How to Become a SQL Developer To Excel in Career in 2023

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used to manage and manipulate relational databases. It is used to extract, organize, and analyze large sets of data. SQL is important as it helps organizations make data-driven decisions and gain valuable insights from their data.

SQL is used in various industries, such as finance, healthcare, and retail. In addition, it is essential to perform data analysis as it enables a developer to create and manage databases, generate reports, and perform data mining. 

sql developer

As a result, there is high demand for SQL developers in the job market.

The average salary for an SQL developer in the US is around $81,297 per year, with an expected growth rate of  10.2% from 2021 to 2031, but this can vary based on location and experience. To become a successful SQL developer, it’s important to have a strong foundation in SQL syntax and database management. 

This article explains the steps on should take in order to become an SQL developer by gaining the right knowledge and skills.

Who is An SQL Developer?

An SQL Developer specializes in managing and manipulating relational databases using Structured Query Language. SQL Developers work with databases to design, create, and maintain tables, views, stored procedures, and other database objects. 

They are responsible for optimizing SQL queries to extract data, generate reports, and perform data analysis. Moreover, SQL Developers have excellent problem-solving skills and can think creatively to solve complex data management challenges efficiently.

What Does a SQL Developer DO? 

The day-to-day tasks include creating and maintaining database structures, developing and executing SQL queries, testing and debugging database applications, and ensuring the security and integrity of the data. They may also be responsible for performing data analysis and creating reports to support decision-making.

what does a sql developer do

In addition to technical tasks, SQL Developers often work closely with other data professionals, such as data analysts and database administrators, to ensure that data is accurate, consistent, and up-to-date. 

They may also collaborate with software developers to integrate databases with other applications and systems.

6 Key Steps for Becoming an SQL Developer 

Here are the 6 key steps:

  1. Understand the basics of SQL
  2. Complete a Relevant Certification
  3. Look for an SQL Internship
  4. Gain hands-on experience
  5. Improve your skills
  6. Endless Learning 

1. Understand the Basics of SQL

The first step is to understand the fundamental of SQL. It means one should familiarize themselves with the basic syntax, such as how to create and manage tables, insert data into them, and retrieve information from them. 

Learning how to use SQL functions such as ‘select’, ‘where’ and ‘join’ is also essential for data retrieval and manipulation.

There are numerous resources available online to gain basic knowledge of SQL, including tutorials, videos, and online courses. These can teach you the syntax and provide you with hands-on practice to hone your skills. 

It is also a good idea to experiment with a database management system, such as MySQL or PostgreSQL, to gain practical experience.

2. Complete a Relevant Certification

Getting a relevant certificate is the second most crucial step toward becoming a successful SQL developer. A certification can help you to demonstrate your expertise to potential employers and clients. Completing a certification can also provide you with a structured learning path. 

There are multiple certifications available, including those offered by Microsoft, Oracle, and the SQL Server. These certifications cover various aspects of SQL development, including database design, management, and performance optimization. 

It is important to choose a certificate that aligns with your career goals and the specific skills you want to develop. There are some of the best SQL bootcamps and bootcamps available to assist in preparing for an SQL exam or an interview.

3. Look for an SQL Internship

Finding an internship is the third stage in the process of becoming a SQL developer.  An internship will provide a real-world environment, and you will be asked to apply the skills you have learned in an online course or bootcamp in an actual project. 

Internships are valuable because they allow you to work with professionals who have years of experience in the field, learn new techniques, and gain insight into the industry.

sql internship

You can look for opportunities on websites like LinkedIn and GlassDoor, where you can find internships offered by companies. If you’re already studying at a university then you should check your university portal to look for jobs. Online courses and bootcamps that offer internships and job placement can also be of great help. 

Once you have secured an internship, make the most of your experience by asking questions, working on challenging projects, and learning as much as possible. Internships are also an excellent opportunity to network and build relationships with professionals in your field, which can be beneficial when looking for a full-time job.

4. Gain hands-on experience

Gaining hands-on experience is one of the most important steps you need to take. As a SQL developer, you’ll be responsible for writing SQL queries, designing and maintaining databases, and analyzing data to gain insights and make informed business decisions. 

Freelancing as a SQL developer offers valuable practical experience by allowing you to work on real projects and solve actual data challenges. You’ll gain insights from experienced developers and witness how SQL is applied in diverse industries to support informed business decisions. This hands-on experience broadens your perspective on SQL development and its practical applications.

Another approach to gain practical experience​​ is by taking on a full-time job. This will give you the opportunity to work on real projects and learn from experienced developers. Plus, you’ll also gain valuable insights into the business and how SQL is used to support its operations.

5. Improve your skills

Improving your skills is definitely a key step to achieving your goal. To enhance your skills, you can conduct an in-depth study of SQL, such as the syntax, data types, and basic commands.

There are many online resources, like tutorials and videos, that can help you learn these concepts. Once you have a good grasp of the basics, you can move on to more advanced topics like database design, optimization, and performance tuning.

Another great way to improve your skills is by practising with real-world projects. You can create your own database, experiment with different types of queries, and work on coding challenges or projects that simulate real-world scenarios.

6. Endless Learning 

It’s essential to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the field to become a seasoned SQL developer.

One of the key steps to achieving this is to read blogs that provide insights into real-world applications and best practices, as well as new techniques. Following SQL experts on social media is another valuable approach to gaining insights and resources. 

Attending webinars to keep abreast of the latest trends and technologies while taking online courses can constantly help you develop your knowledge and skills as an SQL developer.

6 Roles and Responsibilities of an SQL Developer 

  • Database design and management: A SQL developer is responsible for designing and managing databases for organizations. This includes creating tables, defining data types, and configuring relationships between tables. They must have a solid understanding of database design principles and best practices.
  • Query optimization: SQL developers optimize database queries to improve the performance of data retrieval and processing. They must have a deep understanding of SQL syntax and be able to write complex queries that efficiently retrieve data.
  • Data analysis and reporting: SQL developers perform data analysis to identify trends, patterns, and insights that can be used to inform business decisions. They are also responsible for generating reports and visualizations to present the data.
  • Database security: SQL developers are responsible for implementing and maintaining database security measures, including access control, authentication, and encryption. They must stay up-to-date on the latest security threats and be able to implement effective security protocols.
  • Troubleshooting and maintenance: SQL developers identify and resolve issues related to databases, including bugs, errors, and data inconsistencies. They also perform routine maintenance tasks, such as backups and updates.
  • Collaboration: SQL developers work closely with other members of the development team, including software developers, data scientists, and project managers. They must have excellent communication and collaboration skills to ensure that data is accurate and accessible to all stakeholders.

What Tools Do You Need to Learn to Become Proficient as a SQL Developer?

Here are some tools that can help you become more proficient as a SQL developer:

SQL Server Management Studio: This is a free integrated environment for managing SQL Server databases. It allows you to create, manage, and query databases, as well as perform other tasks related to database administration.

MySQL Workbench: This is a visual tool for database architects, developers, and administrators. It provides data modelling, SQL development, and comprehensive administration tools for server configuration, user administration, and much more. 

Toad for SQL Server: This is a powerful toolset for SQL Server administration, development, and performance tuning. It includes features for database development, data modelling, performance tuning, and SQL optimization. 

Navicat for SQL Server: This is a graphical database management and development tool for SQL Server. It allows you to create, organize, access, and share information securely and easily. 

DataGrip: This is a multi-engine database environment that supports MySQL, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, and many other databases. It provides a unified interface for working with different databases, as well as advanced features such as code completion, refactoring, and code analysis. 

SQL Prompt: This is an add-in for SQL Server Management Studio and Visual Studio that helps you write, format, and refactor SQL code. It provides code completion, code analysis, and other features to help you write better SQL code faster. 

DbVisualizer: This is a universal database tool that supports all major databases such as Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, and more. It provides a simple interface for managing and querying databases, as well as advanced features such as a schema browser, visual query builder, and data visualization. 

Top 10 Career Paths for a SQL Developer with a Salary

  1. Database Administrator: $91,679 per year
  2. Data Analyst: $73,012 per year
  3. Business Intelligence Developer: $106,847 per year
  4. Data Warehouse Developer: $95401 per year
  5. Database Developer: $96483 per year 
  6. ETL Developer: $87, 789 per year
  7. Data Scientist: $128715 per year
  8. Cloud Data Architect: $169,288 a year
  9. Big Data Engineer: $109,650 per year
  10. Machine Learning Engineer: $132,674 per year

FAQs – How to Become a SQL Developer

Can Experience Substitute Formal Education for Becoming a SQL Developer?

There’s no specific education requirement for becoming a SQL developer, but a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field can be helpful.

Which Industries Typically Hire SQL Developers?

There are no required certificates to become a SQL developer, but certifications like Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) or Oracle Database SQL Certified Associate can be beneficial.

What Is the Job Outlook for SQL Developers?

The salary of a SQL Server Developer varies depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry, but the average salary is around $89,411 per year in the United States.


SQL developers are highly sought-after professionals due to the increasing reliance on data and information. This career path offers lucrative salaries, strong demand for their skills, exposure to cutting-edge technologies, and promising prospects for career advancement.

There are many online resources and training programs available to help you learn how to become an SQL developer. Pursuing a degree in computer science or a related field is also an excellent idea. With the right skills and training, you can achieve success in this dynamic field. Let’s take the first step today and start exploring the world of SQL!