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SQL Programmer: Job and Salary Facts

SQL programmers build, maintain and troubleshoot computer databases. Learn about degree programs, job opportunities and potential wages in this field.

What is a SQL Programmer?

An SQL programmer helps develop databases, analyze data and extract information using SQL. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is the standard language for computer databases. Several software companies use SQL for their database products, such as Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. If you worked as a programmer, also known as an SQL developer, you'd be using your knowledge of SQL language to support database functions, generate reports and troubleshoot programming problems when they arise. You may also write or modify software, design application components and in the event of a problem, fix software.

Education Required Bachelor's degree is common
Education Field of Study Computer science, information technology or closely related field
Key Skills Attention to detail, organization, communication with peers and supervisors, technical analysis
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028) -7% (all computer programmers)*
Median Salary (2019) $72,780 (all SQL developers)**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

How Do I Prepare for This Job?

You could choose from a number of educational programs designed for aspiring computer programmers. Technical certificate programs as well as associate's degree programs in SQL programming are available through some schools. Bachelor's degree programs in computer science or information science typically include SQL programming coursework. Look for programs with internship opportunities; internships can be a good way to learn about different programming techniques in a real world environment.

Most programmers have bachelor's degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), although associate's degrees and certificates may be fine for some positions. In addition, the BLS notes that computer programmers should have good analytical skills along with good communication skills.

What About Certification?

Certification in SQL programming isn't required by most employers, as reported by the BLS. However, earning voluntary certification may give you an advantage over other job applicants. Many software companies and third-party vendors offer certifications.

For example, Microsoft offers several credentials within its Certified IT Professional program; you could gain certification as a database developer, database administrator or business intelligence developer. You'll usually need to pass an exam in order to earn your certification.

How Is the Pay?

PayScale.com reported that the median salary for SQL developers was $72,780. Most of these professionals earned between $50,000 and $102,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Computer and information systems managers set information technology goals for companies and work to ensure companies meet those goals. This requires having an understanding of the companies computer and information systems, organizing computer-related activities and implementing new systems. These managers typically have extensive IT work experience. Computer hardware engineers also work on computer systems, but rather than working solely on the software, they focus on the physical components that make the computer run. Their job requires them to design new components and test how they run in systems. Both of these careers require a bachelor's degree.