Learn SQL: 50+ of the Best Online Educational Resources to Learn SQL and Relational Database Management

The very best ways to learn Structured Query Language (SQL), including books, interactive courses, video lessons, bootcamps, articles, and reference material. Fifty resources, selected from the hundreds we reviewed.

About This Guide

According to Indeed, the average salary for a SQL Developer is $92,000, some 60 percent higher than the average median salary for all jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment for database administrators will grow 11 percent annually through 2024 because of demand for database administrators across the economy.

The demand for SQL pros has been and will remain strong. That’s because most of world’s companies and institutions store their critical enterprise data in relational databases. In addition, companies are collecting more data than ever before and want to use it to make critical business decisions.

Knowing how to manage relational databases and write smart SQL queries to get insights from data are skills in high demand, that’s undeniable. What’s also undeniable is that if SQL were easy to learn a lot more people would know it.

One of the biggest challenges when learning a new skill is orienting yourself and finding out where to learn what. That’s why we created this guide, to save you time scouring the web for learning resources. You will likely return to this curated list of books, interactive courses, video lessons, and reference materials many times while on your SQL learning journey, we recommend that you bookmark it to easily find it in the future.

Guide Contents

Video Lessons

With thousands of video lessons scattered around the web it’s difficult to know where to start. We handpicked the best SQL video lessons so you can stop looking and start learning.

Articles

Articles offer laser focus on particular implementations or use cases for SQL, you will find both in our article list.

Interactive Courses

Interactive courses have well designed curriculum, quizzes, and community. Courses give you the comprehensive knowledge that you’ll need before learning more advanced domain specific SQL topics.

Bootcamps

Bootcamps are interactive courses on steroids, it’s like training for a marathon in six weeks instead of six months. They put you in a state of learning where there is no dilly-dallying, it’s sink or swim.

Books

With the explosion of online resources, books can seem like a bygone medium. That’s a false assumption. The truth is books are some of the most in-depth and well put together resources for learning SQL and other programming languages.

References & Tools

Although sometimes not intuitive or easily digestible at first, all serious developers know how to use references and source material. It’s better to get comfortable with it sooner than later.

Video Lessons

Database Fundamentals

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Before diving into writing SQL queries, it’s useful to get the 10,000 foot conceptual overview, learn some terminology, and see some examples of relational database tables. Database Fundamentals is a five-part video introduction to core database concepts (by two SQL pros) that explains SQL databases from square one using a mix of lecture content and screencasting. It’s a good place to start for anyone who’s a true beginner or looking to review the fundamental concepts of databases.

Stanford’s Self Paced SQL Mini Courses

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

Stanford offers several free SQL mini courses with in-video quizzes and interactive programming exercises that are auto-checked. Every course has a discussion forum and references outside readings & resources. The course material draws from Stanford’s undergraduate courses.

Udemy – The Complete SQL Bootcamp

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: $11

The top-rated course on Udemy when it comes to SQL – The Complete SQL Bootcamp – has 1700+ reviews and a 4.6 star rating. This course comes from Jose Marcial Portilla, who works as the Head of Data Science for a startup and has a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Santa Clara University. The course has 86 lessons and plenty of challenges.

essentialSQL

Type: Video Lessons, Articles, Community
Level: Any
Price: Free & Paid

Kris Wenzel, creator of essentialSQL, has created a resource rich site. He recommends that you start with his free video course, or dive into some of his beginner text based lessons listed here. There are many thorough text based lessons on the homepage, as well as a learning community.

SQL Authority – Video Learning

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Any, Intermediate
Price: Free

The owner of SQL Authority, Pinal Dave, is a tech enthusiast and independent consultant that has published 21 courses on Pluralsight and written 11 books on SQL Server. His blog has more articles and videos than you could probably ever get through. Many of the videos are on specific topics that are well beyond beginner level.

SQL Server Tutorial for Beginners

Type: Video Lesson
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

A treasure trove of 135 short videos showing SQL database concepts using Microsoft SQL Server and SQL Server Management Studio. Pragim Technologies has video lessons of many other languages on their YouTube channel as well.

SQL Server Central – Foreign Keys Part 1 & Part 2

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Intermediate
Price: Free

The first big hurdle when learning SQL is understanding the significance of foreign keys and how to use them. These two short videos will give you a background in referential integrity. There are many other videos and resources on SQL Server Central, and although some may look a little dated, the basics of SQL haven’t changed much over the years so they’re still relevant.

Microsoft Virtual Academy – SQL Server Courses

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Any
Price: Free

Designing Solutions for SQL Server and Developing Microsoft SQL Server Databases are two of the courses offered by Microsoft Virtual Academy. The two courses, as well as others at MVA, offer training on how to implement and manage database solutions, migrate to scalable cloud solutions, use powerful reporting, and integrate SQL with Sharepoint.

Pluralsight – SQL Courses

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
Price: $29 per month

Pluralsight is Lynda’s competitor, has the same type of professional course content, and is also a paid subscription. The more your are actually going to use these paid platforms the more sense they make. (i.e. studying a few hours per day) Additionally, public and university libraries often have prepaid subscriptions you can use for free.

Lynda.com – SQL Courses

Type: Video Lessons
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: $25 per month

After a few introductory SQL courses you could try something like Lynda.com. It’s a paid service with a free 10 day trial. Lynda, as a paid platform, has a certain standard for quality of instruction that’s sometimes harder to find on Youtube.

Articles

Learn SQL by Calculating Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – Part 1 & Part 2

Type: Article
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

It can help to pair technical skill acquisition with common business use cases. Kiyoto Tamura teaches SQL through calculating CLV from a sample set of data provided. In the first post, Tamura wastes no time in getting you started writing SQL queries to sort and filter the dataset. The second post will have you grouping and joining data to achieve insight from it.

SQL Server Central – Stairway to Database Design

Type: Articles
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

A widely read SQL writer and winner of the DBMS Magazine Reader’s Choice Award four consecutive years – Joe Celko – explains the basics of database design in this nine part article series. The first few articles deal with data elements & domains, constraints, and defaults. The later part of the course gets into building tables, building a schema, procedures, and triggers & normalization.

Tutorials Point – Learn SQL

Type: Article
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

When you just want to keep a reference on-hand while building your first few SQL projects, the Tutorials Point – Learn SQL library works well. You won’t have to dig to find what you want, and most pages follow the format of definition, syntax, example.

Setting Up MySQL and SQLite on Raspberry Pi

Type: Article
Level: Intermediate
Price: Free

If you are interested in deploying SQL databases to devices that might not be thought of as traditional computers, deploying SQLite or MySQL to Raspberry Pi is a good place to start. The articles show how to populate the database using Python and a sample set of data. Actually detecting temperatures with a sensor and storing them using Python and SQL commands is also possible using this tutorial.

Wikihow – How to Create a SQL Server Database

Type: Article
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Create an SQL Server database using a graphical user interface (GUI) to visualize the structure of your database. The article has you download Microsoft’s SQL Server Management Studio and then create a database, tables, a primary key, etc. before querying your data. Using GUI at the beginning will provide you with a mental map before working with databases from the command line.

Interactive Courses

Codecademy – Learn SQL

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Codecademy’s SQL track teaches you how to communicate with relational databases while building four projects using SQL. The introductory course takes only a few hours to complete. With Codecademy you get a beautiful embedded editor, well structured lessons for progressive mastery, and course content written by professional educators. But beware, you won’t get much depth or guidance on how to progress beyond what is taught in the course.

Vertabelo – Learn SQL the Easy Way

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

Vertabelo has several SQL courses and among them two free ones: Operating on Data in SQL and Standard SQL Functions. Operating on Data in SQL is a simple beginner course on how to insert, update, and delete from databases. Standard SQL Functions is an intermediate course focusing on common standard SQL functions – like text functions, numeric functions, and time & date functions – used to process different data types.

StackSocial – Ultimate SQL Bootcamp

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner
Price: $49

The course focuses on SQL, but also teaches how SQL integrates with other technologies to build powerful applications. The course counts 86 lectures, a total of 14 hours of instruction, focusing on topics like creating database connected web pages using SQL & XML data sources, building a dashboard with SQL Server, and ASP Web Forms.

Codecademy – SQL: Analyzing Business Metrics

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Data is at the heart of many big business decisions. This course will get you started understanding the basics of data analysis while you are exposed to different workflows; you’ll investigate and analyze data using SQL. Gain skills necessary to interact with data and perform meaningful analysis using SQL.

SQL Teaching

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

For people who don’t like preambles and want concise lessons, SQL Teaching has 31 single page SQL lessons each asking the user to test a particular SQL query. The lessons introduce various contexts whereby you use combinations of queries to print the result to the screen.

GalaXQL

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

Not your everyday interactive tutorial site, GalaXQL has you change the shape of a spinning galaxy with the queries you write, instead of just outputting data. There is also a virtual teacher – Professor Alfred T. Guru – who can give you hints when you’ve entered a bad query, or can direct you to an SQL reference.

SQLZoo

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

SQLZoo has short interactive tutorials and serves as a reference for people learning SQL. Its look and feel are somewhat like Wikipedia because it is based on the Wikimedia template. After you have learned the basics somewhere else, SQLZoo will be a good bookmark for you to reference when needing to see a quick example of how to run a particular query, make a join, etc.

edX – Developing SQL Databases

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Intermediate
Price: Free

edX has course content from the world’s top universities and companies. Developing SQL Databases is from Microsoft and includes topics such as logical table design, ensuring data integrity, indexes, and views. Other subjects covered in the course are the creation of database objects, stored procedures, and columnstore indexes.

SQL Course

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

SQL Course will really have you building that SQL query muscle memory in your fingers. Both the beginner and intermediate-advanced courses often ask the student to write several queries per lesson. Like other interactive tutorials, the student gets immediate feedback upon query submission. The designers of SQL Course definitely subscribe to the theory that you don’t learn much just by reading, instead you have to write hundreds of queries to get through these SQL lessons.

Sololearn – SQL Fundamentals

Type: Mobile App
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Sololearn will help you learn SQL from your smartphone. Although not aimed at hardcore coders, Sololearn has over 2 million users and “socializes” the process of learning to code through gamification with other users. You can create, access, and manipulate databases from the app despite it being mobile.

SQL Bolt

Type: Interactive Course
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: Free

In a series of about 20 interactive text based tutorials SQL Bolt moves you quickly through learning basic SQL. The site touches on a few intermediate SQL topics as well such as subqueries, unions, intersections, and exceptions. There’s a SQL editor and challenges at the bottom of every lesson to test your skills.

Bootcamps

General Assembly – SQL Bootcamp

Type: Bootcamp
Level: Beginner
Price: $280

A beginner’s one day workshop on SQL combines lectures and in-class exercises to get you confident writing SQL queries. The course has a four star rating on Coursehorse and normally General Assembly gets good reviews for their programs. An in-person course can accelerate your learning as you get oriented with all the right resources from day one.

Code Union – SQL Deep-Dive & Metrics

Type: Bootcamp
Level: Beginner
Price: $1,500

Code Union’s SQL course teaches students to translate product, operational, and marketing questions directly into SQL. In additional to the pure technical knowhow, Code Union also teaches the basic principles of data science so students can formulate the right questions to better leverage the power of SQL.

Level – Core (Intermediate)

Type: Bootcamp
Level: Intermediate
Price: $8000

Level is backed by Northeastern University, a top-50 ranked university in the US. The intermediate Core program that teaches Excel, R, SQL, and Tableau can be taken in either eight or 20 weeks and requires on-site visits to campuses in either Boston, Charlotte, Seattle, or Silicon Valley. One of its main selling points is that students do 1:1 capstone projects with industry leading employers.

Books

Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes

Type: Book
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: New $25, Used $15, $10 Kindle

Teach Yourself SQL in 10 minutes is chopped up into 22 lessons that can each be completed in 10 minutes or less. The lessons explain how to use the major SQL statements, building complicated SQL statements using multiple clauses and operators, locating data using filtering, working with views, etc. Most people are inclined to exhaust free resources before buying a book, but books are often more complete and allow you to learn faster.

SQL QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner’s Guide To SQL

Type: Book
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: New $13, $5 Audible

SQL QuickStart Guide avoids jumping right into the technical jargon and first helps the reader grasp how SQL works conceptually. It uses multi-step examples to show the reader not just the what, but why every step of the way. The book aims to take the absolute beginner and make them confident executing complex SELECT statements to return insightful datasets.

Build Your Own Database Driven Web Site Using PHP & MySQL, 4th Edition

Type: Book
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

Often times if you are learning SQL you may be learning it to build a database driven website with PHP and MySQL. If you are looking to build a simple web app with CRUD functions, this book is a great place to start. The book will show you how to install PHP and MySQL if your web server doesn’t already support them.

Learn SQL The Hard Way

Type: Book, Video Lessons
Level: Beginner
Price: $20

A book from the Learn to Code The Hard Way series, Learn SQL The Hard Way is a crash course in SQL basics that teaches not just how to store data, but how to best to structure and analyze it. There are some videos (not from the author) on Youtube that walk through the first three lessons if you want to get a taste before you buy the book.

SQL Queries for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Data Manipulation in SQL

Type: Book
Level: Beginner, Intermediate
Price: $38 New, $26 Used, $25 Kindle

SQL Queries for Mere Mortals is touted as one of the best books on SQL query writing. The book takes you from a simple understanding what relational databases are to showing you how to write queries that apply multiple complex conditions. Downloadable sample databases are included for current versions of Microsoft Office Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and open source MySQL.

SQL Tricks (Advanced Database Programming)

Type: Book
Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Price: $15 New Paperback, $6 Kindle

When you want to move beyond simple SELECT-FROM-WHERE queries and into some of the real problems that analysts, app developers, and database programmers deal with, then check this book out. The book is broken out into “recipes” that cover topics like traversing hierarchies, pivoting results, and finding extreme values. Each concept discussed in the book highlights the supporting logic and best practices.

Joe Celko’s SQL for Smarties, Fifth Edition: Advanced SQL Programming

Type: Book
Level: Advanced
Price: $40

SQL for Smarties is for intermediate to advanced SQL programmers that want to become experts; a book written by a master for those that want to become masters. Far from a tips and tricks resource, the author – Joe Celko – instructs you how to think about SQL to get the most out of it; he explains principles as well as code.

SQL: The Complete Reference, 3rd Edition

Type: Book
Level: Intermediate, Advanced
Price: $40 New, $8.50 Used, $38 Kindle

Dubbed by many as the standard for the last 30 years, SQL: The Complete Reference, 3rd Edition gives complete coverage of all aspects of SQL from three leading industry experts. The book shows how to construct, populate, manage databases, and build SQL-based applications. The book also shows how to integrate adjacent technologies with relational database management systems, and techniques for embedded databases that run on mobile or IoT enabled devices.

References & Tools

W3Schools

Type: Reference
Level: Beginner
Price: Free

W3Schools is often the first place someone might look to get an overview of any web related language. It’s good for concise definitions and its interactive tutorial engine that accompanies each SQL concept. You can quickly read a short definition of what a particular SQL command or query does, and then use it on a sample dataset to output a result.

DBA StackExchange

Type: Reference
Level: Any
Price: Free

DBA StackExchange is StackOverflow for sharing database related programming questions. As you advance in your SQL learning (and occasionally get stuck on a problem) DBA StackExchange is a place to seek help from SQL pros that can give you a push in the right direction.

SQL Fiddle

Type: Reference
Level: Any
Price: Free

Use SQL fiddle to build a mini, yet representative sample of your database using the commands you’ve already been learning like CREATE TABLE, INSERT, etc. Type in your query and run it to see the output. Often times you would use it to demonstrate a problem by copying the unique URL the site generates and pasting it into an entry on dba.stackexchange.com to get some help.

MySQL

Type: Reference, Tool
Level: Any
Price: Free

MySQL is the world’s most popular open source relational database management system (RDBMS). As you learn more about specific SQL implementations it’s something you will run across. The MySQL site has a host of resources, two important ones being the current MySQL Reference Manual and MySQL Forums. You can also download the latest version of MySQL free from the site under a general public license.

PostgreSQL

Type: Reference
Level: Any
Price: Free

PostgreSQL is the primary alternative to MySQL. It’s used frequently for Ruby on Rails applications, has a strong community, and it’s an open source SQL standard compliant RDBMS. Each RDBMS has it strengths and weaknesses, you can read about that here.

SQLite – Quick Start Guide

Type: Reference
Level: Any
Price: Free

SQLite is not a typical client/server SQL relational database management system like PostgreSQL or MySQL, which are used to implement a shared repository of what’s usually enterprise data. SQLite solves a different problem of local data storage for applications and devices. It’s often used for education and training because of its self-contained and serverless nature, but it can also be used for connected devices, financial analysis tools, a website that gets less than 100k hits/day, analyzing large datasets, and more.

Proprietary Relational Database Management Systems – Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server

Type: Reference
Level: Any
Price: Paid

You should understand the difference between open source and proprietary databases. Every open source or proprietary RDBMS lends itself to supporting particular types of applications. You won’t necessarily default to an open source solution when selecting a RDBMS for your application, you have to know the strengths of the major proprietary solutions as well.

Auxiliary Implementation References

Type: References
Level: Any
Price: Free & Paid

SQL is the the standard language for relational database management systems, but it’s only useful within the confines of particular implementations. That’s why to become a real database pro you have to know the specifics of the RDBMS you will be working with. Below are a few essential resources for grappling with the particulars of each specific implementation.

SQLite

MySQL

PostgreSQL

MariaDB

Oracle

Microsoft SQL Server

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