A few people have asked me this question just this past week. I usually point them to this thread in the forums. Any other suggestions?
The visual data twitter list by @webmuesli is quite a good start to see what’s going on currently:
http://twitter.com/webmuesli/visual-data or for those who don’t tweet, check out the newspaperized format: http://paper.li/webmuesli/visual-data
I highly recommend Stephen Few’s 3 day course. You can find it here: http://www.perceptualedge.com/courses.php
I don’t know of anyplace else you can get so much information around data visualization in such a short period of time.
His books are also great (http://www.perceptualedge.com/library.php) but don’t hold a candle to the courses that he teaches himself.
I would not say it’s a matter of schooling, though if I had to choose something it would be statistics, but it could be any quantitative discipline mixed with some facility with computers.
A better take on it is this post : http://dataspora.com/blog/sexy-data-geeks/
Knowledge of some scripting is essential if you are looking at big datasets, but more important is persistence.
The biggest hurdle is getting data into a form that you can work with. “Real” data sources are often flawed and it takes a lot of work to make sure that you are actually even working with the numbers that you think you are.
Become a member.
Learn to visualize your data.
What you get
So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.
We know spending changes when you have more money. Here’s by how much.
Many lists of maps promise to change the way you see the world, but this one actually does.
The individual data points of life are much less predictable than the average. Here’s a simulation that shows you how much time is left on the clock.