Home Uncategorized Why Earn the Desktop Specialist Certification?

Why Earn the Desktop Specialist Certification?


Some claim that Power BI has surpassed Tableau, but when I checked Indeed.com I found 50% more positions open for Tableau than for Power BI. And because Tableau’s formula language is pretty close to Excel and much more straightforward than Power BI’s “DAX” language, learning Tableau also takes less time.


Earning the Tableau Desktop Specialist certification is a great way to gain fluency with the software and to demonstrate that fluency to employers. Read on to understand how to pass the exam on your first try.


Prepare with Practice Questions


The most efficient way to prepare for any test is to do lots of practice problems. When you get a problem wrong, review your mistake and read through the related documentation. 


For best results, the practice questions should be as close as possible to the current exam format and cover the same topics. The current exam format is 60 minutes long and consists of 45 knowledge-based multiple choice and multiple response questions covering four different domains. 


There are plenty of free Specialist practice questions and practice exams online. As much as possible, use ones that have been updated to the current exam format. I recommend these. There’s no signup required and the questions are automatically scored. Take the time to understand the explanations for any wrong answers. Keep answering questions until you feel confident in your knowledge.


Prepare by Practicing with Tableau Public


The previous version of the Tableau Specialist exam had hands-on questions, where you had to use Tableau to answer questions about a dataset. Not so with the current version. During the Specialist exam, you don’t actually have access to any outside resources such as Tableau Desktop. But a good portion of the exam questions ask you what steps you need to go through to complete some task. Doing hands-on practice with Tableau will help you learn the steps.


If you don’t already have a copy of Tableau Desktop installed on your computer, you should take advantage of the free version – Tableau Public. Tableau Public is completely free for life and has 95%+ of the features that are tested on the Specialist exam. Tableau Public runs on any Windows or Mac computer.


Once you have Tableau running, connect to the Superstore Excel file that you can find in the My Tableau Repository\Datasources directory that is installed with the software. Go through exam topics, trying out as many things as possible. For example, topic 2.3.2 is “Add a reference line.” So create a bar chart (that’s topic 2.1.1), switch to the analytics pane, and drag the reference line into the view. 


When possible, try to do the same task in a couple of different ways – for example, you can add totals to a visual using the toolbar, or you can add them from the analytics pane.


Hands-on practice will reinforce and inform your skills. It’s a winning combination when combined with practice problems.


Set up your computer and testing area


The Tableau Specialist exam is administered by Pearson. Pearson allows you to either take the exam online in any private area with an internet connection or at a testing center.


If you’re planning to take the Specialist exam at a Pearson test center then you just need to show up at the center before your scheduled time with a valid government photo ID. But I expect that most people are like me, and prefer to take the exam at home on their personal computer. In that case, you’ll need a computer with the following:


  • Only one active monitor
  • A reliable reliable internet connection. If possible, use a wired connection rather than wifi.
  • A webcam so that the proctor can observe you during the exam
  • Microphone and speaker so that you can communicate with the proctor during the exam


Also, use Pearson’s tool to confirm that your computer is set up correctly and that your connection speed is sufficient for the exam.


You’ll also need to make sure your workspace is completely clear during the exam, and that no one other than you is in the room. You can’t have family members or coworkers walking by as you take the exam.


When you sign in for the exam, you’ll have to show the proctor your workspace using the webcam and validate your identity using a photo ID. Once that check-in process is complete and you agree to the NDA, you’ll be ready to start going through the 45 exam questions.


Pass on the First Try


Assuming you’ve put in the time to answer practice questions and reinforced your knowledge by going hands-on with Tableau, you’ll be able to pass on the first try. The Specialist exam is a great way to get started with data analysis and will give your resume a good boost. Best wishes!