In this article I'll guide you how to learn Power BI, so you can start or progress your career with Power BI. I wil focus on Power BI Desktop which is a free tool, used to develop dashboards and reports.
My advice will be generic to suit as many visitors as possible, and if you would like to get personalized guidance please check my Power BI career coaching service, for fast track career progression.
Power BI Learning Prerequisites
In order to learn Power BI there are some, but not many prerequisites. You will need:
A PC or Laptop.
I recommend 64bit operating system with a minimum of 8GBs of memory. (You may get out of memory errors with 32bit or 4GBs of memory).
Latest version of Power BI Desktop which you can download on Microsoft Power BI website.
Interest in data analysis and reporting.
Time to learn.
That's it, as you can see there aren't many prerequisites, so it's easy to start learning.
Is Power BI easy or hard to learn?
It's very easy to learn the basics of Power BI, but at the same time it's hard to master Power BI in particular DAX which is easy on the surface but can get complex and overwheling so it's hard to sometimes understand how it's working behind the scenes.
Fortunatelly, when you start with Power BI most of it is easy to learn as the Power BI Desktop is very intuitive, and with DAX you will be fine initially with a simple copy / paste and without understanding everything about DAX which can take time, you can implement easily advanced calculations, you just need to ensure you get the correct result.
Learn Power BI by topic
We can split Power BI learning into various topics, which I describe below:
Power Query (M language)
You can "get data" easily, and after that you can apply transformation using Power Query. Power Query is an easy to learn interface and behind the scenes, Power BI uses M Language which can be harder to learn, but fortunately you should be able to do 98% of tasks using the Power Query interface.
In Power BI you can find Model area where you have table and can create relationship. This used to be called PowerPivot (excel name), and it's easy to do modelling, however I strongly recommend to model the data using dimensional modelling techniques. Which is also known as Star Schema or you can search for 7Ws.
Dashboards and reports
These are easy to learn and usually just require your time to master. You can also study for quite a bit custom visual, most of each are easy to learn but some are harder to learn.
Power BI Service
You can publish reports to Power BI Sevice (cloud / Power BI website) and share with users.
In my opinion we should also include skills like data visualization, usability, data analysis, communication.
How long does it take to learn Power BI?
There was some research that say 10,000 hours of effective learning is needed to become an Expert. Fortunately in Power BI you can spend much less time and build very impressive reports and dashboard, however completely mastering the tool (which rarely needed) would take a long time.
I'll give you some examples based on learning effort of 10h a week:
Absolute minimum 10h to 25h (1 week to 2.5 weeks)
Basic - 25h to 100h (2.5 weeks to 2 months)
Intermediate - 100h to 500h (2 months to 1 year)
Expert - 500h to 1500h (1 year to 3 years)
Master - 1500h to 5000h (3 years to 10 years)
For effective learning I do strongly recommend to look into learning software called supermemo (supermemo.com), which can also be used to learn languages. I've learnt 2,000 English words in 1 month! and I have used it to fast track my career.
Where to learn Power BI?
Typically I don't recommend free resources when you get started, as they are not organized and of varying quality, and it's easy to waste your time. I would however recommend free resources like youtube when you know exactly what you are after and that is typically for more advanced topics.
I recommend to aim for step by step learning resources and my favourite are simply well written books, as I can study them at my own pace, highligh important things and make notes.
Let me say it again. For effective learning (with books or videos) I do strongly recommend to look into software called supermemo (supermemo.com).
If you prefer to learn from videos, which are also excellent way to learn easily, I recommend online learning course which can compromise of both articles and videoes, but make sure there are comprehesive and well prepared, as last thing you want to do is get lost in all courses that are available.
I recommend to study from Macro Russo and Alberto Ferrari resources:
Power BI Certification
Once you have good skills with Power BI, I recommend to take Microsoft Exam 70-778 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI