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Choose the Best Way to Learn SQL

SQL has become a hot topic in the professional world, and many resources have appeared both online and offline for learning SQL. It’s easy to get lost in the jungle of books, tutorials, and courses. Which resources do you choose? If you want to know how to learn SQL quickly and effectively, take a look at my list.

There are many reasons for learning SQL. We asked our users about them and learned that there was no universal motive. SQL students have varied needs, and they address them using various learning methods.

If you want to start your adventure with data analysis and SQL, you’re probably wondering how to learn SQL as quickly and painlessly as possible. Good news: learning SQL doesn’t have to be a nuisance. The language itself is logical and learner-friendly, and the abundance of learning resources make mastering SQL queries accessible for everyone.

Below, you’ll find a list of the available methods for learning SQL and my recommendations.

How to Learn SQL: Resources Within Your Reach

1. Computer Science Degree Courses

The first thing that comes to mind when you think about learning SQL is probably The first thing that comes to mind when you think about learning SQL is probably graduating from a technical university. Due to the increased demand for programming skills, computer science courses have become astoundingly popular worldwide.. Due to the increased demand for programming skills, computer science courses have become astoundingly popular worldwide.

However, these courses have their drawbacks. They definitely provide you with a solid technical background and teach you how to think like an engineer. However, obtaining a master’s degree takes five to six years, and to receive it, students have to dive into much more than merely SQL queries.

For those looking for specific knowledge focused on data analysis, option number two, discussed below, will be much better.

2. Stationary Courses and Workshops

How do you learn SQL if you don’t have five or more years to educate yourself? Taking a stationary SQL course or workshop could be an alternative. Unlike full-time degree courses, they’re focused on SQL queries and instead of years, take weeks or months to complete.

A huge advantage of a stationary SQL course over university courses is how you learn. University courses are infamous for being theory-centered. Stationary courses, by contrast, typically focus on the practical side.

Also, learning SQL in a small group under the watchful eye of a teacher gives you the chance to ask questions when you get lost. At universities, most classes are large and sometimes are in the form of lectures.

However, stationary SQL courses also have their drawbacks, especially, if you decide to enroll in a so-called bootcamp. Boot camps are highly popular nowadays. Organizers promote their courses with slogans guaranteeing well-paid jobs immediately after finishing them. It’s important to remember that employers value skills, not certificates.

To master SQL queries, you need to practice a lot. Taking a week-long SQL course (or boot camp) doesn’t provide you with the practice you need. It’s a nice alternative to consider, but keep in mind that it’s not enough.

3. Specialized Books

If you don’t want to take an SQL course, you might consider buying a specialized book teaching data analysis. There are plenty of them on the market—here are some we recommend. You can find books that will help you learn SQL from scratch, but most of them focus on a specific aspect of SQL queries (such as JOINs, recursive queries, etc.).

SQL books are quite popular because they are explanatory and enable you to come back to a problematic topic. They’re also a good way to dive deeper into a specific topic once you have some skills. I recommend them for SQL developers who want to write more advanced SQL queries.

The main drawback of books is also their biggest advantage: specialization. As I’ve mentioned, books are best for those who wish to learn SQL at more advanced levels. For SQL developers, they serve as a theoretical foundation for individual projects.

For complete beginners, they may not be the best way of learning SQL because they lack the practical side. When learning with a book, you can’t consult your doubts, and you don’t have a sandbox to practice writing SQL queries. In a nutshell, you’re on your own.

4. Interactive Online Courses

If you’re not advanced enough to benefit from a specialized book, think about taking an online SQL course. It’s arguably the best way for beginners to learn this programming language. When choosing an SQL course, make sure that it is written by specialists and includes practical exercises.

The major advantages of learning SQL with an interactive SQL course are the following:

  • Time-efficiency: Online courses concentrate on the topic of SQL (or data analysis in a wider context) and typically omit redundant theory so that you get rapid results.
  • Quality guarantee: If you opt for an SQL course delivered by a professional (not peer-to-peer) e-learning site, you can rest assured that the content you receive will be error-free.
  • Flexibility: An online SQL course enables you to adjust the pace of learning to your capacities—you may take a break when some topics seem complex or skip those that look too basic.
  • Practice: Learning SQL with online courses, unlike other learning methods, provides you with interactive exercises so that you don’t have to come up with your own mini-projects.

The main drawback of taking an online SQL course is being on your own because there’s no teacher behind you. Those who prefer listening to explanations in-person may find it inconvenient. However, some online courses come with forums or other resources meant for discussing problematic issues, often with course authors.

LearnSQL.com is an example of a platform where you can SQL online courses - learn with us | LearnSQL.com. These are written by active developers (who use SQL professionally) in the spirit of their slogan “learning by doing.” They will give you a hand whenever you get lost in the ocean of SQL queries. Alternatively, you may ask other users for help via Disqus.

For example, if you want to start your data analysis career and have no previous experience with programming, you should take a look at Learn SQL from A to Z, a collection of courses meant for those learning SQL from scratch.

Each of the seven SQL courses in this learning track contains tons of practical exercises. The best news is that you don’t need any database software to do these courses. Instead, use the interactive sandbox environment to type and run your code.

In case you still feel practice-hunger, the platform also has SQL Practice, where you can find even more interactive exercises based on real-life examples instead of academic theory. It’s a perfect match for users seeking to practice concrete SQL functions (e.g. JOINs or GROUP BY) or prepare for a job interview.

Don’t Hesitate! Start Learning SQL Today

You now know where to learn SQL and what the pros and cons of each method are. It looks like there are no excuses left. If you need more inspiration, visit our blog, where our SQL enthusiasts share their tips. Or, ask more experienced developers about things that are bugging you in our Facebook group. If you’re ready to learn SQL, don’t hesitate...start now!

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