SQL (pronounced either s-q-l or sequel) stands for Structured Query Language—a programming language often used by professionals who work with large amounts of data.
SQL helps data professionals communicate with relational database systems to clean, sort, extract, and process large datasets. SQL remains highly relevant to the IT world—SQL was the most-requested skill among tech employers, according to February 2020 data from Burning Glass Technologies .
There are several certifications that show your competency in SQL, most of which are vendor or platform-specific. Knowing what database technology your field of interest will require you to work with can help you decide which certification to get, if any.
SQL is the language used to communicate with relational database management systems. Many certifications that show a deep understanding of SQL also test your knowledge of these database systems at large. The following certifications show a fundamental understanding of SQL in five commonly used relational database management systems.
Earning this entry-level certification from Microsoft validates your knowledge of data concepts using Microsoft Azure data services, including how the databases work with PostgreSQL and MySQL.
This certification goes beyond just SQL to show your knowledge of relational and non-relational data and data workloads.
What’s being tested: Core data concepts, working with relational and non-relational data on Azure, analytics workload
Engage in interactive, hands-on learning in the Azure cloud environment to prepare yourself for the DP-900: Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals exam. Receive an exam discount, redeemable at Pearson Vue proctor exam sites, upon completion of this five-course Specialization from Microsoft on Coursera.
The Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification demonstrates your knowledge of basic SQL concepts, especially using it to work with the Oracle Database server. The certification will prove your competency in the SQL language, data modeling, and using tables, among other tasks. It requires passing one certification exam.
What’s being tested: Essential database concepts; retrieving, restricting, and sorting data; using conversion functions and conditional expressions; managing multiple tables; controlling access, and other topics
IBM has three Certified Database Associate Certifications for those who want to demonstrate their understanding of the Informix or Db2 relational database management systems. Basic knowledge of SQL, database creation, database security, and transaction isolation will earn you the certification. Each requires one exam.
What’s being tested: Working with SQL and XML, data security, connecting to DB2 servers and other data planning concepts, writing database definition language SQL statements, knowledge of tables and other application design concepts
The MySQL 5.7 Database Administrator Certification requires one exam, which will test your understanding of MySQL, a relational database management system developed by Oracle. The certification will display essential knowledge of working with MySQL, such as installing, configuring, and monitoring the database management system.
What’s being tested: Installing, starting, and stopping MySQL; understanding MySQL architecture; managing users; identifying security risks and other security aspects of MySQL
EDB’s PostgreSQL 12 Associate Certification shows your understanding of the fundamentals necessary to work with PostgreSQL servers. PostgreSQL is a relational database that is scalable across large organizations. The current version is PostgreSQL 12.
What’s being tested: Maintaining and managing a PostgreSQL server and related applications
Certification isn’t required for many jobs that ask for knowledge of SQL, and employers can often prioritize experience over certifications. But some hiring managers may look for applicants who have related certifications.
SQL or database certification requirements may be more common for positions that entail lots of time spent with technology from particular vendors or platforms. For example, if a job requires experience with Oracle databases, employers may request that applicants have a certification from Oracle.
A data-related certification may position you to compete in what is projected to be a heavily in-demand industry. The field of data science is expected to be one of the fastest growing in the coming years. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a much faster than average growth rate for computer and information research scientists from 2020 to 2030, at a rate of 22 percent .
If you’re interested in learning SQL for a career in data analytics, consider earning the Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate through Coursera. In addition to developing proficiency in SQL, you can also learn job-ready skills like Tableau, R programming, spreadsheets, and data visualization.
Here are some other beginner-friendly SQL courses to get you started:
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Spreadsheet, Data Cleansing, Data Analysis, Data Visualization (DataViz), SQL, Questioning, Decision-Making, Problem Solving, Metadata, Data Collection, Data Ethics, Sample Size Determination, Data Integrity, Data Calculations, Data Aggregation, Tableau Software, Presentation, R Programming, R Markdown, Rstudio, Job portfolio, case study
There isn’t one standard SQL certification or certifying body. Getting certified in SQL often means taking a course and passing an exam from a database vendor or other provider. The Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate on Coursera also covers SQL.
In general, you can learn enough SQL to start working with databases in two to three weeks. How long it takes to develop mastery will depend on your own personal goals and learning style.
You’ll find a variety of resources on the internet to teach yourself SQL, though it’s sometimes easier to learn in a structured class. Whether you’re learning on your own or through a program or course, try to put what you’re learning into practice with real data.
Learning any new language can be challenging, but SQL is generally considered among the easier to learn. Its syntax mimics natural English in many ways, making it easier to read and remember. Read up on some tips for rising to the challenge of learning this and other data analytics skills.
Burning Glass Technologies. "G2: In-Demand IT Skills + 6 Tips for Hiring the Best Tech Talent, https://learn.g2.com/it-skills." Accessed December 21, 2022.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook: Computer and Information Research Scientists, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm." Accessed December 21, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.