SQL School tackles the data analyst shortage

SQL School is a free, interactive tutorial from Mode Analytics, written by analysts for aspiring analysts. Check it out!

By Emily Ritter, Nov 2014

SQL School is a free, interactive tutorial built by Mode Analytics. Unlike many existing SQL tutorials targeted at database administrators or engineers, SQL School is written by analysts for aspiring analysts.

Welcome to SQL School

The shortage of data scientists and analysts shows no sign of letting up any time soon. Programs like Insight Data Science and Zipfian Academy are popping up to train data scientists and resources like Clare Corthell's Open Source Data Science Masters help folks going at it alone. But there's another formidable solution all around us: increasing data literacy in roles throughout our companies. And that starts with teaching SQL.

R and Python may be hot topics in data science education, but SQL can be the most empowering step towards working with data. More than any other tool, SQL helps analysts quickly gather and understand data, even if the task ultimately demands other tools. Plus, SQL logic can feel familiar to Excel power users. By "teaching others to fish," analysts can free up time for more complex data tasks, simply by decreasing requests for simple SQL queries and data pulls.

As we began building Mode, a SQL-based analytics tool, customers often mentioned workshops they've created to teach peers-and repeated a common frustration with the lack of SQL resources focused on analysis. As a side project, we created SQL School to fill this void. By leveraging data hosted in Mode's public data warehouse, each lesson encourages practice with real data rather than simply explaining syntax. For example, students work with Top 40 music data as they learn about operators such as 'LIKE' and 'OR' and college football stats as they master joins.

SQL School: Practice Problem 1

Like any language, syntax knowledge doesn't equate mastery. SQL learners need practice answering real-life questions to develop analytical thinking skills. In talking with students who've used SQL School to train for interviews and land dream jobs, we've heard that it's difficult to prepare for life as analyst. They find the biggest hurdle to be one of access: proprietary company data simply doesn't exist publicly. We're filling this void with the help of the Mode community by building fake data sets and case studies to mirror on-the-job situations.

Take a moment to check out SQL School at sqlschool.modeanalytics.com and share it with folks looking to learn new skills. If you've recently tackled an interesting problem using SQL, heard a challenging SQL-based interview question, or would like to join us in giving back to the burgeoning analytics community, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at hi@modeanalytics.com.