• Data Literacy Foundations by edX: edX
  • Data Literacy Specialization by Coursera: Coursera
  • Healthcare Data Literacy by Coursera: Coursera
  • Health Information Literacy for Data Analytics Specialization by Coursera: Coursera
  • Data Literacy for All by Tableau: Tableau
  • Learn How to Work With Data by Udemy: The Data Literacy Course
  • Data Literacy Fundamentals by Data Literacy: Data Literacy
  • Exploring and Describing Data by LinkedIn Learning: Data Fluency
  • Data Literacy Learning Plan by Kubicle: Kubicle
  • Data Literacy Project by Qlik: Qlik

As companies collect more data than ever before, the need for professionals who can make sense of business data is growing too. Managing complex, growing datasets makes data literacy knowledge increasingly valuable to employers and individuals. For professionals who want to increase their own knowledge or companies that want to upskill their staff, we recommend the following data literacy training courses.

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What is data literacy?

Data literacy means having the skills, knowledge and confidence to find, evaluate, organize and present data as a powerful and meaningful business story. Especially in digital workplaces, organizations are looking for employees who can understand what data is telling them and how to communicate it meaningfully.

Data literacy helps professionals to become better listeners, thinkers and problem solvers. So, whether you’re managing or leading a team or just trying to figure out which career would suit you best, the data literacy skills you’ll learn here will help you easily make sense of complex concepts.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Database engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Top 10 data literacy online courses

The courses in this list teach you the technical skills necessary to find, clean and use data effectively. The courses also provide training on data-centric topics like databases, data structures and visualization techniques. Some industry-specific courses are included as well.

However, if these data literacy courses aren’t suited to your needs, Coursera offers several other data literacy courses that could be a good fit.

Data Literacy Foundations by edX

The Data Literacy Foundations course by edX is intended for individuals who want to be leaders in data-driven decision-making. The Rochester Institute of Technology offers the course, which is hosted on the edX platform. Certification costs $249, though there is also a free, limited version of the course available.

Although this course is self-paced, learners must dedicate six to eight hours per week to finish the course in four weeks. Learners will gain an understanding of critical thinking, data usage, data exploration tools and methodologies, and data analysis and statistics, as well as case studies for legal and ethical data issues. Once complete, learners will obtain a shareable certificate.

Data Literacy Specialization by Coursera

By going through this Data Literacy Specialization course from Johns Hopkins University and Coursera, professionals will develop the skill set to interpret statistical results. In addition, learners will gain proficiency in calculating and understanding statistical quantities such as causal effects and uncertainty measures.

Other skills taught in this course include visualization, measurement uncertainty, probability, statistical hypothesis testing, causal inference, data visualization, empirical evidence, cross-sectional analysis, basic descriptive statistics, survey design and statistical analysis.

This specialization course also includes a hands-on project, which must be completed to earn certification.

This is a self-paced course and can take around five months to finish at a pace of three hours per week. Users can sign up for free and get a 7-day free trial. After the free trial ends, access costs $49 per month. Once complete, learners will obtain a shareable certificate.

Healthcare Data Literacy by Coursera

This Healthcare Data Literacy course offered by the University of California, Davis via Coursera offers a practical way to understand the organization and use of medical data in healthcare.

It focuses on the way information is collected, organized and managed within healthcare organizations and includes discussions about the inner workings of data and conceptual harmony. This course also offers some solutions to the data integration problem by defining important concepts, methods and applications that are important to healthcare data management.

During the course, learners will gain an understanding of Triple Aim and other data-enabled healthcare drivers; clinical representations of data in healthcare systems, including ICD-10, SNOMED, LOINC, drug vocabularies and clinical data standards; and types and sources of healthcare data, including clinical, operational claims and patient-generated data.

This is a self-paced course that will take approximately 13 hours to complete; a payment of $39 per month is required to continue learning after the trial period ends. Once complete, learners will obtain a shareable certificate.

Health Information Literacy for Data Analytics Specialization by Coursera

If you want to work as a data analyst in the healthcare sector, consider the Health Information Literacy for Data Analytics Specialization course offered by the University of California, Davis via Coursera. It is specifically intended for data and technology professionals with no previous healthcare experience.

This course covers healthcare data and terminology, including administrative, clinical, insurance, patient-reported and external data. Learners will assess the quality and validity of data and use healthcare datasets to offer suggestions to enhance patient care.

Moreover, the course covers the analysis of clinical, operational, claims and patient data; healthcare data quality and interpretation; the healthcare data dictionary; and common data models used in healthcare data systems.

This self-paced course will take approximately four months to complete. A payment of $39 per month is required to continue learning after the trial period ends. Once complete, learners will obtain a shareable certificate.

Data Literacy for All by Tableau

Tableau is a powerful analytics solution that allows users to analyze data and create interactive visualizations. Data Literacy for All is a free course from Tableau that offers hands-on training in data literacy and other fundamental data skills.

Participants will learn how to explore, understand and communicate with data. With such an extensive range of topics covered, this course is perfect for those with little or no knowledge about data analysis and those who have experience working with data but want to refine their skills.

This self-paced course covers statistics, data types and storytelling with data over a period of approximately five hours.

The Data Literacy Course: Learn How to Work With Data by Udemy

The Data Literacy Course by Udemy teaches you how to work with the data you’re given, take it into account and use it. You’ll also learn how to analyze datasets, look for patterns, draw more insights from data and make decisions based on more than just intuition. This course is one of many courses in Udemy’s data science course library.

Learners will get conversant with basic analytical methods such as correlation, simple linear regression, forecasting and statistical tests. They will also explore how to use data, business intelligence, artificial intelligence, and various machine and deep learning techniques.

Other topics covered by this course include data types, data storage systems, technical tools needed to analyze data, how to interpret data professionally, modern business analytics techniques, data terminology and how to perform data quality assessments.

For one payment of $84.99, learners can take this five-hour self-paced course and receive a certification.

Data Literacy Fundamentals by Data Literacy

Data Literacy Fundamentals, offered by Data Literacy, is a course that is intended for anyone looking to get started with data literacy training. The course covers introductory-level topics such as an introduction to data, the importance of data and types of data analysis. It also includes eight quizzes with a total of 93 questions, eight lesson worksheets and one goal tree template.

During this self-paced course, which lasts approximately three hours and 40 minutes, participants will learn the overall goal of data, the types of data scales, ways of displaying data, areas of life where data matters and questions to ask based on the data in front of them. The cost for enrollment is $349. Those interested can contact Data Literacy for details about what certificates are available upon completion.

Data Fluency: Exploring and Describing Data by LinkedIn Learning

In this course from LinkedIn Learning, Barton Poulson introduces many aspects of data literacy, from exploring and describing data to understanding how data informs strategic decisions in business. The instructor describes how to prepare data, explore it visually and use statistical methods to analyze it.

With this data literacy training, you’ll be able to explore and describe data to communicate a story, reveal hidden insights and make sense of the numbers. Fluent data analysis is a skill anyone can learn with the right training and practice.

This self-paced course, which lasts approximately four hours and 19 minutes, covers topics such as fundamental concepts of data fluency, principles and techniques of data agnostic methods, data ethics, how to prepare data, visualizing data with different chart types, and how to describe associations with correlations. Once completed, learners can obtain a certificate.

Data Literacy Learning Plan by Kubicle

Kubicle’s Data Literacy Learning Plan is an online, self-paced course, lasting approximately seven hours, that teaches basic data literacy skills. The course provides a new perspective on understanding vast amounts of data and helps learners develop their process for understanding and communicating data.

It includes five modules that provide the information needed to begin practicing these skills. These modules cover an intro to data and data preparation, how to think and communicate with data, and an introduction to databases. After taking this course, learners will be ready to analyze datasets and help others do the same.

Those interested can contact Kubicle for details about what certificates are available upon completion.

Data Literacy Project by Qlik

Data Literacy Project was launched by the data analytics platform Qlik with other founding partners that include Accenture, Cognizant, Experian, Pluralsight, the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Data to the People.

This partnership aims to create the world’s most extensive library of resource-based learning for data literacy. In addition, the company offers a variety of interactive courses to help individuals gain skills in areas such as data visualization, analytical techniques, advanced analytics and big data.

This self-paced course collection covers topics in data analytics, data literacy culture, data storytelling, and distributions and aggregations. While most of the courses are free, the data fluency course costs $250 per seat, and learners can receive a certificate upon completion.

Skills you need for data literacy

Data literacy is a set of analytical skills that allow professionals to extract meaning from data. There are two important sets of skills within data literacy: Those that allow you to understand the nature and role of data and those that can help you analyze data effectively.

SEE: This free four-week course can teach you how to build databases (TechRepublic Academy)

To master the skill set, experts recommend following these three steps:

  1. Understand what data is, know how it’s organized and know how it’s used.
  2. Analyze data by asking appropriate questions, reading between the lines and noticing patterns.
  3. Communicate findings clearly, so others can make decisions based on them.

Some important skills that come from developing data literacy include the following:

Technical skills

  • Machine learning
  • Frequentist inference
  • Conjoint analysis
  • Bayesian probability
  • Database management
  • Econometrics and quantitative economics

Design skills

  • Infographics design
  • User experience
  • Data visualization
  • Design thinking

Features of a data literacy course

When deciding which data literacy course is best for you or your team, look for these features in course descriptions:

Course materials

Course materials should cover the latest information, including recent statistics and relevant news reports. Data literacy courses also often include high-quality resources such as videos, articles, infographics, and animations for demonstrations and assignments.

Clear instructions and support from an expert teacher

Constant feedback and guidance from a knowledgeable teacher are made available throughout most courses.

Group discussions

Group discussions allow students to learn about various fields that use data analytics, like medical professionals using health records or business analysts using marketing statistics. Group discussions give students more insight into applied examples of their new knowledge and potential career paths they can now pursue.

Hands-on projects

Hands-on projects give learners opportunities to use their new skills with real-world examples.

Final exams

After completing the course, students take a final exam to ensure they have mastered all lessons before receiving their certificate.


Certifications confirm when an individual has completed a data literacy course and passed the final exam.

Should I complete a data literacy course?

This is a common question, especially among non-data professionals. You might wonder: Is there any reason I need to complete data training if I’m not a data scientist? The simple answer is yes, it’s a good idea. In fact, non-data professionals often benefit more from data literacy training than experienced data scientists.

This is because data literacy courses cover a variety of best practices and tips for using data, regardless of your role. In the modern company, most users work with data and need to know how to interpret it correctly and use it compliantly. The right data literacy course can give all business users the foundation they need to use data better. Beyond that, data literacy training and certifications can be huge assets for the job applicant who wants their resume to stand out from the crowd.

Should I offer data literacy training to my employees?

If your business users interact with data on a daily basis — whether that’s customer data, machine learning data, IoT sensor data or web traffic data — it’s incredibly valuable to offer baseline data literacy training to your employees. This dedicated data training will help your employees create better reports and forecasts, incorporate data into new projects effectively, and do all of this work with security, compliance and business policy expectations in mind.

Several data literacy courses also focus on industry-specific data literacy, which can be helpful for members of your team who are starting in a new role or want to better contextualize data practices to their roles and responsibilities.

Read next: Top data quality tools (TechRepublic)

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