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MOS: Become a Microsoft Office Specialist

Research the requirements to become a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS). Learn about the job description and duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a Microsoft Office Specialist.

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Should I Become a Microsoft Office User Specialist?

The MOUS title formerly referred to a certified professional who had demonstrated a thorough understanding of Microsoft Office software. However, current professionals commonly seek the updated, equivalent Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential. Students and career seekers may benefit from obtaining this certification because it can prove to employers that they possess the necessary computer skills. Aspiring specialists can pursue training on their own or through more formal channels, requiring extended practice time seated at a computer.

Career Requirements

A postsecondary degree is not required to qualify for certification. Individual exams may be available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, SharePoint and OneNote. Upon completion, higher-level certifications, such as Microsoft Office Specialist Expert and Microsoft Office Specialist Master, may be pursued.

The following information was compiled using content from the Microsoft Office website.

Common Requirements
Degree Level No degree required
Licensure and Certification Certification is required to be a Microsoft Office Specialist
Experience Experience using Microsoft Office applications will be necessary to pass the exam
Salary (2015) $38,322 yearly (median for administrative assistants with Microsoft Office Specialist certification)

Sources: PayScale.com (August 2015)

Step 1: Pursue Training

Although not required, individuals interested in becoming proficient in Microsoft Office applications can increase their knowledge by taking courses in Microsoft Office available in schools, colleges and online. A high school diploma is not required to take any of the certification exams, but may be needed to apply to some training programs. Common courses taken in a training program include database management, Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Outlook. Students can choose to learn all of the Microsoft Office Suite products or select individual applications, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, One Note, SharePoint, Outlook or Office 365.

Success Tip:

  • Take computer classes in high school. Students seeking a Microsoft Office Specialist credential should begin by taking computer classes in high school.

Step 2: Become Certified

In order to become a Microsoft Office Specialist, one must successfully pass a certification exam offered by Certiport. Exams may be taken at a school, college or Certiport testing site. Exams are completed on the computer using a real or simulated version of the program. Individuals must demonstrate their knowledge of a specific program by completing certain tasks within the allotted time. Certification may be beneficial for individuals seeking jobs and career professionals who use Microsoft programs on a daily basis. Certification at the core level is available in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Share Point, OneNote and Office 365.

Success Tips:

  • Prepare for the exam. Individuals can locate online study guides and download practice exams to help improve their skills and boost their confidence. Certiport offers a variety of study materials on their website.
  • Become familiar with objectives. Individuals can visit the Microsoft Office Specialist website to learn more information about a specific exam. Becoming familiar with the objectives can give individuals an idea of what they need to study.

Step 3: Consider Expert Specialist or Master Specialist Certification

Expert certification can be gained by passing either the Word or Excel expert exam. An expert must demonstrate more advanced skill knowledge than a core user. Master is the highest level of certification one can receive. To become certified as a master user, one must pass the Word and Excel exams at the expert level, as well as the PowerPoint exam. Individuals seeking Master certification will also need to pass one of the following elective exams before they become certified: Access, Outlook, SharePoint, OneNote or Office 365.

Success Tip:

  • Prepare for the exam. Expert and master certifications exams require a significantly more advanced skill set than the core exams. Individuals seeking an expert or master certification should gather any available study guides and recommended reading materials. Purchasing and downloading practice tests may also be beneficial to future test takers.
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