October 26, 2022

Tableau Training: Stop Learning Incorrectly (Do This Instead)

Why Learn Tableau?

Tableau is one of the most popular business intelligence tools in the world — it is one of the top 3 leaders in the market, as ranked by Gartner

In 2022, more than 30,000 organizations use Tableau, and more than 200,000 job vacancies on LinkedIn require at least some knowledge of it. Tableau is not only regularly used by data professionals, such as business analysts and data analysts, but also by a broad range of others, such as digital marketers, consumer experience specialists, and more.

By learning Tableau, you can get a valuable skill that will help you grow your career. The best way to prove your skills to employers and stand out from the crowd in interviews is to obtain the Tableau Specialist Certification and build a portfolio of projects. 

In this article, we’ll provide you with 5 steps to prepare you for certification, give you experience to master Tableau, and, finally, help you build a project portfolio. These 5 steps will grow your career. 

How to Learn Tableau?

With the rise in Tableau’s popularity, the options for training have grown rapidly. Selecting the right way to learn Tableau can be difficult.

Watching workshops on YouTube or reading specialist blogs on the internet seem like attractive options, but mastering Tableau requires deep knowledge and hands-on experience — the rest can be learned on the job. 

If you want to learn Tableau, get certified, and build your portfolio in just a few months, we’ve created a series of Tableau courses that will teach you everything you need.

Step 1: Download Tableau and get used to the interface

There are both free and paid versions of Tableau available for download. For students, or people who just want a 14-day trial, Tableau can be downloaded here for PCs and Macs. After the 14-day trial, users can convert to a paid license. For those who want long-term access without paying, there’s Tableau Public. As long as you aren't working with sensitive data and are able to always save to the cloud, Tableau Public is a fantastic choice.

Once Tableau is installed and ready to go, we can familiarize ourselves with the Tableau interface by following the starting guide. It’s a good idea to learn the interface before jumping into detailed Tableau online training, like Dataquest’s first Tableau Course.

Step 2: Start building charts and dashboards

Jumping  into data sources and building charts and dashboards is the most fun thing to do with Tableau . But that’s easier said than done! A clean datasource is important when learning how to create visual analytics. Tableau offers great options for data cleansing and manipulation, but that’s probably not the first thing we want to learn. Instead, let's find a clean datasource to work with. There are plenty of options on Kaggle.com, such as this dataset on board game rankings, or this data on Toronto’s 2017 bike share usage. Dataquest has a great course in the Tableau track about  shaping and designing a dashboard.

Step 3: Publish and share your dashboards

Sharing our insights with others is even more rewarding than building dashboards. There are two ways to share a dashboard: statically or interactively. 

Sharing a static dashboard can be done by exporting it as a PDF, Image, or Powerpoint. When doing this, we lose all interactivity, including filters, click actions and tooltips (hover-overs). Still, this is a good sharing method because it’s simple and software agnostic. All of these options can be found in the top line Dashboard menu. 

If we want our data consumers to have interactivity, we need to publish our workbooks to Tableau Public, Online or Server. Only Tableau Public allows us to publish and share without paying for a membership, so it’s our best option while building a portfolio. Tableau has a great resource for the best way to share your dashboards, so pick the path that works best for you. 

Step 4: Build your portfolio

Hopefully, the thrill of publishing the first dashboard has been a positive experience. It’s time to think about growing our Tableau portfolio. To make the Tableau learning experience engaging and rewarding,  it’s helpful to work on something enjoyable. Too many online  Tableau classes use the perfect superstore sales dataset, which is neither realistic, nor inspiring. Instead, try  using one of the many dataset aggregators to find data you’re passionate about. We’ve used Kaggle a few times. There’s also the site Our World in Data and the Dataquest article 24 Free Datasets for Building an Irresistible Portfolio (2022). Whether it be sports, politics, films, or any other passion, there’s a good chance that a free dataset exists on the topic. 

Step 5: Get certified 

To complete your learning journey,  consider a Tableau professional desktop certification. The two levels of desktop certification are desktop specialist and certified data analyst. The specialist exam is a multiple choice test, while the certified data analyst exam is a combination of multiple choice and problem-solving questions. Both are great resume boosters and offer a learning milestone to build confidence in your Tableau skills. There are options for preparing here:  Exam prep doc from Tableau (guide).


Acquiring Tableau skills and getting certified can take anywhere from 1 to 6 months–or more. Some people learn very quickly,  while others may take longer, due to other life commitments. It all depends on your timeline and your dedication to learn Tableau at the pace you want. 

Ray Harris

About the author

Ray Harris

Ray Harris is a Canadian data Strategy Consultant operating DataWazo since 2017. He has 9 years experience with Tableau and other data visualization and ETL tools. When not crunching numbers you can find him either playing some version of hockey or climbing a mountain.