Technology changes almost as often as some people change clothes. On a weekly, sometimes daily basis, our devices ask us to update this, download that, or do some kind of system check to make sure everything is current. 

So, it stands to reason that if the technology is shifting like that, user knowledge of it should move accordingly, right? But, getting a technology certification can be a somewhat large undertaking depending on the technical difficulty of the subject. Some choose to earn a certification even before finishing their degree since they are already in the routine of learning and studying, while others wait to obtain some real-world experience before going for a certification.

For a tool as widely used and available as Microsoft Office, either approach is understandable. Understanding the benefits of Microsoft Office Certification and asking, “Is Microsoft Office Certification worth it?” aren’t mutually exclusive queries. . To get to the heart of each, however, take a look at the pros and cons to discover if MS Office Certifications are worth it. 


  • Most likely the largest obstacles to obtaining a certification are the time and money you will invest. There are the costs of training materials and/or classes and the testing fees, which can be prohibitive for some. You will also invest a large amount of time training and studying so that you can pass the certification test. Several tools are included in the Microsoft Office suite, so the training to master all of these tools can be quite intensive.
  • Certifications are not usually required by most employers. They might be looked upon as favorable, depending on the employer, but are not usually a requirement of employment.
  • Some certifications have a limited shelf life and require you to retest in the future to maintain your certification. So, this could be an ongoing commitment and you have to decide if it’s of great benefit to you.
  • Certifications are usually not as valuable on a resume as a long list of real-world experience and achievements. Someone that has been working longer and has a longer list of pertinent experience and achievements might still be more attractive to certain employers. It can greatly depend on the philosophy of the hiring agent.
  • A certification does not guarantee that you will magically find a position. It will help, but it is up to you to demonstrate that you are a qualified applicant. If you can effectively communicate to a hiring agent how your certification has aided you in the pursuit of your career, then it might mean more on your resume.


  • Having a certification will make you stand out from an applicant pool where the other applicants don’t have one. It will also let the employer know that you can finish a difficult objective and see it through to the end. It will give them the impression that you are motivated and ambitious, which are valued attributes by any employer.
  • Some employers will pay for your training and certification because it is valuable to them. If this is the case, most of them will often reward you with a pay increase or promotion for obtaining the certification. Some companies are Microsoft Certified Partners and must maintain a specified number of certification holders on staff to preserve their Microsoft partnership. This affords them discounts and support for Microsoft technology, so you are providing a direct benefit to them by holding and maintaining your certification.
  • Microsoft Office is the leading office management software on the planet. Businesses all over the world are heavily invested in Microsoft technology. An Office certification shows them that you have mastered this important technology to some degree of proficiency. They know that you will be able to hit the ground running in their organization without requiring a large volume of training on the tools they use to conduct their business.
  • Microsoft certifications are easier to verify than some other third-party certifications. This helps employers quickly determine that you are who you say you are and that you have represented yourself accurately.
  • Microsoft Office Certifications carry more prestige than some other third-party certifications because the training, time, and money required to obtain one is greater. You invest more, but it pays greater dividends in the future than other less popular certifications

What are the types of MOS Certifications?

The Specialist is an entry-level certification and it can be earned for a specific Microsoft Office program including Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, or Outlook. You can also decide which version of Office to earn your certification on including 2016, 2019, or 365.

The Expert Certification proves that you possess advanced skills for a particular Microsoft Office program. This certification is currently only offered for Word and Excel. You must pass one exam for either Word or Excel to obtain the Expert Certification.

In order to obtain the Master Certification, you must pass three exams. One each for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel and then one elective exam for either Outlook or Access. This certification proves that you are proficient at the highest skill level of Microsoft Office programs.

How difficult is it to get a MOS Certification?

The good news is that there are no prerequisites for any of the MOS Certifications. You can take one of the Expert level exams the first try if you are convinced that you are completely proficient with one of the Microsoft Office programs. However, Microsoft would prefer that you start with the Specialist cert and then progress to the Expert and Master levels. To be considered a Master, you will have to pass the Expert level exam for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint plus one exam either on Access or Outlook. You are not required to have the Expert Certification first, though. You can just set out to pass the exams for the Master Certification.

You might also be asking yourself how much time will be required to get a MOS Certification. The exams usually take about 90 minutes to complete. However, if you are not currently proficient in the program you’re taking the exam on, it depends on your current skill level and how fast you absorb information as to how much preparation it will take to pass the exam. As of today, it costs $100 USD to take an exam at a third-party testing facility. It would probably also be a good idea to enroll in a training course for the exams so that your valuable time and money are not wasted.

Assessing the benefits of Microsoft Office certification comes down to what you put value in, and if those positives outweigh the negatives. Most businesses across the world use Microsoft Office in their day-to-day operations. Having the certification lets them know that you are a wiz with these important tools.

If your interest is piqued, ONLC provides specialized training for the Microsoft Office Certification. You can obtain the training online or you can schedule a training class at any of our 300+ nationwide locations. Discover how Microsoft Office Certification from ONLC can help you on your journey to get certified today.

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