How Difficult is it to Learn Excel?

Explore the intricacies of learning Excel, including the factors that can make this process challenging and the best resources for mastering this software. Learn about the many uses of Excel, from organizing data to conducting complex statistical analysis, and discover how learning Excel compares to mastering other applications.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Excel is a versatile spreadsheet application that allows users to organize and analyze data, perform advanced calculations, and create graphical representations of data.
  • Excel offers hundreds of features that aid in organizing, managing, analyzing, and visualizing data, such as the ability to perform repeated and advanced calculations, share workbooks in real-time, and create PivotTables for more effective comparisons of data.
  • Learning Excel can be challenging for beginners, but with adequate resources like YouTube channels, online courses, and bootcamps, proficiency in Excel basics can be achieved in a relatively short time.
  • The process of learning Excel is similar to mastering other applications like Google Sheets, with the basics taking just a few hours to learn and more advanced features requiring up to 20 hours of study.
  • Noble Desktop offers a variety of Excel courses, both in-person and live online, for learners of different skill levels. These courses range in duration from three hours to two days and cost between $229 and $1,099.
  • Excel is a valuable skill in many professional fields, used for managing financial transactions, analyzing data for business decisions, and much more, making proficiency in this software a worthwhile investment.

Are you curious about learning Excel but worried that it might be too hard? Of course, the difficulty that comes with learning a new skill is somewhat subjective. The challenges of learning Excel depend on factors such as whether or not you have prior experience working with spreadsheets, if you choose to study on your own or with an online or in-person course, and what your ultimate goals are for learning Excel. No matter your current schedule or comfort level with Excel, plenty of tools are currently available to help make learning easier than you might think.

What is Excel?

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application created by Microsoft in 1985. Excel is a powerful and valuable resource for organizing data and numbers using functions and formulas. It also comes with graphing tools to help visualize data findings, a programming language known as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) used to create macros, and advanced calculation capabilities. Excel works on both Mac and Windows operating systems.

The cells within an Excel spreadsheet each contain data, like formulas, numbers, or text, which can be organized and analyzed. Excel is a useful tool for performing various calculations on spreadsheets. It can calculate statistics, perform repeated and advanced calculations, analyze data, and create graphical representations of the data, such as graphs, charts, and PivotTables.

Read more about what Excel is and why you should learn it.

What Can You Do with Excel?

Excel has hundreds of features and tools that help users organize, manage, analyze, and visualize data. The following are just a few of the tools and features that make Excel the go-to for professionals around the globe:

  • In Excel, users can add or average numbers in cells, locate high, median, or low values, count cells containing numbers, and find a product by multiplying cells. It’s also possible to delete extra white space and truncate numbers by removing fractions.
  • Excel can learn your patterns the more you use it so that it can organize your data and ultimately save time.
  • Users can share workbooks with others in real-time to ensure that all collaborators have the most up-to-date version.
  • It’s possible to work on Excel files from the web and mobile and desktop devices.
  • Users can now add data right into Excel from a photo. The Excel app enables users to take a picture of printed data with their iPhone or Android, then convert this image into an editable Excel table. This helpful trick helps users avoid manually entering hard copy data and is made possible through Excel’s image recognition capabilities.
  • Financial transactions can be imported into Excel so that users can organize and review their financial information and receive helpful insights toward making more informed financial decisions.
  • Excel’s PivotTables help users perform analysis and summaries of datasets, regrouping spreadsheet data for more effective comparisons. By seeing data from different perspectives, it’s possible to get a more comprehensive picture of revenue sources and other vital information.

What Are the Most Challenging Parts of Learning Excel?

Because Excel can be used for basic shopping lists, advanced statistical analysis, and everything in between, learning Excel is an individual process that varies from one person to the next. While some who learn Excel can do so relatively quickly, others may consider it challenging to become familiar with this application. If you are new to working with spreadsheets, or if you don’t have extensive training with data, then don’t expect to become Excel-proficient in just one day; it may take you a bit longer to grow comfortable navigating the interface and learning how to perform tasks. However, you likely will be able to familiarize yourself with core Excel functions in just a few hours.

Those who are familiar with other Microsoft 365 products, such as Word or PowerPoint, may find it easier to learn Excel than those who don’t regularly work with the Microsoft productivity suite. Keep in mind that Excel is a robust platform that encompasses much more than just rudimentary functions. Learning more advanced functions for performing complex analysis likely will take at least 18-20 hours. Some estimate it can even take 40 hours or longer to have a comprehensive understanding of Excel’s advanced capabilities.

The good news is that if you want to become proficient in Excel basics, there are many educational resources currently available to help you learn in a relatively short amount of time, such as YouTube channels, online courses, or bootcamps. Like any other skill, the more time and practice you devote to using Excel, the more you will become accustomed to this software.

How Does Learning Excel Compare to Other Applications/Languages/Fields?

Those interested in studying Excel may wonder how learning this app compares to learning other similar applications. Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program included in the free Google Docs Editors Suite. Google Sheets has many similarities to Excel with regard to features, calculations, and formulas. However, unlike Excel, Google Sheets offers the owner links they can share with other users to grant them permission to read or edit the sheet simultaneously. Excel, on the other hand, only allows one person to edit at any given time. Because both Excel and Google Sheets rely on many of the same formulas and features, they take about the same amount of time to learn: just a few hours for basics and up to 20 hours to master more advanced features.

Most people consider the various core Microsoft applications straightforward and easy to learn. Those who work with one Microsoft application often decide to explore others. For example, it is common for those working with Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to branch out and study Excel. Many Microsoft users consider Word to be the easiest application to use. It’s possible to learn how to create, modify, save, share, or print a Word document in just an hour or so.

On the other hand, learning PowerPoint basics may take about four or five hours. Just like Excel, mastering more complex concepts in either of these apps may require additional training and time. Enrolling in one of Noble Desktop’s live online Office courses is a great way to study one or more of these in-demand applications.

Tips for Learning Excel

If you are looking to become proficient with Excel or to learn intermediate and advanced Excel concepts, the following tips can help you with your learning journey:

  • Don’t rush the learning process. When you begin studying Excel, don’t expect to master all of this app’s features and functions in just one sitting. Instead of taking on too much and growing overwhelmed, start with basic Excel components, such as learning the interface, basic spreadsheet formatting, and some rudimentary equations. After you’ve given yourself time to practice the basics, you will likely be ready to progress to more advanced capabilities like creating PivotTables.
  • Have realistic learning expectations. Just as no two Excel users are the same, no two Excel learners are either. As you begin working with this application, it’s wise to consider your learning goals. For example, some people wish to gain a basic understanding of Excel for personal use. Others may need to have an intermediate understanding for their jobs. Some learners, however, will need to progress beyond the basics into complex statistical analyses and advanced calculations. Whereas someone learning Excel for their own use can take their time and work with basic online tutorials, those who are in a time crunch to master more advanced Excel concepts for work will likely need to tailor their learning process to this end goal. They may wish to utilize online videos or tutorials that are devoted to one function or formula at a time.
  • Learn by doing. It’s one thing to read about Excel and another to actually dig in and begin handling data. Since most spreadsheet users work with real data, you may wish to do the same as you learn. Use Excel to help with a monthly budget or organize a shopping list. The more practice you have with real-world data early on, the easier it will be to handle larger datasets as you build on your skills.
  • There’s no need to learn alone. One of the greatest benefits to learning Excel is that someone you know is likely pretty good at working with this spreadsheet app. Since over half a billion people worldwide currently use Excel, ample learning resources are available to help you along the way. If you struggle with visualizing data or learning macros and online tutorials aren’t enough, consider reaching out to a coworker, instructor, or friend for help.

Learn Excel with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Are you looking to learn how to use Microsoft Excel, the industry-standard spreadsheet application? If so, Noble Desktop currently offers a variety of Excel courses in NYC and live online. Classes are available for those new to Excel and for learners who regularly work with this spreadsheet application and wish to improve their skills. In addition, in-person and live online Excel courses are available through Noble Desktop or one of its affiliate schools. A variety of course options are offered, ranging in duration from three hours to two days and costing between $229 and $1,099.

Noble Desktop’s Excel Bootcamp provides an excellent option for those who want to master core Excel concepts, such as working with PivotTables and What-If Analysis. Students who enroll in this rigorous, 21-hour course can elect to study in person in Manhattan or learn in the live online environment. This small class comes with the option of a free retake and covers a variety of Excel concepts applicable to the business world.

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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