What Excel Certification Means for Your Career: A Comprehensive Overview

Taylor Karl
What Excel Certification Means for Your Career: A Comprehensive Overview 579 0

Few tools are as widely used in the workplace as Microsoft Excel. It’s incredibly versatile and practical, allowing users to create spreadsheets to manage all kinds of data. Excel’s functionality includes graphic tools, calculators, charts and graphs, formulas, macro programming language, and more.

For many jobs, whether a data analyst, salesperson, or marketer, foundational knowledge of Excel and other Microsoft Office products is critical. Because Excel plays a significant role in most professionals' lives, having an Excel certification can positively impact your career, regardless of your job title.

Whether you are a student preparing to join the workforce or a professional looking to build your skills, an Excel certification gives you an edge over non-certified workers.

On this page:

Understanding Excel Certification

An Excel certification is a credential issued by Microsoft that proves your Excel knowledge and proficiency. Different levels of Excel certification, detailed below, range from basic to advanced, with each test focused on different Excel skills. Many jobs require skilled workers who possess a working understanding of Excel. The certification is a globally recognized method for proving to recruiters and employers that they have the skills necessary to do the job.

How to Get an Excel Certification

So, you're ready to gain your Excel certification and unlock new professional opportunities. But where should you begin? Follow these simple and foolproof steps to kickstart your journey towards obtaining the Microsoft Office Specialist certifications for Excel.

1. Choose the Right Excel Certification Level for You

Before you dive into studying for your Excel certification, think about which level of certification best suits your needs. The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Excel certification comes in two distinct levels: Excel Associate and Excel Expert. If you're just starting out with spreadsheets and data analysis, the Associate level may be perfect for you. For more advanced users seeking acknowledgment of their elevated skills, the Excel Expert certification can take you to the apex of Excel proficiency.

2. Plan Your Study Schedule

As with any major professional development step, planning is vital. Set out a clear, realistic study schedule allowing for ample time to understand, absorb, and practice each topic thoroughly. A hurried preparation isn't just likely to leave gaps in your knowledge, but it also can create undue stress and hamper your exam performance.

3. Getting Hands-on Practice

MOS Excel certifications don’t just test theoretical knowledge, they assess practical, hands-on skills. Therefore, consider getting as much practical experience with Excel as possible. Try designing your own

spreadsheets or resolving typical business scenarios with Excel. The more you use the software, the more familiar you’ll become with its functionality.

4. Registering for the Exam

Once you feel confidently prepared, the next step is to register for the exam. You can do this through the Certiport (owned by Pearson VUE) website. Be sure to select the correct exam for the certification you seek, and pay attention to the system requirements for the online proctoring of the exam. Choose a date and time that suits your schedule. Taking the exam in a quiet and comfortable environment can play a significant role in helping you to do your best.

5. Taking the Exam

On the day of your exam, ensure you've adequately prepared your test environment and double-check your Internet connection. The completion of the exam typically takes around 50 minutes, but you'll need to allow for additional time for setup, and pre-exam formalities. Once you have completed the test, your results will arrive promptly, allowing you to discover whether you've succeeded in earning your coveted Excel certification.

Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS): Excel Associate certification demonstrates your competency in the fundamentals of:

• Creating and managing worksheets and workbooks

Creating cells and ranges

• Creating tables

• Applying formulas and functions

• Creating charts and objects

To earn this certification, you should have approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on experience with the product. Passing the exam requires demonstrating that you can correctly apply Excel's principal features and functions.

Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Expert

The Microsoft Excel Expert certification proves that you can:

• Manage all workbook options and advanced settings

• Format and organize complicated data

• Create intricate formulas

• Write and use powerful macros

• Handle advanced charts and tables

You should have approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on experience with Excel and have proven competency at an industry expert level, including completing tasks independently.

Benefits of Excel Certification

Whether you aspire to be a data analyst, project manager, or financial analyst, earning an Excel certification offers numerous benefits. Let's uncover some of the top advantages that this worthwhile certification can bring your way:

• Better job opportunities: The job market is more competitive than ever, and everyone is looking for new ways to make their resumes stand out. Some employers expect you to know how to use Excel, while some require it. An Excel certification shows you can handle data-centric roles and are committed to professional development.

• New skills: Most people who get an Excel certification complete training workshops and spend hours working directly with the software. Doing so teaches you to manage and organize workbooks, create charts, and apply formulas and functions. These skills allow you to track, analyze, and understand data to make informed recommendations.

• Higher salaries: Organizations consistently look for ways to become more productive, efficient, and profitable. Organizations can boost their profitability by using data to make data-driven decisions. Showcasing your data analysis skills through Excel certification can help you stand out as an indispensable part of your organization's success.

Where to Obtain Excel Certification

You can obtain your Microsoft Office Specialist certification for Excel from a licensed Certiport testing center. These centers are located worldwide, providing individuals with easy access. You also have the option of pursuing online certification, which allows for convenient testing from the comfort of your own home.

Employer-sponsored training programs are also an excellent option if you work in a data-focused role. Some employers hire an outside training company to teach courses to help their workforce get their Excel certification. This option depends on your role and the needs of your employer. However, you'll still need to take the official certification exams online or in authorized testing centers.

Preparing for Excel Certification Exams

Before taking an Excel exam, you should have at least 150 hours of experience working with and training in Excel. The best way to learn Excel is through regular use; consistently using Excel helps you understand features and retain new skills. In addition to regular use, Official Excel practice exams and study guides will help build your confidence and familiarity with the test format on exam day.

Training providers such as New Horizons offer flexible learning methods and more ways to get trained in Microsoft Office than any other learning provider.

To help you prepare for the certification exams, we asked our resident Excel experts what they thought you should know before taking an Excel certification exam. Here's what they said:

• Take your time: Make sure to read all instructions and try to avoid keyboard shortcuts. I use the right-click menu or ribbon to get the tasks done. If you make a mistake, delete and redo the task. Study up on importing data because not all classes cover it, but it will show up on the test.

• Stay positive: Students think they won't be able to pass the exam, thinking it will be too hard. The way to overcome that mindset is to take practice exams and use study materials and references. After that, take the exam. If you fail, that's okay; you can retake the exam.

• Study, study, and study more: These exams, especially the Excel Expert, can be challenging. I have been teaching Excel for years, and I found some exam questions difficult, even for me. If you understand that the exam can be challenging before you take it, you can better prepare yourself—practice using specific functions such as RANDARRAY() and VLOOKUP() and some of the more obscure new charts. You have to focus on them and know how to adjust them.

You can also visit the official certification websites to learn more about each certification and the registration process:

Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Associate

Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Excel Expert

Exam Overview: Format and Content

Understanding the format and content of the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification exam for Excel is pivotal to your success. The exam typically lasts about 50 minutes and is conducted in a live, hands-on environment. This means you'll be asked to perform tasks in Excel rather than answering multiple-choice questions.

The exams are performance-based, which means your ability to carry out tasks efficiently and accurately will directly influence your final score. It costs $100 to register for this exam, and you need to score a minimum of 700 out of 1000 to pass. If you haven't taken an Excel exam before and are unsure if you have the knowledge you need, you should start by taking the Associate certification first.

You can expect to see the following knowledge areas on each exam.

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS): Excel Associate Exam

• Manipulating spreadsheets - formatting, basic formulas, charts

• Data management and analytics - filtering, calculations, pivot tables

• Fundamental functionality - features, tools, conditional formatting

• Workbook management - configuration, customization, printing

• Graphic objects - insertion, modification, reporting

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS): Microsoft Excel Expert Exam

• Advanced formatting - cell styles, custom views, workbook settings

• Formulas and macros - complex formulas, lookup functions, task automation

• Advanced charts and tables - PivotTables and PivotCharts

• Data analysis - sorting, filtering, PowerPivot

• Functions - financial, statistical, text, date/time, logical, lookup

• Collaboration - comments, track changes

Once you're ready to take an MOS exam, you can register on the Microsoft website or through the training center where you intend to take the test. If you are taking a training course, you may be eligible

for the Excel exam through your provider. All MOS exams are performance-based with an hour time limit.

Steps to Take After Getting Certified

If you pass the MOS Excel exam, congratulations! You're on your way to standing out to current and future employers. Now that you're Excel-certified, you can add it to your resume. Create a "certification" section of your resume, including the certification title and the date you earned it.

You can also add Excel skills to your resume, such as:

• Capturing and recording important data

Using shortcuts and formula functions

• Data visualization

• Sorting and filtering data

Microsoft Office Specialist certifications do not expire and, once earned, appear as active certifications on your transcript. Depending on your career aspirations, more advanced data analysis certifications, such as Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate, can help you continue your education and deepen your expertise.


The Microsoft Excel certifications are among the most useful in corporations worldwide. Data management is helpful in so many industries and roles that adding the MOS Associate or Expert certifications to your resume is an undeniable way to prove your commitment to professional development and ability to add value to a company.

We offer courses from beginner to advanced with hands-on activities that allow you to produce extraordinary results wherever you work. Come train with us and enhance and learn new, essential skills to help you stand out from your peers. Learn more about Excel certifications and start planning their certification journey today!