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Will SQL Ever Be Replaced?

Is it worth learning SQL? Is it possible that one of the modern programming languages or no-code solutions will replace SQL very soon? No; it is not that easy to replace SQL and relational databases. Let’s see why SQL is future proof – and why learning it will pay off for many years to come.

If you are building your career in a data-driven company, you are probably looking into opportunities to enhance your skill set in data management and data analysis. Where do you start? You’ve probably heard about SQL and its very long history. And it looks like SQL is very popular among data scientists… So, is it still worth learning SQL? Or should you search for some alternative to SQL?

To answer these questions, we first need to understand what SQL is and what its role in data management and engineering is.

What Is SQL?

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a programming language that is an industry standard for interacting with relational databases. But what are these databases? Are they still used by tech-focused companies?

Relational databases store large amounts of structured data in tables. These tables can be linked with each other via some common fields (e.g. a customers table can be linked to an orders table via the customer_id column). It has been 50 years since such data organization was introduced; in the 2020s, it still remains very relevant.

Tech leaders like Uber, Facebook, and Google rely on relational databases to store their data. Microsoft continues the development and upgrading of MS SQL Server, one of the most popular database management systems.

If these tech giants need SQL, there is something special about it, don’t you think? Here’s a brief video explaining why SQL is a very powerful tool for ‘talking’ with databases:

The new tools appearing on the market aren’t substitutes for SQL; rather, they complement it. For example, Python is great for data analysis and building machine learning models. However, to get the data for analysis, you will usually need SQL. It’s not surprising that mastering SQL results in higher salaries for data analysts, marketing analysts, and business analysts.

Excited to try SQL for yourself? Start your journey with our interactive SQL Basics course.

4 Reasons Why SQL Is Here To Stay

You can’t deny that technologies are moving forward very fast these days, but there are certain things that don’t change quickly at all. Relational databases seem to be one of these things. After the rapid blast of NoSQL, many predicted an end to classic relational databases. However, this did not happen. Each of the solutions found its recipients. It was the same with the XML databases that were supposed to revolutionize the world of data; again, relational databases and SQL demonstrated their longevity.

Let’s try to understand what’s been keeping SQL on top for so many years.

According to the Stack Overflow Survey 2021, SQL is the third most popular information technology (after JavaScript and HTML). It is one of  the languages most loved by developers who use it and most wanted by developers who are not working with it yet.

Will SQL Ever Be Replaced?

As you can see, there is a constant demand and interest in SQL in the market. With so many companies relying on relational databases and so many data professionals trained to work with SQL, these tools are not going away in the near future.

SQL Is Simple to Learn

As a programming language, SQL is really easy to pick up even for people without IT experience. When communicating with relational databases using SQL, one writes queries that look pretty much like English sentences. For example:

SELECT order_id, order_date
FROM  orders
WHERE order_date > ‘2021-10-31’;

It is quite clear, even for a person without prior exposure to SQL, that this query requests information on orders made after Oct 31, 2021.

Thanks to being an accessible and yet very powerful tool, SQL is getting popular among non-technical staff who work with data. In a data-driven company, this is almost everyone! Product managers, marketers, HR specialists, and many other professionals can improve their daily work with SQL.

SQL Has a Strong Community

There are several database management systems (DBMS); consequently, there are several SQL dialects to communicate with each of these databases. These dialects include PostgreSQL, MySQL, MS SQL Server, Oracle, and SQLite. Each SQL dialect has its own active community.

The SQL language (and its dialects) continue to evolve, becoming even more effective in data management and data engineering. Being adaptive is an important part of SQL’s success as well as its longevity. Active communities ensure this constant development. They also provide support for new and inexperienced users.

SQL Integrates Well with Hot Technologies

Is it possible that cutting-edge technologies like blockchain or artificial intelligence will make SQL obsolete? We don’t know for sure what will happen in 10 or 20 years, but from what we can see now, SQL integrates very well with the new technologies.

For example, Azure has recently announced Azure SQL Database ledger, a solution that combines SQL’s simplicity for centralized data storage with the digital trust ensured with blockchain. Another example is Dune Analytics, which allows free access to comprehensive crypto-analytics via simple SQL queries.

Similarly, SQL integrates with AI-based solutions by providing data to build and train machine learning models. For example, the SQLFlow project leverages SQL to support AI tasks including training, prediction, model evaluation, model explanation, custom jobs, and mathematical programming.

As you can see, SQL plays really well with modern technologies, despite its impressively long history.

It’s Time to Learn SQL!

SQL will not be replaced for a long time, as it has a number of key benefits:

  • It is very popular among data professionals.
  • Leading tech companies rely on relational databases and SQL.
  • Professionals working with data are used to SQL; it’s quite challenging to re-train the workforce to use another tool.
  • SQL is easy to learn, even for people without an IT background.
  • If you have any challenges when learning or working with SQL, there is a strong community to support you.
  • SQL adapts very well to the latest technological developments, including artificial intelligence and blockchain.

So let’s get on board and learn SQL!

I recommend starting with our SQL Basics course. It includes 129 interactive exercises covering simple SQL queries, selecting data from multiple tables, aggregating and grouping data, filtering data, writing queries within queries (aka subqueries), and more.

For those willing to go beyond basics, I recommend the SQL from A to Z learning track.

Will SQL Ever Be Replaced?

It includes 7 interactive courses covering various SQL concepts, including such advanced topics as window functions, common table expressions (CTEs), and recursive queries.

After completing this learning track and getting a strong base in SQL, you can aim for different types of database jobs, including SQL developer, SQL database administrator, database tester, SQL data analyst, business/financial data analyst, SQL data scientist, data modeler, and more. Here’s your step-by-step guide to landing a database job.

Bonus: Check out the top 10 websites with SQL and database jobs.

Thanks for reading, and happy learning!