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Tableau: From Student to Certification

We talked to three DataCamp instructors who recently took the Tableau Desktop Specialist Certification and asked them about how well our courses prepared them for this.

Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics, so we put three of our instructors up to the task of role-playing as students getting the Tableau Desktop Specialist certification through Tableau’s official service—using what they learned when creating our Tableau skill track and our new course Statistical Techniques in Tableau. Now that they’ve come out the other side, we decided to interview them to find out about their experiences!

How did DataCamp help you prepare for the Tableau certification?

Hadrien: You can be asked to create a visualization or asked which feature to use. DataCamp’s courses give you an overview of what’s available and what you can create with Tableau. They also dive into specific topics, which are the topics the certification is centered around—including analyzing data, creating dashboards, and connecting to data sources.

Sara: DataCamp’s courses cover all the topics that are necessary for the exam. The videos give you an introduction and tell you what is possible using the tool—so, it’s shown in the videos how to connect to a dataset or create a visualization. You can take that knowledge and practice it yourself in the exercises. This is really helpful because during the exam you will be asked to create these visualizations over and over again. So the more you have practiced the quicker you will be at doing these when the time comes. Which is great because it’s timed, and this will free up time for the other questions. Also, exercises are practised in a virtual machine so you get practise with a Windows interface, and this is exactly how you will be working during the exam.

What surprised you most about the exam?

Hadrien: Most of the questions don’t require you to build a visualization in Tableau to answer them since they are about where to find certain features—of course, some do require you to build a visualization to gather insights and select the correct answer, but this is in the minority. Also you might get asked about topics that are not in the exam preparation guide, topics which were meant to be reserved for more advanced certification levels, so there won’t be many but it’s good to be aware of that.

Sara: Probably that the exam was multiple choice, as opposed to more active exercises like creating visualizations, and many were related to where you could find certain features. You could also use Google when you weren’t entirely sure, so that was quite a nice surprise.

What’s the best advice you’d give to someone preparing to take the exam?

Sara: I’d say two things: on the one hand, practice, practice, practice, make sure you use Tableau a lot, so do things like connecting to datasets and building visualizations until you become comfortable with it. And on the other hand I’d say take a look at some practice exams online to get a feel for what will be asked, and also to identify and shore up any weak points.

What can we look forward to on the new Tableau course on DataCamp?

Maarten: You can expect to learn how statistical techniques work, and then see how they are implemented in Tableau. This course is meant for people who have had experience in working with Tableau but want to know more about when and how they should use certain statistical techniques, such as adding a trendline or perform clustering, and also who want to know more about what’s happening behind the scenes.

What’s your favourite report type that you teach in this course?

Maarten: I like the predictive reporting this course teaches, so for example you will see our virtual machine predicting the type of dinosaur based on bow length or predict the number of views a YouTube video will get.