Certify Your Skills: How to Get Certified in Excel

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Excel is one of the most essential workplace skills across industries globally. Organizations rely extensively on Excel not just for basic spreadsheets, but also for advanced data analysis, visualization, and reporting. 

Being certified in Excel expertise can make your resume stand out significantly. This definitive guide has everything you need to know to get certified in Excel skills and set yourself up for career success.

Determine Which Excel Skills Certification Is the Best Fit

There are a few major industry Excel certifications from Microsoft and other providers to choose from. Consider your current skill level, experience with Excel features, and career aspirations or requirements to decide which certification exam aligns best.

Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) in Excel for Entry Level

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential focuses on foundational proficiencies in cells, formulas, tables, charts, simple data analysis, and other core Excel tasks. It verifies skills for roles not heavily analytics-focused. 

The exam includes multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and performance-based questions on Excel functionality. The MOS Excel certification is a great option for those newer to Excel or aiming to validate fundamental abilities on their resume. The typical exam cost is $100.

Microsoft Certified Associate (MCA) in Excel for Intermediate

A step above the MOS, the Microsoft Certified Associate (MCA) in Excel validates skills in more complex areas like data modeling, visualization, dashboards, what-if analysis, importing external data, and simple VBA macros.

It may require 1-2 years of Excel work experience to pass the MCA exam testing advanced proficiencies like Power Pivot, Power Query, DAX formulas, data protection, and more. The MCA provides deeper analytics, augmentation, and automation skills for data-focused roles. Exam pricing is around $150.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) for Advanced Excel Analytics

At the highest Excel certification level, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in Data Management and analytics verifies ability across broad BI solution design including data warehouse design, interactive reporting, predictive modeling, large dataset analysis, Master Data Services implementation, machine learning model evaluation, and more.

Several years of experience in Excel plus related platforms like Access, Power BI, SQL Server, Azure Data Lake, etc. is recommended before attempting the rigorous MCSE performance-based questions. It is ideal for senior data professionals managing complex analytics infrastructure and processes. Expect costs of $300 for the certification exam.

Leverage Prep Materials and Courses for Excel Exam Readiness

While all experience levels can benefit from an Excel certification, it’s unrealistic to expect to pass without diligent, methodical preparation. Using structured learning materials or classes helps ensure you master the extensive skills required across Microsoft’s testing domains and question formats.

Choose Focused Self-Paced Online Excel Training

Well-developed e-learning programs available on platforms like Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, Skillshare, edX, Coursera, and more allow self-driven candidates to prepare at their own pace. With quality content covering concepts, features, use cases, troubleshooting, and more, you can tailor your learning path based on existing knowledge and improvement areas.

Enroll in an In-Person Instructor-Led Excel Exam Prep Course

Some adult continuing education providers, community colleges, workforce development centers, or exam prep companies offer multi-session in-person courses explicitly focused on certification exam training. 

Learning tips, frameworks, example questions, and more from a live Excel expert teacher can take preparation to the next level for some.

Use Official Microsoft Practice Tests and Sample Questions

Microsoft publishes some free online sample questions and paid simulated practice exams through its Microsoft Learn platform. 

Mimicking real tests across all topics, these are invaluable to build comfort with Excel certification question styles and difficulty. Repeat them regularly as the exam date nears.

Create Study Groups for Peer Excel Skill Development

Connecting with colleagues or fellow certification candidates to review, quiz each other on formulas, discuss use cases and trade exam tips accelerate readiness through shared accountability. Try assembling an online or in-person study group.

Submit Exam Registration and Choose Test Date/Location

With your targeted Excel certification selected and exam preparation resources in place, the next step is to officially register and schedule your testing appointment.

Register on the Microsoft Learning Site

All Microsoft credential exams must be registered for on the Microsoft Learning site with a login account, selection of certification, payment, and application submission. Once approved after providing the required background details, you can then arrange the testing time and place.

Schedule at Certiport Authorized Testing Center

Microsoft partners with Certiport for exam delivery at authorized centers worldwide. Location options include Certiport testing centers, academic institutions, and commercial test sites like Pearson VUE. Centers have workstations, exam proctors, verification processes, and policies to ensure fair, standardized administrations.

Global Testing Options

With thousands of sites across over 100 countries, scheduling a conveniently located exam appointment fitting your timeline is readily achievable in most regions, though not all offer every certification test or have everyday availability.

Exam Duration Varies by Difficulty Tier

While the MOS exam lasts only 50 minutes with 35 questions, the advanced MCSE assessment is a grueling 180-minute marathon covering over 60 complex performance-based tasks. The MCA falls around 100 minutes with 50 intermediate questions.

Exam Cost Incentives for Students/Teachers

Certain Excel certification exams provide discounted pricing for currently enrolled students and teachers/educators with valid credentials. This aims to improve access and growth of critical data skills.

Pass the Exam to Become Microsoft Certified

With your Excel abilities analyzed across the rigorous certification testing standards, concentrate intently once the exam begins to think critically through questions and demonstrate capabilities to the best degree possible.

Exam Scoring Methodology

While passing thresholds vary slightly between credential tiers, Excel certification exams generally need around 700 points out of 1000 total to pass, relying on precise psychometrically derived scoring rubrics.

Score Reporting Timeline

Excel certification exam results are provided immediately upon completion at the test center, including section-level performance breakdowns and overall pass/fail status. This enables swift remediation if needed to retry.

Certification Validity and Renew timing

Passing an Excel exam gets your Microsoft certification digitally added to your account. Entry certifications expire after 1 year typically while expert credentials may last 2-3 years. Renewal requires retesting.

Unlock Benefits of Excel Credential

With new certification proof, update resumes and profiles, apply to more specialized roles, seek promotions, higher pay at review time, and generally advance your analytics career leveraging fresh Excel specialization credentials.

Maintain Skills Post-Certification Through Deliberate Practice 

Achieving Excel certification represents tremendous skill validation. But ongoing learning is crucial as this dynamic platform rapidly evolves across devices, integrations, automation, and more.

Learn Emerging Excel Features Proactively

Consume educational materials detailing newer tools, templates, augmented intelligence capabilities, and more launching within Office 365 Excel continually. Early adoption expertise further boosts value.

Attend Post-Exam Excel Conferences and Events

Industry conferences like Excel World frequently offer discounted passes for certification holders. Valuable live sessions led by Microsoft experts and partners provide exposure to cutting-edge functionality.

Retry Updated Exam Versions When Renewing

Before the Excel certification renewal deadline, use updated practice tests and training content mapped to refreshed exam versions covering additional capabilities, integrations, and use cases.

Pursue Cross-Skilling in Complementary Platforms

Excel connects broadly across Microsoft’s Power Platform plus Azure data, analytics, and AI services. Gaining aligned Power BI, Power Apps, Data Analytics, and Dynamics 365 skills multiplies options.

In Summary

Obtaining a formal Excel certification delivers a major resume boost, validating the specialized skills that organizations desire. But the journey requires thoughtful prep using a quality curriculum. Upon passing, one exam proves current skills, but sustaining lifetime excellence demands continual self-driven development across Microsoft’s evolving Excel platform. Whether aiming for a first credential or an expert tier, embrace the comprehensive roadmap to meaningful, marketable Excel certification presented here.

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