The Best SQL Certification Courses in 2021

The Best SQL Certification Courses in 2021

It seems that every single data analysis job requires proficient SQL skills. Whether it’s that entry data scientist job you’re looking at or a promotion to a higher IT role, learning SQL is one of the best ways to stand out from the competition. Having an SQL certification can only have a huge impact on your job prospects in nearly any field.

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a programming language that’s used to navigate all the information stored in databases. They help data analysts manipulate and search through larger relational database systems and deal with datasets containing thousands, or millions, of data points.

While starting a new programming language can be a challenge, the right SQL certification course can help you get started. You’ll be breezing through the certification exam after your comprehensive preparation, and your resume will look that much more appealing to the recruiters.

Below, we’ll be taking a deeper dive into what you can expect from SQL certification courses. We’ll look through the databases for the best online class options before running a query for any extra information you’ll need to get started.

Orientation

SQL is the most common way you can communicate with databases to pull out the information that you want to analyze. It’s one of the easier programming languages to learn, and one of the most useful in the modern day. You’ll be able to define your own stored procedures and learn how to pull the exact information you need from the data management system.

However, learning SQL on your own can be rather challenging. When it comes to passing the certification exams, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of SQL fundamentals – and some of the more advanced topics as well. Below, we’ll cover some of the most important things to keep in mind so you can start writing queries in no time.

Scope

Proficiency in SQL is a necessary skill for any data scientist, and adding it to your resume can easily help you stand out from the competition. Writing queries is a quick and easy skill to learn once you know how to get started.

Courses can cover a range of topics since there’s a lot you can do with SQL. Some only cover the fundamentals, showing you the structure of queries, table joins, and more. Others might delve into advanced topics, describing stored procedures, nested queries, and database management. Some courses might focus on the theoretical, while others look directly at how the skills can be applied to big data.

Depending on your goals, some courses will be a better fit than others. You can first find out what category of student you fit into here, before jumping down to our list summary to find the right course for you.

Skill Level

SQL courses cover different types of content, and some are better suited to certain types of students. While we’ve tried to cover classes of all types in our list, we want to make sure you find one appropriate for your skill level. Someone proficient in SQL won’t get much out of a course looking at fundamentals, while beginners might not appreciate being thrown head-first into stored procedures.

We recommend that beginners start with the very basics, looking at how SQL works, the structure of basic queries, and figuring out how to get SQL installed on their own computer. Intermediate and advanced students might only need to brush up on the fundamentals before delving deeper into SQL’s capabilities.

Below are the three categories of SQL students that we’ll refer to through our article.

  • Beginner students who have little to no programming experience and have not practiced with SQL in the past. If you’re unsure what queries are supposed to do, and you’ve never heard of joining tables, you’re likely in this category.
  • Intermediate students have a basic understanding of SQL and may be looking to expand their skills. They might want to learn about nested queries, studying the management side of databases, and beginning to work with stored procedures.
  • Advanced students have had extensive exposure to SQL in the past, and now want to improve their skills through more challenging concepts. If you’re in this category, you may be looking for ways to apply your skills to difficult topics like big data or machine learning.

Certificatation

While there isn’t just one official certification for SQL like there is with python, there are still many certification exams out there. These exams are meant to give a comprehensive test on your database abilities, and they’re an easy way to prove to recruiters that you’re qualified for the job. Earning a certification can also become a highlight on your resume.

Many certifications are specific to vendors, but there are a few that are more popular than others. For example, the Oracle Database SQL Certification costs $245 and tests your skills on essential database concepts. The IBM Certified Database Associate exam is another respected test that shows your SQL capabilities.

However, that’s not to say those are the only two valid SQL certifications. Many of these exams can differ between vendors and providers, but they all aim to test your knowledge of SQL. With preparation from your favorite course, you’ll have the skills to ace any of these certification exams.

Time and Cost

SQL certification courses can be expensive, especially if you’re looking for a premium course that covers everything. However, most will be closer to $100 or $200. There are also some budget options for $50 if you’re worried about cost, such as the Modern Big Data Analysis with SQL course.

Many classes have at least 10 hours of material, and some can easily stretch out to multiple months. Shorter courses covering the fundamentals can take around 2 weeks to complete, while more comprehensive courses are designed to take a semester.

Cheat Sheet

Below is a quick reference to all the courses that we’ll be looking into. We were hoping to find courses that cover the wide area of applications that SQL has, so there should be a course that fits your needs. This list is meant to help you narrow your search down to a few courses, but we encourage you to read through all our reviews.

  1. If you’re looking for a course that’ll cover all that SQL has to offer, our queries returned Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp as the best course for you!
  2. If you’re looking for a course to directly prepare for you for the Oracle SQL exam, the Complete Oracle SQL Certification course knows how to manage their databases.
  3. If you need a quick and fast lesson on how SQL works, the Weekender Crash Course shows up in our tables.
  4. If you’re new to SQL and need help getting started, SQL for Beginners is a class that can help you set up your first database.
  5. If you’ve had some experience with SQL and want to take your techniques a step further, the MicroBachelors Program in Introduction to Databases can help you aggregate your skills.
  6. If you’re already experienced with SQL and want to polish up your skills instead, Advanced Topics in SQL goes above and beyond the basic curriculum.
  7. If you’re planning to enter the data science field after getting your SQL certification, the Modern Big Data Analysis with SQL can update you on the latest techniques.

blue computer with file cabinets and one open file drawer

Top 7 Best SQL Certification Courses 2021


1. Most Comprehensive SQL Course: Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp

  • 20.5 hours $94.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: Colt Steele, Ian Schoonover
  • Skill level: All Levels
  • Number of Modules: 18 modules

Why we like it

The Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp serves as a great introduction to SQL as it provides a comprehensive overview of our favorite query language. Teaching SQL syntax, applications, app design, and more, this course touches on everything SQL has to offer.

Our Review

MySQL Bootcamp covers everything SQL-related from its most basic steps. You’ll be able to learn SQL syntax and practice generating reports from sets of data. It’s one of the most comprehensive courses on the list – though it doesn’t go as in-depth on certain topics as other classes. However, if you’re looking for a course that gives you a basic overview of everything SQL can do, this is perfect for you.

The instructors are an asset to the course as well. Colt Steele was voted Udemy’s Best New Instructor in 2016, and his skill in teaching is clear through his videos. Lectures are engaging and boil complicated concepts down to easy-to-understand ideas.

In addition, this course is packed with exercises and practice questions as you’re watching the videos. You’ll have your first practice assignment within 7 minutes of the course, and the constant questions that follow keep you engaged and receptive to new information. They also include multiple large datasets for you to practice with.

Best Suited For

This course is suited for students of all levels. It sets up enough preparation for beginners to get comfortable with SQL, while intermediate students will enjoy more complicated query structuring. Advanced students will also learn how to use MySQL and NodeJS to build their own web app and use JavaScript to generate datasets. No matter the skill level, there are going to be modules in the course relevant to you.

However, we want to emphasize how great this course is for beginners. Because of Colt’s prior teaching experience in the classroom and tons of exercises throughout the program, you’ll be getting comfortable with SQL syntax as you learn. Even if you’ve never programmed before, this course serves as a solid introduction to MySQL.

Pros

  • Comprehensive coverage of SQL material
  • Teaches NodeJS and JavaScript as well
  • Packed with exercises to help familiarize students with the content
  • Gives practice with working with larger datasets
  • Instructor voted Udemy’s Best New Instructor of 2016

Cons

  • Doesn’t go as in-depth on certain topics


2. Best SQL Exam Preparation Course: Complete Oracle SQL Certification Course

  • 16.5 hours $169.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: Imtiaz Ahmad
  • Skill level: All levels
  • Number of Modules: 10 modules

Why we like it

This course is designed to help you get your SQL certification, covering everything that might show up on the Oracle SQL exam. The lectures focus directly on test material, so you won’t be overwhelmed by too many SQL topics.

Our Review

Sometimes, all you’re looking for is the certification at the end of the day. This course focuses directly on topics and concepts that the Oracle SQL Certification Exam covers, keeping the content to a manageable amount. It doesn’t try to cover everything the way that the Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp does, but rather emphasizes concepts that are tested.

This course is good for anyone looking to learn or review their knowledge of SQL syntax before exam day and goes over all the basic functionalities that you’ll need to know. It’s designed to help with the Oracle 1Z0-071 exam, and it covers the exact material that might appear on the test.

In addition, they have many times where they ask students to code with the lecture to get firsthand practice with writing queries. The clear and concise lectures are made by Imtiaz Ahmad, who’s founded an online programming school and has over 13 years of experience with coding.

Best Suited For

This course is suited for any students that want to feel fully prepared for the Oracle SQL exam. It can help beginners build strong foundations, while intermediate and advanced students can get the refresher they need before taking the exam. However, since there is a little more focus on the basics in this course, beginner students will find the most value from all the video modules.

The class doesn’t cover any extra topics beyond what’s on the Oracle certification test, but it covers each topic in-depth enough for all students to find value in some of the later modules. Information covered includes basic queries, joins, table creation, database management, and more, and students get access to exam preparation lectures and exam question walkthroughs.

Pros

  • Focuses on exam preparation
  • Tailored for the Oracle SQL Certification exam
  • Walks through past exam questions
  • Asks students to code along with the lectures
  • The instructor has over 13 years of experience

Cons

  • Only covers topics on the Oracle SQL exam


3. Most Concise SQL Course: Weekender Crash Course for Beginners

  • 4 hours $129.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: David Kim, Peter Sefton
  • Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Number of Modules: 5 modules

Why we like it

If you’re looking for an SQL course that you can power through in one weekend, look no further. Serving as a crash course, you can quickly learn or refresh your memory right before an upcoming certification exam.

Our Review

If you want to learn SQL for a certification exam but you don’t want to spend 20 hours going through the basics, this is the course for you. Covering the essentials of SQL, it’s a fast refresher and lesson for students right before the test. Significantly shorter than other classes, you could finish these videos in a weekend to prepare for your certification.

This course also focuses on direct applications of queries and less on the theoretical. Throughout the class, the instructors are pretending to be a real business and show the queries that they’d need to run to get helpful data on their performance. This way, you’ll be able to see queries that you might use in day-to-day company affairs and see patterns that exist between queries.

In addition, lectures are packed with exercises and quizzes, so you’ll be able to practice on your own. The instructors are engaging throughout the videos, and you won’t find this short course feeling like a chore to sit through. However, they don’t have a strong background with technical experience.

Best Suited For

This course is best suited for beginners who haven’t learned SQL, or intermediate students who want to see real-world applications for SQL. The lessons and exercises – while they cover basic material – can serve as a refresher and help all students remember the content better. However, because this is a crash course, it doesn’t cover many advanced topics, so students proficient in SQL may want to avoid this course.

If you are looking for a class that takes a more in-depth approach, we’d recommend the MicroBachelors Program in Introduction to Databases course. We also recommend the Advanced Topics in SQL for more complicated SQL topics.

Pros

  • Short enough to watch in one weekend
  • Covers the basics concisely
  • Provides real-life examples and uses for queries
  • Packed with exercises and quizzes
  • Focuses on practical concepts rather than theoretical

Cons

  • Doesn’t go as in-depth
  • Doesn’t cover advanced topics


4. Best SQL Course for Beginners: Learn SQL Using MySQL and Database Design

  • 8 hours $94.99 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: Jon Avis
  • Skill level: Beginner
  • Number of Modules: 14 modules

Why we like it

This course offers an in-depth look at the fundamentals to help beginners get started. From installation to basic queries, you’ll be able to learn the theory and get in some practice before your certification exam.

Our Review

SQL for Beginners is a course that focuses on the fundamentals. Taught in MySQL, it covers database design and analysis while focusing on normalization and relationships. You’ll be able to pass the beginner SQL certification exams, especially with this course’s comprehensive coverage of the basics.

It’s one of the many courses offered through Tim Buchalka’s Learn Programming Academy, an online school that has over one million students. The primary instructor for this class is Jon Avis, and he’s worked as an IT systems engineer for years which allowed him to grow comfortable with SQL. His videos are clear and well-structured, perfect for anyone just starting out.

In addition to teaching select queries and joins, this course also covers subqueries and aggregate functions, setting you up for harder SQL courses in the future, such as Advanced Topics in SQL. The course also includes a module of challenges at the very end with some harder questions that it discusses.

Best Suited For

This course is best suited for beginners since it focuses on the fundamentals, and we wouldn’t recommend it for intermediate or advanced learners. It also isn’t as comprehensive as some courses, like the Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp. For beginners, it even offers a module teaching you how to install and set up SQL.

We recommend this course for students who prefer to listen to theory through lectures. This course has fewer exercises and example problems when compared to some of the other courses. While it includes one module of exercises at the very end, each individual module might only have one or two exercises. In addition, many of the given exercises are easy to complete.

Pros

  • Comprehensive coverage of SQL fundamentals
  • Contains a module of challenging exercises
  • Videos are clear and well-structured
  • The course is tailored for beginners
  • Teaches how to install SQL

Cons

  • Doesn’t have as many exercises
  • Given exercises are easy to complete


5. Best Intermediate SQL Course: MicroBachelors Program in Introduction to Databases

  • 4 months, 8 hours per week $498 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: NYU
  • Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate
  • Number of Modules: 3 modules

Why we like it

This class can take your skills to the next level. Taught by an adjunct professor at NYU, you’ll be signing on for a full class to prepare you for your certification exam.

Our Review

If you’ve already had a taste of SQL before and want a better understanding, this course can help you bridge the gap from fundamentals to advanced concepts. You’ll be able to learn everything from the starting queries to how to use stored procedures. In addition, this course also covers concurrency control and isolation levels, which is a more difficult concept not covered by other starter classes.

The course itself is hosted by New York University (NYU). As one of the more official courses, you’d be eligible for 3 college credits from any universities that are partnered with edX. This means that in addition to becoming more prepared for a certification exam, this could also help you advance towards a degree.

The possibility of earning college credit is also why this course is more expensive than others. If you’re interested in something more affordable, we’d recommend courses from other sites such as the Modern Big Data Analysis with SQL course. Of course, part of the higher cost also means that your instructor will be an adjunct professor with extensive experience in teaching.

Best Suited For

This course delves into more difficult concepts, but it also covers the fundamentals in detail to help you get started. As a result, we’d recommend it for beginners and intermediate learners. With that being said, it won’t go as in-depth into fundamentals as courses like SQL for Beginners would.

In addition, this course sticks to a very rigid structure when it comes to learning, so those that benefit from a stricter schedule will enjoy this class. It’s designed to take place over several months, similar to a college class, and you can even get credits from a university for the class. However, this also means you need to set aside more time for this course than some of the other ones.

Pros

  • Has a rigid course structure
  • Allows you to potentially earn college credit
  • Course taught by an adjunct professor
  • Covers more difficult topics like isolation

Cons

  • More expensive than other courses
  • Takes a longer time to finish the course


6. Best Advanced SQL Course: Advanced Topics in SQL

  • 20 hours $50 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: Stanford Online
  • Skill level: Advanced
  • Number of Modules: 5 modules

Why we like it

This course dives deep into how you can accurately and easily manage databases through SQL’s advanced techniques and topics. Perfect for advanced learners, it’ll top off your knowledge of SQL before your upcoming certification exam.

Our Review

This course covers several more difficult topics in SQL, including looking at the indexes and transactions to increase performance. Focusing specifically on advanced topics, you won’t find another course that’s as in-depth on the same subjects. Your instructor will be the dean from the Stanford school of engineering, someone who’s had extensive experience in teaching courses.

It’s also hosted on edX by Stanford Online, and you’ll be able to obtain a certificate of completion once the course is over. However, unlike the MicroBachelors Program in Introduction to Databases course on edX, this one is more affordable and takes less time.

The course itself also teaches constraints for key and referential integrity and covers how triggers in a database system work. Finally, you’ll get to learn about creating and modifying database views, and you’ll also get to see how authorization works in these sorts of systems. The topics are much more advanced than many other similar courses, so you’ll have a full understanding of SQL before a certification exam.

Best Suited For

This course is best suited for advanced learners who already have a strong foundation when it comes to SQL. Since the course doesn’t go over any fundamental or intermediate knowledge, you may also want to refresh your memory before starting this program. However, if you are looking for courses that give more insight into the basics, we’d recommend the SQL for Beginners course.

This course is also shorter than other edX courses, so it’s perfect if you’re in a rush and don’t want classes that drag on for too long. The course itself only lasts for two weeks, though it does require 10 hours a week (higher than other SQL courses). The price is also affordable, but there’s not as much content or exercises included with the class.

Pros

  • Affordable SQL course
  • Taught by the dean of engineering at Stanford
  • Covers advanced topics not seen elsewhere
  • Only needs two weeks to be completed

Cons

  • Doesn’t cover the fundamentals
  • Doesn’t offer as many exercises or practices


7. Best SQL Data Science Course: Modern Big Data Analysis With SQL

  • 4 months, 3 hours per week $49 Our rating  
  • Course Highlights
  • Instructor: Glynn Durham, Ian Cook
  • Skill level: All levels
  • Number of Modules: 3 modules

Why we like it

This class works as an SQL course that goes beyond the certification exam and teaches you the basics of data analysis. You’ll learn how to apply queries to big data and perform your own analysis by the end.

Our Review

This course is focused on how you can use your SQL skills as a data scientist, going over more than just what’s covered by the certification exam. With real-life examples and lessons in their virtual machine, you’ll be able to get a solid idea of all the functionalities that SQL is capable of. Table design and database structure are taught in terms of efficiency rather than theory.

If you’re looking for a course that focuses on the practical side of SQL but emphasizes the fundamentals more, we’d recommend you try the Weekender Crash Course. This course takes you one step further as it deals with big data systems for both storage and analysis.

The course itself is split up into five weeks, each with various readings, videos, and quizzes. As a result, you’ll be able to practice data analysis with SQL on your own as you follow along with the lectures. Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to learning a new skill - data analysis is no different.

Best Suited For

This course is best suited for individuals who want to enter the data scientist field after getting an SQL certification. It focuses on practical applications of all the skills learned and even teaches how you can deal with big data. Unfortunately, because this is focusing more on industry applications, it may not cover topics on the certification exams.

Because of its niche look into SQL, this course is suited for all levels. Beginners can learn about SQL from the fundamentals through the lens of data analytics. Intermediate students will learn how to start manipulating databases to get the information needed, while advanced students will see how database skills are useful when it comes to big data.

Pros

  • Gives quizzes and exercises for practice
  • Focuses on real-world applications to big data
  • Suitable for all skill levels

Cons

  • May not cover all topics on certification exams


SQL Certification FAQ

SQL courses help save you stress about covering all topics on the certification exam, so they’re worth it if you’re looking for a more time-efficient way to learn all the material. After all, SQL is a programming language with complex topics, and a class can help you navigate through all of the concepts.

SQL is one of the easier programming languages to learn, and you can get a very strong grasp on it within a month. If you’re only looking to learn the fundamentals, you might be able to cover all the topics within a week (though we definitely recommend practicing all of the topics you learn as well).

When it comes to the certification exam, taking an SQL course that covers the fundamentals should be enough to help you prepare for it. If you’re still worried, you can always go on the certification exam website to see if you understand all the topics that they have listed.

While you don’t need the certification, it’s a solid way of showing recruiters that you really know what you’re talking about. Having an SQL certification on your resume can help you stand out from a sea of similar resumes.

Data scientists and data analysts are two of the biggest roles that heavily use SQL. They’re one of the newest rising fields, and the average salary for a data scientist is just over $100,000. Of course, you can also look into professions like being a database administrator, or even becoming a business analyst.



Extra Credit

Learning SQL is one of the best ways to break into the lucrative data scientist job market, and the right skills can help you get that role with big data you’ve been searching for. SQL can help you analyze machine learning results and make tedious data searching tasks much simpler with queries.

Now that we’ve covered our review of some of our favorite SQL courses to prepare you for a certification exam, let’s go over some extra information. Below, we have some advice to help you get the most out of any online course you might want to take.

What You Need to Succeed

The main thing you’ll need is a computer that can run SQL. Many versions of SQL are free, making it one of the more affordable programming languages to try out. However, there are a few differences between versions which we’ll cover below. The most used versions include MySQL, Oracle, and the Microsoft SQL Server.

SQL Versions

First, we’ll cover the differences between versions. After all, why not just learn SQL instead of trying MySQL or Oracle?

As it turns out, while SQL is the language of queries and communicating with databases, various SQL versions take it one step further. Software like MySQL allows you to use SQL to keep data within a stored database in the system. Through learning how to use MySQL, you’ll naturally be learning the SQL language since that’s how the MySQL servers contact the databases.

In addition, MySQL is also open-source, meaning that it’s free to download and use. As a result, many of the courses above are taught using MySQL, save for a few courses such as Complete Oracle SQL Certification course, which is taught in Oracle.

Once you learn how to use one version of SQL, you can easily transfer your knowledge to other versions as well. This is because all versions still communicate with their stored databases using SQL, so you’re learning the same language no matter which path you decide to take. As a result, all the courses above prepare you for an SQL certification exam regardless of which version they use.

With that being said, if you’re interested in learning more about different SQL versions, we recommend you check out this article here.

Difficulty in Online Learning

Learning virtually can be difficult, especially since you won’t have face-to-face interaction with the teacher to keep you motivated. As a result, you’ll want to make sure you pick a course that’s best suited to your learning style so that you’ll be able to blast through your certification exam!

Some courses follow a more rigid structure, akin to one you might find in a college classroom. For example, MicroBachelors Program in Introduction to Databases takes a semester to finish, and you’ll find its rigid structure can keep you on track.

Other courses focus more on practices and exercises. If you find yourself as someone who learns best by doing, you may enjoy the Ultimate MySQL Bootcamp course. These courses are theoretical as well, and allow you to learn about SQL inside and out.

Finally, you might be someone who needs real-world applications for the lessons to drive home. In that case, you might want to try courses like Modern Big Data Analysis with SQL, which help you engage directly with applications to big data.

When it comes to online learning, you’ll have the chance to choose a course and instructor that works to your strengths. Whether you want a course that’s less flexible or a course that easily keeps you engaged, you’ll have the luxury of deciding since it’s online. Test out the instructor’s introduction videos for free on the website before making the commitment to purchase the course.

Designing Your First Database

person using SQL

Now that you’ve covered the basics of SQL and databases, it’s time to write some of your own queries for the top data scientist jobs on the market. The SQL courses listed will help prepare you for certification exams in your future, and you’ll have a new addition to your resume before long. Whether you plan on working in big data or looking into traditional data scientist roles, finding the right SQL certification course is the very first step!