I Type Fast and Can Create A Fancy PowerPoint Presentation. Should I get a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification?

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  • January 24, 2014
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Do you remember thinking this way after a long day at work? And the next query is – can you/should you really go for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification? Let’s take a closer look, since, as you probably know, this certification requires knowledge somewhat deeper than typing in Microsoft Word.

Let’s look at the basics first. The Microsoft Office Specialist certification is fundamentally different from other IT certification. While candidates and holders of other IT certifications work in the IT industry, MS Office certification holders often work outside the computer field, and ‘being a Microsoft expert’ in not a key point in their job description. They may be performing a wide variety of jobs, working as administrative assistants, as office managers, and in many other positions that require day-to-day Microsoft Office problem-solving skills. Taking their knowledge and skills to a more professional level with the official Microsoft certifications helps employees and their teams meet deadlines, impress managers and boost their performance with projects of various scale. Office Specialists are interested in improving their skills and increasing their opportunities, knowing that this certification by itself isn’t likely to land them a new job. Yet, it’s just another tool to stand out from the crowd.

So where do I start?

After you’ve decided to pursue certification, you have to determine whether you want to take all of the exams or pick and choose among them.

Currently users can receive designation as Microsoft Office Specialists in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, and Project. For those who really want to demonstrate their skills, exams are available at expert levels for Word and Excel.

Unless you plan to train other users or you have a job in technical support, you probably don’t need to take all of the available exams. On the other hand, if you want to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge, you can become a Master Specialist by taking four of the five exams (three are required, and one is elective). Once again, think back to your long-term career goals to settle on what’s right for you.

What is the Expert Specialist Designation?

It’s possible to receive designation as a Specialist in each of the six programs mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Because Word and Excel are the most popular of the six and have the most widespread application, you can also take separate exams to receive an Expert certification in either of the two programs.

Microsoft expects that an Office Specialist is able to complete the everyday Microsoft Office tasks that arise in a typical office setting. For example, a Word Specialist should be able to format text and paragraphs, create tables and columns, manage files, and work with pictures and charts. An Excel Specialist should be able to format cells and worksheets, enter formulas and basic functions, work with multiple worksheets, create charts, and insert objects.

In order to become an Expert Specialist, you are expected to be able to create more complex documents. A Word Expert should be able to conduct mail merges to create personalized form letters with envelopes and mailing labels, work with master and subdocuments, add references, and use collaboration features. An Excel Expert should be able to use templates, work with multiple workbooks, create macros, use analysis tools, and use collaboration features.

Taking your exams

Exams are 100% hands-on. You will be expected to apply your knowledge of a Microsoft Office program to real-world tasks. You will complete specific tasks during the exam, such as formatting a document in a specific way, creating a formula, or sorting a list. The exams must be completed within the designated time frame; time frames differ by exam, but all are under an hour.

This is not a paper-and-pencil test. You will be working with a live or simulated version of the Office program you are testing for. You can use all of the usual menu and toolbar commands; however, shortcut keys, such as CTRL+X, and the Help feature, are not available.

To prepare for your exams, start with evaluating exam goals and topics on the Microsoft website, and take a look at the VCE files your peers have shared at Examcollection!

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