course for Beginners. It’s meant mainly for people with business backgrounds, but other students may also find it useful. Like other Udemy courses, this one is based on videos (3.5 hours in total) with occasional exercises and quizzes. It’ll best fit students who prefer auditory learning.

This course is nicely designed. It clearly explains key concepts and (what I really like) all examples and exercises are based on a real business, i.e. Blockbuster. It gives some reality to the learning experience.

The main disadvantage of this course is that it’s not interactive. As Udemy is not a programming-focused platform, there’s no option to write your queries in the browser. To learn with the course, you need to install free MySQL software.

Also, this SQL course has a problem that is common to most community-run courses. You feel that it’s not professional. Voice, graphics, and video quality could be better.

SQL Course #4: Intro to SQL: Querying and Managing Data (Khan Academy)

Popular mainly among science and economy enthusiasts, Khan Academy is a non-profit e-learning platform offering educational materials for learners of all ages and across various disciplines. Programming is one of the disciplines, but there are only 7 courses in this category. Rather than doing any deep dives, the platform teaches merely fundamental concepts.

Intro to SQL is one of these basic courses. It familiarizes the student with the fundamental concepts related to SQL queries. There are 4 units divided into lessons (it’s hard to say how much time they take, as there’s no estimation provided). What’s interesting is that it features several more advanced chapters. These are not necessary for starting your SQL adventure, but they may serve as an incentive for trying more advanced SQL courses in the future.

Khan Academy’s learning method is also based on video tutorials. The chapters contain quite a lot of theory, which is presented exclusively in this form. There’s also a bit of practice where you write your own queries – but unfortunately not too much.

This SQL course is partially interactive. Khan Academy has a built-in programming environment, but it’s rather simple, especially compared to the ones offered by DataCamp and LearnSQL.com. It allows you to write and check your SQL queries and then gives you basic feedback. When you make an error, it’s not that easy to correct, as the hints are not self-explanatory. Also, the interface could be nicer.

The biggest advantage of this course is that it’s the only one on the list that’s completely free. To learn SQL at a professional level, you’d have to find some additional practice for yourself; there’s not much of it on this platform. However, if you want to go through several lessons to see if SQL is the right choice for you, you can try Khan Academy’s content without charge and look for more complex paid SQL courses later.

SQL Course #3: Introduction to SQL (DataCamp)

DataCamp is an e-learning platform teaching various data science skills. Its offering consists mainly of Python and R courses, with SQL constituting a minority (just to compare, there are 120 Python courses and 22 SQL courses).

Introduction to SQL teaches you all the basic concepts necessary to start your data analysis adventure. To get a job in this field, you’ll probably need to complete another, more advanced course, but this is a good starting point.

This SQL course combines two learning methods: videos and interactive exercises. It consists of chapters broken down into lessons and summaries. The lessons start with short videos explaining core concepts, followed by additional short written explanations.

Then comes the practical part: the exercises. They’re interactive and come with feedback on your code, but the hints are not always as explanatory as they might be.

One thing I don’t like about the exercises at DataCamp is that they’re partially completed. It means that when you’re asked to write a query, half of it is written, with blank spaces to fill in yourself. It may be too easy at times. Nonetheless, Introduction to SQL is a nice course, especially for those that prefer learning from videos.

SQL Course #2: Learn SQL (Codecademy)

With courses in 13 technologies, Codecademy is a one-stop-shop for basic and advanced developers. It teaches diverse developer skills (not only data analysis) and enjoys great popularity with programmers around the world. As it’s highly gamified, learning here is more fun!

Learn SQL is one of the three SQL courses offered by this platform. It teaches the fundamentals necessary to learn SQL for a specific professional purpose. Just like DataCamp, the course itself is not sufficient for you to meet your goals. But it’s a nice starting point.

The course is divided into lessons followed by a review summarizing key concepts. The teachers collaborating with the platform present theory using short written explanations with real-life examples. Then there are several exercises for each new concept, in which you’re asked to write your own queries from scratch.

After finishing this SQL course, you’re also invited to do an additional project. It’s rather basic and doesn’t challenge you much, but it’s another bit of practical code writing. And there’s never too much practice!

SQL Course #1: SQL Basics (LearnSQL.com)

LearnSQL.com is a SQL-only e-learning platform run by data analysis professionals. It offers courses exclusively in this language, making it a very specialized website.

With crystal-clear explanations and interactive practical exercises, SQL Basics offers everything you need to start your data analysis journey. It features theoretical information and tons of exercises where you write your own queries. And I mean write your own queries: there are approximately 130 exercises in this course!

The structure clearly shows the idea behind the course: as a beginner, you don’t need to know all the theory taught at university courses. All in all, it’s not theory that’ll get you a job in data analysis.

Writing your own queries in an interactive environment is the most efficient way to learn SQL. And by ‘most efficient’ I mean ‘fastest’. When you’re participating in an interactive SQL course, there’s no need for doing your own projects on the side; the featured exercises provide as much practice as you need.

The theory in this course is divided into small chunks that help students memorize new concepts without the need to repeat lessons several times. And the real-life examples help you quickly understand everything.

Once you learn the theory, you proceed to the exercises. As I mentioned, there are lots of them. After writing a query, you check it directly in the browser; if the answer’s not correct, you receive proper feedback. If that’s not enough, you can always jump to the community discussion and ask for more help.

Community reviews show that the ‘practice-first’ approach works out. Users are very positive about this SQL course, with many of them recommending it to their friends. Check exactly what they say in this article.

Another important thing is that LearnSQL.com is a SQL-only platform. This specialization translates into a teaching method that addresses the unique needs of SQL students. Also, all content is prepared by SQL gurus from around the world, which guarantees high SQL expertise (unlike community-run courses).

One more thing. There are various types of SQL, just like spoken languages have various dialects. LearnSQL.com offers courses in three major dialects (SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and standard SQL), which is quite special; most platforms focus on just one.

Start Your New Career with Online SQL Courses

You already know why taking an SQL course is a great investment. With our list of the best online SQL courses, it’ll be much easier to decide the best place for you to learn.

Remember that there’s no set rule. We all have our individual learning preferences, so it’s impossible to point to just one learning resource that would fit everyone. Also, keep in mind that you won’t master SQL queries without loads of practice.

Having said that, keep calm and learn SQL!

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