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How to Become a SQL Developer

Where there is technology, there is data. This data needs to be properly moved, stored, retrieved, changed, and protected constantly. This happens millions of times a minute at the speed of light, and, in part, it’s thanks to SQL developers.

These database specialists excel in creating and maintaining systems to store, access, and organize data. This role is highly technical, and combines aspects of programming, data management and architecture, and software engineering. 

Beyond the initial scope of creating manageable data, they further maintain, backup, and audit these systems to ensure functionality, security, and accessibility. Are you a strong communicator with a knack for analytics and problem-solving? Are you interested in entering the IT industry? If so, then becoming an SQL developer may be for you!

Sample job description

We’re making the world more connected every day. With best-in-class communications, top-tier technology, and innovation, we strive to improve the way our customers interact. In order to do that, we’re looking for an innovative and analytical candidate who can expertly handle our data. 

We’re a team of diverse professionals, so if you enjoy working in a collaborative environment with a wide range of people, and you’ve got an inquisitive mind and keen attention to detail, [Your Company Name] could be the perfect workplace!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Design and implement database programs using Oracle and other tools
  • Maintain and test database systems
  • Write and optimize in-house applications
  • Create and maintain documentation
  • Collaborate with team members and stakeholders
  • Create procedures and scripts for database migrations

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in computer science or related field
  • 3 years demonstrable experience in a related position
  • Working knowledge of SQL fundamentals
  • Working knowledge of T-SQL
  • Understanding of web development
  • Comprehensive understanding of database modeling

Required skills and qualifications

  • Experience with database design, tuning, optimization, data migration, and analysis
  • The ability to work in a team environment
  • Strong organizational and time management skills
  • Strong multi-tasking abilities
  • Strong analytical skills and problem-solving abilities

Preferred qualifications

  • 5+ years experience in related field
  • Thorough understanding of dimension tables, modeling, and data warehousing concepts
  • Extensive working experience with variable data sources
  • Excellent ability writing complex SQL queries within the DW environment

Typical work environment

SQL developers work in an office, either alone or as part of a team. Generally speaking, this job can be done from home, and remote work may be available as well. Aside from the exclusive office environment, occasional travel may be necessary for meetings or conferences.

Typical hours

While the typical hours may be stated as 9 AM to 5 PM, this position, and IT in general, vary widely. During a period where a company is coming close to a product launch, you may find yourself working 60 hours a week, while in some other companies you will never go over the 40-hour mark. 

You may find a position with an “on-call” component that changes these figures, and you may work for a company that requires 12-14 hour days for periods of time.

Available certifications

As SQL developers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • SQL Basics for Data Science Specialization. This specialization course attempts to apply the foundational concepts of SQL in a practical format. This is a 4 course, 4-month long beginner class that can be done online.
  • Database Foundation 1Z0-006. This is an Oracle Academy taught curriculum, based on career-focused and industry-relevant information. Teaching the basics of database foundations, design, and programming, alongside Express Development foundations. The exam can be taken without the courses, although not recommended.
  • MySQL – Analytic Techniques for Business Specialization. This Coursera course aims to touch on several concepts within SQL from a business perspective. Learning business metrics for primarily data-driven companies, and mastering basic data analysis. You’ll also learn visualization and communication with Tableau, and handling big data. 
  • Modern Big Data Analysis with SQL Specialization. This beginner-level course will demonstrate that you’ve learned and applied the concepts of SQL within the framework of big data analytics. You can expect to learn everything from foundational big data handling to analyzing, managing, and storing data in clusters and the cloud.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals. Gaining this entry-level certification from Microsoft will reinforce your knowledge and demonstrate your understanding of Azure data services and working with PostgreSQL and MySQL.
  • Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate Certification. The Oracle Database certification demonstrates your understanding of basic SQL concepts, especially using it to work with the Oracle Database server. Additionally, it will prove your competency in the SQL language, data modeling, tables, and other SQL-related tasks. In order to achieve and obtain this certification, an exam must be passed.

Career path

The first step in the journey is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. While this isn’t necessarily mandatory, it gives you a competitive edge. Gaining experience with relevant certifications and databases, SQL, T-SQL, SSIS, and developing general analytics skills will go a long way in demonstrating your ability to perform in the role. After obtaining a position, especially if trying to move to management or a senior position, these factors will become much more important.

Continuing to hone and develop programming languages, and staying apprised of current tech trends will help you stay relevant in your field.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 15-1257

2020 Employment168,000
Projected Employment in 2030181,440
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 8% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift13,200 increase

As companies develop and execute their digital transitions, they’ll need experts to handle this data. We constantly need to move, store, and securely maintain everything in the digital world, and so there will be a need for people to handle these tasks. Expect this position to keep growing as the global economy transitions and grows into an almost entirely digital presence.