How Do You Find the Data Type for a Snowflake?


Larry Thompson

In Snowflake, determining the data type of a column is essential for understanding how the data is stored and processed. Whether you are analyzing the schema of a table or querying specific columns, knowing the data type provides valuable insights into the structure and behavior of your data.

Why is Data Type Important?

The data type defines the kind of values that can be stored in a column. It determines how the data is stored in memory, how it is indexed, and how it can be manipulated and queried. Different data types have different storage requirements and offer different functionalities.

Let’s explore some common data types in Snowflake:

1. Number

The number data type represents numeric values.

Snowflake offers various number types such as INTEGER, FLOAT, DECIMAL, and NUMBER. INTEGER stores whole numbers without decimals, FLOAT stores floating-point numbers with decimals, DECIMAL stores fixed-precision numbers, and NUMBER provides a flexible numeric representation.

2. String

The string data type represents textual information.

In Snowflake, you can use VARCHAR or STRING to store strings of variable length. VARCHAR has a maximum length limit (up to 16MB), while STRING allows for longer strings (up to 16TB).

3. Boolean

The boolean data type represents logical values – true or false. It is useful for storing binary information or representing conditions in queries or transformations.

4. Date and Time

Snowflake offers several date and time-related data types like DATE, TIME, TIMESTAMP, and VARIANT_TIMESTAMP for storing temporal information. DATE represents calendar dates, TIME stores time values without dates or time zones, TIMESTAMP stores date and time with optional time zones, and VARIANT_TIMESTAMP supports various timestamp formats.

5. Array

The array data type allows you to store multiple values in a single column.

Snowflake supports ARRAY types for storing lists or collections of values. Arrays can be useful when dealing with multi-valued attributes or when denormalizing data.

6. Object

The object data type enables you to store structured and hierarchical data. It supports complex structures like JSON, allowing you to store nested objects and arrays within a single column.

How to Find the Data Type for a Snowflake Column?

To determine the data type of a column in Snowflake, you can use the DESCRIBE command or query the TABLE_COLUMNS view.

Using the DESCRIBE Command:

  • Open your Snowflake SQL worksheet or SnowSQL command line interface.
  • Connect to your Snowflake account and select the database and schema where your table resides.
  • Run the following command:
DESCRIBE <table_name>;

This command will display detailed information about the columns in the specified table, including their names, data types, nullability, and other attributes.

Querying TABLE_COLUMNS View:

  • Open your Snowflake SQL worksheet or SnowSQL command line interface.
  • Connect to your Snowflake account and select the database where your table resides.
  • Run the following query:
WHERE TABLE_NAME = '<table_name>';

This query will retrieve the column names and their corresponding data types for the specified table.

By using these methods, you can easily identify the data type of any Snowflake column and gain a deeper understanding of your data.

Remember, understanding the data types in Snowflake is crucial for efficient querying, optimizing storage, and ensuring accurate analysis. Use the appropriate data types to represent your data accurately and efficiently.


In this article, we explored various data types available in Snowflake and discussed their significance in managing and analyzing data. We also learned how to determine the data type of a column using the DESCRIBE command and querying the TABLE_COLUMNS view.

By understanding the data types, you can make informed decisions regarding storage, indexing, and querying strategies. It empowers you to work effectively with your Snowflake database and extract valuable insights from your data.

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