What is the best way to learn SQL?

Sandeesh Sagu of SansSQLThis is the third of several interviews I’ve conducted with those influencing the SQL community.  My goal is that through their insights your journey to learn SQL is made easier.  In this post I’m interviewing Sandesh Segu.  Sandesh runs the blog SansSQL.  This blog has been around for several years.

Before we begin, I want to remind you all that if you have other questions you want answered, then post a comment or tweet me.  I’m here to help you.

With that let’s begin the interview!

1.  When you first learned SQL, what were some of the frustrations you had and what would you recommend to today’s beginners to avoid them?

Frankly speaking, there was nothing for me to get frustrated when I started my career. Every day and every minute was a new learning. Enjoyed the initial hiccups too.

To be successful, be very strong in basics and be passionate.   “Once you stop learning, you start dying” said the great Einstein so always learn new things, keep yourself updated and share with others.

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple…but if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”

2.  Is there a particular DBMS you would recommend a beginner to learn SQL, why?

There are many DBMS systems available in market today and each system is unique and has its own importance. For a beginner it will be very difficult to choose one among them.

If you ask me, I would recommend MSSQL for beginners because is it very much user friendly and easy to learn. A very good product which enables self-learning.

DBA Designing Tables

3.  Do you have any advice for people that want to start a career as a DBA?  For instance, are certifications a must?

A small piece of advice that I could give is, have your own lab and try out and experiment things there and do not use production environment as your playground.

I would never say certification is a must, but it supports the knowledge and confidence you have on the subject. In my career, I have met many people who have great knowledge, but no certification.

4.  New developers often ask me what they can do to write more efficient DB code.  What are some pointers you could give them?

Follow coding standards and use code re-usability techniques

It is not the end of the product as soon as you finish writing the code. There will be many enhancements to the product and ensure you write the code in such a way that even after certain years, a beginner should be able to understand your code and do fixes and enhancements rather than scold and curse. J

“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”

5.  Normalization can be intimidating for beginners.  What were some of the ways you were able to learn it without going insane?

“Practice makes man perfect”

So practice more in your week areas and continuous practice will lead to better confidence level. If you can’t explain it to a six year old that means you don’t understand it yourself.
As told earlier, have your own lab setup and you are the boss there.



Well that wraps up the interview.  I sure hope you visit Sans SQL.  This site is great for intermediate DBA, as some of the concepts covered are high on the DBA sophistication scale.  But don’t let that stop you from reading the site!  The posts are well written and cohesive. There’s coverage of other version of SQL as well.  As you learn SQL you’ll find sits like Sandesh’s useful.

Many of the posts are inspired by situations Sandesh has encountered in the field.  This is great!  For the beginning DBA, there’s nothing better than knowing about the issues you’ll encounter and how other have solved them.  I would recommend reading the post Size of a Backup is more than Database for a good case study.

Remember!  I want to remind you all that if you have other questions you want answered, then post a comment or tweet me.  I’m here to help you.

Kris Wenzel

Kris Wenzel has been working with databases over the past 28 years as a developer, analyst, and DBA. He has a BSE in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. Kris has written hundreds of blog articles and many online courses. He is loves helping others learn SQL.

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