How to get started with Power BI (beginner learning path)

José Fernando Costa
Feb 28 · 4 min read
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I’ve been giving some serious thought as to how I learned Power BI. I do Power BI development for a living, but my learning experience was so all over the place that I’ve been trying to come up with a focused path for other people.

This is my attempt at designing that path. There’s not really a fixed order to these resources, you can go back and forth based on your level of comfort and curiosity.

Note for these tutorials and/or learning resources: don’t be thrown off by having a different UI in your Power BI version or having more features available than what is shown in the videos. Power BI has monthly updates so the UI can get changes frequently or new features added that make previous work easier.

“Build a complete report”-type tutorials

  • Data modeling/ETL with Power Query
  • Creating measures/calculations with DAX to support the visualizations
  • Creating the dashboards (dashboard design and data visualization)
  • Publishing the report to the Power BI Service

If some of these terms don’t mean anything to you yet, don’t worry because you’ll get used to them quickly once you enter the world of Power BI.

For specific recommendations in this category, I think these YouTube tutorials are pretty good:

London Business Analytics Group

If I could pick a single resource of this list as a complete beginner, it would definitely be this YouTube channel. The LBAG is a Meetup group that started uploading Power BI tutorials after the pandemic hit. Their videos are the perfect combination of beginner-friendly and meaningful content for people with experience.

I seriously recommend you to go through every single video they have related to Power BI and data modeling. Of course the more experience you get the better, so with each video you’ll learn a different use case for Power BI and they usually pick meaningful datasets to work with.

Microsoft Power BI YouTube channel

Not much to say here. Every month they publish a video to go through the monthly updates, and once in a while a webinar. These are pretty cool and have taught me plenty in the past as they are done by people with a lot of experience.

Guy in a Cube

Their channel is not necessarily aimed at beginners, but they often publish videos about small bits of Power BI that can make a difference in your day to day development. They are also good to keep up with Power BI news.

SQLBI

Later on when you’re looking to get a deep technical understanding of Power BI, this is the place to go. Alberto and Marco dig deep into the technical underlying of the software and make detailed tutorials that suit all kinds of audiences.

I won’t point to any tutorial in specific, but definitely keep up with their uploads.

Dirty Data Samples

When you’re feeling confident later on with your Power Query skills, try these dirty data samples. These are small datasets that require some cleaning before they can be analysed in Power BI, so they are a n important exercise to go through. Of course, you can argue some of this work falls on the data engineers, not the analysts, but there will be instances when you have to do the data cleaning yourself!

DA-100 Learning Paths

This is kind of a double resource. I recommend completing the DA-100 learning paths because they are free resources straight from Microsoft, and at the same time you will be working towards getting certified by them.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

For example, if you’ve done data analysis with Python or R in the past, replicate that work with Power BI now. If you come from Excel, you will have a smooth transition and definitely want to stop visualizing your data in worksheets. If this is your first foray into data analysis, then pick a dataset about a topic of your interest and start there. No matter your background, the more you practice the better you will become at creating reports and dashboards in Power BI.

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