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

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn how to pass the Microsoft Excel Certification Exam and whether it's the right move for your career.

[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 verifies professional competency using the Excel spreadsheets tool. Excel is one of several tools in the Microsoft 365 stack, along with Word and PowerPoint. It is used to store, organize, and track information through database functions and formulas. Successful completion of the Microsoft Excel certification course demonstrates your capability and job readiness for roles requiring Excel expertise. 

Exam content

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 Exam. To earn this certification, you must take the Microsoft Excel Expert (Excel and Excel 2019) exam. This online exam is 50 minutes, consists of 25 questions, and covers the following core Excel competencies:

  • 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?

The Microsoft Excel certification is a globally recognized credential. It can be advantageous in many fields, including accounting, finance, project management, marketing, technology, and education. As of April 2023, over 1 million companies worldwide use Excel and other tools in the Microsoft Office 365 stack [1]. Having this certification not only makes you a more attractive job candidate, but it can demonstrate value to your current employer.

Certifications are an excellent way to equip yourself with the professional skills you need to negotiate a salary increase. For example, mastering Excel can help you create sophisticated reports and support data-driven decision-making. If you want to improve your core data analysis capabilities, learning how to use Excel's more advanced features can be highly beneficial. 

How long does it take to get Excel certified? 

The time it takes to get Excel certified depends on how much experience you already have with Excel and how much you prepare for the exam. According to Microsoft’s description of the certification, it’s meant to verify that you have approximately 150 hours of instruction and hands-on experience with Excel.

How to pass Microsoft Excel Certification test

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, and where you'll need to buy an exam voucher. 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 official practice exams for the Excel certification, there are several alternative preparation materials you can access, including:

  • Microsoft’s “sandbox,” a demo that can help you get a feel for the exam format and the kind of questions the exam will include

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 

Practice for the Microsoft Excel Certification with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to prepare for the Excel certification exam and build job-ready skills. For example, you can learn business analysis in addition to building Excel expertise with the Excel Skills for Business Specialization from Macquarie University. Or, brush up on your data analytics skills with Excel Basics for Data Analysis, an online course offered by IBM. Each of these options will provide you with a certification to add to your resume, meaning you'll be earning a certificate while practicing to earn your Microsoft certification! 

Article sources

  1. Statista. “Number of Office 365 company users worldwide as of June 2022, by leading country,” Accessed June 2, 2023.

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.