How Do I Become a Microsoft Office Specialist?

Becoming a Microsoft Office specialist involves preparing for and taking exams in one or more of Microsoft Office's component applications. These applications are Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Access. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Exams Required

There are a number of types of Microsoft Office specialists (MOS) and each specialty requires that a correlating exam be successfully passed. First, determine which version of Microsoft Office you would like to work within. Currently, the three versions with certification exams are Office 2013, Office 2010, and Office 2007/Windows Vista. Each version offers an exam in each application. To determine what exams to take, consider which applications a professional uses most and which applications employers value most. You can also become a master specialist by passing extended exams in Microsoft Word, Excel, and one more program of your choosing.

Important Facts About Microsoft Office Specialist Certification

Prerequisites Basic computer skills; experience with Windows operating systems is helpful.
Concentrations Exams are offered for the following Microsoft Office programs: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, SharePoint, and OneNote.
Possible Careers Executive Assistant, software engineer, business analyst, administrative assistant, secretary, accountant, office manager, and receptionist.
Online AvailabilityLimited; most exams must be taken on-site at a Certiport location.

Exam Preparation

The Microsoft Office specialist website posts the objectives for each of their exams. The company offers materials that explain how to complete each objective. For further study, practice exams are available for download and purchase. Some people may want to take a course preparing them for the exam. Such courses are offered at some colleges and online.

Taking the Exam

All the exams to become a Microsoft Office specialist are offered in testing centers throughout the country. To find a testing center nearby and to register for the test, check the Microsoft Office specialist website. Because each exam takes at most 90 minutes to complete, multiple exams can be scheduled for one sitting. The exams are offered in 13 languages besides English, including Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. Exams are timed-tests and involve using the application to complete certain tasks that may be required in actual jobs. For example, the Microsoft Word test may require formatting a document to certain specifications. The Microsoft Excel exam may ask the test taker to create a formula for a spreadsheet.


Because all of the Microsoft Office specialist exams are completed on a computer, test takers receive their score immediately. You can score anywhere between 1 and 1000 points on each test. The exact score required to pass is different with each one, but indicated on the score report. Those who do not pass can retake the test as many times as required.

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