Is SQL Hard to Learn?

Instructor: Jessica Keys
Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used to access and manipulate data in a database. It's used with database management systems such as MySQL, Oracle and Microsoft Access. Its syntax is relatively simple, but its ease of learning and use will depend on your familiarity with a few computer-related subjects, especially databases.

Learning SQL: What's it Like?

If you have worked with spreadsheets before, you have already gotten a taste of how SQL works on the conceptual level. Computer databases work like tables, with rows and columns of information. Having a good understanding of this is helpful because you use SQL to create, insert and remove these rows and columns, and you can use it to retrieve and display data from your table (querying). Having a firm understanding of how computer data is managed will make SQL easier to learn. If you need a little more practice or review, have a look at's in-depth course on data management!

Is SQL a Complicated Language to Learn?

If you are completely new to computer programming, it's a good idea to brush up on the basics of programming as there are a lot of concepts and best practices (such as documentation, logic and data types) that tend to remain the same across the board. Check out's Introduction to Programming course for a solid foundational overview!

Those who have had experience with computer/web programming or other forms of data management may also find SQL easier to pick up over somebody who has no experience at all. However, that doesn't mean a complete newbie will find SQL too daunting to learn! Whether self-paced or structured, most computer programming courses ease you into the language, starting out simple and building on what you learn as you go along. SQL courses usually begin by getting you acquainted with your work environment, then creating very basic databases and learning how to query this information in a meaningful way. Then, as you get more comfortable with the fundamentals, you work your way into more advanced topics.

Meanwhile, if you are an experienced programmer, learning SQL may be easier compared to other languages. While it has its own unique syntax, it is largely a declarative language. To put it simply, with SQL, you only have to describe what you want to do with your database. You don't have to fiddle with all the internal nuts and bolts of how you are going to get the computer to do it (such as with languages like C or Java). However, SQL has a vast and complex range of applications; to implement the language correctly and efficiently, it takes study and practice.

Everybody learns differently and learning a computer language is no different in that regard. What's easy for one person might be very difficult to master for the next, but the growing necessity and accessibility of SQL means there are a lot of different resources both online and offline (such as at a community college) that you can try until you find the method that works best for you. is also here with an engaging video lesson on SQL, as well as a quiz to test your skills!

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