SQL Developer Salary Guide: What to Expect in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about SQL developer salaries and how to get started on this career path.

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SQL stands for Structured Query Language and is sometimes pronounced “sequel." This language is used to communicate with a database and is a very important tool for data professionals.

If you’re interested in becoming an SQL developer or getting into data science or analysis, then SQL is the language to know.

As a SQL developer, you’d work in the tech industry where salaries are generally high. Here’s what to expect if you decide to pursue this career.

What is an SQL developer?

An SQL developer is an information technology (IT) professional who designs, creates, and manages databases or applications using SQL programming language.

SQL is a tool used to extract and organize large amounts of data (big data) that are stored in databases, so that they can be analyzed. Just like you would use English or another language to speak to a friend or family member, SQL is the language that allows you to communicate with and perform functions on databases to extract data you need.

To manage all the data and make it useful for businesses, SQL developers build and test databases that store the information, making sure they’re running correctly and troubleshooting whenever necessary. Developers update and delete data as needed by a particular application.

Typical projects for an SQL developer might include inventory management or hospital records management. You would be responsible for controlling the stock for products in an Amazon warehouse, for example, so you’d need to manage inventory levels, reduce insurance costs, and keep reserve stock on hand, all by using SQL for database management.

 Is SQL for me?

It can be fun to learn something new, and SQL can introduce you to the world of data management. In the Introduction to Relational Database and SQL guided project, you’ll gain hands-on experience working with a relational database in just one hour.


How much do SQL developers make?

SQL developers, like many roles in the tech industry, have the potential to earn a good living. In the United States., SQL developers can typically make a median salary of $98,860, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [1]. 

Roles such as SQL developer and other database administrators have a projected job growth outlook of 9 percent between 2021 and 203 [1].

As a SQL developer, your salary might be affected by your location, experience, or industry. 

How location affects salary

Salaries can vary depending on where your company is located. Generally, cities with higher costs of living tend to pay higher salaries. But with many tech companies prioritizing remote work, salaries may be determined by an employee’s location rather than the company’s. Here is a list of SQL developer salaries in various cities in the US, according to Indeed [2]:

  • Charlotte, NC: $135,584

  • Arlington, VA: $107,724

  • Irving, TX: $97,775

  • New York, NY: $90,674

  • Chicago, IL: $94,121

  • Houston, TX: $85,683

  • Tampa, FL: $83,281

  • Denver, CO: $70,080

How education affects salary

While you don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree to become an SQL developer, 79 percent of SQL developers have one [3]. Often, SQL developers study computer science, information technology, engineering, or business. 

Of course, if you have a master’s degree or professional certificates, you may be able to negotiate a higher salary and gain access to organizations or industries that pay more.

How experience affects salary

As in many other jobs, the longer you work as an SQL developer, the more you can expect to earn. Senior SQL developers with five or more years of experience will earn more, though this can vary depending on your industry. 

Career path for a SQL developer

SQL developers who begin at an entry-level position may grow into senior SQL development positions. An SQL developer can also become a database administrator or business intelligence (BI) developer, and then grow into a manager, architect, or engineer. Here are the base salaries for a range of related titles, according to Glassdoor:

  • Database administrator: $78,776

  • Business intelligence developer: $91,750

  • Database administration (DBA) manager: $103,824

  • Information technology (IT) manager: $99,618

  • Business intelligence architect: $107,102

  • Database engineer: $90,325

  • Database architect: $109,494

  • Business intelligence analyst: $80,657

  • Data scientist: $103,052

Build your SQL skills

To become an SQL developer, you’ll need to be an expert in these skills:

  • Relational database: Use the database to manage large amounts of data and design logical models of relational databases.

  • SQL programming language: Use SQL to control and manipulate databases, enabling the creation of complex queries using tables and variables, and delivering dynamic reporting solutions.

  • SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS): Use ETL (“extract, transform, load”) tools to integrate data from unique sources and save all the data in another platform so you can clean and manage it. Develop SSIS solutions that can be applied to business units across an organization.

  • Analytical skills: SQL developers need to have analytical skills to understand the organization’s needs and requirements, and then design software solutions that suit those needs.

Read more: 5 SQL Certifications for Your Data Career in 2023

Study SQL with Coursera

Learn one of the most widely used programming languages with Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL), a course offered as part of the specialization Web Applications for Everybody from the University of Michigan. 

Or, zero in on SQL at University of Colorado Boulder, offered as part of the Databases for Data Scientists specialization which can also be applied to the Master of Science in Data Science.

Any of these courses can be added to your LinkedIn or resume as proof of your skills-based learning. Consider Google’s Data Analytics Professional Certificate for a more in-depth look at key analytical skills such as data analysis and visualization, and tools like spreadsheets, SQL, R programming, and Tableau. You can be job-ready in less than six months.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Database Administrators and Architects, . https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm." Accessed December 19, 2022.

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