Data are the foundation of the modern era. Everything is about the data and how we treat it. Appropriate data analysis is vital for every business at any stage.
Databases store huge data volumes. Relational databases, the most common database type, organize the data in tables with columns and rows. They ensure accuracy, security, and convenience in using that data. However, the data massive becomes outsized every day. It is impossible to process it without really effective means.
The most popular of such means is SQL, an undisputed leader in dealing with relational databases.
What is SQL?
SQL is the abbreviation for Structured Query Language – a query language that allows you to communicate with databases. With its help, you can extract and manipulate the necessary data. It is equally efficient for small volumes of information or billions of records when you need to collect, process, analyze, and summarize them.
The first version of SQL came into prominence back in 1974. The most recent version was introduced at the end of 2016, and leaning back is not an option. While it may lack some functionality, it compensates for all possible drawbacks by accessibility and easiness of data querying. It is the primary reason why SQL, despite its age, is so popular.
Most websites and applications use databases as a backend and apply SQL to operate those databases. This language is understood by such popular systems as SQL Server, MySQL, MariaDB, SQLite, PostgreSQL, etc. And though it has certain adjustments for every particular RDBMS, knowing the fundamentals of SQL provides you with a reliable background to master the specific features of each database. It is just as simple: SQL is everywhere.
Who needs SQL?
SQL is mandatory for database developers, administrators, data scientists, and many other specialists whose job duties are database-related. The language is the default choice for handling the backend and operating the data.
On the other hand, SQL is an actual and highly demanded skill for non-programmers. Product managers, analysts, marketers, and salespeople are just a few examples of professions that benefit from knowing SQL.
- Product managers usually have to deal with immense volumes of data. That data must be structured and analyzed. With SQL, these tasks are straightforward.
- Analysts need to access the databases to retrieve and process the information. In simple words, they have to communicate with databases, and SQL is the language for that communication.
- Marketers always need quick access to the data and the possibility to analyze it. Basic SQL knowledge lets them do the standard assignments themselves, without the need for turning to technical specialists.
- Sales operation staff mostly need to retrieve specific data from CRMs according to particular criteria. SQL lets them extract the data and process it without asking for help from developers.
These are only several examples illustrating the same idea – even basic knowledge of SQL allows non-programmers to gain additional professional advantages. They can do the job independently and access the data directly. As they won’t need assistance from the IT specialists so that technical personnel can focus on other tasks.
Also, Read: 5 Most Common Myths About Learning Programming
More Benefits of Learning SQL
So, we see that SQL definitely brings plenty of benefits to non-programmers. Still, will it be beneficial for you personally? One may question, what if spending many hours learning basic SQL leads to nothing, and you won’t need it in your work at all!
Well, here we can reassure you. This knowledge will bring you profit by all means.
SQL is excellent for big data
Whether you are working for a large corporation or a small business, you have to deal with huge data volumes. The number of data sources increases daily, adding more platforms and channels where you can get the data priceless for your business goals. Any business needs to mine the data and analyze it efficiently. It also sets new challenges to data processing. Sooner or later, you will face that challenge yourself, and SQL has no rivals as the tool to help you resolve the problem.
SQL is accessible and easy to learn
SQL is much simpler than foreign languages for human communication. First of all, its commands are plain English words. You can understand their meaning even without a programming background. The syntax rules of building queries are transparent and logical. Basic knowledge of SQL requires understanding the most common principles only. And when you start learning it, you won’t have any difficulties with finding materials. There are lots of textbooks, guidelines, online tutorials, and courses.
SQL opens new professional opportunities
SQL knowledge is a highly demanded skill. If you don’t target a technical area, it still increases your value to the potential employer. In fact, learning even the basics of this language is an excellent career investment. For example, as a marketing specialist, you can identify the customer needs, understand their behavior, resolve problems, and explore opportunities more effectively when operating databases with SQL. You can manage without a middleman, thus proving your highest competence.
There is a cross-functionality tendency in many organizations. Bosses want more qualified and versatile employees. Additional qualifications increase your professional rating and salary. Also, they will bring you more exciting job offers. If you don’t need SQL right now, it will be of great help to you tomorrow.
What basics of SQL should a non-programmer know?
Currently, SQL is a language allowing for creating very sophisticated queries performing complex tasks on data. But that it is the professional programmers’ cup of tea. A product manager (just an example) mostly needs the basic knowledge and skills to simplify their routines.
The most frequently used commands in SQL are:
- SELECT to retrieve the necessary information from the database
- UPDATE to change some information in the database
- INSERT to add new information to the database
- DELETE to remove the data from the database
Among all these commands, SELECT is the king. Its purpose is to find and present a piece of data according to the criteria. Various clauses make the selection very precise and bring you exactly the data you need to accomplish your goals.
As most specialists claim, SELECT is used much more frequently than any other command. You might even not need UPDATE, INSERT, or DELETE in your work at all (besides, they suggest altering the data in databases, and you would need to have specific permissions and pass additional training).
SQL tools for any level
Still, the best thing about SQL is that you can use it without coding anything yourself. Moreover, you may not know any command in SQL at all.
Because this technology is so classical and has strict rules, you can apply commands automatically using software tools. Also, there are standard tasks in your workflow, and professional tools can perform them for you. As most such utilities have visual interfaces, you can use SQL in your work efficiently without knowing this language. You only need to click the necessary button in a GUI.
On the other hand, true code lovers enjoy writing intricate SQL statements – they seek advanced SQL skills and possibilities of making their code both efficient and beautiful. It is elementary with dedicated SQL autocomplete tools offering appropriate suggestions, syntax checkers, and formatters. Whether you prefer writing code with your hands or would apply graphical interfaces to make it faster, there is the right tool for that.
Our time is excellent for all non-technical specialists to add technical capabilities to CVs. When you understand and apply SQL – the basic principles – you increase your personal value in an organization. The more professional knowledge and skills you possess, the more impressive your career path become. So, use these chances, as now it is simpler than ever.