What is SQL? SQL stands for Structured Query Language. It is the most popular programming language for databases. It’s used by all of the top players in the industry including Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL and Microsoft Access, just to name a few. It is the easiest and quickest way to get data into and out of a database and manipulate it any way imaginable.

Let’s discuss some basic SQL commands and learn about some of the certifications that may designate you as an expert on the topic of Structured Query Language.

Basic Commands

Probably the most commonly used commands in basic queries and commands are the SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE commands. Let’s talk about their basic syntax and what each command accomplishes when used in a database that interprets SQL.


The SELECT command is used when you want to retrieve data from the database. You use it to simply select what you would like to see by specifying a table that you want to retrieve data from and then what columns in that table that you would like to return. Think of database tables as being similar to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. They have columns and rows and values are contained in cells. Below are some syntax examples:

    • SELECT column1, column2 FROM table1 – This is a uniquely specified select statement that names the exact columns that you want to return from the table.
    • SELECT * FROM table1 – This select statement uses the asterisk as a wildcard character, which means just give me all of the columns in the table.


The INSERT statement is the command to use when you want to add new rows to a database table. The syntax is below.

    • INSERT INTO table1 (column1, column2) VALUES (1, 2) – This statement adds the value 1 to column1 of table1 and the value 2 to column2.
    • INSERT INTO table1 (column1, column2) SELECT (column1, column2) FROM table2 – This statement selects the values from the columns in table2 and inserts them into the specified columns in table1.


The UPDATE statement is how you change/update the values of existing columns in a table. The syntax for an update statement is “UPDATE table1 SET column1 = 1, column2 = 2 WHERE column3 = 3”. This sets the value of column1 equal to the number 1 and column2 to the number 2 where the value of column3 = 3.


The DELETE statement does just what you think it does. You can delete rows from a table based on some specified criteria. For example, “DELETE table1 WHERE column1 = 1”. This statement deletes the rows in table1 where the value for column1 equals the number 1.

Microsoft SQL Certifications

Now that we’ve had a little taste of some of the basic commands in SQL, let’s talk about some of the certifications that you can obtain that will set you apart from other potential candidates in the field. There are two main certification titles for SQL certifications offered from Microsoft that specialize in Microsoft SQL Server. They are described below:


A Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification states that you have achieved a level of competence with querying and manipulating data in SQL Server. You should be able to use Transact-SQL fluently. You should be a master of SQL data input and output and be able to return the data in any form required. Some of the special designations are an MCSA in Database Development, Database Administration, and Business Intelligence Development.


Microsoft Certified Solutions Experts have mastered all of the requirements of an MCSA and then added the ability to analyze and manage data. You can earn specified certifications under this designation as an MCSE in Data Management & Analytics, Business Intelligence and Data Platform. These specializations include training in developing complete database solutions, reporting, designing business intelligence solutions, cloud data platform solutions, and implementing big data analytics.

These certifications are cumulative. You have to become an MCSA before you can become an MCSE. The MCSE simply builds on the knowledge that you obtained from becoming and MCSA. Obtaining these certifications is no walk in the park. However, they will be worth it when you’re able to procure your dream job after they set you apart from other applicants.

Since these certifications do require your due diligence, it will be much easier to pass the necessary exams if you have good training aimed directly at these certifications. Training from an institution such as ONLC will make your journey to becoming certified much easier. Contact ONLC today to see how they can help you achieve your certification goals.

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