A laptop screen shows various charts that track internet users’ usage of a specific site.

Learn Data Visualization: The Best Courses and Resources



There’s a lot of important information out there, but only so much time to convey it. If you want someone to understand your data, you should learn data visualization.

Data visualization can help you present your data in an effective, aesthetically pleasing way. This method is used in almost every industry, including business and tech. This makes it a vital skill for anyone who wants to advance their tech career. Here’s how to learn data visualization and use it to your advantage.

What Is Data Visualization?

Data visualization is the process of creating a visual representation of information to make it easier to understand. Pie charts, bar charts, line charts, and other methods can make certain information much more intuitive. 

Every field produces a certain amount of data, so data visualization is used in many ways. Data scientists and journalists are creating scatter plots and heat maps in the COVID-19 era to make it easier for the public to understand pandemic data. Corporations may use data visualization for fiscal reports to help executives and stockholders to understand the financial picture.

What Jobs Use Data Visualization Skills?

Many jobs interact with data, and you’d be surprised how many industries need data visualization. Most people can easily incorporate data visualization into their working routine. Here are a few positions that can use visualization to make sense of their data analysis.

 

  • Journalist. As a journalist, you’ll have to find accessible ways to convey your research. From financial reports to heatmaps of poverty, there are many ways that journalists can present data sets. Articles and reports might otherwise be boring and hard to interpret.

  • CFO/Financial Controller. Financial experts within a company have to collect financial data. Throughout the fiscal year, these financial controllers and chief financial officers have to give updates on what’s working for a company and what’s not. The right charts and graphs can be the difference between success and bankruptcy. 

  • Scientists. Anthropologists often use data visualization in order to show how cultures change over time. Epidemiologists use data visualization to show how diseases morph. Scientists need to share important information, and data visualization gives them that power. 

  • Efficiency Experts. An efficiency expert overlooks a corporation’s operations and makes recommendations to improve efficiency. This job requires you to quickly tell a group of people what is or isn’t working about their current organization. Data visualization is the key to show them a better path. 

Steps to Learn Data Visualization

A web of bright blue lines hang over a city at night
Data visualization makes dry information pop off of the screen. 



Your path to understanding data visualization can be short if you take the right steps. You need to discover which tools are right for you. Use these steps to assess your skills and learn data visualization in the best way possible.

Your path to understanding data visualization can be short if you take the right steps. You need to discover which tools are right for you. Use these steps to assess your skills and learn data visualization in the best way possible.


1. Think About Your Industry 

Different positions have different uses for data visualization. You could be working in finance, data analytics, or computer science, and data visualization will become a different tool. 

Will general charts and graphs be sufficient? Or do you need to find more interesting ways to make your data really pop? Consider the needs of your field and decide how to best incorporate data visualization.  

2. Figure Out Your Tools

Whether you know several programming languages or have trouble using Powerpoint, there’s a tool out there for you. Several spreadsheet programs have built-in visualization options. If you decide you want to go deeper, consider a software like Tableau

Their free option, Tableau Public, is very capable. It offers wonderful templates for data visualizers and a community where people can bounce ideas off of each other. Tableau Public also offers visualization courses that anyone can access to get started in the field. 

3. Take Some Courses

It’s possible to get by with the absolute basics, but after a while you might want to improve. There are plenty of online courses out there to help you start making more interesting data visualization. 

You can’t get an undergraduate degree in data visualization, but you’ll be surprised by how far you can go just learning online. 

The Best Courses to Learn Data Visualization

There are several data visualization courses on the internet. Here are just a few of our recommendations to help you get started. 

Tableau 2020, 19, 18 & 10: Certified Associate Certification

This Udemy course is perfect for beginners who want to get a good grasp on Tableau. All you need is a computer with an internet connection. You’ll learn how to use the tools in the program, along with animation and other built-in work. By the time you’ve finished the 13-hour course, you’ll be ready to test for the Tableau Qualified Associate certification. This certification can boost your prospects when applying for jobs that interact with data. 

Data Visualization with Python

This course is part of a larger offering on Coursera from IBM. It’s for more intermediate budding data scientists. If you learn Python, this course can get you started with the right libraries, like Matplotlib, Seaborn, and Folium. If you’re interested in getting a certification from IBM in data analysis, it may be better to take the full course in that field. You can also go for an Applied Data Science Specialization

Professional Certificate in Data Science

Harvard offers this course via edX, which usually takes about a year to complete if you give two to three hours a week. Though it may seem like overkill, this course will prepare you for a full-on data scientist career. You’ll learn how to program from the ground up in the R programming language

The most important part of this course comes second, with information on how to use your newfound skills to visualize information. It may seem like a heavy time and effort investment, but you should be able to get a job anywhere with a certification from Harvard and knowledge of R. 

Storytelling with Data – Effective Data Analysis Presentations

This course is designed to help you become a better storyteller and use data to get your point across. It will teach you how to apply a narrative framework over the data you’ve gathered. You can get people to follow a story, which makes your data more compelling. If you need to get people on your side with your data, this course is a great way to do it.

Why Learn Data Visualization?

Though it might seem daunting, data visualization is worth learning. It can help make your job easier and your presentations more professional. Data visualization has a wide range of applications across different fields and knowledge levels. 

Learning how to create charts and graphs can save you precious time. You can avoid questions and back-and-forth emails. If you’re in charge of public reports, creating understandable data visualization is vital.

Whether you’re looking for a new career in the data science field, or to add a new tool to your arsenal, consider learning data visualization.

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