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Is SQL hard to learn?

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  • Jun 5th, 2018 9:00 pm
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2016
181 posts
74 upvotes

Is SQL hard to learn?

Hey everyone,

I'm a entry level worker in the financial services sector, after looking at tons of job postings I see that a lot of business analyst and banking positions require SQL. I have a finance degree and sadly I was never taught this.

I'm wondering if anyone has done SQL and if it is worth it to learn and if it's a hard programming language to learn. I did a course in C programming before at Seneca and I found it difficult (dropped the class before the midterm), i've also played around with HTML and CSS just through watching Youtube videos and other online resources.

Also, should I even try to learn SQL or can I just move up the ranks and around the financial sector without it. I say that because after working a full day and coming home at 6:30pm it's pretty difficult to get into the mood to study and learn.

Thanks!
22 replies
Deal Addict
Aug 31, 2005
1495 posts
1036 upvotes
Richmond
No, it is not hard to learn. Whether it is worth it is entirely up to your position. However, until you know at least a little SQL you can't really tell what you can use it for so it is difficult to judge.

Best thing to do is to simply learn a bit of it first. You can never learn "too much". Once you know some basic of SQL you will be able to tell.

C is really not nearly the same thing as SQL, incomparable, in fact. Some people can do both, some can do neither, and some can do one or the other. You are really the only one who can determine that.

Do some online course first. https://www.w3schools.com/sql/ has some super simpe tutorial. If you find this too challenging. You might not be cut out for it. If you find it a breeze or even fun. Maybe you are into something?
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Mar 10, 2005
8877 posts
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therealbry wrote: Hey everyone,

I'm a entry level worker in the financial services sector, after looking at tons of job postings I see that a lot of business analyst and banking positions require SQL. I have a finance degree and sadly I was never taught this.

I'm wondering if anyone has done SQL and if it is worth it to learn and if it's a hard programming language to learn. I did a course in C programming before at Seneca and I found it difficult (dropped the class before the midterm), i've also played around with HTML and CSS just through watching Youtube videos and other online resources.

Also, should I even try to learn SQL or can I just move up the ranks and around the financial sector without it. I say that because after working a full day and coming home at 6:30pm it's pretty difficult to get into the mood to study and learn.

Thanks!
SQL is a very good skill to have especially so in the financial sector and it really doesn't matter whether your in IT or the business side. It's not difficult at all if you already have an IT background otherwise it may take some time for you to pick it up - but not impossible. Start with a simple tutorial on relational database management systems then once you understand the basics of that move on to SQL. I would not suggest jumping right into SQL without a basic understanding of RDBMS.
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[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2016
181 posts
74 upvotes
Thanks for your input! I never heard of relational database management before. I'll start there and go on from there. I was worried about investing my free time into SQL and then it not being useful or be too hard to learn without a solid IT background and teaching. I don't have intentions of going back to school to learn programming so this is reassuring that it is not impossible to learn on your own.
Sr. Member
Jun 19, 2009
920 posts
155 upvotes
Toronto
Conceptually SQL is far simpler than actual programming languages. Where things get messy is when people start aliasing tables and fields as it's quicker. It's just as intimidating as debugging someone else's code most of the time. It's mostly a matter of learning the syntax. Something else that could get a little confusing are the joins. I found the repetition of something simple like SoloLearn helpful for getting introduced to SQL.
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Oct 6, 2005
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therealbry wrote: Thanks for your input! I never heard of relational database management before.
I would learn the basic queries (SELECT, JOIN, GROUP BY, COUNTS, SUBSELECT) and also understand how a RDBMS works (i.e. database concepts like tables, indexes, relations, design, etc.). That should be enough for an entry level business analyst position. You can either take a quick college level course or read up on it over a couple weekends.

If you want to practice, download Microsoft SQL Server Express along with a sample Northwind and Pubs database.
Last edited by coolspot on Jun 3rd, 2018 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Dec 16, 2015
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I've played around with MySQL before (although just installing/editing hacks and etc when running quite a big forum) and found it to be straightforward...however programming it from scratch requires both programming language (such as php, or in this case C) and database (sql) no? As one connects to the other.
Member
Jan 10, 2017
235 posts
111 upvotes
It depends what you want to learn.

Basic queries are pretty easy; building models is where it gets technical; using sql to populate live data into models is where it gets advanced; combining tables from different data sources, manipulating data pulls, and pivot/unpivot data is when you need programming level.

Where do you fit?

In general, '*' and 'all' will get you pretty far, haha.

Another tip is save your queries to word; or if your using MS Visual or Power Query, just save your queries. SQL is great; power query is beast, and Power BI is beast mode.

I haven't touched SQL in over a year; what I can say is you only forget how to build things; just steal scripts from Google; like data paramters, count, lookups, suming, joins, inner joins.

IMO, it's good to learn SSAS and how to build queries; but as soon as you can, move to power query and manuplate your shit in there. Once you've learned enough, learn how to use DAX, then move power modeling into power BI; now, you are worth +80k.
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2015
873 posts
458 upvotes
Guelph, ON
SQL is data retrieval, not a "programming language" - although in advanced SQL you can do looping and branching, which is kind of "programming".

It's something that you can learn the basics in days or even hours, but the more advanced skills take years. Here's about the most basic you can get:

SELECT * FROM [MyTable]

Something more precise:

SELECT ID, ProductName FROM [MyTable]

And more precise:

SELECT ID, ProductName FROM [MyTable] WHERE Manufacturer='ACME Inc.'

And on and on. Some of the statements I write these days are dozens of lines long, and they may use other SQL objects (like views, stored procedures, etc.) that are themselves quite complex. So it's hard to answer your question without knowing how complex your data analysis is going to be.
Sr. Member
Nov 6, 2015
873 posts
458 upvotes
Guelph, ON
Redsanta wrote: ...however programming it from scratch requires both programming language (such as php, or in this case C) and database (sql) no? As one connects to the other.
Incorrect, php and C or for building middle-tier and presentation-tier objects, i.e. creating an application.

OP probably just wants to retrieve raw data. You can do that with just SQL, he could dump it to a spreadsheet or text file and use some existing application (like Excel, Access, etc.) to present and summarize the data.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2016
181 posts
74 upvotes
coolspot wrote: I would learn the basic queries (SELECT, JOIN, GROUP BY, COUNTS, SUBSELECT) and also understand how a RDBMS works (i.e. database concepts like tables, indexes, relations, design, etc.). That should be enough for an entry level business analyst position. You can either take a quick college level course or read up on it over a couple weekends.

If you want to practice, download Microsoft SQL Server Express along with a sample Northwind and Pubs database to practice.
Thanks, I did some initial studying into RDBMS today and it helped alot grasp the initial concepts of SQL. I find with my studying I can't just dive into the core material I need to know the surrounding information and sources, the RDBMS suggestion helped alot. I'm going to start looking into the basics of SQL next
[OP]
Jr. Member
Nov 9, 2016
181 posts
74 upvotes
Does anyone have any good sources where I can start learning my journey? I was planning to look at Youtube videos, Codeacademy, Khanacademy to start off with. I figure I should start off with free resources to see if I can do this before investing money into a course or books
Deal Expert
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Mar 18, 2005
19872 posts
2727 upvotes
Niagara Falls
I think that's a difficult question to ask. For some it's pretty easy, for others it's magic.

I started as a programmer and in college hated SQL. Didn't understand it all that much at all. Did OK in class, but to me it was arse backwards.

After school, I was required to use SQL more often then my programming and now I love it. If it's just required for basic selects with a few tables it's not that difficult at all.
Deal Expert
Oct 6, 2005
16554 posts
2263 upvotes
Redsanta wrote: however programming it from scratch requires both programming language (such as php, or in this case C) and database (sql) no? As one connects to the other.
No, you can query a database with a management tool or even Excel for that matter.

SQL is merely a langauge used to CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) data in a database which you can do from tools or from a programming language.
Deal Expert
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Mar 18, 2005
19872 posts
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Niagara Falls
coolspot wrote: No, you can query a database with a management tool or even Excel for that matter.

SQL is merely a langauge used to CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete) data in a database which you can do from tools or from a programming language.
LOL, I actually had to do some queries with Excel in one job because of Union rules, and using management tools wasn't in my job description.... Took may way longer than it should have to figure out Excel has a max limit on characters in a string in VBA, but if you concatenate two or more strings you can make it as long as you want.

So very silly. Eventually got permission to use Management Studio and my life was much easier.

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