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You’re probably thinking of transitioning to a business analyst but you must be thinking: is SQL required for business analysts? I’ve looked into the data and found a clear answer. Here’s the short answer.

SQL is not required for most business analyst positions. Based on Glassdoor data, only 27% of business analyst job listings have SQL as a requirement and 73% do not. However, this need for SQL is dependent on company size, career experience level, and a company’s ability to provide on-job training in SQL.

Although the data reveals that SQL is not a requirement, you’ll be surprised to know that you may need to have some background in SQL to stand out from the rest. Being one of the most flexible data roles around, business analysts thrive on the balance between people skills and developing reports in SQL. There’s been some evidence showing high SQL demand too.

What Does the Data Say About SQL Requirements for Business Analysts?

If you’re a data-driven nerd just like me, you’re likely to want some answers backed by some data. To demonstrate any SQL requirements, I went to look up some useful business analyst job listing datasets on Kaggle here. Let’s have a quick look of some of the insights I found in the data!

As you can see in the diagram below, you will observe that only 27.1% of all the 4000+ business analyst job listings had “SQL” included in their job descriptions! A large proportion of business analyst job listings do not require SQL.

Therefore, based on this data observed, we can conclude with some confidence that SQL is not require for business analysts. In fact, having SQL as a requirement is just a small minority!

Data Analyst VS BI Analyst: 7 Key D...
Data Analyst VS BI Analyst: 7 Key Differences

Background of the dataset:

Description: 4000+ job listings for business analyst positions by Larxel on Kaggle and originally web scraped from Glassdoor.com by picklesueat. You can download this dataset for yourself on this Github page here. The Python script I used to clean the data can be downloaded at my Github page here.

Here’s an interactive dashboard you can play with to view the chart on this blog!

However, while this data may be true that SQL has less of a need currently, I do believe that having SQL as a technical skill would be beneficial to helping generate reports for a business! To help you better understand why, have a look at this video I found on YouTube that clearly explains the reasons for having some SQL knowledge as a business analyst.

Now that you’re more aware of the work process of a business analyst from the video, you might be curious to know if SQL is actually used by business analysts.

Is SQL Actually Used by Business Analysts?

Based on the responses in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020, SQL is the 3rd most commonly used programming language. This shows a really strong trend of usage and demand for SQL among all developers in general.

Here’s a chart of the top 5 languages used by all developer respondents.

Source: StackOverflow 2020 Developer Survey

But what about business analysts in particular? I zoomed in on the data provided by Stack Overflow here to look at the business analysts specifically.

Here’s what I found:

Among those who have Business Analysts as job titles, 80.84% mention that they have worked with SQL. This shows that although SQL may not be a requirement on job listings, many current business analysts do have experience in working with SQL.

The Python script I used to clean the data can be found here.

From the survey results, it was also concluded that SQL is one the most common programming languages for working with databases. Business analysts tend to work with databases to pull information necessary for reporting. Therefore, this is another good sign that SQL is in strong demand for database work!

With SQL being such a popular software among so many developers in the community,

What Can Affect a Company’s Hiring Requirements for Business Analysts (for SQL)?

  1. Company Size
  2. Career Experience Level
  3. Company’s Ability to Provide On-job Training in SQL

1. Company Size

A company’s size may affect hiring requirements slightly. Using the same data taken from Glassdoor, I observed that a large majority of business analyst jobs came from the large companies of above 10,000 employees as well as in the 51-200 employees range. Check out the pie chart I’ve created below to see the breakdown!

51-200 Employees: The higher demand for SQL among the small companies from 51-200 employees might be caused by the higher demand for skills technical professionals during the high-growth phase of a start-up.

10,000 Employees: The highest demand for SQL among the large companies (10,000+ employees) might be due to the well-built data infrastructure already in place. Thus, there might be a requirement to know SQL to query from data warehouses or data lakes.

2. Career Experience Level

The requirements for SQL might be different, due to the different levels of experience requested. Business analyst positions might have both managerial and entry-level positions which require different sets of skills. For example, an entry-level position may need to have more technical skills than management skills compared to a manager. Some of these technical skills can include SQL programming.

3. Company’s Ability to Provide On-job Training in SQL

As we’ve seen in the Stack Overflow survey, many business analysts still work with SQL in their jobs. However, not all of them might have been able to code in SQL before applying for their positions. This is where the company’s ability to provide on-job training in SQL can affect whether the initial job listing might include SQL as a necessary requirement.

Is SQL Easy and Worth to Learn?

SQL is easy to pick up for beginners. SQL is a relatively simple programming language. Learning SQL does not require much set-up time, lowering the barrier for entry to beginners. An easy SQLite database, to begin with, is SQLite. It is worth learning because it is the most used database language and 80% of business analysts need to work with SQL.

How Long Will it Take to Learn SQL? (By Yourself)

It will take 3 to 4 weeks to learn SQL. This range may vary across learners from as short as 1 week to as long as 6 weeks. This time duration is highly dependent on previous database knowledge, time commitment put in per day, computer literacy, and presence of project-based learning.

What are Some Great Resources for Learning SQL?

For learning SQL, I typically recommend picking up ONE book to get you motivated and to keep you in check during your learning journey. After you’ve gone through the book, it can still serve as a reference guide when you work on your business problems as a business analyst. If you’re interested in online courses, I have also included a great online course by Udemy in the table below.

TitleTypeLinks
1SQL: The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Learn SQL TodayBookAmazon Link
2Introduction to SQLOnline Course Datacamp Link
3The Complete SQL Bootcamp 2021: Go from Zero to HeroOnline CourseUdemy Link

Final Thoughts

There you have it, a quick post to answer that burning question of yours – is SQL required for business analysts. Based on the data SQL is not a common requirement among job listings but it is a common language used by actual business analysts. Therefore, this means that learning SQL will still be beneficial in your job applications and career. I hope this article has helped you gain more insight into this area! Thanks for reading.

My Favorite Learning Resources:

Here are some of the learning resources I’ve personally found to be useful as a data analyst and I hope you find them useful too!

These may contain affiliate links and I earn a commission from them if you use them.

However, I’d honestly recommend them to my juniors, friends, or even my family!

My Recommended Learning Platforms!

Learning PlatformWhat’s Good About the Platform?
1CourseraCertificates are offered by popular learning institutes and companies like Google & IBM (PROMO: Click here to get $100 OFF Coursera Plus)
2DataCampComes with an integrated coding platform, great for beginners! (PROMO: BLACK FRIDAY FLASH SALE! UP TO 65% OFF yearly subscriptions. VALID till December 8)
3PluralsightStrong focus on data skills, taught by industry experts
4StratascratchLearn faster by doing real interview coding practices for data science
5UdacityHigh-quality, comprehensive courses

My Recommended Online Courses + Books!

TopicOnline CoursesBooks
1Data AnalyticsGoogle Data Analytics Professional Certificate
2Data ScienceIBM Data Science Professional Certificate
3ExcelExcel Skills for Business Specialization
4PythonPython for Everybody SpecializationPython for Data Analysis
5SQLIntroduction to SQLSQL: The Ultimate Beginners Guide: Learn SQL Today
6TableauData Visualization with TableauPractical Tableau
7Power BIGetting Started with Power BI DesktopBeginning Microsoft Power BI
8R ProgrammingData Science: Foundations using R SpecializationLearning R
9Data VisualizationBig Book of Dashboards

To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource I’ve put together for you here.

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