Become Certified in Microsoft Office: Options and Requirements

In less than 90 minutes each, a candidate may take a computerized exam to earn one of the three levels of certification in Microsoft Office. The three levels are Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), MOS Expert, and MOS Master.

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Essential Information

Certification in Microsoft Office, called the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification, demonstrates proficiency and expertise in using the software. An MOS certification applies to a specific version of Microsoft Office and an associated software program (e.g., MOS in Word 2010 is distinct from certification in Outlook 2007). Certification is earned by passing a 90 minute timed, computerized test.

Although earning this certification does not guarantee employment or career success, it can differentiate a candidate competing for a job or promotion in administrative assistant positions. Experience using Microsoft Office is necessary to successful completion of a certification, and many of the programs are offered online.

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Microsoft Office Certifications

For basic certification, candidates must choose a version of Microsoft Office and take a core exam in an associated software program as follows:

  • Microsoft Office 2010 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access or SharePoint 2010)
  • Microsoft Office 2007 and Windows Vista (Vista for Business Workers, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook or Access 2007)
  • Microsoft Office 2003 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access or Outlook 2003)
  • Microsoft Office XP (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access or Outlook 2002)
  • Microsoft Office 2000 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access or Outlook 2000)

For MOS Expert certification, candidates must pass an expert exam in Word or Excel. For MOS Master Certification in all but Office 2007, candidates take expert exams in Word and Excel, a core exam in PowerPoint and a core exam in either Access or Outlook. For Master certification in Office 2007, candidates take core exams in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Exams are taken on computers to simulate actual tasks and typically must be completed in 90 minutes. A directory of testing centers is available from Certiport at

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Microsoft Office is widely used by businesses and organizations to perform technological tasks such as managing email, storing and accessing data, performing financial analyses and creating presentations. At businesses and organizations using Office, most employees will work with at least one of its programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, secretaries and administrative assistants were projected to see a 3% increase in employment opportunities from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary for administrative assistants and secretaries, except medical, legal and executive, was $33,910 in May 2015.

A candidate who is already very familiar with Microsoft Office may earn a certification as a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), MOS Expert, or MOS Master. These certifications are available by taking a computerized test with a 90-minute time limit and can be useful for workers in administrative positions.

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