If you are a database professional—or aspiring to be one—you are bound to weigh the importance of having a SQL certification. How important is it? And is it worth it?
SQL certification is worth it. It provides database professionals with a way to demonstrate their skills and knowledge of SQL best practices. SQL certifications can be beneficial in standing out in saturated job markets. They also help to highlight platform- and vendor-based SQL skillsets.
If you are pondering the value of acquiring an SQL certification for the first time, or if you are considering getting additional SQL certifications, this article will present the reasons why both are worthwhile.
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Why Not Focus on Project-Based Experience Instead?
When the topic of SQL certifications arises, there is often a temptation to compare their importance to project-based experience. Doing so, however, can create confusion or prejudice for one being superior to the other.
The reality of the situation is that both SQL certification and project-based experience are essential in advancing your career as a database professional, with SQL certification offering additional benefits.
5 Reasons Why SQL Certifications Are Worth It
SQL Certifications Establish a Foundation for Practical Experience
The best way to look at SQL certifications within the context of your career development is to view these certifications as the foundation and framework from which you can better highlight the practical project-based experience that you accumulate over time.
Another way to look at this is to view SQL certifications as what informs your employer about what you know and the project-based experience as proof of how effectively you apply your knowledge and skillsets to provide solutions. In other words, your SQL certifications set up the expectations, and your project-based experience provides the confirmation—a hammer and anvil approach.
SQL Certifications Help Enhance Your SQL Proficiencies
Keep in mind also that acquiring SQL certifications are not merely for the benefit of enhancing your resume in the eyes of a potential employer. The process of obtaining SQL certification will also provide you with practical enhancements to your current SQL proficiencies.
The certification process involves a training phase followed by the project and/or exam.
The training part can take on a variety of forms. These can be self-paced or part of a more structured process. The training can be taken online or in a live classroom environment. The key takeaway is that you will be validating your current knowledge of SQL during these training sessions while also acquiring new skills.
In other words, SQL certification is not just “another badge on your chest.” It genuinely provides you with a practical expansion of your current skill set.
SQL Certifications Fulfills Requirements for Some Employers
Whether you identify yourself as a database professional—providing experience in a broader set of database management skills—or if you identify yourself as SQL developer focussing on a specific platform, some employers do require SQL certification for certain job positions.
In these situations, the advantage of having a SQL certification becomes obvious. It will fulfill the prerequisites required for being granted an interview.
SQL Certification Leverage Your Practical Experience
Even if your current or prospective employer does not require a SQL certification, having one can still be beneficial.
Whether it is during a job interview or a performance evaluation with a current employer, you can leverage the fact that you have SQL certification. The benefits of this leveraging can be in the form of a higher starting salary or a larger raise. It can also expedite your consideration for promotions.
By being certified, you place yourself in a tier above your colleagues who otherwise have the same level of experience as you do. SQL certification can be what distinguishes you above the rest.
Those SQL developers who have not encountered employers who specifically require a SQL certification often belittle the need for one. These are the same people who prefer to embrace the “project experience only” approach. However, while it is true that many employers do not require one, the advantageous position that you will be in for having one cannot be denied.
Additionally, the naysayers who see little value in having a SQL certification tend to do so from the comfortable position of already having a secured job position. They may not consider the competitiveness for new job positions in database management or SQL development.
SQL Certifications Demonstrate Growth in Your Field
Another reason why SQL certification is beneficial is how it can help you document the amount and pace of your professional growth.
SQL development is a broad discipline. It can involve everything from data warehousing to database development to analytics and business intelligence. It means that an even greater number of job positions rely on SQL knowledge. These include web developers, data science experts, AI trainers, and developers, etc.
When such a level of diversity is involved in applying a skillset, it is not easy to plot demonstrable maturation levels and advancement within the field.
Relying on project-based experience will only serve you so far in this regard. If you cover different roles and disciplines during your SQL career, it may not always be apparent to a new employer the value you truly represent.
Employers will tend to look upon areas of expertise within their field and undervalue that outside of it. By having a series of SQL certifications, such as those in the tiered Microsoft SQL Certification programs, it is easier for you to accredit your continuing amplification of SQL knowledge.
Is There an Official SQL Certification?
When it comes to SQL certifications, there isn’t an official SQL certification per se. There are a variety of SQL certifications issued by different vendors, as well as those for specific platforms.
If there were to be a thread that unites the wide range of available SQL certifications, it would be associated with the International Organization for Standardization. More specifically, that contained in standard ISO/IEC 9075-1:2016. This standard specifies the “grammar of SQL and the result of processing statements in that language by an SQL-implementation.”
Since this ISO standard defines the procedures and structures involved in executing SQL statements, most vendor- and platform-based certifications follow the protocolization found in SO/IEC 9075-1:2016.
Which SQL Certification Is the Best?
Due to the broad use application of SQL and the lack of an official SQL certification program, there are many SQL certifications from which to choose. As such, selecting a SQL certification that is best for you will be very subjective.
Overall, it would be best if you started by seeking a certification pertinent to the platform you work on the most. It would also be wise to consider those certifications that focus on the skills perceived as the most important in SQL development by employers. SQL certification offered at multiple levels is also a proper choice for demonstrating your continuing expansion of experience.
- Microsoft SQL Certification. The three Microsoft SQL Certification levels provide you with an excellent way to demonstrate your proficiency in the SQL Server relational database management system.
- Excel to MySQL. Offered by Duke University on Coursera, this certification is well-suited for those database professionals wishing to highlight their MySQL skills, especially if your focus is on forecasting and modeling while incorporating Excel and Tableau in your data analysis workflow.
- SQL Certifications by SAP, Oracle, and IBM. SQL certification offered by a well-recognized and prestigious organization provides trust and credibility to employers and clients. They also tend to provide the best level of skill development for their particular platforms.
Author’s Recommendations: Top Data Science Resources To Consider
Before concluding this article, I wanted to share few top data science resources that I have personally vetted for you. I am confident that you can greatly benefit in your data science journey by considering one or more of these resources.
- DataCamp: If you are a beginner focused towards building the foundational skills in data science, there is no better platform than DataCamp. Under one membership umbrella, DataCamp gives you access to 335+ data science courses. There is absolutely no other platform that comes anywhere close to this. Hence, if building foundational data science skills is your goal: Click Here to Sign Up For DataCamp Today!
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate: If you are looking for a data science credential that has strong industry recognition but does not involve too heavy of an effort: Click Here To Enroll Into The IBM Data Science Professional Certificate Program Today! (To learn more: Check out my full review of this certificate program here)
- MITx MicroMasters Program in Data Science: If you are at a more advanced stage in your data science journey and looking to take your skills to the next level, there is no Non-Degree program better than MIT MicroMasters. Click Here To Enroll Into The MIT MicroMasters Program Today! (To learn more: Check out my full review of the MIT MicroMasters program here)
- Roadmap To Becoming a Data Scientist: If you have decided to become a data science professional but not fully sure how to get started: read my article – 6 Proven Ways To Becoming a Data Scientist. In this article, I share my findings from interviewing 100+ data science professionals at top companies (including – Google, Meta, Amazon, etc.) and give you a full roadmap to becoming a data scientist.
An attempt is often made to answer whether SQL certification is worth it by responding to whether it is necessary. While it is true that for many positions as a SQL Developer, having a SQL certification is not a prerequisite, the value in having one is ever-present.
From providing you with a way to validate your SQL experience, enhance your SQL skills, meet specific job requirements, leverage your practical experience, and demonstrate growth in your profession in general, a SQL certification is worth it.
BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget to check out my latest article – 6 Proven Steps To Becoming a Data Scientist [Complete Guide]. We interviewed 100+ data science professionals (data scientists, hiring managers, recruiters – you name it) and created this comprehensive guide to help you land that perfect data science job.
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