A Beginner’s Guide to Computer Language: SQL

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

Introduction: what is SQL?

SQL (pronounced either “sequel” or s-q-l) stands for “structured query language.” A common programming language, SQL is primarily used to manipulate and access databases. With SQL, you can create or delete a database, update information in a database, create new tables or fields, retrieve data, edit permissions regarding access, and so on.

Though it may sound dull, SQL is vital to the operation of many businesses, as more and more businesses process and analyze large amounts of data to make decisions.

Though data collection often begins with a word processing program or a spreadsheet, this system quickly becomes untidy and difficult to manage. With the sheer amount of data gathered in the modern business environment, an SQL program is vital to access and manipulate this data efficiently.

SQL became the official standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1986 and of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1987. Though large businesses may develop their own specific versions of SQL to suit their needs, they are almost all based on the ANSI official version.

Each separate version of SQL is called an RDBMS, which stands for Relational Database Management System. The RDBMS is the server that stores your data. There are some slight differences in syntax between each RDBMS, but these are minor and typically don’t matter for beginners. You can rest assured that, whether you learn using MySQL, PostgreSQL, or another system, the fundamental syntax will always be the same. 

How SQL works

SQL was designed to use English-like syntax in order to be easy to learn. For this reason, when you look at its commands and statements, you’ll notice that they closely resemble natural language.

To illustrate what SQL is used for and how, let’s take a look at an example of SQL code in action.

The function we’ll be examining in this article is the select statement. Simply enough, the select statement allows you to retrieve data from a database. The basic formula is as follows:

SELECT (category) FROM (database)

Within the first pair of parentheses (category), you can input the fields of information you want to display, such as CustomerName, Address, CompanyName, and so on. Keep in mind that the order in which you write the fields of information is also the order in which the fields will appear on the screen. 

If you want to display every field of information available, you can use the following syntax, where the asterisk * stands in for all fields:

SELECT * FROM (database)

In the second pair of parentheses (database), you will simply write the name of the database from which you wish to retrieve information, such as “Customers.” 

Other statements, like DELETE, INSERT, and CREATE DATABASE function in a similarly intuitive way. With some time and practice, SQL is an intuitive computer programming language to learn.

Careers with SQL 

If you’re looking for a career with SQL, you won’t be disappointed: as the third most popular programming language behind ​​HTML/CSS and Javascript, SQL skills are in high demand.

Keep in mind, however, that your qualificatioCSns for these jobs will be stronger the more programming languages you know. In other words, you might need some Python or Javascript in addition to SQL to be an attractive candidate for some of these positions.

As you do your research on specific job titles, look into which programming languages employers typically expect so that you can prepare yourself step by step.

In the list below, you’ll find some example job titles where SQL skills are necessary, along with a short description and their average salary:

  • Business analysts employ data to guide businesses towards better practices. Their average salary is $82,176 per year.
  • Software engineers develop software applications and average a salary of $114,435 per year.
  • Data scientists specialize in the compilation, analysis, and display of data. They make an average salary of $130,556 per year.
  • Database administrators ensure accessibility, stability, and efficiency of databases. As a database administrator, you can expect an average salary of $92,344 per year.

With such a wide range of career paths, it’s no wonder that learning SQL is a popular choice. Once you’ve got your skills to a certain level, you can also choose to get a certification to prove them. In this section, we’ll talk about both courses and certifications related to SQL.

Some of the most popular platforms to learn not just SQL but any programming language are Udemy, Coursera, and Codecademy. With these programs, you know you’re getting quality instruction that will prepare you for a career in the field.

Udemy’s The Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp: Go from SQL Beginner to Expert, just recently completely redone in April 2023, teaches you the ins and outs of MySQL, a popular and widely used version of the program. In 36.5 hours of video and 278 articles, you’ll learn to create your own databases, answer company performance or sales questions using data, and generate reports. A fee of $9.99 grants you full lifetime access to the course.

For a free option, Udacity’s SQL for Data Analysis is a great deal. In just four weeks, you can learn the basics of SQL, including how to extract data and join tables together, and also cover some more advanced topics. Since this is a short and completely free course, this could be a great option if you’re looking for a quick tutorial. If you complete the course and find yourself wanting more depth, you can move on to another resource, free or paid.

When you feel confident in your abilities, a certification is a great option to demonstrate those skills. SQL certifications are often issued in tandem with a specific database system, such as Azure or Microsoft.

While some employers prefer experience over certification, a certification can be a great addition to your resume, especially if you know the specific database system that the jobs you’re applying for use.


As you can see, Structured Query Language is an in-demand and highly useful programming language. If you want to learn, you will have a wide range of courses to choose from, and the career paths available will be equally numerous.

Though career options in the tech industry can and often do require knowledge of more than one programming language, starting with SQL will boost your skills and move you one step ahead.

Matthew is a freelance content writer whose work has previously appeared in well-known language-learning blog Fluent in 3 Months and The Happy Self-Publisher. His creative work has also appeared in Otoliths, CafeLit, and the Eunoia Review. He is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan, where he is studying for a master's degree in Chinese Literature.


Stay Up to Date

Get the latest news by subscribing to Acer Corner in Google News.