How To Self-Learn SQL (Guide for Beginners)

Structures Query Language (SQL) is a programming language that is used to create and manage databases consisting of rows and columns.

It is used by 47% of all developers worldwide and is the perfect language for beginners who wish to learn higher programming languages like python and JavaScript.

SQL is easy to manage and anyone can self-learn at home.

Here’s how to self-learn SQL if you’re a beginner:

  1. Don’t burden yourself.
  2. Pick a free course or two.
  3. Join an SQL class.
  4. Pick up some SQL books.
  5. Sharpen your SQL skills at home.
  6. Get an internship or freelance gig.
  7. Join SQL Communities.
  8. Share your knowledge about SQL.
  9. Make mistakes.

If you want to self-learn SQL but don’t know where to start then this guide should be helpful. There are some great resources listed for you as well as that you can buy from Amazon.com.

1. Don’t Burden Yourself

There are several free resources available on the internet that can help you get started on your SQL journey. You might get too excited by the materials available and overburden yourself. Remember, learning is a slow process, especially if you are doing this for the first time.

Pick one resource at a time and try to complete it if you can. Here is a small list of some of the best SQL resources online:

  • Pop SQL: You can think of Pop SQL as the ultimate query tool for SQL, as it allows you to write and share query results with other users. This will help you get to the root of any specific problem in SQL. It also has an extensive library of tutorials.  
  • SQLZoo: Regardless of the name and user interface, SQLZoo is actually one of the best free resources available on the internet. You start with basic lessons and then move on to building projects. It is simply amazing.
  • SQLcourse.com: This is an interactive course with many easy-to-understand instructions and practical exercises. You can learn and apply the concepts in the same place.
  • SQLBolt: This resource is similar to the previous example. It has interactive lessons and exercises that you can do in the same place. One good thing about SQLBolt is that it is neither too technical nor too code-based. There is a middle ground and that is great.
  • SQL for Web Nerds: This resource, which an MIT professor developed, is more suited to advanced learners. However, it should still be on your list since it is simple and powerful.

2. Pick a Free Course or Two

It is estimated that by 2024 there will be more than 28.7 million programmers worldwide, and the numbers will grow even more. It is, therefore, not surprising that so many people are rushing to either get a degree in computer science or master one of the many programming languages.

eLearning has opened up new ways of learning, one of which is completing online certification courses. 

These courses will not only teach you but also help you get a job. Many companies have now started recognizing certificates from credible companies like udemy and Codecademy.

Here is a list of the top courses for SQL:

  • SQL – MySQL for Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: This Udemy course starts from the basics of MySQL and then moves to more advanced topics. It has 9.5 hours of video lessons, 154 articles, and 95 downloadable resources, which is more than enough to master at least the basics of SQL. 
  • Learn SQL Basics for Data Science Specialization: This course is mainly geared towards people who want to use SQL for data science. So, if you fall in that category, then this is perfect. It starts with the basics of SQL and slowly moves to more advanced topics. This course runs for about four months with roughly five hours every week.
  • Oracle Database Foundations: Any certification from Oracle is bound to attract companies, and this course is no different. It has four courses in total, after which you need to take a certification exam. 
  • Excel to MySQL: This is a seven-month course geared towards a business where you have to spend approximately four hours every week. The topics include business analytics and data science, along with SQL concepts.
  • Learning SQL Programming: LinkedIn is more than just a social media site. It is also a place for courses like these that are great for beginners, and it has a lot of exercise files for practice and also holds good doubt clearing sessions.

If you want to know about more SQL courses, then you should definitely read this article.

3. Join a SQL Class

If you feel you are missing the “human” touch from online courses, you should opt for a physical class. Most courses have recorded videos, and clearing doubts can be time-consuming. In physical classes, you can ask questions and engage with like-minded people who are on the same learning curve as you.

However, even an online live class is equally beneficial since it does the same job as a physical class.

4. Pick Up Some SQL Books

Books are a great way to brush up on the basics. There are indeed some fantastic websites and resources that provide a ton of knowledge on SQL, but a book can be an excellent guide from start to finish. 

Here are some of the best books on SQL which you can purchase from Amazon.com:

  • SQL in 10 Minutes a Day by Ben Forta: Ben Forta is an expert in SQL, and starting from data retrieval to subqueries, he will teach you everything. This book claims that you can quickly master SQL by spending ten minutes every day. It has all the straightforward answers to your questions and should be a must-buy if you plan to buy a book.
  • SQL QuickStart Guide by Walter Shields: This book is perfect for beginners, professionals, job seekers, managers, developers, and anyone who wants to master SQL. It has over 1,000 Amazon reviews with an overall rating of 4.2, making it the number one bestseller in its segment. This book also offers lots of free resources like workbooks, cheat sheets, and reference guides.
  • SQL All-in-one for Dummies: The “Dummies” series is made for beginners and people who are enthusiastic about a subject but don’t know where to start. This is a great book to get into SQL and covers almost all the topics you need to get going.
  • SQL: Learn SQL (using MySQL) in One Day: Mastering SQL in one day might be a stretch, but this book by Jamie Chan is excellent and tries its best to teach you all the essential concepts of SQL. This book is to the point and perfect if you are busy and have little time to learn SQL.
  • SQL: A Beginner’s Guide: Another great book that has everything you need to learn SQL.

5. Sharpen Your SQL Skills at Home

Programming is all about practicing. If you don’t sit down in front of your computer and write the codes, even the best training will be useless. 

But assuming you are interested in SQL and are willing to put the time and effort into learning the language, the following points should help you sharpen your SQL skills at home:

  • Practice every day for at least an hour. Practicing for 210 hours every month will help you develop the necessary skills in less than three months. 
  • Use a separate computer for learning sessions. If you can use a different computer/laptop for learning SQL, you know what you need to do every time you sit near it.
  • Take advantage of free resources. Thanks to the internet, you don’t have to pay a lot of money to learn something these days. Use all the free resources at your disposal and learn from them.

6. Get an Internship or Freelance Gig

The best way to dip your toes into SQL is by applying your knowledge in a real-world scenario, which is usually in the form of a job. But if you are not after a job, you can easily opt either for an internship or do a couple of freelance gigs. 

Some of the best places to find an internship include: 

For a complete list, you should refer to this article by Forbes.

Getting your first freelance gig can be challenging, which is why you need to do two things:

  • Get a certification: Even if you are new, your clients will trust your skills if they see a certificate from a credible source. When you start getting paid gigs, the certifications will add more weight to your profile. Climbing the ladder in freelancing will be much easier.
  • Offer free work: In the beginning, many new freelancers offer work for free in exchange for a good review and rating. You will get recognition and help you get higher-paying gigs in the future. 

7. Join SQL Communities

SQL communities are just one of the few places where you can genuinely learn from the best people in the business. In these communities, experts with all kinds of knowledge come forward and help other people. 

Often you will find readymade answers to the most common queries. SQL communities can either be found as groups on social media or as forums. 

Here is a list of some of the common forums that you can join:

  • SQL Server Central: Being SQL-focused, this forum pools information from a wide range of SQL experts like bloggers, coders, etc., and there is always fresh content available. This forum should be number one on your list.
  • SQL team: This is an old forum, so the experts here know a thing or two about SQL in depth. Responses are quick and insightful, so joining them should be on your list.
  • MSDN forums: The MSDN form is one of the best SQL forums for programmers on every level. The people who contribute are either from Microsoft or independent database experts. Almost all types of server issues are discussed, and the site is updated every minute, so you will get your answers fast.
  • DBA StackExchange: This forum is a Q&A site where all types of queries are raised and answered. Tons of information is exchanged, and joining this forum will make you a better SQL programmer.
  • DB Forums: This forum covers not only SQL but also other database programming conversations as well. It’s a Q&A-type site and it is the best place if you want to expand your knowledge about databases in general and not only SQL.

8. Share Your Knowledge About SQL

Another way to self-learn anything in the world is by sharing what you think about it. Due to the internet, especially social media, it has become increasingly easy to share information and engage with different types of people.

You can start a blog, a YouTube channel, or publish posts on social media to share what you have learned so far. While it is true that there is already great content in the same space, you will be amazed at how people want to see more content from different sources.

By sharing your SQL journey, you will also learn new things about the world of programming that will help you upskill. And that too for free.

9. Make Mistakes

Many beginners give up when they make too many mistakes. While it can be disheartening to fail repeatedly, failure is a part of the process in programming. Programs show errors so that you can go back to the problem and fix the issue. 

However, you should avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly. Make a note of where you are going wrong and what you need to do to fix it. 

Takeaway

SQL is an excellent programming language if you are just starting. Many people consider it a gateway to other higher-level languages, while some think it is an ocean in itself. 

The best part, however, is that you can quickly learn it on your own. You simply need to download a free SQL database where you can practice. 

You should get certified through an online or offline course and then apply for a freelance gig or internship to apply your knowledge in the real world. This will solidify your self-learning process and make you an expert in the field.

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