Fastest way to learn SQL

So I need to make more money. One of our SQL guys at work says he gets recruiters calling him with positions around 65 or 70K. This is at least 20K more than I make right now. What’s the best way to learn and then how do you find a job with no experience?

Get stuck in :wink:

Like any programming language, the best way to learn (in my experience) is to start writing in it. If you’ve got (read only) access to some database that uses multiple tables in a proper relational way, writing queries to extract data from one table, then multiple tables, is a great way of learning things.

If you don’t have access, do you have something you could install (even at home) that would give you that? Heck, dropping a box running Security Onion with Snorby on your home network, with all the rules turned on, should give you a nice database to play with. There’s also various online “SQL Academy” places that’ll help bootstrap you.

Alternatively, are there any roles at work where you could legitimately get involved? Could you negotiate an arrangement with the SQL folks where they help upskill you while you help them with something?

Then, while you may lack major experience, you can at least stick up that you have basic skills on LinkedIn/on your CV. That should open doors with prospective employers.

You can download and install SQL Server Express for free. Play with it. I had to learn using a live company database and online Technet tutorials. I took SQL 1 & 2 through Gale Courses. They’re about $100 each, but with a San Francisco library card, they’re free. You might check to see if they have something similar with your local library, or may the San Diego or Los Angeles libraries.

The Gale Courses SQL 1 class was much better than the SQL 2 class, because the SQL 1 class actually used SQL server, but the second one used MS Access.

Edit: Oh, and don’t forget we have a few threads here devoted to some specific SQL stuff and we have @dakboy!

Yeah, @Force10 is gonna regret that @Nabiki namedropped me here :smiling_imp:

First, not only is Express Edition free, Developer Edition is free - and that’s got all the goodies like Reporting Services. But maybe more than you need.

If you’re just getting into SQL, you’re probably going to find yourself in the unglamorous world of report development. Not the worst thing in the world and it’s a way to get in the door, but you may or may not want to stay there (some people love it). In addition to SQL Server, you’re going to want to grab SQL Server Management Studio 2016 (assuming it’s not include in Express Edition like it’s not included in higher editions) and SQL Server Development Tools. The former will let you get in and poke at the database; the latter is for building reports off the database.

Got everything installed? Great. Now you need data (duh). Microsoft makes several sample databases available for use. These are good because they’re set up decently, have a good amount of data, and you’ll find lots of examples, tutorials & blog posts using them (seriously, lots of MVPs use them in their presentations and blog posts because it means they don’t have to sanitize data from other systems, or make $h!t up).

If you can find a sympathetic developer/DBA/whatever at work, they may let you have access to an instance with non-sensitive data to poke around at. For example, I know our VDI infrastructure uses a small SQL Server database to track/manage things. SCCM (or whatever MS is calling it this week) does too.

Like dead trees? You want this book. I haven’t read it myself but a lot of people I know who know what they’re talking about praise the author.


San Diego has a chapter of PASS, and their meetings are organized here. I skimmed the member listing and only saw one person I recognized (but don’t know personally), but there’s no last names so there might be others I’m aware of but didn’t pick up on.

And while we’re talking about PASS. PASS is fsckin’ awesome. The annual Summit is next week in Seattle and I’m disappointed that I can’t go be with my people. So I have to look forward to SQL Saturday in Cleveland this February (yes, I’m driving. To Cleveland. In February.) and planning my local one for April. Looks like San Diego didn’t have one this year; in past years they were in September.

PASS also has many virtual chapters which meet via WebEx.

So, uh, yeah…get yourself to a PASS event (chapter meeting SQL Saturday, whatever you can) and talk to folks there. I know you don’t want to hear that though :slight_smile:

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if you do go with SQLExpress, be sure and get the Adventureworks database suite. That’s free, too, and it will give you some good data to play with.

If you aren’t interested in Microsoft, there’s also MySQL. It’s opensource.

Google “sql tutorial”. Tons of free sites and videos.

Also true of Postgres, and Postgres isn’t the PHP of databases.

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I just finished a 5-day course in Transact SQL and it was completely eye opening. Unfortunately, every time I try to use it on our Sybase databases, there is some kind of conflict where a really useful command isn’t included.


Understandable, seeing as how SQL Server forked from Sybase a quarter century ago.