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What is SQL used for?

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What is SQL used for?

When working with data, SQL is one of the most important languages to know. We’ll look at what SQL is, how it’s used, and which jobs you might be able to get if you learn SQL.

From the prices of things at your local store to the personal information that social media captures when you browse, data is everywhere. Our world is built on data, and SQL makes it much easier to navigate that data.

In this post, we’ll look at what SQL is and what it can be used for, as well as how to learn SQL and various SQL jobs you could get if you learn the language. SQL is a skill that you will need to learn if you want to work in the data sector.

What exactly is SQL?
Structured query language, or SQL for short, is a programming language that connects with databases, as we described in our piece about what programming languages are used for. SQL (commonly pronounced sequel) is a database management system that allows you to store, retrieve, manage, and alter data.

SQL was created by IBM in the early 1970s and released to the public in 1979. It is widely recognised as the industry standard for relational database administration (RDBMS).

What is a database, exactly?
Databases are all around us, as practically every corporation and industry requires digital data storage. A database is a logically organised collection of data that can be conveniently saved, sorted, retrieved, and searched.

There are many different database types to choose from, and which one you pick will be determined by the type of data you want to store.

What is the purpose of SQL?
You may be asking what SQL is used for now that you know what it is. It is, as previously stated, a programming language for communicating with relational databases. But let’s look into it a little more.

SQL allows you to query the database in a variety of ways, using statements that are similar to those found in English (we discussed some examples earlier). It’s a back-end data storage and processing system that’s utilised on websites.

Essentially, SQL provides CRUD functionality for databases. What does CRUD stand for?

  • Create
  • Read
  • Update 
  • Delete


NoSQL databases came to prominence in the late 2000s in order to accommodate data with less need for upfront structure. These types of databases tend to be  easier for developers, can sometimes have faster queries and more flexible data models.

In comparison, SQL based databases are used specifically for relational data. They allow for flexible query use, are well structured and have a reduced data storage footprint. SQL databases are far more common than NoSQL, but frequently they are used together.

There are some major differences between the two, these include:

  • Scalability – NoSQL databases tend to be horizontally scalable, whereas SQL databases are more often vertically scalable. This means that NoSQL databases can often handle higher traffic numbers.
  • Structure – SQL databases have a table-based structure, but NoSQL databases can be graph-based, document-based or wide column stores. SQL databases are better suited for multi-row transactions.
  • Knowledge and community – There is a huge range of information and communities available for SQL since it is more common and has been around for longer. NoSQL does not share this number of forums and resources, so it may be harder to seek help when needed.

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