The Major Skills You Need to be a good Tableau Developer


Data in today’s business world is invaluable. For years the tech community has been discussing the advent of Big Data and how the information age is upon us, where data is one of the most valuable resources that the digital world has unearthed. The prominence of data means that companies that are slow or reluctant to take advantage of this new tool are going to be ultimately left behind. That fear has translated into the development and popularity of software like Tableau. This article will show you What you need in your skill set in order to take full advantage of Tableau.

Tableau helps you make sense of your data via visualization tools. In our data-driven business ecosystems, that type of help is only increasing in importance.

One of the major appeals of Tableau to users is that you don’t need a computer science degree or extensive coding knowledge to use the program – although neither hurts. But there are some skills that are must-haves if you’re looking to take full advantage of Tableau or become a Tableau developer.

Resources abound for those looking to get into the Tableau development game. The company itself is one of the foremost proponents of data training and Tableau development, naturally.

And more and more companies are trying to mimic the Tableau model, only focusing on data for specific markets and industries, like this company looking to be a sort of Tableau for engineers.

Another bonus for those interested in Tableau: If you’re in the market to become a Tableau developer, there’s really never been a better time. Multiple studies reveal that Tableau design is in hot demand right now. In a recent study from jobs analytics firm Burning Glass, Tableau designers experienced a 1,581% increase in demand in the job market from 2011 to 2015. That type of boom only serves to prove how important Tableau is in our modern business world.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at three of the most important skills that you’ll need to acquire in order to be an effective Tableau developer and user.

Know how data works

While this is an obvious first step, you’d be surprised how many people wander into Tableau development without a full understanding of data.

The thing is that finding heaps of data isn’t difficult in our current environment. We’re practically basting in data these days. The difficulty lies in learning how to organize and use the data. Ultimately that’s why Tableau aims to accomplish for the user, so if you’re a Tableau developer who knows code but doesn’t understand data processes, you’re starting from behind.

The most common distillation of these data-knowledge skills is called ETL, or extract, transform, load.

ETL isn’t simple, but it’s important to know the basics of the process in order to be a truly effective Tableau developer. You can’t design something without first understanding the most basic principles of what it is you set out to create. It’d be like asking someone to design the world’s best basketball without having a lick of knowledge about the sport. Sure, they may understand balls and the physics required to make one that bounces well, but without knowing about the need for grip and shooting form and size, they’re essentially groping around in the dark.

The more technical skills, the better

Being a Tableau user doesn’t necessarily require an in-depth knowledge of programming languages, but it certainly helps to have a baseline understanding of Structured Query Language, or SQL (remember to be mindful of the security issues in SQL, though).

Having even an introductory knowledge of relational database management systems will help you along the process towards becoming a competent Tableau developer. You need to understand different data types and what separates one type from another, while also being able to grasp the lingo and jargon without getting too out of sorts.

Having an extensive coding knowledge also doesn’t hurt when it comes to Tableau development. It’s one of those situations where knowing more about a subject that’s related directly or indirectly to Tableau can’t really hurt you.

Have a thorough understanding of what data visualization does

Similar to that basketball metaphor earlier, you have to have a comprehensive understanding of what data visualization is needed for in order to be an effective Tableau developer.

Data visualization is all about presenting data in digestible forms – forms that help people make sense of all those reams of data and use the information to help better their business.

In order to be the best Tableau developer you can be, you need to understand how data visualization connects with users and how best to solidify that connection. Tableau is meant to be the bridge between data and business leaders that allows one to use the other for their benefit. Without that thorough understanding of how data visualization accomplishes what it sets out to, you’ll find it very difficult to master Tableau development.

Bottom line: Learn and understand

The most important parts of Tableau development are all about learning. Learn about SQLs, about data, and most importantly, about how data visualization functions best. Once you have the requisite knowledge on-hand, you’ll find that Tableau development is a far easier and less daunting task than it first appears.

There are a great many resources from books to videos to classes that can help you develop the skills you need to be a great Tableau developer. And with the amount of demand out there for competent data visualization experts – and specifically Tableau developers – there’s never been a more opportune time for would-be Tableau developers to get into the game.