Main image of article SQL Certifications: 3 Big Questions Answered About Obtaining Them

A professional Structured Query Language (SQL) certification can help a developer, data analyst, or database administrator stand out from the crowd when applying for a new job. SQL is essential for database queries, placing it at the center of many organizations’ data operations. Given the variety of uses for SQL, there’s a correspondingly varied selection of SQL certifications, including platform-centric certs (such as MongoDB's certification for NoSQL).

The wide range of certifications on offer from tech giants including Microsoft, Oracle and AWS can benefit those just starting out in their data career, as well as those looking to master more advanced database concepts.

What are the best SQL certifications?

Tomasz Jaroszewski, senior DevOps engineer at DevSkiller, said he could recommend the Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate certification and Oracle Database PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional certification. “They're quite challenging but at the same time really beneficial for presenting your skills to your prospective employer,” he said.

Adding those certifications to your professional portfolio and resume indicates that you're not only qualified in SQL but also possess wider knowledge about Oracle databases and good practices related to managing them, Jaroszewski explained: “While SQL certification cannot substitute the actual hands-on experience in databases management, it can definitely help you stand out from the crowd.”

Matthew Deneroff, vice president of technology talent solutions at Robert Half, recommended two certifications: Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals, which provides technologists with an understanding of core data concepts, such as relational and nonrelational data as well as big data, and analytics, and the aforementioned Oracle Database PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional.

“The Oracle certification helps showcase your expertise in the SQL language as well as data modeling and using tables,” Deneroff said. “The Microsoft certification goes beyond SQL to show your knowledge of relational and non-relational data and data workloads, but does include it.”

IBM and SAP also offer related certifications, which can prove very useful if you're targeting potential employers that utilize these companies' offerings in their technology stacks.

Do you need these certifications?

Deneroff calls SQL certifications “advantageous, but not necessary,” adding that, if you don’t have a certification, employers will take a very close look at your proficiency with the language.  

“Obviously any certifications you can show would only help your case,” he said. “The specific certification you could need would really depend on what your company is requiring, though the popular ones in general today are the Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals and the Oracle certified professional MySQL Database Administrator."

Where can you get these certifications?

Because SQL is such a popular language, there are a host of institutions and schools that offer related certifications, among them W3Schools online certification program, along with SQL offerings from Udemy and Coursera. If you want to get the popular SQL certifications from Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, SAP, or another big tech company, you'll need to take their courses and exams.

Deneroff added that, while these certifications can be a great complement to your professional work experience, they're not always a supplement for work experience.

"I would advise that job seekers entering the IT world, in addition to seeking certifications, that they remain open to any types of internship opportunities they could get as well," he said. "It's really the combination of certifications and work experience that will propel you to the next level, the next salary bracket and the next position. it's the tandem of the two."

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