Main image of article Tableau Training: The Cost, What Course You Should Take, and How to Get Started

Tableau training is key for data scientists, analysts, and others interested in data analytics and visualization. Tableau’s offerings (which include Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep, and other tools) are utilized as part of many companies’ business analytics “toolkits.” 

Moreover, Tableau is a skill on the rise. According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, open jobs asking for Tableau skills will grow 34.9 percent over the next decade. Top occupations requesting these skills include data analystssoftware developers, business intelligence analysts, data scientists, and financial analysts—all potentially lucrative positions with a lot of career upside. 

But how do you begin training? Where’s a good place to start? Dice spoke with Hannes Jersenius, Growth Data Analyst at Preply, and Sarah Hinrichsen, Program Manager - Trainer Enablement/Certification from Tableau, about why Tableau is an important skill to learn in 2020 and beyond.

What is Tableau?

Tableau Software began life as a data visualization company. It grew popular among data analysts, business intelligence (B.I.) specialists, and others who work with data for a living, and eventually Salesforce acquired it in 2019 for $15.7 billion. Tableau’s products support a variety of data types, making it extremely versatile across industries. For example, you can base visualizations and other outputs off text values, numerical values, geographic values, and even Boolean values.

Tableau’s suite of products includes:

If you’re interested in any kind of data analytics work, knowledge of Tableau could prove essential. Even for those who don’t regularly engage in analytics, such as project managers, might find Tableau’s visualization tools helpful for assembling visualizations and seamlessly conveying results to senior management.

Where do I start learning Tableau?

Tableau has a huge portal loaded with tons of training videos. Most videos are roughly 30-60 minutes long, and really framed as training pieces for established data analysts. The ‘Learning’ platform also has whitepapers, links to certifications, and avenues for eLearning, classroom training, and in-person classes.

As Jersenius notes, Tableau’s ability to weave into other platforms can be handy in learning the disciplines of data analysis and visualization, too: “One great aspect of Tableau is that it can easily connect to a multitude of data sources (everything from Excel or Google Sheets to databases). If your goal is to learn data visualization without getting deep into the technical world of cleaning and preparing data, this is great. You will be up and running in a matter of minutes!”

He added: “If your goal is to learn working with Tableau in a work context and build automated and shared visualizations, you probably want to invest in learning a database language like SQL. I personally use SQL with Tableau for 95 percent of my work as a growth data analyst.” SQL may be a critical component for someone looking to learn Tableau from the ground up, and underscores that Tableau is a platform, not a language. 

Tableau Training is your best starting point, Hinrichsen said: “We have many options for training that fulfill the needs of many different types of learners. The courses can be used to prepare you for Tableau Certification exams. If you’d rather have a self-paced option, you can visit our eLearning website. We offer a variety of learning paths based on your role and interactive courses designed to help you learn how to use Tableau, regardless of your skill level.” 

What are the best courses? What courses should I avoid?

Unsurprisingly, Jersenius told Dice: “Tableau's own eLearning is very good to start off with and run from complete beginner to some advanced features. I think that, as with most software, Tableau is best learned by getting your hands dirty with an actual project and searching the web for answers to particular problems you encounter.” Tableau desktop also features example datasets, in case you’re trying to learn without a database to easily connect to. 

“If you’re just starting out with Tableau and data analysis, we recommend starting with ‘Desktop I: Fundamentals’ to learn how to build visualizations and interactive dashboards,” Hinrichsen said. “Once you have a basis in Tableau Desktop, ‘Desktop II: Intermediate’ takes many basic topics further with more complicated applications of the basic features and functions.

“If your focus is more on preparing data for analysis, ‘Tableau Prep I’ teaches students how to combine, shape and clean data for analysis in Tableau Desktop. If you need to learn all of these things, ‘Analyst Bootcamp’ takes these three courses and combines them into a 5-day bootcamp to accelerate your Tableau learning experience.”

For more experienced users, ‘Desktop III: Advanced’ focuses on different types of calculations and advanced visualization types that require more complex calculations. Visual Analytics, meanwhile, teaches users about visual best practices for visualizations and dashboards. There are also server courses for administrators and architects, including a ‘Server Administration’ course that trains you in setting up and managing server instances; a ‘Server Architecture’ course, meanwhile, will show you how to architect and configure a server.   

Beyond this training, there are several courses on Udemy for learning Tableau, as well as SQL. Coursera and DataCamp are also great resources to check out.

Can I teach myself Tableau?

“Definitely,” Jersenius said. “Just jump in and give it a go! The online community usually has answers to your questions.” 

Massive online courses such as Udemy usually have highly engaged instructors, which is a big help for students who want a little bit of guidance. When you’re evaluating classes, read reviews; take special note of instructors with a public reputation for answering students’ questions thoroughly and well. 

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How much does Tableau training cost?

“All Tableau eLearning is currently free for 90 days,” Hinirchsen told Dice. “Students and teachers also receive eLearning for free for one year.” Two-day courses can cost up to $1,400, and feature an expert instructor.

All that being said, Tableau also has lots of free training materials, including a selection of videos. The company also offers a free “data literacy” course, which delves into visualizations and statistics, as well as academic resources.

Is Tableau worth learning?

“Everyone working with a lot of data should definitely have a powerful data visualization software in their toolbox. The amount of time you will save in the long run is simply too great to not invest the time and energy to learn it,” Jersenius noted.

But Tableau isn’t the only platform that a data analyst or developer will need to know in order to work with databases. For example, SQL is an excellent thing to learn; there’s also a need for “soft skills,” as those who work with data must often explain their results to others, including team members and executives. Lightcast has a nifty breakdown of the skills that pop up most frequently in job postings for data analysts:

Does Tableau offer certifications?

The short answer is “yes.” Tableau offers three certifications for those who want to formally demonstrate their mastery of the company’s fundamentals:

These certifications generally demand familiarity with Tableau’s products, including a few months of active experience using them. In addition, there are two partner certifications: Certified Tableau Consultant and Certified Tableau Architect, the former designed to “prove your knowledge of visual best practices and Tableau products,” the latter intended to “prove your knowledge of Tableau platform implementation, best practices and maintenance.”


If you’re interested in anything related to data analytics and visualization, knowledge of Tableau is a must (along with other data analytics and visualization tools). Fortunately, there are lots of free learning resources out there for anyone interested in learning how Tableau products work.