Excel Prerequisites

Learn how to master Microsoft Excel, the globally-used spreadsheet application, and advance your career prospects. Dive into Excel's functionalities, prerequisites for learning the software, and how long it takes to become proficient in it.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Excel is widely used globally, assisting users to organize, analyze, and visualize immense data amounts.
  • Excel can be challenging to grasp initially, especially for those without prior experience with spreadsheets or data handling. However, with consistent practice and usage, proficiency can be attained.
  • It typically takes around 18-20 hours to thoroughly learn Excel's functionalities, although basic features can be understood in just a few hours.
  • Having a foundational knowledge in basic algebra, familiarity with Microsoft 365 suite, or experience with programming languages can speed up the Excel learning process.
  • Noble Desktop offers various Excel courses in NYC and live online, with durations ranging from three hours to two days and prices between $229 and $1,099.
  • A proficiency in Excel can open up new professional opportunities across multiple sectors and potentially lead to higher salaries.

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet application designed to help users organize, analyze, and visualize vast amounts of data. Those with Excel training are an asset to their employer because they can quickly perform calculations on the spreadsheet data to extract insights that help their organization operate more efficiently. This article will explore how difficult it is to become proficient with Excel and some prerequisites for learning this application that can help expedite the process.

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.

Is Excel Easy to Learn?

Currently, an estimated one in eight people worldwide uses Microsoft Excel. Those with office jobs spend approximately one-third of their time working with Excel. However, despite Excel's prevalence in the professional sector, most office workers have not been formally trained to use this software.

Learning Microsoft Excel can be challenging, especially for those who don’t have prior experience working with spreadsheets or a background working with data. However, if you are interested in learning the basics of this app, a variety of educational resources are available that can help you master some of Excel’s core functions and features in a relatively short time. Like any other learned skill, the more you work with Excel, the more familiar you likely will become with its capabilities. With time and practice, you also will be able to master this app’s more advanced functionality.

Excel is the most widely used spreadsheet application on the planet. Knowing how to use this app opens professional doors and can lead to a higher salary. Because Excel skills are transferable, they have applications in multiple sectors. The more you know about Excel, the more marketable you will be.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Excel?

For those new to Excel, it likely won’t be possible to learn all of this application’s features in one day. However, you may be able to gain an understanding of the interface, as well as Excel’s essential functions, in just a few hours. Because Excel is a robust application with an array of functions, it can take 18-20 hours, if not longer, to thoroughly learn how to use this spreadsheet software. Enrolling in an online course or Excel bootcamp can expedite this learning process. There are also many free online Excel tutorials and resources that can help improve spreadsheet proficiency.

One of the keys to learning Excel is to break up the learning process so it’s not overwhelming. Instead of trying to master every feature, function, and shortcut, learn the basics one at a time before moving on to other spreadsheet skills. The more you can practice with real-world data and calculations, the more likely you’ll be to retain the skills and build on them.

The following are some tips that can make it easier to learn Microsoft Excel:

  • Consider your goals in learning Excel. While this may seem straightforward, it’s a good idea to articulate your reasons for learning Excel and your goals before you begin studying this app. For example, if you’re looking for an overall understanding of the interface and the basic functions, you’ll take a slower, more detailed approach to study all aspects of this application. In contrast, if you already have some spreadsheet knowledge and want to learn specific advanced data calculations to meet a deadline, searching for online tutorials on those features would be the most efficient learning option.
  • Become familiar with Excel shortcuts. One of Excel’s most useful features is its variety of keyboard shortcuts. These allow users to quickly create tables or perform analysis and mathematical calculations with just a few keyboard clicks. Eventually, you will need to learn these shortcuts, so it’s a good idea to try to learn them from the start, saving you many hours down the road.
  • Practice using the application. When learning Excel, watching tutorials and enrolling in Excel-specific coursework is not enough. You must also work with real-world examples relevant to the industry where you are employed. The more applications you can find for the rules and shortcuts you learn, the more likely you will remember them.

What to Know Before Learning Excel

If you are looking to learn Excel, you may consider acquiring a few related skills as prerequisites to speed up the learning process.

Programming Languages

While formal coding knowledge isn’t required to master Excel, it does use a Microsoft-specific language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). VBA provides a way for Excel users to create macros for making graphs, reports, and custom forms and quickly perform repetitive actions. VBA is considered one of the most complicated concepts to master in Excel. If you have experience working with programming languages, such as Java or Python, it may be easier to learn VBA to create or run macros in Excel.

Microsoft 365

Excel is part of the Microsoft 365 suite of professional applications. Many Office apps are used together to provide increased productivity and streamline workflow. For example, when working on a collaborative project, it’s possible to co-edit files and share them via Office applications like PowerPoint, Excel, and Word.

Basic Algebra

It’s essential to have a foundation in basic, middle-school-level math to work with Excel. For example, a background in basic algebra is a huge asset to learning Excel. Brushing up on algebraic concepts can make it easier to understand various Excel functions. In addition, the logical mindset needed to study algebra has direct applications for learning advanced Excel in that it can help you break down complex formulas to understand each component better.

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.

Key Insights

  • Microsoft Excel is the most-used spreadsheet application around the globe, with an estimated one in eight people using this app.
  • Although most Excel users consider learning Excel a reasonably easy, straightforward process, it can be challenging to become familiar with the app’s interface and grow accustomed to its various functions and features, especially for those new to working with spreadsheets or handling data.
  • While it’s possible for most people to learn to use Excel’s basic features in just a few hours, it can take 18-20 hours to become fully proficient with this spreadsheet application.
  • If you want to learn Excel but worry you may not be fully prepared, you might consider familiarizing yourself with some prerequisites to make the learning path easier. You may opt to review basic algebraic concepts, familiarize yourself with the other apps in the Microsoft 365 suite, or even learn a programming language to prepare yourself to work with VBA.

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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