Excel Certifications and Certificates

Discover how mastering Excel can enhance your career prospects in various industries. Learn about the different certifications, certificates, and the powerful tools Excel offers for data management and analysis.

Key Insights

  • Excel, a versatile tool for calculations, visualizations, and coding, is widely used across industries, with half a billion users globally.
  • Learning Excel skills, from data entry to advanced functions and visualizations, opens career opportunities in finance, healthcare, education, and more.
  • Excel certification programs cover a range of skills, from basic data entry and formula use to advanced chart creation and workbook management.
  • Industries such as accounting, office management, project management, education, and data science frequently utilize Excel for various tasks.
  • Microsoft offers MOS certifications in Excel, validating skills in real-world scenarios and demonstrating proficiency to employers.
  • The time and difficulty to become Excel certified vary, but with around 150 hours of practice, most individuals can achieve MOS Excel Associate certification.

You may have heard of Excel or even created a spreadsheet or two, but do you really know what Excel can do? Aside from performing calculations and computations, Excel also offers visualization and coding tools. Create tables and graphs. Find information across different Microsoft products. Excel works on both Windows and Mac operating systems and offers many options for data collection, storage, and analysis.

With half a billion users, Excel ranks as the top spreadsheet tool in the world. Released in 1985 as a stand-alone application, Excel is now bundled into the Microsoft Office collection. It is currently included in the cloud-based Microsoft 365 subscription service, which comes in home or business versions. The current version of Excel offers machine-learning features like pattern recognition and data organization. Excel makes it easy for teams to work together and share workbooks.

Excel is easy to learn and easy to use. Users enter data into cells, which are set up into rows and columns. Cells can be copied or moved by cutting and pasting, and many functions can be performed by drag-and-drop operations. Mistakes can be fixed easily by using the undo feature. Learning Excel skills can be the foundation of a new career in many industries, from finance to healthcare to education.

What Can You Do with Excel?

When you sign up for a certification program in Excel, you will start with the basics. The first skill you will learn is how to enter data and perform simple functions. You will learn to set up spreadsheets, use formulas, and create charts and tables. You will also learn to manage workbooks, use simple templates, and print files.

Data Entry

Data entry is easy in Excel. Simply type in anything you want to keep track of: a list of client addresses, daily temperatures, test results, or survey responses. Excel lets you enter data one cell at a time or into several cells or worksheets at once. Once you have your data, you can perform many different calculations or format it in different ways.

Essential Formulas and Functions

Excel offers many formulas and functions that are easy to use. For example, SUM adds a group of cells and gives you a total. AVERAGE computes the average of a column. One of the more advanced choices is VLOOKUP, which allows you to locate a specific value vertically across a worksheet, while pivot tables allow you to transform columns into rows and vice versa. Data sorting allows you to reorganize data in different ways. With Excel, you can set your worksheets up any way you want.

Formatting

Excel offers many formatting options to let you give your documents a special look. Set the style of the cells and use conditional formatting to highlight particular data. Use keystroke shortcuts to make text bold, italic, or underlined. You can change the size and font of the text. Excel lets you format worksheets to follow a company style or preference. Another advantage to Excel formatting is that it mirrors the formatting in other Microsoft programs like Word and PowerPoint, so it is easy to learn if you have experience with other Microsoft products.

Charts and Tables

With Excel, you can create different types of visualizations to make trends and patterns more obvious and understandable. This is helpful when you need to explain trends and predictions to team members or clients. Choose from different chart, table, and graph styles to let you visualize and explain the data. Simply highlight the data you want to work with, choose a recommended style, and click OKAY. Editing is easy, too.

Workbook Management

Excel's spreadsheets are called worksheets, and a collection of worksheets is a workbook. It's easy to navigate through different sections in the workbook to locate data or worksheets and then perform functions. These include create, find, rename, copy, open, sort, and delete, terms that are used throughout the different Microsoft Office applications.

Excel Careers

While there are no careers that require Excel skills exclusively, many different job advertisements list these skills among others. You probably won't build a career entirely around Excel, but it is an important skill to offer many employers. Some industries that use Excel are finance, business, manufacturing, education, and data analytics.

Accounting and Bookkeeping

Accountants and Financial Auditors prepare and inspect financial records. They look for accuracy and compliance with financial regulations. Accountants also assess risk and make recommendations to cut costs and increase profits. Beyond Excel training, Accountants need a bachelor's degree in business with an emphasis in accounting. In the US, Accountants earn a median income of $78,000 a year. Jobs for Accountants and Auditors are projected to grow 4 percent in the next decade.

Bookkeepers need to log income, keep track of purchases and expenses, chart accounts, create invoices, and project cash flow. Some Bookkeepers earn a college degree, but it is not necessarily required. Bookkeepers in the US earn a median salary of $45,000 annually. Some Bookkeepers work part-time or take care of multiple clients at once.

Office Management

Administrative Assistants and Office Clerks use Excel to stay on top of day-to-day activities like taking inventory, ordering supplies, scheduling appointments, paying bills, and generating reports. You don't need a college degree to work as an Office Clerk or Administrative Assistant but some earn associate's degrees. Administrative Assistants in the US earn about $44,000 a year and the annual median salary for Office Clerks is about $38,000.

Project Management

Project Management Specialists use Excel for resource tracking, budgeting, timekeeping, and creating reports. Salaries vary depending on the industry where you are employed. For example, Project Management Specialists in residential building construction earn $84,000 a year, while those in the financial industry earn an average of $136,000 a year. The field is expected to grow by 6 percent through 2032. Project Management Specialists need a bachelor's degree and many are certified in project management.

Education

While Excel isn't a required skill for education, many teachers use Excel to keep up with the heavy load of paperwork they need to complete. Excel is used to make lesson plans, take attendance, collect and organize data, record grades, and generate reports. Records are all in one place and easy to keep secure. High school Teachers in the US earn an average of $62,000 a year and need a bachelor's and sometimes a master's degree. 

Data Science

Excel is often used as a starting point in data analytics. Analysts use it to collect and organize data before analysis and looking for insights. You will need training in other applications and languages if you plan to become a Data Scientist or Data Analyst. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an annual median salary of $103,000 for Data Scientists and Data Analysts, and an expected growth rate of 35 percent for jobs during the next decade. This is much faster than the national average of 5 percent. 

Certifications vs. Certificates: What’s the Difference?

Once you have decided to learn Excel, you will need to choose how to move ahead, and that will depend on your goals. If you are looking for a basic understanding of Excel to organize your own business more efficiently, an introductory certificate course is perfect for this. These classes usually last one or two days, and at the end of class, you will receive a certificate of completion.

If you plan to learn Excel to further your career or explore opportunities in new fields, a more in-depth certification course is the way to go. These courses cover more advanced features and can prepare you for a certification exam. Many courses allow you to retake them for free within one year and give students access to class recordings and training materials. A good reason to sign up for a certification course is to prepare for a certification exam.

Excel is a Microsoft product and the company offers certification exams called Microsoft Office Specialist tests. Passing one of these tests validates your ability to use Excel functions like workbooks and worksheets, data cells, formulas, functions, tables, and graphs. The tests are created and administered by Microsoft.

MOS Certification

MicrosoftCorporation offers three different Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications: Associate, Expert, and Master. You can earn a certification by passing an exam in one or more of Microsoft Office’s core applications: Excel, Access, Outlook, Word, or PowerPoint. There are no prerequisites required to sign up for certification exams. However, test-takers will need to complete a set of tasks using the designated app, and complete these tasks within a one-hour time window. In addition, they must complete the tasks using only a certain number of keyboard clicks. This demonstrates that the person being tested is familiar enough with the application and doesn’t need to spend valuable time scanning menus or toolbars searching for answers. You can choose from three different versions of Excel for certification, including Excel 2016, 2019, and Microsoft Excel for Microsoft 365. The cost for the tests is $100.

MOS Excel Associate Certification

MOS Excel Associate certification in Excel is the first certification level. It is achieved by passing one of the exams, either Excel 2016, Excel 2019, or Microsoft Excel for Microsoft 365. Those who take this test must demonstrate that they are proficient in using core Excel concepts and functions. In addition, they have to show that they understand the Excel environment and can independently complete a range of real-world tasks such as the ones they may encounter in professional settings.

This exam covers Excel concepts such as: 

  • Creating tables and ranges.
  • Managing workbooks and worksheets.
  • Using formulas and functions to create charts.
  • Generating workbooks with multiple sheets, such as financial statements, sales invoices, data-entry logs, budgets, and team performance charts.
  • Using Excel graphics to create visual data representations.
  • Creating objects in Excel.

This certification level is helpful for those whose job involves regularly handling large datasets on spreadsheets, or creating data visualizations depicting trends or patterns within the data.

MOS Excel Expert Certification

MOS Excel Expert Certification indicates to employers that a candidate has an advanced understanding of the Excel platform. In addition to demonstrating that they have the skills required to be an Excel Associate, this certification also signifies that they have a solid enough comprehension of the Excel environment that they can instruct others on how to use both basic and advanced features and functions. 

This Expert-level exam measures the following Excel skills:

  • Creating advanced Excel tables and charts.
  • Applying custom data layouts and formats to worksheets. 
  • Managing various settings and options in workbooks.
  • Generating advanced formulas.

Excel Expert certification is useful for those who work at help desks or train others to use this application. It also is useful for those who work in, or are interested in pursuing, jobs in fields such as accounting, finance, or data analytics, each of which would require knowledge of advanced spreadsheet functions.

MOS Master Certification

In addition to Excel Associate and Excel Expert certification, MOS Master certification is also available for those who wish to demonstrate a mastery of multiple Microsoft Office applications. This is the highest MOS certification level. In order to achieve MOS Master certification, a candidate must first pass the same kind of exam that was required to achieve Associate or Expert certification. However, instead of being certified in just one Microsoft Application, mastery requires passing exams based on four Office apps. This means that a test-taker would need to pass Expert-level exams for Microsoft Excel and Word, as well as the PowerPoint exam. In addition, they would also have to pass one additional exam, such as Access or Outlook. 

Some students choose to first pursue Associate or Expert certification, then later take additional tests to achieve Master-level certification. However, unlike other fields where one must first be an Associate before progressing to an Expert, some learners jump right into the Master certification process from the start.

Benefits of Excel Certification

Beyond passing a test, what can an Excel certification do for you? Although many jobs do not require Excel certification as a prerequisite, achieving Associate, Expert, or Master certification is a great way to demonstrate to employers that you can use this app in real-world scenarios and do so within a time limit. Excel proficiency can help you advance in your current career or switch to a different one.

You do not need an Excel certification to get a job in finance, management, or data analytics, but it has its benefits. Microsoft Office is widely used by government organizations and businesses around the country. The more a candidate knows about Excel, the more they stand out from the applicant pool. Excel certification shows that you are invested in learning and willing to devote the necessary time to studying this app so that you can advance professionally.

Those who are able to pass one or more of the MOS Excel exams have to be up-to-date on the current version of Excel, which is used in many work environments. Many organizations are willing to invest in training employees in Microsoft Office apps. Some will even pay for their employees to be certified in Excel. Those who achieve Excel certification are valuable assets to their organization or company. They have the skills to organize data more effectively, record and run macros using shortcuts, and perform automated calculations that would take hours to complete manually.

How Long Does It Take to Become Excel Certified?

Micorsoft recommends that certification candidates have around 150 hours of combined instruction and hands-on practice with Excel before attempting the MOS Excel Associate certification. You may be able to cut down that time span with a certification course designed to teach Excel in a clear and efficient way. Plus, class assignments provide hands-on experience with Excel and give you the opportunity to get help from seasoned industry professionals. 

You don't have to sign up for a Microsoft Excel certification exam right away. If you have the chance to use Excel in your present job, that will give you more of an opportunity to prepare to take the exam in the future. 

How Difficult Is It to Become Excel Certified?

If you are used to typing on a computer, you can become Excel-certified. Signing up for a certificate or certification course will give you the skills you need to pass the exam and prepare for a job that uses your Excel skills. If you are able to attend and participate in class, finish assignments, and ask for help when you need it, you should be able to demonstrate Excel competency.

Microsoft also offers practice tests through CertPREP to help you prepare for the certification exam. These practice sessions are designed to give you the experience of taking the test and are made up of questions that are in line with actual test questions.

How to Choose an Excel Course

There are many choices when it comes to Excel certificate and certification courses. One thing to choose is the educational environment. You can learn Excel in an in-person, live online, or on-demand class. The in-person class experience is similar to a traditional classroom with students interacting with an instructor in the room. You can use this tool from Noble Desktop to find classes near you

Sometimes there aren't any in-person classes within a convenient distance, however, live online classes run the same way as in-person sessions and often at the same time. The difference is that some students sign in through a video conferencing app like Zoom instead of attending physically. Remote students can interact with colleagues and the instructor. The instructor can even take control of a student's screen–with permission–to give examples and extra help. The beauty of online instruction is that you can attend the course from anywhere.

On-demand courses are also online but they are prerecorded sessions instead of live. You can watch the videos whenever and wherever you like and repeat the session if you need to. One drawback of on-demand courses is that you don't have a live instructor to answer questions, although some programs provide a mentor you can contact. 

Another consideration when choosing a course is cost. Does the tuition price fit your budget? Can you make payment arrangements or are there loans or scholarships available? Does the course schedule work with your other responsibilities, like a job or childcare? Classes are available full or part-time during the week, in the evening, or on the weekends, so it is possible to find a course that works for you.

Top Certifications & Certificates for Excel

Here are some options for Excel certificate and certification courses. Some are available in person, and others live online. Microsoft also offers free on-demand video courses in all of their products.

Noble Desktop offers Excel Level I: Fundamentals, a beginner class covering the basic functions needed to get started with Excel. You don't need any previous Excel experience to take this class. The course covers setting up worksheets, entering data, making calculations, creating graphs, formatting worksheets, and printing or sharing them with colleagues. Class assignments are based on real-world examples to help you practice concepts as you learn them. Students keep their training materials at the end of the class and will have access to Noble's companion videos to help them review. Noble Desktop classes are available in person in New York City and live online everywhere else.

Excel Level II: Intermediate from Noble Desktop builds on Excel Level I. Learn intermediate skills like VLOOKUP and SUMIFs, Pivot Tables, database sorting and filtering, and how to split and join text. Participants need to take Noble's Excel Level 1: Fundamentals course or an equivalent before signing up for Level II. They need to have experience with basic functions, charts, and tables, as well as formatting files and printing. As with Level I, students may keep their class handbook and will have access to companion videos.

If you are looking for more advanced Excel training, Noble Desktop's Excel Level III: Advanced fits the bill. Instruction includes managing worksheets, using advanced analytics tools, and writing macros to increase workflow efficiency. The class also covers the MATCH, VLOOKUP-MATCH, and INDEX-Double MATCH functions for handling large amounts of complex data. Students should take Excel Level II: Intermediate or the equivalent before signing up for Level III.

Students can take all three classes for a 15% discount in Noble Desktop's Excel Bootcamp. The course is designed to take students from beginners to experts in three days. This course includes the three Excel classes: the fundamental, intermediate, and advanced levels. The course starts with the basics like performing calculations, creating graphs, formatting, and printing, and finishes with more advanced features like pivot tables,VLOOKUP, SUMIFs, and advanced database functions like INDEX and MATCH. There are no prerequisites. Students should be familiar with computers but previous Excel experience is not required.

NYIM also offers an Excel for Business Bootcamp designed especially for business professionals. The course begins with data entry, workflow management, and basic functions like copy and paste. Next, students learn more advanced features like pivot tables and VLOOKUP, and then participants learn to work more efficiently using Excel's automation features. Daytime, evening, and weekend classes are available.Students do not need any previous Excel experience to take the course.

NYIM's Excel for Business Fundamentals is a one-day course for beginners in the core functions of Excel. The course covers common calculations, data entry, and multi-input functions. Learn to make charts and tables and to format and print worksheets. This is a good class for business owners who want to work in an office organization. There are no prerequisites, although students should be familiar with computers. You can get a discount if you sign up for NYIM's Excel for Business Bootcamp.

Intermediate Excel for Business from NYIM helps business owners use Excel to organize and streamline regular functions. This course covers worksheet management, working with text, cell and database functions, logic and math functions, pivot tables, and advanced charts. Participants should be familiar with basic Excel usage or take Excel for Business Fundamentals before signing up.

If you are already familiar with the basics of Excel and want to take your skills to the next level, NYIM's Advanced Excel for Business was designed for you. This class covers advanced navigation and cell management techniques, special formatting, plus advanced logic functions, analytical tools, and database functions. Macros and dynamic arrays are also included. You should have a solid knowledge of intermediate-level Excel before taking this class.

Career Centers also offers a Beginner Microsoft Excel course for people who want to learn Excel basics. You will practice setting up a worksheet, performing calculations, adding and modifying text, creating charts and tables, and managing workbooks. You don't need any previous Excel experience to get started with this powerful business tool. Choose between one seven-hour session or two three-hour sessions.

The Intermediate Microsoft Excel class from Career Centers is your next step in learning Excel. This course builds on basic Excel knowledge with more advanced techniques, logic functions, and time-saving tips. Learn to use the VLOOKUP function, create drop-down menus, and sort and filter data. There is a prerequisite for this course. You need basic Excel knowledge or should take a beginner's class before signing up.

Career Centers' Advanced Microsoft Excel course can turn you into an Excel expert in a day. This course is for professionals who use Excel regularly and want to streamline their workflow with advanced techniques like the INDEX-MATCH function, data analysis, and macros. You can save 15 percent when you sign up to take this class as part of Career Centers' Microsoft Excel Bootcamp

Career Centers also offers Microsoft Excel Bootcamp. This three-day intensive course starts with the basics, like learning to perform calculations, create tables, and use hotkey shortcuts, and continues with pivot tables, advanced spreadsheet features, and database functions. On the final day, students learn about automation and macros. Beginners are welcome in this course. Career Centers offers this course in person in New York City of live online.

Prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist exams with the Excel Specialist Certification Program from Career Centers. This course teaches participants important Excel skills and also helps them prepare for the Excel Specialist Certification exam. This 19-hour live online course includes the Fundamentals, Intermediate, and Advanced classes, plus two hours of private training and free exam proctoring. Fees for the exam are included in the tuition and participants may retake the exam for free one time if they need to. Students should be familiar with computers but don't need previous Excel experience. This class is designed to take participants from beginner to expert.

Financial professionals use Excel regularly in their careers. Career Centers' Financial Modeling Bootcamp focuses on Excel's financial modeling features. This is a course for people who want to change to a career as a Financial Analyst and acquire some of the data skills they will need going forward. Some of the Excel functions covered are cash flow projections and shortcuts for financial modeling. The course focuses on the basics of corporate finance and accounting, plus instruction on creating a Discounted Cash Flow Financial Model. Students need an intermediate proficiency in Excel, including familiarity with VLOOKUP, Pivot Tables, and IF statements. This class is offered live online.

Data Analysis and Visualization with Microsoft Excel is another course for financial professionals who want to learn what this powerful program can do for financial applications. The course from New Horizons explores how Microsoft Excel is used with big data to provide business insights and create visualizations. Students learn to pinpoint problems, opportunities, and insights through Excel's data analytics features. This class is available in person in New York City or live online. Students should know how to create Excel workbooks and use basic formulas and functions.

Microsoft offers free on-demand Excel Video Training for anyone interested in learning Excel or improving their skills. This series of sixteen videos includes an introduction, a quick start, and an overall tour, plus individual videos on rows and columns, cells, formatting, formulas and functions, tables, charts, PivotTables, sharing and co-authoring, linked data types, getting know Power Query, and some tutorials. This video course is available for Excel Microsoft 365 or Excel 2013. This is a good way to prepare for the Microsoft Office Specialist Certification Exam.

LinkedIn Learning also offers on-demand Microsoft Excel training. Hundreds of courses are available on numerous topics, including data analytics skills, weekly tips and challenges, learning VBA, and financial modeling. Courses go from tutorials for beginners to advanced classes. LinkedIn Learning offers a one-month free trial to let subscribers sample some classes before making a decision to join.

How to Learn Excel

Master Excel with hands-on training. Excel is the leading spreadsheet application used by over 750 million people worldwide.

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