Data visualization, which is sometimes called information visualization, is the representation of datasets through graphical means such as charts, maps, visual analytics interfaces such as dashboards, and interactive visualizations. A picture is worth a thousand words - or a thousand lines of a spreadsheet - and the ability to convey key relationships within complex datasets and insights from data analysis in a visually compelling way is critically important to making sense of our world.
The ability to create data visualizations are increasingly expected in a variety of jobs, making these skills highly valuable as well as portable. Whether you’re a financial analyst at a hedge fund displaying a real-time dashboard of portfolio risk or a data journalist creating an interactive visualization map of the spread of Covid-19, compelling data visualizations can increase the impact of your work and give you an edge in your career.
Management analysts are particularly attuned to the value of good data visualizations. These consultants must make convincing recommendations for organizational changes to upper-level management and busy executives, and powerful graphics can be essential to making these cases effectively. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management analysts earned a median annual wage of $85,260 as of 2019, and these jobs are expected to grow much faster than average as more and more companies seek advice on navigating today’s fast-changing business world.
Yes! Coursera lets you learn remotely about data visualization and related topics with courses and Specializations from top-ranked schools like New York University, University of California, Davis, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can also take courses from industry leaders like IBM and PwC, one of the top management consultancies in the world. Online learning with Coursera is an especially good fit for mid-career professionals seeking to add data visualization capabilities to their skill set, as you can complete coursework on a flexible schedule that fits into your existing work life.
Some skills you might want to have before learning data visualization include mathematics, Excel, and some coding experience. Specifically, learning popular programming languages like R and Python can be useful for analyzing the data you want to present in a visual format. Strong data analysis skills are usually essential because you should be able to interpret data accurately to avoid misleading the people viewing the final product. In addition to technology skills, you can put to use other skills in a data visualization role, such as problem-solving, artistic skills, and communication skills.
If you're comfortable working with large amounts of data and are passionate about making sure people understand the available data about a project, program, or concern, learning data visualization may be a good choice for you. You'll likely have opportunities to help others by sharing important data in a format that’s visually appealing and easy to interpret. Learning data visualization can add to your skillset if you've previously studied or worked as a graphic designer or data analyst. You may choose to learn a programming language so you can develop your own data warehouse or another visualization tool to showcase the data you analyze, or you can decide to explore the variety of methods used to create visual displays of data.