Top 7 SQL Courses 2021 (For Beginners & Experts)

Data scientist, data administration, financial analyst … these are just a few of the exciting careers you could have once you’ve mastered SQL.

This tried and tested database management language continues to be one of the most in-demand skills, with SQL developers on average earning $87,316 a year and the potential to make up to $150k, depending on where you live and your experience.

Whether you’re completely new to programming or have a few languages under your belt, SQL has an easy learning curve, especially with the endless supply of resources it’s gained throughout the years.

And it’s not just for tech-heads!

SQL is an invaluable asset to product managers, marketing, sales, business owners — anyone who’s interested in working with data and getting the most out of this century’s vital form of information.

If you’re looking to work in a data-heavy role, or already do, then this article is for you. We’ll explore our favorite SQL online courses, including SQL classes that target reporting and advanced SQL techniques, as well as those for beginners and intermediate programmers. We’ll also cover each SQL course’s content, price, strengths, and who they suit best!

But First… What Is SQL?

SQL, an acronym for Structured Query Language, is a domain-specific language that was designed to manage and access databases. It was created by Donald Chamberlin and Raymond Boyce at IBM in 1974 after learning about the relational model from Edgar F. Codd. 

With the rise of the digital age and the adoption of data and business intelligence into nearly every industry, SQL has become an essential tool. Most businesses have either cloud or on-premise integration with a popular relational database management system like MySQL, MariaDB, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and Oracle Database, which stores data and is then accessed with SQL, leading to the application of SQL everywhere.

While SQL might be “old”, it’s kept up with the times immaculately. Nowadays it not only manages databases, but it aids companies in determining market trends, data-based decision making, data analysis, reporting, and so much more.

So, whether you’re working in traditional institutions like finance or business, or newer industries like Big Data, game development, and AI, this is definitely the language for you.

The Best Way to Learn SQL

To find the best online SQL courses, you need to first nail down what you’re looking for.

Think about your skill level, career goals, and budget when considering a course.

Are you a beginner or advanced programmer? Do you work or want to work in finance? Are you wanting to subscribe to an online learning site or pay for a single course?

Once you’ve laid down the groundwork, it’s time to think about what kind of online learning style you want.

We recommend taking interactive SQL online courses that give you practical experience as well as theoretical. Learning by doing is an important part of coding, whether online or at a university, because that’s the best way to learn how to apply your knowledge.

All of the courses on this list support interactive learning in one way or another, and range from beginner to advanced and free to expensive, so there’s something here for everyone. However, don’t let the price be a sole determiner in your education, as investing in excellent resources is also investing in your career.

1. FreeCodeCamp’s Free SQL Course

  • Skill Level: Beginners
  • Pros: The course is free and covers all the basics
  • Cons: No advanced material

freeCodeCamp’s full SQL tutorial is the only entirely free SQL online course, with other online sites only offering free trials or free “tasters” of their classes. freeCodeCamp is integrated with YouTube so you can watch this course, and their thousands of others, for free!

freecodecamp free SQL class

This free SQL course uses the MySQL database and starts by showing you how to install it on your Mac or Windows computer. Then, it breaks down fundamentals like what databases, tables, and keys are.

You’ll master the basics such as inserting data, creating tables, and update & delete functions; as well as how to manage queries, which are questions or requests for information.

By the end, you should have created a corporate-sized database, learned nested queries, triggers, and how to visualize data with Entity Relationship Diagrams (ERD), which are snapshots of data structures and the relationship between the entities or data.

This class is perfect for those who are still unsure if SQL is the right language for them. It’s free and therefore risk-free, so you get amazing access to seeing how the language works and if it’ll help you before investing in further learning.

This makes it the ideal beginner SQL course because of its emphasis on learning the basics of SQL. However, there’s little in way of how to use SQL in business.

2. Best SQL Crash Course for Data Analysis

  • Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Pros: Fast-paced and works for users of all different backgrounds
  • Cons: Not as comprehensive as other courses

The SQL Weekender Crash Course from Udemy is a bestselling class that has helped tens of thousands of students and was developed by Udemy professionals David Kim and Peter Sefton, a product manager and data scientist respectively.

Udemy SQL for data analysis crash course

This SQL crash course uses the MySQL database and is made up of 5 sections and 39 lectures, totaling 3.5 hours of on-demand video. There are no pre-requisites for the course, but it’s commonly used by experienced programmers as an SQL refresher.

Instead of using a standard syllabi structure, the class teaches by roleplaying as a small business, where you use its data. You’ll analyze user behaviors, marketing stats, learn business queries, and how to make data-driven decisions, in addition to finding actionable insights and tracking marketing efforts.

Most importantly though, you’ll learn how to use SQL in a business setting.

This class is ideal for marketers, startups, and aspiring data analysts looking to understand data better. But don’t take it from me, take it from the marketing teams at Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Lyft who have taken this exact class!

For the whole course and lifetime access, it costs $69.99, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for course discounts.

3. The Ultimate Bootcamp SQL Beginner Course

  • Skill Level: Beginner to Expert
  • Pros: Complete comprehensive course taking you from beginner to expert
  • Cons: Very general. Not targeted at a specific role i.e. data analyst, data scientist, financial analyst

The Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp is another Udemy bestseller created by developers and long-time tech-enthusiasts Colt Steel and Ian Schoonover. With over 20 hours of content divided up into 18 sections and 325 lectures, and regularly updated information, it’s one of the most comprehensive bootcamps around.

It shows how to download MySQL on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers, so it’s compatible with everyone.

Udemy SQL bootcamp

You’ll learn how to design and create your own databases and complex data schemas, as well as interact with existing ones, write elaborate SQL queries across multiple tables, model real-world data, generate reports, and analyze data using aggregate functions.

You’ll even get to practice handling large data sets using a clone of Instagram’s database, get a taste of using NodeJS and MySQL to build web apps, use JavaScript to create fake data sets, and learn how to use data to answer business performance and sales driven questions.

We also have an article on the best JavaScript courses

While this course doesn’t require any experience, this course is just as useful for intermediate users as it is for beginners, as you’ll receive real-world practice using and manipulating corporate-sized data sets.

The price for the whole course and lifetime access is $59.99, which is an amazing bargain for a class of this caliber.

4. LinkedIn Learning’s Advanced SQL Course — Expert SQL Course

  • Skill level: Expert
  • Pros: Unique focus on queries and performance
  • Cons: Covers no basics

Queries can demand excessive CPU and memory resources, and that’s why LinkedIn’s  Advanced SQL for Query Tuning and Performance Optimization is a quintessential course for expert SQL programmers.

It’s developed by LinkedIn for professionals and taught by Dan Sullivan, an enterprise architect and Big Data expert, so you can feel confident knowing you’re getting industry-standard information. The SQL course is also succinct with only 7 chapters and 1 hour and 44 minutes of content.

Advanced SQL for query tuning and performance optimization course

The class focuses on the application of queries and teaching you how to optimize their performance and starts by introducing indexing, a crucial skill when tuning queries. You’ll also learn about query plans, the different ways to map a declarative query to a procedural execution plan, and how to structure data and queries to produce efficient execution plans.

Once you’ve completed the course, you get a certification to display proudly on your LinkedIn portfolio.

LinkedIn Learning comes as part of LinkedIn’s premium membership, so the first month is free, but then it jumps from $29.99 to $99.95 a month depending on your membership. It goes without saying, this course is not for beginners and requires a working knowledge of SQL before taking it.

5. LearnSQL SQL Reporting Track – Best SQL for Financial Analyst Course

  • Skill level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Pros: Created by an online learning site specialized in SQL
  • Cons: Big time commitment

This SQL Reporting track from LearnSQL is a bit different from the other courses on our list because it’s a whole track comprised of 3 (2 interactive) courses, rather than just one, with 20 hours of content focusing solely on SQL reporting.

SQL financial reporting program

Along with being developed from a SQL specialized online learning site, it comes with peer and mentor support.

It’s not for beginners as it doesn’t cover the basics, but those with SQL experience will learn how to prepare detailed reports with SQL, manage long and complex queries, popular aggregate functions like COUNT and SUM, and build multi-level aggregations with GROUP BY and nested WITH queries.

By the end, you’ll be combining multiple metrics in a single report, analyzing revenue trends, preparing financial comparisons, and creating complex multi-level reports.

There’s a couple of ways you can go about buying this track. First is you can pay a $39 monthly subscription that contains 29 courses and 13 tracks, including this one. Second is you can buy a single course for $29, and lastly pay for “forever” access with a one-time payment of $599, but we only recommend that for serious SQL learners.

6. Oracle’s Udemy SQL Course — The Complete Oracle SQL Bootcamp

  • Skill Level: Beginner – Expert
  • Pros: Designed to help people pass the Oracle SQL 1Z0-071 (OCA)
  • Cons: Only for those planning to use Oracle

It should come as no surprise that the Complete Oracle SQL Bootcamp is another bestseller on Udemy and was developed by Oracle Master Training and Code Star Academy, a software training center.

The Complete Oracle SQL Bootcamp 2021 course

A unique aspect of this course is its view of SQL through a professional lens and truly doubles as a SQL certification course. It’s made up of over 25 hours of content, 161 lectures, and is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux.

While this course is for beginners, it’s also targeted at anyone wanting to be a software developer, work in SQL development, or want to pass the Oracle 1Z0-071 SQL Database Certification Exam.

Throughout this bootcamp, you’ll become fluent in Oracle, relational and pluggable databases, concatenation operators, restricting and sorting data, and substitution variables, as well as conversion functions and conditional expressions.

On top of getting to learn SQL through the perspective of application development and database administration, you’ll receive loads of downloadable resources, gain techniques for table and database creation and procedures, and learn Oracle concepts like ALTER, DELETE, SELECT, and UPDATE.

Following the other Udemy courses, it costs a one-time payment of $59.99 for lifetime access to the course and a completion certificate once finished.  

7. General Assembly SQL Course: Online Bootcamp

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Pros: Online educators focused on technology
  • Cons: No flexible learning schedule

The General Assembly SQL Bootcamp is an online workshop series that’s taught in real-time by a lecturer. General Assembly itself is a tech-focused online educator, that offers full-time and part-time immersive courses for a range of tech roles, like data analyst and data scientist.

This workshop aims to take absolute beginners through the basics and give them a solid grasp on the fundamentals and confidence writing queries through a series of lectures and exercises. It is composed of two 3 hours classes that run on eastern-standard time.

Online SQL bootcamp from General Assembly

You’ll learn SELECT, FROM, and WHERE statements, LIMIT clauses, and how to do math operations and constant expressions in SELECT statements. It also covers BOOLeans, complex conditions in WHERE, null values, JOIN operations, and subqueries.

The workshop only requires the use of SQL implementation and highly discourages the use of other databases such as MySQL, Postgres, SQLlite, and SQL Server.

Due to the real-time nature of this course, there’s little flexibility in way of when you can take the course and you’re at the whim of when they decide to air the bootcamp next, so be sure to sign up for updates!

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