How to Learn Tableau in 2021

4 ways to learn tableau

There are multiple different ways you can learn tableau, but which is the best?

The answer might depend on your priorities.

Let’s look at how to learn tableau for free and why spending a little bit of money may actually make it much easier.

Note: Some links may be affiliate links.

Here are 4 ways to learn tableau at varying price points:

Option 1 - Ad Hoc Videos 

Cost: Free+

Time Investment: High

Complexity: High

If you have loads of time and no money to spend on training, you can find plenty of results for Tableau tips by searching Google or YouTube.

This is great for when you want to learn how to do specific things in Tableau.

It can be time consuming sorting through all the results to fully learn Tableau however. Without a specific plan, you won't even know what skills you'll need to learn.

Most of these free videos also focus on Tableau Desktop which for most people will set you back at least $120.

Option 2 - A Book 

Cost: $20-30+

Time Investment: Medium

Complexity: Medium

Fairly often, people ask me for recommendations on books to learn specific software.

I don’t usually think books are the best options for learning software and that includes learning Tableau. It's usually easier to learn a software when you see in the software how it's supposed to work.

However, books can make great references when you’re actively using a specific tool. 

If you do want to learn Tableau from a book, I’d recommend Practical Tableau: 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen Master.

Practical Tableau book cover

Based on the reviews, some people found it too complicated for an absolute beginner and others find it’s too simple for anyone with much experience.

In general, it’s a good option for those that understand some of the basics, but haven’t had much experience working in Tableau yet.

Again, you’ll still need to get Tableau desktop separately. 

Option 3 - Tableau Videos & eLearning 

Cost: $120+

Time Investment: Medium

Complexity: Medium

Tableau offers dozens of free video trainings as well as a $120/year Creator eLearning option. 

The good and bad part of the Tableau offered trainings is the number of videos they have.

It can make it simpler to find very specific topics, but doesn’t always flow well from topic to topic.

The trainings are all focused on Tableau desktop which means you’ll have to have access to tableau desktop (1 year as a student, your company has it, etc), sign up for the creator elearning to access desktop, or figure out what’s different when it comes to tableau public.

The videos themselves are a mix of great, clear tutorials and ones that seem to jump around and assume significant prior knowledge to be able to understand.

You could also take live online or in person trainings which run over $1400+ for single courses.

Option 4 - Alternative Training Courses 

Cost: $49

Time Investment: Low

Complexity: Low

You can also find Tableau training courses from other people. I happen to be one of them.

I have a Tableau training course for $49 which guides you through learning Tableau for desktop specialist certification.

This training lets you use Tableau Desktop if you have access or want to pay for it or Tableau Public as a free option.

It also has multiple case studies and quizzes to test your skills and I walk through the answers to these after you’ve completed them. 

Of course I’m going to be biased here since I obviously created a course because I thought there was a need for it.

For under $50, you get a curated course from an analyst whose used Tableau for years that walks you step-by-step through learning Tableau.

It also gives you a chance to work in the tool on case studies and then see a video walk through of the answers.

If you’re interested in Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification, you’ll be prepared to take the exam when you complete the course.

Wondering if you should get certified? Check out the case for Tableau certification.

You can take the course completely with just tableau public and do the certification just having that.

There are a few minor things that you can't do in tableau public that you can do on desktop that sometimes show up on the certification.

Primarily the variety of data sources and live connections as well as some of the export/sharing options. These are things that you'll need to know for the exam but not as critical to have much hands on work with them.

I have videos on both of them in the course going over everything you need to know about it.

What is the best way to learn Tableau?

There's no one "right way" to learn Tableau. 

The best way for you to learn depends on the amount of time you have to dedicate to it, how you like to learn, and how much you're willing to spend for more simplified training.