What is SQL?

You already know that SQL is a domain-specific language used by data scientists and engineers. But we’re sure you have questions about this language, such as:

  • What does this language actually do? 
  • What benefits does it bring? 
  • What are its drawbacks? 


Students in the Data Science Bootcamp here at The Data Incubator assemble a SQL database and write and execute queries against that database. But let’s start with the basics. Here’s everything you need to know about these three capitalized letters.

Structured Query Language, Explained

SQL is an acronym. It stands for Structured Query Language. 

Say you want to access and manipulate a relational database—a database structure that allows you to access and identify one piece of data in relation to another piece of data. Structured Query Language lets you search, input, update and delete records in that database. 

Structured Query Language is older than you think. Data science and engineering might seem like a recent phenomenon, but this language came out in 1979. In 1986, it became a standard of the American Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) a year later. More than 40 years after its inception, data professionals working for the world’s largest corporations still use SQL to access and manipulate databases. 

Mastering Structured Query Language is one of the core skills you need to become a high-paying data scientist or engineer. The Data Incubator can help you improve your career credentials by covering the basics of Structured Query Language and the Python tools related to it. Learn more about what you’ll learn about SQL on our Data Science Bootcamp here.

So What Does Structured Query Language Do?

SQL is the de-facto language for relational databases. You’ll use it to communicate with one of those databases in the following ways:

  • Search for and retrieve data records in the database
  • Input and update data records
  • Delete data


That brings us to relational databases. You’ll use Structured Query Language to search for, retrieve, input, update and delete data records in those databases. 

Almost all relational databases use Structured Query Language. So these databases are known as SQL databases. Each one will have different requirements, but you can always apply the following commands when accessing and manipulating data in them.  

  • Select
  • Insert
  • Update 
  • Create
  • Drop
  • Delete


These commands will help you carry out the following tasks:

  • Executing queries in a database 
  • Retrieving data from a database
  • Creating new databases
  • Creating stored procedures 
  • Setting permissions for tables 


That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once you master Structured Query Language, you can handle almost any relational database.

Benefits of Structured Query Language

Here are some of the benefits of this language you need to know about:

  • Learning Structured Query Language is an incredible skill for any wannabe data scientist or engineer because this language is so common. Almost all of the world’s largest companies use it in one way or another, so knowing this language could help you land a high-paying job in a world that lacks qualified data professionals. 
  • It’s a pretty easy language to learn. That’s because SQL uses an English-like syntax. Even if you have never coded before, it’s easy to pick up this language. 
  • Structured Query Language works at high speed. That means you can increase the amount of data you receive—and then manipulate that data—compared to other languages. 
  • You can use Structured Query Language with other languages. It pairs well with R and Python, for example. 

Are There Any Drawbacks to SQL?

No language is perfect, so the answer to this question is “yes.” Here are a couple of things to consider when learning this language:

  • Some SQL databases have a difficult interface that might make new students a little intimidated at first. But that’s part of the challenge of learning a new skill! Soon Structured Query Language will become like a second skin, and you’ll use it to access and manipulate all kinds of relational databases. 
  • Some SQL databases are expensive, which makes it hard for people to practice their language skills at home. However, plenty of open-source databases won’t cost you a dime. 

What is SQL? Key Takeaways

  • Structured Query Language is a language that lets you access and manipulate data in relational databases. 
  • Once you learn this language, you can carry out tasks such as executing queries, retrieving data, and creating stored procedures in relational databases. 
  • SQL dates back to 1979 and remains one of the most popular languages in the world. 
  • SQL has a simple learning curve. Some SQL databases, on the other hand, might have a difficult interface that requires your skill and patience. 
  • You can practice your language skills on an open-source database.

What Are You Waiting For?

There’s never been a better time to start learning new skills. Emerging technologies are revolutionizing the way we work, play, and live. Innovations in data science and machine learning allow us to explore beyond the deepest depths of the human mind to create something new and invigorating. 

Learning these disciplines deepens your understanding of the world around you and provides a fountain of knowledge to explore new frontiers and technological breakthroughs.

The Data Incubator offers an intensive training bootcamp that provides the tools you need to succeed as a data scientist. You will gain hands-on experience working on real projects and apply what you’ve learned in our curriculum to solve problems in your work or for clients. Our curriculum includes machine learning, natural language processing, predictive analytics, data visualization, and more.

We also partner with leading organizations to place our highly trained graduates. Our hiring partners recognize the quality of our expert training and make us their go-to resource for providing quality, capable candidates throughout the industry.

Take a look at the programs we offer to help you achieve your dreams.

We’re always here to guide you through your data journey! Contact our admissions team if you have any questions about the application process.


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