How Long Does It Take To Learn SQL?

How Long Does It Take To Learn SQL

SQL is a necessary ability for almost anyone who deals with data or databases. While learning a new programming language is never easy, we have some good news: it usually doesn’t take long to learn the fundamentals of SQL. But how long does it take to learn SQL properly?
The answer is entirely dependent on you, your objectives, and your background. Rather than providing a one-size-fits-all answer, we’ve played out a variety of scenarios. Let’s go into the specifics.

What is SQL?

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a standard language for interacting with relational databases. Organizations from various industries use SQL to access and modify data stored in databases. An organization’s database may contain important commercial information regarding products, customers, or orders. SQL includes applications for searching, updating, and maintaining databases among its numerous functions. It can also insert and delete records from databases, as well as change the actual structure of the database by adding and removing tables and objects.

SQL can be used on laptops, PCs, servers, and some mobile devices and operates on local intranet or internet systems. Despite the fact that SQL is a relatively simple programming language, it is a strong tool for assisting users in locating the specific information they require inside a huge database. SQL users do not need coding abilities and may instead run data queries using simple terms such as “update” or “select.”

Microsoft SQL Server, Ingres, Access, and Oracle are some of the most popular SQL-based relational database management systems.

How Long Does It Take To Learn SQL?

The answer depends on your background as well as your goals for learning SQL.
So, rather than providing a blanket answer, let’s split this down into a few different circumstances. Each scenario assumes you’re new to SQL and want to learn all the way up to and including the specified skill level.
(Note: all of the time estimates above presume you already have full-time work and, like most adults, have only a few hours of study time each week. You’ll have better success if you can spend more time studying each week).

#1. You have no programming experience and wish to learn SQL basics.

Maybe your job isn’t technically demanding, but you’d like to learn more about your company’s data or perform a few specialized queries on a regular basis to better understand the impact of your work. This part is for you if you’ve never written code before but want to learn enough SQL to run a fast query to answer questions every now and then.

It won’t take long to learn the foundations of SQL. Because you have no prior expertise with programming languages, you’ll need to give yourself some extra time to get your head around things. You’ll also want to set aside some extra time for practice.

Even so, you should be able to learn the fundamentals of SQL — how to query specific data tables from your database, how to select specific columns from those tables, how to do basic math with SQL, and how to limit the output of your queries — in a few hours, or at most a weekend.

#2. You have no programming experience and wish to learn intermediate SQL.

If you don’t have prior coding knowledge but anticipate utilizing SQL on a daily basis and taking on more complex jobs such as merging several tables together to build new tables for analysis, this section is for you.

The amount of time it takes will vary from person to person, but you should expect it to take anywhere from a single weekend to a few weeks (we’re assuming you already have a full-time job and can only study in your spare time).

This part would correspond to our first two or three SQL courses if you were studying with Dataquest, depending on how much you need to learn for your individual use case. You should be able to complete all three courses (excluding the guided projects) in about five or six hours, but you should absolutely make time for practice and working through the projects to solidify your understanding.

#3. You have no programming experience and wish to learn sophisticated SQL.

If you don’t have coding expertise but want to work in a field that relies heavily on SQL abilities, such as a data analyst or even a data engineer, this section is for you.

You’ll want to learn everything from the fundamentals to complex queries, but you’ll also want to learn skills like constructing PostgreSQL databases.

Because you’ll be studying sophisticated queries, this could take anywhere from a month to several months, depending on how deep you need to go. You’ll also need to cover topics like creating and optimizing databases, database security, and so on.

It’s worth noting that if you’re searching for a career as a data engineer, SQL skills aren’t the only thing you’ll need to learn, so the time it takes to get job-ready will be far longer than the time it takes to learn SQL. Some data analyst jobs will additionally require extra technical skills, such as knowledge of Python programming, while others would only require SQL.

#4. Prior programming experience and a desire to learn basic SQL

If you’ve already worked with programming languages and want to learn just enough to query your company’s database for the correct tables — perhaps to pull that data into Python or R for analysis — this part is for you.

SQL basics should just take you an hour or two to learn. SQL is quite understandable, therefore you’ll probably find it refreshingly simple compared to other programming languages.
prior programming knowledge and a desire to learn intermediate SQL

This part is for you if you already have some coding expertise but plan on utilizing SQL on a regular basis to do things like join data tables on different columns and filter for the exact data you require.

How long it takes depends on how far you want to go with SQL, but you should be able to work through the content in our first two or three SQL courses in a week. Completing the guided tasks may increase that time, but you should be able to start querying your company’s database and applying your new SQL skills in meaningful ways within a few hours of starting your study.

#5. Prior programming experience and a desire to learn advanced SQL

This section is for you if you already have some coding expertise but want to move into a full-time career that will demand a lot of SQL work.

You should learn all of the querying abilities covered in the preceding part, but you may also need to learn more about constructing databases, optimizing them, and guaranteeing their security. This implies you’ll need to spend more time studying topics like PostgreSQL and considering the SQL abilities you’ll need as a data engineer.

This will most likely take you a month or two, but it’s worth noting that these types of roles will almost always demand additional technical abilities that will take time to learn if you don’t currently have them.

Other Considerations

The pace with which you learn SQL is determined by the skills you bring to the table. Some SQL learners have prior coding expertise or training with relational databases, but others are new to programming or dealing with large amounts of data. Furthermore, choosing to learn on your own rather than through a formal course of study can affect retention speed. Each of the following criteria influences how quickly you can learn SQL:

#1. Previous Work Experience Utilizing Big Data

If you already have a job that requires you to work with data, such as a position in data analytics, learning SQL may take less time than for people who have never worked with data. Furthermore, getting acclimated to traversing relational databases might take some time, which can be factored into the time required to learn SQL.

#2. Knowledge of Computer Programming

Although most people believe SQL is easier to learn than other programming languages because it uses a simple, English-based syntax, knowledge of languages such as Python or JavaScript can help SQL users learn this language more quickly. Furthermore, learning how to code in numerous programming languages can make you more marketable and valuable to data-driven firms.

#3. Motivation for SQL Learning

If you want to learn the fundamentals of SQL for running database queries, you may simply require a few hours to understand this language. However, if you work as a Software Engineer and need to perform advanced queries, mastery of this language may be required, necessitating substantially more study and practice.

#4. Environment for Learning

Any new skill can be more difficult to learn on your own than in an organized learning environment. Those who take lessons or attend boot camps to learn SQL will most likely learn the language faster. If you choose solo study, you must be self-motivated and capable of ensuring that you have fully comprehended a concept before going on to the next. Although this SQL learning method may take longer than structured class study, students can still gain the same abilities as they would in a formal learning environment with the use of online videos and tutorials.

#5. Difficulty Level, Prerequisites, and Cost

One of the best aspects of SQL is that it is based on English syntax, which means that English speakers, even those with no prior programming knowledge, can learn this language rapidly.

The syntax of the core SQL languages is largely consistent. However, when studying SQL, the sequence of written code does not correspond to the order of execution. This means that understanding the correct query structure is essential for writing efficient queries. Most SQL learners may learn the fundamentals of this language in about two to three weeks. However, if you want to learn more advanced SQL querying or are learning this language on your own, it may take you longer to get a greater degree of fluency.

SQL is free for developers and testers who only want to use it for non-production applications, such as creating and developing software solutions. SQL Server 2019 Developer is available for free download from Microsoft. Microsoft provides a free Express version of SQL Server that may be used on the web, desktop devices, and small server applications by learners. SQL Server 2022 public preview is also available for free trial from Microsoft. Furthermore, Oracle SQL Developer is available for free. This integrated environment is used by developers to design and manage both traditional and cloud deployments of Oracle databases.

The licensing for using SQL Server for production purposes differs depending on the product. SQL Server Standard Edition Server Licensing costs $931 (plus $209 for each named user client access license); SQL Server Enterprise Edition costs $7,128 per core; and SQL Server Standard Edition costs $1,859 per core.

What Can SQL Do for You?

SQL proficiency is required for anyone who deals with data. This language is used by many domains and disciplines to communicate with relational databases. SQL’s versatility is intended to allow you to query a database in a variety of ways using English-based commands. Because SQL is the most commonly used database language, practically every business that needs to store relational data, including big corporations like Amazon, Google, and Uber, relies on SQL.

Furthermore, websites like Facebook employ SQL to store back-end data and process data.
SQL provides a plethora of built-in functions that can be used for data analytics:

  • SQL COUNT may count the number of rows in a table.
  • SQL MAX allows you to choose the largest value for a given column.
  • SQL MIN allows users to specify the minimum value for a column.
  • SQL SUM adds up the values in a column.
  • SQL AVG may compute the average across table columns.

SQL also has additional beneficial applications for dealing with enormous amounts of data:

  • SQL has the ability to build new databases.
  • It has the ability to add, update, and delete records from a database.
  • SQL users have the ability to add new tables to an existing database.
  • SQL may construct database views or stored procedures.
  • It can grant access to views, tables, and procedures.

Conclusion: SQL is not difficult to learn.

Learning SQL is a useful skill for anyone interested in data administration, data science, data analysis, or database operations.
The time it takes to learn SQL depends on your previous experience with software development, your career path, your learning pace, and the amount of time you devote to studying and practicing.

You can expect to master basic SQL ideas in 1 to 2 weeks, intermediate concepts in 3 to 6 weeks, and advanced topics in 4 to 8 weeks or more with a defined learning plan and constant practice.
Remember that the key to understanding SQL is to set realistic goals, select appropriate materials, and keep a strong commitment to studying.

By following the suggestions for SQL learning success in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to explore the intriguing world of SQL and harness its full potential in no time!

Finally, remember to apply what you’re learning to real-world situations, experiment with different queries, and address any problems that arise. As you continue to improve and strengthen your SQL skills, this will help reinforce your understanding and boost your confidence.


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