Data-Visualization

Best Data Visualization Courses ranked by Bankers (2021)

In FinTech by Gaurav SharmaUpdated On:

Data-VisualizationRaw Data is no good to anyone. In order to make meaningful business decisions, raw data has to first be processed into useful information and then presented in a format that is easily understandable by all stakeholder. The quality of this presentation is often times just as important as the quality of the raw data or the analysis performed on it.

As more and more businesses decisions rely on data analysis, the necessity of good data visualization has increased significantly. And it is not just businesses that need it. Even consumers are increasingly relying on data to make purchasing decisions. For example, someone who wants to invest in an ETF or perhaps a commercial property would likely want to look at a lot of performance data.

The amount of data being generated is growing exponentially each year and there is an increasing shortage of qualified professionals who can analyze and visualise this data. This is especially true for the financial services industry which generates more data than anyone else.

In order to do well in this industry, you need both the technical skills and the ability to engage your audience with your data driven visual storytelling. These courses will teach you to do both. Additionally, I have only picked courses offered by reputable universities and tech companies that will further enhance your CV.  Don’t underestimate the value of a good brand on your Resume.


1. Data Analysis and Presentation Skills: The PwC Approach

Why take this course?

  1. This course will take your data presentation and visualization skills to the next level. PwC is not just a Big Four accounting firm, it is also a giant in the business of data analysis and runs various business consulting practices. Data presentation is their bread and butter and they seemed to have laid it on thick for this course.
  2. The course teaches you Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint and other common data analysis and communications software. However, in addition to the technical skills, you are also taught the art of effective communication and story telling with data. This I undoubtedly one of the most important skills to have in any business role and especially in banking and finance.
  3. You start with the basics, learning about data driven decisions making and using Excel to solve computational problems. Once you get a handle on that, you move on to the presentation/ visualization stuff. You learn advanced Excel functions for data visualization and dashboarding.
  4. Next, you move on to the business side of things. It’s not just enough to know the technical aspects but also effective communication in order to spur your audience into action based on your data driven story telling. You are taught client0facing communications skills including public speaking, presentation, executive presence and compelling storytelling. This is truly great stuff.
  5. There are several case studies that you have to complete in a real world setting and your presentation is reviewed by your peers. There is also a capstone project with a mock client and you need to prepare a video presentation solving their problem. This is the closest to the real world you are ever going to get in an online course!

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 72 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the Coursera platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • This course is part data visualization and part effective business communication.
  • Recommended for everyone interested in data visualization, but especially those on the client facing side or pitching to management or other stakeholders.

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2. Data Visualization with Tableau from University of California, Davis

Why take this course?

  1. Tableau is the premiere data visualization software and it is something that you need to learn sooner rather than later. It is a powerful tool which is also easy to learn and has broad applications. And this course from UC Davis is the best one out there for learning it.
  2. This course has been developed in collaboration with Tableau and uses its extensive library of resources to achieve amazing data visualizations. There are plenty of examples from read world business cases to perfect your data story telling. In addition to just learning the technical tools, you are also taught how to create high impact visualizations that your audience will find hard to forget.
  3. The first part of the course covers preparation and import of data into Tableau and the relationship between data analytics and data visualization. You learn the underlying principles of exploratory and explanatory analysis as necessary for data visualization. Data and design need to work together in order to create effective visuals and that is the focus of this section.
  4. Eventually, you move on to other topics like visual analytics, creating dashboards with Tableau and data storytelling. You will drill deeper into Tableau tools used for charting, mapping, tables, dates etc. You will look at many chart types like scatter plots, Gantt charts, histograms, bullet charts etc. for creating effective visuals. Even geographical data and the creation of custom maps is explored.
  5. UC Davis has created one of the best Tableau courses available online and completing it will earn you a sharable certificate. It’s a great opportunity to not only learn this powerful data visualization tool, but also to increase the brand value of your CV to improve your chance of a shortlist the next time you apply for a related role.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 72 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the Coursera platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • No prior experience with Tableau is required. Course is suitable for leaners at all skill levels.
  • Recommended for all roles where Tableau is a requirement.

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3. Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel from Microsoft

Why take this course?

  1. Excel is still the most popular tool when it comes to analyzing and visualizing data. Almost everyone has probably used it at some point, and it serves almost any use case. This course has been developed by the experts at Microsoft to teach users how to effectively use the data visualizations tools available in Microsoft Excel. Who better to learn it from?
  2. You start by learning foundational concepts like Excel’s data model, content, structure, using the Power Pivot add-it and creating your first DAX expressions. You then move on to queries using queries and build an Excel data model. How to import data from SQL databases and create an Excel data from such imported data.
  3. You then move on to advanced DAX functions and advanced text queries. The focus very much shifts to creating stunning visualizations using Excel, including temporal charts using the cube functions, creating timelines, hierarchies, slicers and so on. Excel also works together with power BI and this is also touched up on here.
  4. This is good basic course for those who want to up their excel game. You are awarded a certificate on successful completion and that should provide you additional incentive.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 20 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the edX platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • Recommended for anyone that uses or expects to use Excel heavily. Which should be almost everyone!

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4. Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI from Davidson College

Why take this course?

  1. Microsoft’s Power Bi is very powerful and robust business analytics and visualization tool. It is widely used by data professionals to bring their data to life and to create amazing data driven narratives. This is one of the best courses to tach you Power BU in a short but effective format.
  2. The course focuses on identifying and working with business oriented data sets and problems. These are cases that you will face in real world business environment. The first step is obviously the importation and preparing of data to be used in a data model.
  3. You then move on to understanding the use case for different types of data visualizations and deciding what to use where. This is probably the most important step as it determines the ultimate effectiveness of the end result. Eventually, you learn the tools and methods to actually create functional Power BI reports and dashboards.
  4. The course is high quality and beginner friendly. You get a completion certificate which can be used on your CV or LinkedIn profile. It’s a good value proposition, all things considered.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 50 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the edX platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • Do you use Power BI or intend to apply to a role that requires Power BI? If yes, then this is the best course for it.

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5. Information Visualization from New York University

Why take this course?

  1. This one is a more foundational course on data visualization offering a broader look into both the philosophy behind it as well as the technical aspects. Instead of just learning one tool, you are encouraged to learn several in order to achieve your visualization goals which is a unique feature of this course.
  2. The course provides you the means to design and develop advanced applications for visual data analysis. This includes a foundational understanding of visual perception and the theory of visual encoding and the skills necessary to develop advanced web based applications for the purpose of data visualization.
  3. the first half of the course focuses on the foundational concepts. You are taught the vocabulary necessary for data visualization and a broad overview of its goals, methods and applications. The idea is to train you to be able to leverage the capabilities of human visual perception machinery using all the tools available at your disposal. This is high end stuff.
  4. Next, you move on to more technical stuff. You will learn to use D3.js to create powerful web based data visualizations. It will provide you with the ability of create revolutionary new designs that are only limited by your own imagination. You are not restricted to using just one pre-made software. You learn some really advanced methods to handle temporal data, spatial data, networks, trees and of course textual data.
  5. The course has been created by the Tandon School of Engineering (New York University) so you should of course expect a technical bend to it. But I feel the technical depth is more than welcome and even beginners should not find it overwhelming. In fact, it is best to learn a technical topic form a technical school and get the best your of it!

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 48 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the Coursera platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • Course is suitable for leaners at all skill levels. No prior JavaScript experience is necessary, but it will help.
  • Recommended for those expected to create more advanced data visualizations using more advanced tools.

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6. Visualizing Data with Python from IBM

Why take this course?

  1. Python is ubiquitous in the Data Science community and this is one the best courses on effectively visualizing data using Python. All that data analysis is for naught if you can’t properly present it and drive your audience to action. The delivery is as important as the message.
  2. The course teaches you to present data using Python libraries like Matplotlib, Seaborn, and Folium. You learn to effectively use tools like area plots, bar charts, histograms, pie charts, scatter plots, bubble plots, box plots etc.
  3. More advanced tools like waffle charts, word clouds, seaborn and regression plots are also explored. You even learn how to create maps visualize geospatial data. This really is a broad-based introduction to Python enabled data visualization and should satisfy the needs of most users.
  4. This course is part of a larger package on Python Data Science so feel free to enroll for that if it fits your needs better. As always, there is a course completion certificate that should add value to your CV.

Summary

  • Time to Complete: Around 15 hours
  • Available online and on-demand via the edX platform. Complete it at your own pace.
  • Python is ubiquitous in the Data Science community and this course is highly recommended for everyone that intends to use Python.

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About the Author

Gaurav Sharma

Gaurav started his career as a Corporate and Investment Banking intern at Citi in 2009 and eventually ended up as an Associate Director at Standard Chartered Bank’s Wholesale Banking division a few years later. By 2016, Gaurav was consulting FinTech start-ups in London with product development in the institutional banking space. He also advises mid-market Private Equity/ Asset Management firms and Banks in North America and Europe with investments in the financial services and FinTech sector. Gaurav writes on topics ranging from European Union banking regulations and FinTech to Blockchain startups and the inevitable rise of our AI overlords! He has an Engineering degree in Computer Science and an MBA with a double major in Finance and Marketing. He is also a Certified Financial Risk Manager.