Updated: Feb 8, 2019
What is Data Visualization?
My concocted definition is “making data dumps look pretty in a meaningful way.”
When I try to tell my friends and family what I do career wise I always get the same reaction. “Oh, you’re a data analyst? Seems boring and way over my head. I could never do that.” And each time I try to explain that no, it’s not just data entry, big excel data dumps, or making pie charts; it’s telling a story, it’s using data to answer business questions and drive insight. And yes, you can do it too!
I believe data visualization is one of the most freeing industries out there! It’s where left-brain thinking compliments right-brain thinking, the yin and yang of balancing creativity and analytical ideas!
Why it’s the most freeing industry:
Your Location doesn’t matter.
I’m southern at heart. I mean don’t get me wrong, my travel bucket list is huge, but I wasn’t ready to move to an overcrowded city like Boston, Atlanta, or New York where all the big techy companies and jobs are located. As it turns out, I didn’t have to.
Data Visualization allows me to work virtually anywhere that has a computer. I’m able to work in a small suburban city only 20 minutes from my hometown in SC. So, whether you’re in that corner office on the 100th floor or telecommuting at home on your laptop in your pjs, you can easily create beautiful and meaningful reports/visualizations for your company.
Your Educational Background doesn’t matter
You don’t have to have the latest and greatest computer science or data analytics degree. I have a liberal arts degree in communication studies… and I know several others with data viz careers that majored in art, music, or may not even have a degree at all; it’s all over the board! Obviously, some degrees can provide a little more jump start than others, but your degrees don’t matter as much as your portfolio! Potential employers tend to care more about your abilities and design eye over your particular educational background.
Your Age doesn’t matter
If you’re willing to learn and spend time in the software and best practices, age is not a factor. Tableau even offers free online training videos to help you get started!
You can see and influence the world, simply sitting behind your computer.
There’s a plethora of data sets out there to explore related to world population, demographics, weather trends, etc. Whether you’re creating visuals yourself or learning from others in the community, data viz allows viewers to go beyond the monotonous rows of data and really see the big picture. It’s amazing what an impact it can truly have!
Example: Tableau Foundation’s #VisualizeNoMalaria initiative
So what are you waiting for? It's never too late to try your hand at Data Visualization. You'll be surprised at what you discover!