It didn’t take long after its launch in 1985 for Microsoft Excel to become a staple in offices worldwide. Packed with many functions and features and freely available on the web, the powerful tool has garnered such popularity that it’s an eponym for spreadsheet programs. Millions rely on Excel for number crunching, making charts, pivot tables, regression models, etc. From data analytics, financial analysis, and programming to accounting and time management, the uses of MS Excel span industries and departments. Knowing one's way around such versatile software is a skill that has always been in demand and will be for a long time.
No wonder MS Excel is often a required skill in nearly every field. Having proof of expertise in the form of a certificate from a reputed and accredited institution puts a candidate immediately ahead of others. This is also because MS Excel is used to handle sensitive data and is used to make critical business decisions. Aspiring employees can acquire a deep understanding of the functions and applications of MS Excel through a comprehensive certification course.
This guide dives into what it means to be an MS Excel expert, how to use it in your day-to-day business and how to get an industry-recognized certification.
What Is Excel?
MS Excel is a software program developed by Microsoft. It uses spreadsheets to organize data and numbers with functions and formulas. It is one of the most commonly used software by businesses worldwide. Whether an SME, a startup, a large enterprise, or a multinational corporation, every business uses MS Excel in some capacity.
One of its main uses is to perform financial analysis and data organization. It is also used for data entry and data management, accounting and financial analysis, programming, and charting and graphing. One can also use it to perform financial modelling, time management and task management. It is also an excellent customer relationship management tool.
MS Excel has many tools to perform data functions, formulas and shortcuts. It is also used extensively in finance and accounting functions. It has the excellent capability of budgeting, forecasting and accounting. All of this can be used to increase the functionality of the software. It is an incredibly versatile tool that has no dearth of applications. Its popularity is ever-increasing.
The Wide-Ranging Benefits of Excel
MS Excel is a fantastic software with astounding features that are incredibly useful for businesses of all sizes. We look at some of the benefits businesses have from MS Excel.
- Data Storage: It offers clear and simple ways to store and sort data. It can also be easily shared and accessed. With MS Excel, large amounts of data can be easily stored to make it more meaningful.
- Perform Calculations: There are a lot of predefined formulas or custom formulas that you can make to perform calculations using the data you have entered. It is one of the core features of MS Excel that sets it apart from everything else.
- Data Analysis: MS Excel has powerful data analysis tools which you can use to analyze enormous amounts of data and get insights. Pivot tables allow you to create summary tables, group dates, conditional formatting, add date timelines, run total columns, rank columns etc., from vast amounts of data.
- Data Visualisations: There are different data visualization methods available in MS Excel. You can present data visually with the click of a button. It also recommends the best charts suiting your data.
- Code to Automate: Microsoft Excel can be coded to automate almost all of the functions within the software, which you would otherwise do manually. Microsoft Office has a coding language called VBA or visual basic for applications, allowing you to write custom functions.
- Transform and clean data: When there is an enormous amount of data, there will be some cleaning up to make the data valuable and easy to read. Power Query is a data transformation and cleaning engine which allows you to load data from different sources, transform it, and load it back to the workshop.
- Power Pivot: Power Pivot is a powerful tool that allows you to make calculations within the sheet, even if there are millions of rows and columns.
How to Become an Expert Excel?
Excel is a handy program for every business. It is a lucrative skill to have even today. So how do you become an expert in Excel?
You can learn the different tips and tricks to make Excel much easier and figure out the different formulas to make your data processing much faster. Or you learn all of this with the help of an excellent certifying program. Let's look a little deeper into each of these options.
Learning Tips and Tricks
MS Excel has a lot of shortcuts that can make using it easier. There are keyboard shortcuts and drag-and-drop options that you can use. You can figure this out as you go along in the long run.
Here are two examples of such tips and tricks you can use.
1. Keyboard shortcuts for faster navigation: There are a lot of keyboard shortcuts within MS Excel. You can use these smartly to reduce having to use the mouse. It makes your work faster and more efficient.
- The entire spreadsheet's cells will be selected if you click an arrow while holding down the Ctrl key.
- Simply press $ while holding down the ctrl, shift, and number keys. to turn numbers into currency.
2. Find ‘Quick Analysis’ in the bottom corner. Basic analysis can be completed more quickly without looking for the desired feature. A small Quick Analysis menu is located in your spreadsheet's bottom right corner. Numerous tools that can be used to combine various pieces of your data can be found in this menu. Thanks to this time saver, you won't need to look for particular features.
Learning Popular Excel Tools
If you have to deal with vast amounts of data, you can always perform simple calculations, sort data and track information using excellent tools from MS Excel. It makes your work easier, more efficient and faster. If you know your way around these tools, you can do the job better than someone who doesn't.
For example, you can look at how these two tools simplify the process.
1. Flash Fill
The flash fill feature in Microsoft Excel makes it simple to enter data into an Excel worksheet based on nearby data patterns. Based on its analysis of the surrounding data, flash fill fills a specific range. For instance, using the flash fill will allow you to quickly rearrange the names of employees or products.
2. Conditional Formatting
When reviewing data in worksheets, people frequently employ conditional formatting to search for small amounts of data that don't match their expectations. If you're reviewing a list of unpaid invoices, for instance, you should pay special attention to any invoices with unusually high amounts compared to values that fall within the normal range.
Learning Popular Formulas and Functions
A formula tool is a powerful tool in Excel. You can use it to process your data and derive calculations. Simply go to the ‘insert formula’ tool, and enter the formula you need. There are also many functions. Functions are predefined formulas that help you quickly use them. Here are a few examples.
- SUMPRODUCT in Excel: SUMPRODUCT refers to a function used to multiply ranges or arrays. It gives you the sum of the product. The syntax is =SUMPRODUCT (array1, [array 2],...)
- COUNTIF function: You can use this function to determine how many times a particular word appears in the spreadsheet. The formula for this goes like this: =COUNTIF(B: B, “Beetle”) if you want to know how many times the word Beetle appears in the spreadsheet.
Becoming Excel Certified
Jobs that require you to work on Excel a lot will require certification to prove your skills. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or expert, having excel certification can help you land the job you are looking for and improve your skills.
One of the best ways to improve your skills and get a valid certificate is through the Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Excel Expert (Office 2019).
By obtaining the Microsoft Office Specialist: Excel Expert certification, you can prove that you have the abilities necessary to make the most of Excel. With this certification, you can show that you can make, manage, and distribute expert spreadsheets for various unique needs.
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Microsoft Excel is a tool you cannot ignore if you are stepping into data and business analytics. There is so much it can do, and you need to know how to do it. The best way to learn it would be through a certified and authorized institution. With a prized certificate in hand, you can steer your career to greater heights.
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1. How long does it take to become an expert in Excel?
It depends on the level of knowledge you already have. It can take anywhere between a couple of months to years. The rate of your learning and practice also affects this.
2. How much does an Excel expert make?
The average salary of an Excel expert is $46,817 annual pay. Top earners earn up to $61,500 in annual pay.
3. Can I get a job with just Excel?
It depends upon the level of skill that you have. If you are an expert, you can get an accounting or financial assistant job. Most jobs require more than just an Excel skill.
4. Is MS Excel enough to get a job?
Not always. Certain jobs, like that of an accountant at smaller firms, may only require Excel. But most other jobs require knowledge in other areas like productivity software.
5. Which Excel skills are in demand?
Excel skills like data analysis, data filters, data sorting, pivot tables, cell formatting and many more are in demand. If you are planning to learn Excel, you can always start learning it with an emphasis on these skills.
6. What profession uses Excel the most?
The professions that use Excel the most include financial analysts, investment bankers, and loan officers. These jobs require the candidate to be certified and skilled in Excel as a rule, as these roles involve extensive use of spreadsheets.