Humans need data to help us draw conclusions, and we love seeing that data transformed from numbers and figures into a beautiful graph or chart. Visualizing data and its meaning can be extremely impactful, driving people to enact meaningful change. For example, British data journalist Mona Chalabi dedicates her Instagram feed to creating infographics, charts, and scatter plots on important topics like racial inequality, sustainability, and more .
Forecasts for the global data visualization market expect a compound annual growth rate of 9.69 percent from 2020 to 2027 . As big data and technology industries continue to grow, customized reports and dashboards will be increasingly important, which means growth in jobs responsible for data visualization.
Data visualization is the representation of information and data using visuals such as graphs, charts, maps, and more. Those who use data visualization in their work use tools to present data to non-technical audiences in a form of storytelling that helps businesses make data-driven decisions.
Data visualization can be the sole focus of a job role, such as a data visualization engineer or specialist. But more often than not, it is a skill used in data-oriented roles to portray data and information in creative ways, such as dashboards that show weekly trend reports or bar graphs for investor pitch decks.
Here are 5 data visualization jobs to know, so you can begin building your skills today.
For each of these jobs, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, statistics, business administration, or graphic design is highly recommended. In most cases, earning a master’s degree can boost your ability to land better, higher-paying job opportunities.
Data visualization engineers (or specialists) are responsible for the design and development of data visualizations and dashboards using data sets from various sources. They are experts in data and storytelling and whizzes at business intelligence (BI) tools, often creating user-friendly dashboards for business teams. Data visualization engineers may also write and test analytics platform code, toggle with software tools like Tableau or Looker to produce dashboards, and fix bugs whenever necessary.
Annual median salary: $95,481 
As a data analyst, you’ll be in charge of collecting, cleaning, and interpreting data sets to answer a question or solve a problem within an organization. Data analysts can be found across industries as varied as business, finance, science, medicine, government, and criminal justice. Questions that data analysts might answer include: What segment of customers should be targeted in this advertising campaign? Which age group is most vulnerable to COVID-19? Data visualization skills will enable you to present this information to the team with graphs and charts.
To become a data analyst, you’ll want to learn technical skills such as Excel, R or Python programming language, statistics, and SQL.
Annual median salary: $71.623 
Read more: How to Become a Data Analyst (with or Without a Degree)
Data scientists look for trends and patterns in data to help organizations make informed decisions about their operations, marketing, and more. They create algorithms and data models to forecast outcomes, sometimes adopting machine learning techniques to improve products or tools. Once data scientists are comfortable with their outcomes, they’ll present their findings and recommendations to stakeholder teams, employing data visualizations to help make a compelling case. This job has a growth rate of 36 percent, which is much faster than the average for all occupations (8 percent) .
Annual median salary: $100,910 
Read more: How to Become a Data Scientist
Business intelligence analysts analyze and interpret data specific to businesses, such as sales revenue, market trends, and customer engagement metrics. BI analysts are always looking for potential improvements that can be made to drive business profitability and relevance in the market. They’ll share their findings with the team, crafting reports to present to other teams or clients on how to grow the business.
BI analysts can ascend into a managerial role, where they can earn a higher median salary of $141,624 .
Annual median salary: $86,754 
Learn more: What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst? Making Data-Driven Business Decisions
Analytics managers are in charge of translating data into actionable insights for an organization. They typically lead a team of data analysts, coaching them to complete data analytics projects with accuracy and efficiency. Together they’ll develop strategies, track their performance, and oversee analytics operations. Those analyses will be transformed into reports and communicated to stakeholders.
Annual median salary: $109,811 
Building your data visualization skills requires a combination of passion for numbers, as well as a desire to transform the right data into stunning visualizations.
Being able to navigate and use tools such as Excel and other data visualization software is critical to success in your data visualization journey. Understanding how to use at least one or two software platforms (like Tableau) is beneficial because you can easily translate those skills from one platform to another.
Tools such as Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, Plotly, Sisense, and Qlikview allow you to create graphs, charts, and dashboards for organizations. You’ll want to be able to create several different types of data visualizations, to create outputs for reports, presentations, and more. Some techniques include infographics, scatter plots, fever charts, and population pyramids.
Read more: 5 Business Intelligence Tools You Need to Know
Beyond using the BI tools, you’ll want to be an expert in wading through structured and unstructured data from several sources to make sense of it all. Not only should you be able to collect, sort, and clean up the data, but you should also be able to analyze it from multiple perspectives to generate efficient, logical, and actionable outcomes.
You’ll need to know the five categories of data visualization (hierarchical, geospatial, multidimensional, temporal, and network) and be comfortable producing charts for each . Within these categories, you might work with tree diagrams, density maps, Venn Diagrams, scatter plots, and word clouds.
But if you don't know these now, don't fret. You can always learn them if you're applying for an entry-level position. Visualizations don’t have to be special or complicated, they just need to tell a complete story about the data.
Get started in data analytics from Google
With Google’s Data Analytics professional certificate, you can receive a solid foundation in analyzing data. You’ll even learn how to visualize them on commonly used platforms.
Some data-oriented roles focus only on sorting and managing data. But for any job that requires data visualization, the role goes beyond producing beautiful charts and graphs. You’ll also be expected to explain what data sets were used, your analysis, why you used this visualization, and your strategic recommendations. Being able to engage your audiences with visual and verbal storytelling is a skill that can take you far in data visualization jobs.
In your role, you may work with stakeholders who are product managers, data engineers, data analysts, and IT support. Together, you’ll collaborate to create high-performing, scalable solutions. To effectively work as a team, you’ll want to speak their respective languages, using the correct terminology and conceptual ideas to ensure your story and recommendations have authority.
Your journey into data and storytelling begins here and now. Choose from three specializations, including IBM’s Data Analysis and Visualization if you want to dive into both data analysis using Excel spreadsheets and creating stunning visualizations with Cognos.
The specialization Data Visualization & Dashboarding with R from Johns Hopkins University teaches you how to generate different types of visualizations with R software, from bar plots and scatter plots to interactive dashboards.
With Tableau being one of the most widely used data visualization tools, you can also enroll in the popular specialization Data Visualization with Tableau from the University of California Davis to create powerful business intelligence reports.
Visualize Business Data with Tableau. Create powerful business intelligence reports
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Average time: 6 month(s)
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Skills you'll build:
Storyboarding, Map, Tableau Software, Data Visualization (DataViz), Data Virtualization, Visualization (Computer Graphics), Data Analysis, Visual Analytics, Interactive Visualization
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Salary.com. “Data Visualization Engineer Salary, https://www.salary.com/research/salary/recruiting/data-visualization-engineer-salary.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Data Analyst make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/data-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,12.htm.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Data Scientists. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/data-scientists.htm” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Business Intelligence Manager make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/business-intelligence-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,29.htm.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does a Business Intelligence Analyst make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/business-intelligence-analyst-salary-SRCH_KO0,29.htm.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Glassdoor. “How much does an Analytics Manager make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/analytics-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm.” Accessed November 9, 2022.
Simplilearn. “All About Data Visualization and Why It Is One of the Top Data Skills for 2021, .” Accessed November 9, 2022.
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