5 Things You Should Know About Microsoft Office Certification

By Robert Half March 9, 2015 at 2:04pm

You may spend the majority of your days at administrative jobs working with Microsoft Office applications. You may even consider yourself a pro. But have you considered making it official by testing for a Microsoft Office certification? It could pay off for your career.

A Microsoft Office certification has its benefits. For one, it helps you fine-tune the tech skills you use every day. You know how sometimes you just happen to stumble on an Excel shortcut that makes your life 10 times easier? Well, studying for a professional certification brings many more of those shortcuts to light. Another benefit of being a certified Microsoft Office Specialist is that it could come in handy if you’re negotiating a pay raise or looking for a new administrative role. According to the OfficeTeam Salary Guide, administrative professionals who've earned a Microsoft Office Specialist certification can earn starting salaries up to 8 percent higher than those who have not. Here's what every admin needs to know before signing up to take the test.

1. Choose your challenge

Microsoft Office is a big universe. If you’re concerned you’ll have to pass a test on every application to receive your Microsoft Office certification, don't panic. You can pick which applications are most likely to propel your career. If Word is your wheelhouse or you want a fresh outlook on Outlook, opt for certification in those, rather than in applications you might never use.

2. Know what to expect

Microsoft Office certification is set up in a virtual test center via Certiport. The details of the exam will vary depending on which application (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) and version of the software you’d like to specialize in, i.e., MOS 2010, MOS 2013 or MOS 2016. Each test takes about 50 minutes and you find out your score immediately after taking the exam. If you pass the test, your official certificate will be mailed to you.

3. Ask about reimbursement

As with most good things in life, this certification isn’t free. (Exam vouchers currently start at $96.) However, you can talk to your boss about footing the bill for your professional certification. Some employers are open to covering the costs of professional development. It never hurts to ask, and they may even be impressed at your dedication to your career.

4. Help yourself and your career

While wanting to push yourself to new heights is certainly commendable, your employer may be more interested in experience over professional certification. Keep in mind that this is your career, and if being a certified Microsoft Office Specialist is something you want on your resume, go for it! If you find yourself on the job hunt one day, having the accreditation could tip the scales in your favor.

5. Be prepared for the test — and your future administrative jobs!

Again, Microsoft Office certification costs money, so don’t forget to prepare. You don’t want to enter your Certiport session thinking your current skills are going to float you through. You want to excel in Excel and power through PowerPoint. Take the time to study the relevant materials in the Microsoft training catalog or sign up for a test preparation course. You’ll be glad you did.

Follow OfficeTeam’s blog for more helpful tips as you consider next steps in your administrative jobs career path.

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This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been updated to include up-to-date information.

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