5 Data Visualization Jobs (+ Ways to Build Your Skills Now)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Do you love data and storytelling? Explore five exciting roles and learn how to build your data visualization skills now.

[Featured Image]:  A male, wearing a yellow jacket, is sitting at his desk, working on his desktop and laptop, performing his duties in his data visualization job.

Data visualization is a powerful way to transform data from numbers and figures into a beautiful graph or chart. Being able to see the data and what it means can drive individuals and teams 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 [1].

Forecasts for the global data visualization market expect a compound annual growth rate of 9.69 percent from 2021 to 2028 [2]. As big data and technology industries continue to grow, customized reports and dashboards will be increasingly important. Jobs in data visualization, or jobs that require data visualization as a skill, will continue to grow.

What is data visualization?

Data visualization is the representation of information and data using visuals such as graphs, charts, maps, and more. Data professionals who incorporate data visualization in their work use tools to present data to non-technical audiences to tell a story about the data 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.

Read more: Data Visualization: Definition, Benefits, and Examples

5 data visualization jobs

Here are 5 data visualization jobs to know, so you can begin building your skills today.

What type of degree should you get?

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.

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1. Data visualization engineer

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 to create 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: $98,185 [3]

2. Data analyst

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 finance, science, 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: $80,110 [4]

Read more: How to Become a Data Analyst (with or Without a Degree)

3. Data scientist

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) [5].

Annual median salary: $100,910 [5]

Read more: How to Become a Data Scientist

4. Business intelligence analyst

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 $156,000 [6].

Annual median salary: $101,015 [7]

Learn more: What Is a Business Intelligence Analyst? Making Data-Driven Business Decisions

5. Analytics manager

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: $126,953 [8]

How to build your data visualization skills

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. 

Get familiar with data visualization tools and software.

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

Be comfortable working with data and analyzing it.

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 [9]. Within these categories, you might work with tree diagrams, density maps, Venn Diagrams, scatter plots, and word clouds.

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.

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Develop excellent storytelling and communication skills.

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.

Learn data visualization skills with Coursera

Your journey into data and storytelling begins here and now. IBM’s Data Analysis and Visualization can be beneficial if you want to dive into both data analysis using Excel spreadsheets and creating stunning visualizations with Cognos. Start learning the foundations of data visualization with a free 7-day trial of Coursera Plus.

Article sources

1

Instagram. “​​Mona Chalabi, https://www.instagram.com/monachalabi/.” Accessed September 1, 2023.

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