Microsoft Office Specialist: Job Description, Duties & Requirements

Microsoft Office Specialist certifications are optional credentials that can demonstrate competence in Microsoft Office products. Continue reading for an overview of the requirements for certification, as well as a few career options that might utilize these certifications.

Essential Information

A Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) is a professional who has completed a series of certification exams to demonstrate high proficiency in Microsoft's Office software suite. Individuals who work in positions where Office programs are used frequently, such as administrative assisting or data entry, benefit from MOS certification. Certification examination is available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook. No formal education is required; MOS certification is available at the specialist, expert and master level.

MOS Certification LevelSpecialistExpertMaster
Required ExperienceNone; hands-on experience using the software recommendedNone; at least 1 year of hands-on experience using the software recommendedNone; advanced experience using the software recommended
Examination RequirementsPass 1 product proficiency exam (Access, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook or Word)Pass either the Word or Excel Expert examPass the Word Expert, Excel Expert, and PowerPoint exams plus one additional elective exam

Job Description and Duties

Microsoft Office Specialists, those with MOS certification from Microsoft, typically have a wide variety of job duties. The MOS certification validates a candidate's proficiency in Microsoft software for office productivity, including Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These word processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs are tools used most commonly by those who work in offices.

An administrative assistant or an office administrator, for example, benefits from MOS certification because they may frequently use Office programs to compose written correspondence using word processing and e-mail programs, as well as analyze and present data using spreadsheets. Typists may also use these Microsoft programs frequently, setting-up and preparing business reports, letters, mailing labels and other text. MOS certification demonstrates these workers can complete these tasks in an efficient and timely manner.

Other MOS certification candidates handle quantitative information, like data entry workers who input large amounts of numbers or other data from personal, financial or medical records into Excel spreadsheets. Other data workers prepare or format statistical tables or master copies of complex reports. Other positions that require frequent computer use, such as a customer service representative who keeps track of calls in a spreadsheet or text document, would benefit from MOS certification.

Salary and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports employment outlook and salary data for a variety of careers, including data for administrative assistants and secretaries. This group was expected to see 12% growth in job opportunities from 2012 to 2022. This data isn't specific to those holding MOS designation, however. The BLS also found that secretaries and administrative assistants earned an average salary of $34,000 as of May 2013.

Certification Requirements

Microsoft offers product exams at three different proficiency levels. For entry-level certification, the candidate must pass one product proficiency exam out of the five offered; they are available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook (www.microsoft.com). At the expert level, one year of product experience is recommended and the candidate must pass either the Word Expert exam or the Excel Expert exam. For the comprehensive master level, the candidate must pass the Word Expert, Excel Expert and PowerPoint exams, plus one additional elective exam.

There are no prerequisites to taking the exams. Students may also be eligible to apply their certification for college credits toward a bachelor's or associate's degree at certain colleges.

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