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Top 5 Programming Languages to Learn Alongside SQL

If you already know or are about to learn SQL, you’re well on your way to being a sought-after database administrator, database engineer, or just a general database whizz kid! SQL is a modern, widely-used language that finds application in almost every industry. There is no shortage of jobs with SQL. But what if you want to branch out and learn another language to complement your SQL knowledge and skills? Look no further! We’ve rounded up five ideas for your next language learning challenge.

First up, if you’re learning SQL, there’s no need to learn another language. SQL will serve you well in a wide range of careers, especially if you work your way past the basics and up to more advanced SQL knowledge and skills.

Programming Languages

First up, if you’re learning SQL, there’s no need to learn another language. SQL will serve you well in a wide range of careers, especially if you work your way past the basics and up to more advanced SQL knowledge and skills.

Having said that, becoming proficient in another programming language can only enhance your employability and increase the range of roles you’ll be eligible to apply for.

The trouble is, though, deciding exactly which language to invest your time and energy into.

Which language complements SQL? Which language is easiest to learn if you know SQL? We often get these questions at LearnSQL.com, so I thought I’d bring you a little smorgasbord of choice.

Have a read and whet your appetite for your next challenge after learning SQL!

What’s the Best SQL Combo?

Finding the right language to complement SQL depends on you, your interests, work demands, career aspirations, and gut feeling!

Another major thing to consider is the functional SQL stack you’re working with. If you’ve spent a lot of time learning SQL Server, for example, then learning another Microsoft product, like a PowerShell scripting language, might make a lot of sense.

Ultimately, the decision is all yours, but do your homework first! My colleague, Magdalena, recently wrote a great overview of some of the programming languages you have at your disposal—a great place to start if you don’t know Java from JavaScript.

You should also ask yourself this very important question: “Do I want to be an SQL expert with C# under my belt or a C# developer who is proficient at SQL?”

If the former, you can choose from many types of database jobs, some of which you’ll find outlined in this blog post.

If the latter, learning SQL is a great entry point for picking up your main language. SQL is easy to learn and helps IT beginners start thinking in a systems-centric way.

If you’re new to LearnSQL.com, trust me when I tell you that you’ve found a great place to start your SQL learning journey! The courses you’ll find on our site are all designed to be interactive with plenty of hands-on experience and realistic examples to get your teeth into.

Just choose your level and the SQL dialect you want to work with and jump in! The sooner you start, the sooner SQL jobs will be all yours! *maniacal laugh*

maniacal laugh

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the programming languages you might want to consider learning in addition to SQL. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s hopefully enough to get you started!

SQL and Python

In this video, Microsoft’s Brian Cafferky explains how to get started with Python data analysis using SQL. He even gives his opinion on using Python and SQL together—well worth a watch!

Relationship Status

Soulmates.

Python and SQL are a match made in heaven, so we’ve given them the honor of first place on our list.

Python is one of the world’s most popular scripting languages, one of the easiest to learn, and one of the best for data analysis and visualization.

Use Cases

SQL is not exactly designed for high-level data manipulation (like regressions, time-series data, and statistical analyses). So, Python is a great partner language if you’re wanting to perform these types of tasks. Python’s huge number of libraries (for example SciPy, StatsModel, and Pandas) are a much more efficient way of performing a regression analysis than trying to do the same from within SQL.

Python also makes exploring different paths much quicker and easier, which can lead you to discover more than you would with a pure SQL approach.

Learning Python

Python is one of the world’s most popular programming languages and for good reason. It’s a powerful language with clear, simple syntax. It’s written very much like everyday English, even more so than SQL.

If you want to pick up a bit of Python alongside SQL, you’d be wise to visit the lovely folks at Vertabelo Academy. They’re masters of teaching Python and offer an excellent (and ridiculously cheap) Python Basics Course. Dive in!

SQL and R

Check out the video above for another of Brian Cafferky’s tutorials, this time on R for DBAs. The video is easy to follow and will have you get started with SQL-friendly packages in R in no time.

Relationship Status

The old married couple.

R and SQL are allies from way back. R, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It’s widely used for data analysis and therefore a natural partner for SQL.

Use Cases

R supports the retrieval of data from centrally-located relational databases using SQL, meaning the relationship between the two is well-established and easy enough to navigate.

But there’s more depth to this pair than meets the eye! There are several packages available in R that allow users to create and query datasets while simultaneously processing and analyzing data.

What are these different packages? Well, RSQLite helps users retrieve data from files and spreadsheets to include in an SQL-accessible database. In short, it helps you work with data without having to set up an external database. Win.

The sqldf package makes things even easier by allowing users to use SQL on data frames and completely doing away with the need to set up any kind of database. Win-win!

If you’re keen to take this relationship to the next level, consider exploring R’s “Tidyverse” package collection, which helps R users to clean, process, model, and visualize data.

Learning R

Again, our good friends at Vertabelo Academy make the best teachers when it comes to learning R. Their course, “Introduction to R,” helps students learn to create variables, perform basic calculations, create and use vectors, deal with factors and their levels, and much, much more!

Anyone interested in adding a little R knowledge to their SQL know-how would be wise to give the course a go. Having even a little understanding of R can go a long way when it comes to database learning and forging a career in database administration and data analysis.

SQL and Java

In this “oldie but a goodie” video, Chad Darby talks us through connecting to a MySQL database using Java, a quick and easy way to get hooked up with Java Database Connectivity (JDBC).

Relationship Status

Dating.

Java has held its position as a popular and powerful programming language for more than two decades. It’s used by a large number of Fortune 500 companies to build their back-ends, and it’s also the foundation of many Android applications.

While Java’s not a data analyst’s first choice in a programming language, that doesn’t mean it won’t be useful to you. If you want to work in back-end web development, mobile development, and desktop applications, Java is a great language for you.

Combined with your knowledge of SQL, you’ll be able to incorporate database tasks with your development work. A great combo!

Use Cases

Most Java developers interested in employing SQL in their work will do so through JDBC, which allows Java to connect to SQL databases.

The video above gives a great overview of how to use the JDBC API to connect the MySQL Database with Java. Once connected, you can easily retrieve data from databases to use in your Java coding work.

Learning Java

Coursera is a great platform for adding to your SQL knowledge, and they also have some great offerings on the Java front. We recommend this one: Java Programming and Software Engineering Fundamentals Specialization. It includes an “Arrays, Lists, and Structured Data” module which will help you learn to solve problems in Java involving data files and store and manipulate data in arrays or array lists.

SQL and C#

Here’s Tim Corey talking us through connecting C# with SQL.

Relationship Status

Going steady.

Just like Java, C# is a popular programming language with specific use applications—namely, building websites and Windows applications. Also, like Java, there are plenty of instances in which you might want to use SQL with C#, making the pairing a strong choice for students of SQL!

Use Cases

C# and other .Net languages can work together with most databases but most commonly pair with Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.

C# guru Tim Corey offers an easy way to connect C# to SQL in the video above. Check it out to get a better understanding of how the two can work together.

Learning C#

Go straight to the masters with this one. Microsoft offers a comprehensive range of videos, articles, news, and guides about C# that will have you immersed in the language in no time at all.

All-around good guy Mosh, over at Programming with Mosh, also offers a fantastic C# video tutorial to get you started. While you’re there, check out his other videos. Mosh has a wealth of information!

SQL and Power BI

In the video above, Vikram Verma gives us an overview of how to make simple BI reports from an SQL Server database.

Relationship Status

The honeymooners.

Power BI is not a programming language by any stretch of the imagination, but it does go with SQL like two peas in a pod, which is why we’ve included it here.

Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics service from Microsoft that helps users to better visualize and analyze data. It integrates with databases seamlessly and can prove incredibly useful to data scientists working with SQL.

Use Cases

Power BI offers capabilities such as data warehousing and data discovery and is able to load a wide range of custom visualizations. It’s been recognized as a leading tool in the analytics and business intelligence world by Gartner for 12 years running.

Once you’ve connected your chosen database or databases with Power BI, the world of amazing data visualization is yours!

Learning Power BI

As a Microsoft product, basically everything you need to learn Power BI can be found over at Microsoft’s “Learn Power BI“ page. From videos and articles that will walk you through performing basic tasks with Power BI to case study samples and comprehensive guides, there’s nothing better than learning the ropes from the makers themselves!

SQL and Everything!

Learn SQL, and the world is your oyster. If you’re a fan of database learning and keen to work as a database administrator, analyst, or data scientist, starting with a solid foundational SQL course will never be a bad idea.

Once you’ve nailed the basics, try leveling up with a more advanced SQL course. Here, you’ll learn more difficult skills such as window functions, GROUP BY extensions, and recursive queries.

If you’re doing well with your SQL learning or simply want to kill two birds with one stone, picking up another programming language is a great idea. A complementary skill will only increase your programming and database abilities and your employability in the future.

There are SO MANY types of database jobs you can do with SQL alone, and another programming language only adds more strings to your bow. But which language to choose?

Python and R are always great options. If you don’t find yourself pulled in any particular direction, I’d pick one of those two for sheer usability and employability.

If you’re interested in becoming an android developer, Java is a good choice. Similarly, C# is a language with specific applications but works very well in tandem with SQL.

Still can’t decide?

Pick a cat!

Cats
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