Microsoft Office User Specialist: Certification & Training Info

Certifications as a Microsoft Office User Specialist are earned at the specialist, expert, or master level, and candidates must pass exams at each tier. These certifications demonstrate knowledge of Microsoft Office applications.

Essential Information

The Microsoft Office User Specialist designation was changed to Microsoft Office Specialist in 2002, and this certification demonstrates competency in applications within the Microsoft Office Suite.

Candidates are tested on their ability to achieve desired results and adhere to standards of knowledge set forth by Microsoft. The certification exam verifies test-takers' skills related to programs such as PowerPoint, Excel, Word, Access, Project, and Outlook. Online and classroom-based training opportunities offer preparation for the certification process.

Certiport, a Microsoft approved partner, handles certification testing. There are no educational prerequisites for certification; however, both fee-based and free training resources are available through Microsoft.

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Microsoft Office User Specialist Training Programs

Some topics covered through Microsoft learning options include inserting graphics and hyperlinks, formatting options and data input. Other commonly discussed subjects are:

  • Spreadsheet creation
  • Font alteration
  • Working with slideshows
  • Screen layouts
  • Columns and lists
  • Charts and graphs

Popular Career Options

Certification recipients are prepared to use the programs within the Microsoft Office Suite competently in careers such as office manager, customer service representative, data analyst, and accounting clerk. In addition, individuals who hold Microsoft Office Specialist certification may find work as secretaries or administrative assistants.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for secretaries and administrative assistants were projected to increase 3% during the 2014-2024 decade, which is slower than average. Job prospects should be particularly good for aspiring assistants with advanced software application skills. As of 2015, the median salary for a secretary or administrative assistant - excluding those working as legal, medical or executive assistants - was $33,910, notes the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Microsoft continually updates their certification options as newer versions of software are developed. Students can keep their certification current by electing to receive training in the newest version. Additionally, the American Council on Education (ACE) has approved college credit opportunities for students who wish to apply their certification towards college credit at an associate's or bachelor's level. Each certification level is eligible to be credited towards one semester hour of related college coursework. In order to apply for college credit, students must obtain an ACE transcript listing their certification.

Those who hold a Microsoft Office Specialist certificate will have skills in areas like spreadsheet and slideshow design, and might be eligible for work in fields such as office management or administrative assistance.

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