Accountability and Reward Systems

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Accountability and reward systems are series of checkpoints and milestones along a user's skill development path.  They establish common goals and achievements across an organization to encourage users to stay motivated and engaged in building their skill sets. Education is an ongoing process, and as an organization's deployment grows, users need opportunities for continuous learning and rewards.

Consider these three approaches to validate skills to incorporate into your education plan:

  • Role Badges
  • Tableau Product Certification
  • Skill Belts

Skill Badges

Users earn skill badges by passing low-stakes, multiple-choice skills assessments of core concepts at the end of role-based learning paths as shown in Skills by Tableau Education Role. Skill badges encourage and motivate users to keep learning in order to demonstrate their knowledge of particular roles. Users are not required to complete all the courses in a learning path in order to take the skills assessment, so more advanced users can skip ahead. They will demonstrate that they hold the necessary skills for the role by earning a passing score. Users who do not pass are given recommendations for the eLearning or Classroom courses that will best answer their skill gaps. Because Skill Badges are available to share via a public URL, they also support progress monitoring and measurement at the organizational level. The badges can be incorporated into your organization's LMS system or intranet. Skill Badges and Skills Assessments are accessed through an eLearning subscription.


Tableau Product Certifications enable users to prove their expertise and to distinguish themselves. Holding a Tableau Certification demonstrates that a user is able to apply knowledge of Tableau products in a formal setting. These proctored exams are higher stakes than skill badges and skills assessments because they follow industry standards for professional certification programs. Encouraging and supporting certification within your teams shows commitment to their professional development and creates clear, actionable milestones for individuals to work toward. By building a core group of certified users, you increase their confidence and encourage them to elevate the skill sets of their peers. There are three levels of certification, Specialist, Associate and Professional, available for two products, Desktop and Server.

Exam Level

By Product

Difficulty increases


Tableau Desktop Specialist – tests foundational functionality and product comprehension.



Tableau Certified Data Analyst – tests advanced functionality and application of visual best practices.

Tableau Server Certified Associate – tests  administrative functionality and platform knowledge.

Professional Tableau Certified Consultant - tests ability to lead design of analytics solutions within the Tableau platform, ability to handle complex performance issues independently Tableau Certified Architect - intended for roles that implement complex deployments of Tableau Server in enterprise-level environments. Tests knowledge in designing, deploying, monitoring, and maintaining a scalable Tableau platform, as well as migrations to Tableau Cloud

Online, proctored exams are delivered 24/7 .  Instead of traveling to testing centers, users can test anywhere in the world if they meet computer and network requirements. Exams are also delivered in person at select Tableau events, like Tableau Conference.

NOTE: How are Certification badges different from Skill badges?
Certification badges recognize users' significant achievement of proving product knowledge by passing high-stakes, proctored, secure exams. Skill badges recognize users' less significant achievement of passing self-proctored, non-secure skills assessments.

Skill Belts

A skill belt program is an internally-created badge and reward program that aligns with an internally curated education program. A skill belt program should motivate and reward users who sequentially build measurable knowledge in product functionality, storytelling, design, best practices in visualization and performance, and community resources.  In order to complete each skill level, users should be required to volunteer as peer and mentor resources for new applicants. This ensures participation and organically builds community across the organization by encouraging users to share knowledge, evangelize data-driven decision making, and motivate others to improve their Tableau skills.

A skill belt program relies on both applicants and champions for administration, governance, and promotion. You may have additional resources to help administer the program. For example, many large organizations have learning management systems and may prefer to manage assessments within those content delivery systems.

Required content and measurement tools can be standardized across skill belts and merit badges; for example:

  • Hands-on — Instructional videos or webinars for users to follow along with, often including accompanying Tableau workbooks.
  • Whitepapers — Written, long-form instructional documents for users to read.
  • Best practices — Consumable content in a variety of formats that generally focuses on visual and performance best practices. Content will include more technical and governance-related topics as users achieve higher skill levels.
  • Storytelling — Consumable content in a variety of formats that specifically addresses the soft skills users need to effectively tell stories with data.
  • Blogs — Informational content from a variety of sources, generally from Tableau or notable public community figures such as Tableau Visionaries. Content may include hands-on activities, best practices, or additional resources.
  • Reference materials — Reference documents, community guides (e.g., GitHub), other instructional reference materials (e.g., chart hierarchy) and other supplemental materials.
  • Challenges —Tableau workbook practices for users to complete, with solutions included for reference.
  • Milestones — Significant tasks users must complete to achieve a skill belt or a merit badge.

You should not expect everyone to engage in all the available content, nor to master all the available skills at every skill belt level. Advancement through the program should be based on exposure to concepts and building knowledge, not mastery. For example, users can achieve expert-level recognition without having to learn to script in Python. Only some users need to script in Python, but all users need to demonstrate an understanding of how Python and Tableau can be used together and, more importantly, how this can help the organization.


A defining characteristic of any skill belt program is the gamification of learning. Gamification is an educational approach to motivate students to learn by using game elements and design in a learning environment. It can help users overcome fatigue or anxiety and keep them engaged. By incorporating the right mechanics, gamification can increase engagement and participation and inspire users to continue learning.

One successful way to gamify is by offering compensation or a reward (e.g., organizational status) for academic achievements, proper behavior and social engagement like helping peers, commenting, and adding value. Skill belts and merit badges can be designed to recognize academic achievement and volunteerism while communicating status or prestige within your organization. To encourage engagement, you should come up with fun skill belt and badge names. "Jedi Master" sounds a lot more exciting that "Analytics Expert." Perhaps you want to involve your community in picking the belt names (e.g., a contest). If your community picks the names, they are already invested in success before you have kicked off the program.

Another important feature of gamification is to make the program as social as possible to simulate the feel of a classroom or classroom community. This is important for achievers that need peer recognition, but also motivates through peer pressure or friendly competition with other participants. You can have a leader board to display top scores and vizzes, for example. We also suggest events such as Makeover Monday and Viz Games to increase competition and provide additional reward and recognition opportunities. Lastly, the program should be transparent to participants. While advancing within the course work users know what the next step is and what to expect. This creates anticipation! Anticipation is a strong motivator and gets students excited and engaged for longer periods of time and the flow of learning.

Volunteer Recognition

Employees who volunteer for your Peer-to-Peer Assistance programs deserve recognition. Employees who volunteer for your peer-to-peer assistance programs deserve recognition because they are actively helping others make better decision through data and strengthening your Data Culture overall. Here’s a few example of how to recognize volunteers:

  • When you host a Tableau User Group, spend some time highlighting those who are volunteering to make your organization more data-driven.
  • If you’re the Community leader, provide impactful metrics and feedback to the volunteer’s manager (patient satisfaction scores, use cases supported, and specific contributions). Setting up surveys and asking for Data Doctor feedback is a good way to get inputs and quotes about a volunteers’ contributions, which can be valuable inputs for periodic or end-of-year evaluations.
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