Microsoft Office Certification: Benefits + How to Get Started

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Explore three levels of Microsoft Office Certification—specialist, expert, master—along with the benefits of and steps to getting certified.

[Featured image] A person with red hair and glasses works on their Microsoft Office certification.

Microsoft Office certification overview 

The Microsoft Office Specialist certification is a credential that demonstrates your knowledge and skills in the Office apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. You can get certified at three levels of expertise: Associate, Expert, and Master. 

In the table below, we’ve organized the Microsoft Office certifications by level and requirements, so that you can explore the options available to you: 

Certification level You must pass

Microsoft Office Associate

Three of these four exams:

Word
Excel
PowerPoint
Outlook

Microsoft Office Expert

Three associate exams plus two of three Expert exams:

Word Expert
Excel Expert
Access Expert

Microsoft Office Master

Three required exams:

Word 2016 Expert: Creating Documents for Effective Communication

Excel 2016 Expert: Interpreting Data for Insights

PowerPoint 2016: Core Presentation Design and Delivery Skills

One of two elective exams:

Access 2016: Core Database Management, Manipulation, and Query Skills

Outlook 2016: Core Communication, Collaboration, and Email Skills

Skills measured on each Microsoft Office exam: 

  • MO-100 Microsoft Word: manage documents; insert and format text, paragraphs, and sections; manage tables and lists; create and manage references; insert and format graphic elements, manage document collaboration 

  • MO-101 Microsoft Word Expert: manage document options and settings; use advanced editing and formatting features; create custom document elements; use advanced Word features 

  • MO-200 Microsoft Excel: manage worksheets and workbooks; manage data cells and ranges; manage tables and table data; perform operations by using formulas and functions; manage charts 

  • MO-201 Microsoft Excel Expert: manage workbook options and settings; manage and format data; create advanced formulas and macros; manage advanced charts and tables 

  • MO-300 Microsoft PowerPoint: manage presentations; manage slides; insert and format texts, shapes, and images; insert tables, charts, SmartArt, 3D models, and media; apply transitions and animations

  • MO-400 Microsoft Outlook: manage Outlook settings and processes; manage messages; manage schedules; manage contacts and tasks

  • MO-500 Microsoft Access Expert: manage databases; create and modify tables; create and modify queries; modify forms in layout view; modify reports in layout view 

  • 77-726 Word 2016 Expert (Creating Documents for Effective Communication): manage document options and settings; design advanced documents; create advanced references; create custom Word elements  

  • 77-728 Excel 2016 Expert (Interpreting Data for Insights): manage workbook options and settings; apply custom data formats and layouts; create advanced formulas; create advanced charts and tables 

  • 77-729 PowerPoint 2016 (Core Presentation Design and Delivery Skills): create and manage presentations; insert and format text, shapes, and images; insert tables, charts, SmartArt, and media; apply transitions and animations; manage multiple presentations 

  • 77-730 Access 2016 (Core Database Management, Manipulation, and Query Skills): create and manage a database; build tables; create queries; create forms; create reports 

  • 77-731 Outlook 2016 (Core Communication, Collaboration, and Email Skills): manage the Outlook environment for productivity; manage messages; manage schedules; manage contacts and groups  

Each individual exam costs $100 in the United States. 

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Benefits of getting Microsoft Office certified 

If you’re thinking about getting Microsoft Office certified, you may be wondering how a credential can benefit your career. Here’s a list of benefits to consider as you weigh your career options. 

1. Employers around the world recognize Microsoft credentials. 

Because of their global recognition, Microsoft Office certifications can make it easier to get hired, advance into a more senior position within your company, launch a career, or switch a career. 

To give you an idea of the demand for Microsoft Office-trained professionals, we conducted a search on Glassdoor for “Microsoft Office specialist jobs” in the US. As of October 2022, the results yielded over 63,000 job listings in which employers prefer candidates with Microsoft Office credentials or experience [1]. Jobs spanned industries like insurance, banking and finance, marketing, health care and medicine, and talent solutions. Job titles include Office 365 Support Specialist, Human Resources Specialist, Accounts Payable Specialist, and Sales Compensation Specialist. 

2. Certifications correspond to industry-defined roles. 

By preparing for and passing a certifying exam, you will be learning software skills to solve many of today’s real-world business challenges. Nigel Frank’s 2022 Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft Business Applications Edition shows that of the 1,000 Microsoft Business Applications professionals surveyed, 30 percent experience “improved and increased industry knowledge,” 38 percent experience “increased efficiency” at their jobs,” and 21 percent reported the “ability to perform complex tasks more confidently” [2]. 

3. Maintaining your certification keeps your skills current. 

Microsoft Office certifications are periodically updated to reflect businesses’ evolving needs. To maintain your certification, you’ll be learning the latest technology skills employers are looking for and demonstrating your commitment to career development. The Microsoft Business Applications Guide shows that 26 percent of survey participants reported “more trust” from employers, and 20 percent reported “transferable industry skills” [2].

4. You could command a higher salary.

According to the Microsoft Business Applications Guide, 68 percent of survey participants said their salaries increased when changing jobs with Microsoft credentials as a factor [2]. 

Payscale reports that the average Microsoft Office Specialist salary in the US is $57,000. Among the Microsoft Office Specialist jobs that Payscale lists with average salaries above $57,000 are: Senior Marketing Data Analyst ($100,000) and Sharepoint Administrator ($78,907) [3]. 

How to get MOS certified 

If you’re ready to earn your Microsoft Office Specialist certification, follow the steps below to streamline your process: 

1. Select the level of certification you need.

Start by reflecting on your career goals, including the roles you’d like to perform and the Microsoft skills and credentials employers require. Refer to the table above, as well as Microsoft’s Certification dashboard, to select a certification level, including the required exams.  

2. Schedule your exam. 

To register for and schedule an exam, visit the Certiport Authorized Testing Center Locator. Be sure to schedule your exam far enough in advance to allow time to train. In addition, create an account with Microsoft to access your Certification Dashboard

3. Prepare for the exam. 

Once you schedule an exam, your next step is to prepare: 

  • Download and read the exam skills outline. 

  • Demo the exam experience through the sandbox.

  • Browse Microsoft’s training hub or other organizations for courses you can take to learn Microsoft Office apps. 

For a glimpse at getting started with Office apps, watch this video from Coursera’s Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Specialization:

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Step-by-step guide on installing and setting up Office apps

4. Take the exam. 

Taking and passing the exam is the final step in getting certified in one of the skill areas. Access your Certification Dashboard to view score reports and other exam information. 

5. Maintain your certification. 

A common question for people interested in Office credentials is: How long do Microsoft Office certifications last? Associate, Expert, and Specialty certifications expire after one year. You can renew them for free as early as six months before they expire, by:

Learn Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with Coursera

Taking online courses can be a great way to learn Microsoft skills, explore career options, and prepare for a certifying exam. Check out the Microsoft 365 Fundamentals Specialization to build word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation skills.  

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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

Article sources

1

Glassdoor. “Microsoft Office Specialist Jobs, https://www.glassdoor.com/Job/microsoft-office-specialist-jobs-SRCH_KO0,27.htm." Accessed October 10, 2022.

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