Phillip Burton

In this article, we will take a look at ways in which you can learn Structured Query Language, or SQL. Before we begin, we should answer the question — what is “SQL?”

What are the components of SQL Server?

When you think about Microsoft SQL, what comes to mind first is probably T-SQL, Microsoft’s implementation of the SQL programming language. T-SQL is short for Transact Structured Query Language, and it focuses on SELECT statements. 

But there are many other aspects of SQL Server.

70-461, 761: Querying Microsoft SQL Server with Transact-SQL

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From Tables and SELECT queries to advanced SQL. SQL Server 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2022 | By Phillip Burton

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So when you wonder how you can learn SQL, your first question should be: What aspect of SQL do you wish to understand?

In which order should I learn the SQL Server components?

What is the best introduction to SQL Server? It depends on what your job requirements are. However, there are basically two different job types:

Either way, I suggest that you start with T-SQL. You will then be able to create SELECT statements, create tables, and insert as many rows of data as you want.

Once you understand the basics of SQL Server, you can then expand on it.

Either path is an excellent intro to SQL Server.

Downloading and installing SQL Server

One of the best ways to learn SQL Server is to practice it on your own computer. You can do this if you install Microsoft SQL Server on your computer – it’s free. And you can install it on your Windows laptop or desktop.

There are two main versions that I can recommend:

To download these programs, go to the Microsoft SQL Server website.

If you want to learn more than T-SQL, then download the SQL Server Developer edition. It gives you more Database Administration (DBA) functionality. It also comes with the components needed for SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS.

Once you have installed this version, you will have the back engine to SQL Server. You will also need a front engine, which allows you to have a user interface. This front engine is different depending on what aspect of SQL Server you want to learn.

A front engine for SSIS, SSAS, and SSRS

If you wish to learn SSIS, SSAS, or SSRS, then the easiest front engine you can use is Microsoft’s Visual Studio. The free Community edition is great for personal use, and you can download it from the Visual Studio website.

If you want to use it for SSIS, SSAS, or SSRS, some add-ins are needed.

A front engine for T-SQL and DBA

Do you want to create T-SQL statements or learn Database Administration? If so, you should install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).

This front-end is a user interface for SQL Server and allows you to execute T-SQL queries. Again, this is FREE.  Download it by clicking here.

Creating your first queries

Hopefully, you have now installed SQL Server and SSMS, so you can open SSMS and connect to your database. If you have done a standard installation of SQL Server, then your database would either be:

From within SSMS, you can create your first T-SQL Statements.

You can do this by using one of the built-in system tables. One example of these is sys.objects in the master database. You could write the following T-SQL command and press the Execute button:

FROM master.sys.objects

This will display every single row and column in that table. From there, you can narrow it down. If all you want is the “object_id” column, you can change the code to:

SELECT object_id
FROM master.sys.objects

Success! You have now created your first T-SQL command.

For other useful SQL commands, refer to Udemy’s latest blog, which covers all the statements you’ll want to know.

What do you need to learn?

If you want to learn SQL Server, you should have a structured way of doing it.

To determine what you should learn, I suggest turning to the experts.

Microsoft had two exams relating to T-SQL called 70-461 and 70-761. Microsoft also had an exam for DBAs called 70-462. Mastery of these requirements means a high skill level in T-SQL or DBA. Sadly, these exams are no longer available. 

But the requirements for these exams are still instrumental in determining what you need to know. Why not look at the 70-461 and 70-462 requirements and see how your current skills compare?

Video course

Have you identified any requirements that you need? This is when an online course could assist you with your learning experience. Why not look at Udemy? Udemy is one of the best learning platforms out there.

In my Udemy video course for T-SQL, I teach all of the requirements of the 70-461 and 70-761 exams. You’ll learn the following:

Once you have mastered these requirements, you will feel confident with T-SQL. You can now use your newfound SQL knowledge in creating SELECT statements. This can allow you to retrieve data in other environments, such as Python, Excel, Tableau, Power BI, and other applications.

Want to learn a different aspect of SQL Server? Please look at my other online SQL tutorials for:

Have a look at the links included in this article and see what you need to begin working in SQL Server. Then check out some of my SQL courses and see how much more you could learn.

Thank you very much for reading, and keep learning! 

Page Last Updated: April 2021

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