How Long Does it Take to Learn VBA?

Are you interested in becoming an Excel VBA Developer? Learning VBA can be relatively straightforward and may open up new opportunities, enhance your efficiency, and increase your value in various career paths.

Key Insights

  • VBA, Visual Basic for Applications, is a programming language used within Microsoft Office apps, including Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. It allows users to create custom macros to execute various computing tasks.
  • Mastering basic VBA skills can take individuals a few weeks of regular study. However, learning advanced VBA skills, such as creating complex macros, can take several months of lessons, practice, and coursework.
  • The speed of learning VBA can be influenced by your familiarity with Microsoft Excel, prior programming experience, and the time you can dedicate to study.
  • Noble Desktop offers hands-on VBA training courses, both in-person and live online, to help learners master fundamental and advanced VBA concepts.
  • VBA is an invaluable tool for automating repetitive tasks in Microsoft Office, adding functionality to apps, and customizing user interactions with documents.
  • Learning VBA does not require additional software purchase as it's included with Microsoft Office. Therefore, it's a cost-effective skill to acquire for enhancing productivity and value in the workplace.

Like many aspiringExcel VBA Developers, you might want to learn VBA but worry that it will take too much time. Although learning VBA requires time and perseverance, this flexible language is relatively easy to learn due to its straightforward syntax. Most individuals can master VBA basics in as little as a few weeks with regular study. Of course, this timeframe depends on several factors. Keep reading to learn about how you can learn VBA and some resources to help speed the process along.

What is VBA?

VBA, which is short for Visual Basic for Applications, is the standard programming language Microsoft created to be used in several Office programs, such as Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. VBA provides Microsoft users additional customizable features beyond those typically included in Office apps. Although VBA isn’t a stand-alone program, it can alter various graphical-user-interface features, including menus, dialogue boxes, and toolbars. Additionally, VBA has applications for automating different computer calculations and processes, accessing Windows APIs, and designing user-defined functions.

Because VBA is an event-driven tool, it can tell the user’s computer to execute one or more actions. To do so, you create custom macros (which is short for macroinstructions) by entering commands into a module devoted to editing. Macros are comprised of various characters whose input causes an output (an additional series of characters) that is capable of accomplishing different computing tasks. When using a Microsoft app, VBA allows users to perform various functions that extend beyond word processing or spreadsheet management. By using macros, Microsoft users can make repetitive tasks easier to accomplish. There’s no need to purchase VBA software separately since it’s included with Microsoft Office.

Read more about what VBA is and why you should learn it

What Can You Do with VBA?

VBA, or Visual Basic for Applications, is Microsoft’s internal programming language for apps like PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. This versatile language allows users to further customize Office applications beyond the options typically available using host apps. VBA functions by manipulating features of the graphical user interface, like dialogue boxes, menus, and toolbars. It also has applications for creating user-defined functions and automating computer calculations and processes. 

Because it is an event-driven tool, you can use VBA to instruct the computer to perform one or multiple actions. By entering commands into an editing module, Office users can create custom macros or sets of characters that, when entered, result in a new output that can perform specific computing tasks. A few examples of repetitive tasks VBA can automate are data cleaning and formatting, capitalizing text, creating a table of contents, merging multiple worksheets, and solving complex calculations.

One of the main benefits of working with VBA is that almost all operations that users can perform in Microsoft Office with a dialogue box, keyboard, or mouse can also be accomplished using VBA. And, when something is done with VBA once, you can execute it just as efficiently hundreds of times. In addition to using VBA to perform everyday tasks faster, it also has applications for adding functionality to different Office apps, as well as interacting with those who use your documents in a manner that’s specific to your professional needs. Those working with VBA can write code to accomplish tasks like displaying a pop-up message reminding users to save their work to a specific network drive.

Average Time it Takes to Learn VBA

The time it takes for most learners to gain a solid understanding of VBA falls somewhere within the range of one to eight weeks. While this number depends on many factors, most learners who devote several solid weeks to working with VBA will be able to write basic code. Those interested in studying more advanced VBA skills, such as creating complex macros, will likely need to devote more time to learning this skill, which can require several months of guided lessons, real-world practice, and relevant coursework. For learners who do not have a background working with computer programming, it can take upwards of a year or longer to master VBA in its entirety.

Other Factors

Because more data is being created each day than ever before, there is a growing need for skilled data professionals to organize and manage this information so that organizations can use the insights it contains. The speed at which you learn VBA will likely depend on several key factors:

Familiarity with Microsoft Excel

Microsoft designed VBA to be the programming language used in its Office apps. Therefore, the more familiar you are working in the Microsoft environment, the easier it will be to use VBA for automation and other time-saving tasks. Because those who work with Excel often learn VBA to help with repetitive tasks, prior knowledge of Excel is an essential prerequisite to using VBA. 

Part of the Office suite of software, Excel is used to create spreadsheets that store data in rows and columns. Since its launch in 1985, Excel has become one of the most widely used software programs available to business professionals. If you already use Excel regularly at work for data management, it will be easier and likely faster to learn how to use VBA when working in this app.

Programming Experience

Computer programming is the process of executing a specific computation that is typically carried out by creating an executable computer program. This field often involves creating algorithms, performing analysis, testing the algorithms, and then implementing the algorithms that are most suited for the task at hand. If you have prior experience working with programming languages such as SQL or Python, it may speed up the rate you learn VBA. 

Python is commonly used to design applications and websites, as well as to automate actions and perform data analysis. Whereas VBA is only applicable in the Microsoft Office environment, Python can run on any operating system and has capabilities for executing a range of tasks. The more knowledge you have of programming going into VBA study, the easier you may find it to learn core coding concepts.

Time Commitment

For those looking to learn VBA quickly for their current job, or to switch professions, a solid week of study can help you get up-to-speed on fundamental VBA programming concepts and functions. However, not all learners can study VBA full-time due to professional and personal commitments. Some individuals instead opt to space out their VBA study over weeks or even months. While there’s no one “right” way to learn VBA, the more time you work with this language, the more familiar you will be with it.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

VBA is a coding language that’s relied on by millions of people around the globe for automating various tasks in Microsoft Office. This language is considered to be one of the easiest coding languages to learn for those who don’t have a background in computer science. It’s likely that if you have experience working with Microsoft products such as Excel, you already have a basic knowledge of VBA, perhaps without even realizing it. One of the best parts about learning VBA is that you don’t have to master its syntax but need only to understand the logic behind the macros you create. With the help of Excel’s Macro Recorder, it’s possible to record actions with the keyboard or mouse, save them, then run a macro to perform this action as often as needed. 

Some skills can expedite the learning process if you’re interested in studying VBA. Those with a background with basic analytical skills often acquire VBA faster than those who don’t have prior experience working with analytics. Familiarity with coding or object-oriented programming can also make learning VBA faster and easier. In addition, basic familiarity with Microsoft 365 products, such as Excel, is a benefit when studying VBA since most people who learn this language use it for Excel-related tasks.

Because all Microsoft products share a common programming language that comes with the application, purchasing Office 365 products will include VBA for no additional cost. Microsoft Office 2021 Home and Business is available as a one-time purchase for $250. Microsoft 365 Apps for Business costs $8.25/user/month, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard is offered for $12.50/user/month.

Read about how difficult it is to learn VBA

Watch a Free VBA Online Course

If you’re looking for an overview of VBA but aren’t ready to commit to regularly scheduled meetings, you can start learning more about Excel and VBA for free online. In Noble Desktop’s Top 10 Beginner Excel Tricks You Need to Know webinar, participants receive an hour of instruction on fundamental Excel skills, such as autofill, absolute cell reference, data validation, and Excel shortcuts. This pre-recorded webinar provides a beginner-friendly overview of this industry-standard spreadsheet app and is a great first step toward learning more about Excel. 

Other top educational providers also offer free instruction on VBA and Excel. Coursera’s Excel/VBA for Creative Problem Solving Specialization is a set of three classes that provide learners with specialized instruction on VBA and other Excel topics. This beginner-friendly specialization teaches participants how to solve creative problems using VBA and create professional VBA projects to demonstrate VBA skills. In addition, LinkedIn Learning currently offers Excel: Macros and VBA for Beginners, a 40-minute lecture on how to use VBA and create macros for cutting down on the time needed to complete repetitive Excel tasks.

Read more about free VBA videos and online tutorials

Learn VBA with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

A great way to learn about VBA is to sign up for in-person or live online VBA coursework. Noble Desktop’s Excel Programming with VBA Bootcamp is a hands-on course that teaches students fundamental VBA concepts, such as applying macros to real-world situations and performing Excel automation for repetitive tasks. This class is offered in the live online format and in-person in Manhattan. Although prior VBA knowledge isn’t necessary to take this course, participants should have intermediate Excel skills, such as familiarity with VLOOKUP, IF statements, and PivotTables. All participants have the option of a free class retake to brush up on course material. 

If you’re looking to learn more about how VBA is used in Excel, Noble also offers several live online and in-person Excel courses. Excel Programming with VBA teaches students how to create macros that automate Excel tasks, even ones in which the data isn’t consistently formatted. For beginners, Excel Level I: Fundamentals is also available, which covers essential Excel functions, formatting, and printing procedures. Excel Level II: Intermediate provides students with instruction on core Excel concepts, like summarizing data using PivotTables, functions such as VLOOKUP and SUMIFs, and performing Sort & Filter on databases. In addition, Excel Level III: Advanced is geared toward those with a solid background in using Excel but who want to learn complex database functions such as INDEX and MATCH, creating macros, and using What-If Analysis.

Key Insights

  • VBA is the programming language included in Microsoft Office applications such as Access and Excel. It allows users to execute one or more actions by creating macros that can accomplish different computing tasks.
  • The average learner can have a solid understanding of VBA in as little as one week of rigorous study. However, it can take several months to master more complex automation tasks with VBA.
  • Many factors contribute to the speed at which you learn VBA, such as your prior programming experience, your familiarity with Microsoft Office apps like Excel, and the amount of time you can commit to studying.
  • For those who want to learn more about VBA, comprehensive training is available through in-person and live online classes offered by Noble Desktop. 
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