Microsoft Excel Certification Guide

Microsoft Excel is a popular business application. Spreadsheets are a mainstay in virtually every company in the developed world.

A recent study by Capital One and Burning Glass Technologies, found that 82% of “middle-skill” jobs are digitally intensive and require proficiency with various software tools including Excel.

Employers everywhere are looking for people with strong computer skills.

If you want to advance in your current role or secure a new position, one of the best ways demonstrate a high level of proficiency with Microsoft Excel is to earn one of the Microsoft Office Specialist designations.

Microsoft offers certifications for many of their products, including two designations specifically for Excel.

Is Excel Certification Worth It?

Earning a Microsoft Office Specialist designation takes time and effort. Some people prepare for the exams by taking a course, others go the self-study route and read books. Either way, preparing for an exam is time consuming and involves a personal commitment.

With the time and effort involved to prepare for an exam, you might be wondering what the benefits are. Is an Excel certification worth it?

Anyone can say they’re proficient in Excel. Earning a Microsoft Office Specialist designation is a way to demonstrate that you’ve invested the time and effort to develop your professional skills. These globally recognized certifications are a great way to highlight your abilities.

Woman drinking coffee with laptop working toward a Microsoft Excel certification

Professional designations are only part of the picture. Work history, practical experience, and interpersonal skills are all important – but an Excel certification will help you stand out from the crowd!

What Excel Certifications Are Available?

There are two Microsoft Office Specialist certifications related to Microsoft Excel:

The Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate designation covers skills related to creating and managing worksheets and workbooks, working with cells and ranges, creating tables, using formulas and functions, and inserting charts and objects.

The Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Expert designation covers more advanced topics including preparing workbooks for collaboration, conditional formatting, data validation and analysis, PivotTables, PivotCharts, and macros.

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications are globally recognized. These designations are considered an asset in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and countless other countries around the world.

What Is the Best Excel Certification?

If you’ve decided that an Excel certification is something you’d like to pursue, you’ll need to decide which one is right for you. There are two Microsoft Office Specialist designations for Excel. Which one should you focus on?

The best Excel certification is the one that will help you acquire the skills you need to thrive in your current position – or enhance your skillset to prepare you for the role you ultimately want. Either way, the Microsoft Office Specialist designation will help you level up your Excel game!

The Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate certification is a good fit for anyone who uses spreadsheets to track general information or financial data. Accountants, administrative assistants, or anyone in a clerical role would benefit from learning the skills required for this designation.

The Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Expert certification requires knowledge of some of Excel’s more advanced features like PivotTables and macros. Business analysts, project manager, or anyone analyzing large amounts of data would utilize the skills required for this qualification.

How Do I Become Excel Certified?

Earning an Excel certification is a great way to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the application. It shows that you’re investing in your skills and proactively planning your career.

Here are the steps I recommend you take to earn an Excel certification.

  1. Select an Excel certification you’d like to pursue.
  2. Review the skills measured for the certification you’ve chosen – Associate or Expert.
  3. Select a relevant training program, if you need to review any topics likely to be on the exam.
  4. Schedule the exam.

The certification exams are 50 minutes in duration and are comprised of various types of questions, including multiple choice, build list, and best answer. Click here for additional details.

How Do I Prepare for the Excel Certification Exams?

The training option you select, assuming you need training, will depend on your current level of expertise with Excel. Everyone learns differently. Choose the option that works best for your learning style and schedule.

Here are some common choices.

  • Books. I highly recommend the Microsoft Press study guides. Microsoft created Excel and they know exactly which topics you need to understand to pass the exam! Pick up the MOS Study Guide for Microsoft Excel Exam MO-200 to prepare for the Excel Associate exam, MOS Study Guide for Microsoft Excel Expert Exam MO-201 for the Excel Expert exam.
  • Online courses. There are so many fantastic courses available online. Right now I think the best option is Microsoft Excel – Excel from Beginner to Advanced on Udemy. The instructor is Kyle Pew and over 230,000 people have taken this course.
  • YouTube. Some of the most experienced Excel experts and instructors have YouTube channels. Search for “Excel tutorials” and bask in the online Excel goodness!
  • Live, instructor-led training. Many people prefer structured courses with a live trainer and opportunities to ask questions in real-time. If that’s you, check out our Excel training courses options. If you don’t like attending courses in person, we offer online training as well.

How Much Does It Cost to Get Certified in Excel?

When you’re ready to schedule your exam just click through to Certiport. The Microsoft Office Specialist exams cost $100 USD each.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.