How to Earn a Microsoft Excel Certification (+ Why You Should)

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Discover what the Microsoft Excel certification includes, how it can boost your career, and how to earn a certification.

[Featured Image] A woman studies for her Microsoft Excel certification on her laptop.

What is a Microsoft Excel certification? 

The Microsoft Excel certification is a credential that the software company Microsoft offers to verify professionals’ competency in using its Excel spreadsheets tool for a variety of situations. Excel is one of several tools in the Microsoft 365 stack, along with Word and PowerPoint, and is used to store, organize, and track data sets with formulas and functions. Getting certified demonstrates that you have expert-level capabilities with this tool and are ready for jobs that require Excel expertise.  

The full name for the certification is Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Excel Expert (Excel and Excel 2019). You might also see it referred to as MO-201. To get the certification, you must take the Microsoft Excel Expert (Excel and Excel 2019) exam. This exam is 50 minutes, consists of 25 questions, and covers several areas of Excel usage, including: 

  • Managing workbook options and settings

  • Managing and formatting data

  • Creating advanced formulas and macros

  • Managing advanced charts and tables 

How much does a Microsoft Excel certification cost? 

The Microsoft Excel certification exam costs $100 in the United States. 

Is Microsoft Excel certification worth it?

Getting an Excel certification can benefit your career in several ways. It’s a globally recognized credential that can be advantageous in many fields, including accounting, finance, project management, marketing, technology, and education. As of February 2022, over 800,000 companies in the United States use Excel and other tools in the Microsoft 365 stack [1]. Having this certification can make you a more attractive job candidate, increase your value with your current employer, and even set you up for a salary increase. 

How long does it take to get Excel certified? 

The time it takes to get Excel certified depends, in large part, on how much experience you already have with Excel and the frequency with which you prepare for the exam. According to Microsoft’s description of the Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Excel Expert (Excel and Excel 2019) certification, it’s meant to demonstrate that you have approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on experience with Excel.  

How to get Excel certified 

If you’re ready to get an Excel certification, follow these steps to streamline your process. 

1. Schedule your exam. 

Certiport is Microsoft’s official testing center. Visit Certiport’s webpage to schedule your exam and select your preferred exam location. Be sure to schedule the exam with enough time to prepare. Create an account with Microsoft to access your Certification Dashboard

2. Prepare for the exam. 

While Microsoft does not offer an official practice test for the Excel certification, there are several sources of preparation materials you can access, including: 

  • Microsoft’s Excel certification exam outline of skills measured

  • Microsoft’s “sandbox” to demo the exam experience and get a feel for the kind of questions the exam includes

  • Courses and tutorials by other brands, like iPrep, on how to use Excel and prepare for the exam

3. Take the exam. 

The final step in getting your Microsoft Excel certification is to take the exam. You’ll receive pass or fail results within minutes of completing the exam, along with a breakdown of how you performed in the different skills areas. The Excel exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 1,000. According to Microsoft’s exam documentation, passing scores vary from one exam to the next and will be available on your score report.  

You’ll need to access your certification dashboard to see exam score reports and other information related to your certifications.  

Read more: How To List Certifications on Your Resume: Guide + Examples 

Learn Excel from Coursera  

Taking online courses can be a great way to prepare for the Excel certification exam and build job-ready skills. Explore the Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Specialization, which covers how to use Excel to work with basic formulas and functions, how to analyze and visualize data, and more. 



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Create and maintain professional looking documents, Create and edit a workbook with multiple sheets, Represent data visually, Create and manage presentations, Describe the apps and services available in a Microsoft 365 subscription, Manage document collaboration, Insert and format graphic elements, Manage documents, Manage tables and lists, Insert and format text, Manage worksheets and workbooks, Manage tables and table data, Manage data cells and ranges, Manage charts, Perform operations by using formulas and functions, Manage slides, Apply transitions and animations, Insert elements into a presentation, Manage presentations

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Article sources

1. Statista. “Number of Office 365 company users worldwide as of June 2022, by leading country,” Accessed May 11, 2022.

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