Certification is a big topic at Microsoft these days. Recipients receive recognition and the industry gets a standardized process by which employers and prospective clients can identify experts. Earning Office Specialist certification might be your way of getting the recognition you deserve so you can move to the head of the pack. Credibility goes a long way and specialist certification could give you an edge in today's competitive job market.
I don't mean to sound like an ad for Microsoft because certification certainly has its critics. I know people who completely refute the process—certification doesn't mean a thing they'll tell you. Most likely, certification didn't make a difference in their situations. That can happen. Certification isn't a panacea, but it does let employers know that you've obtained a certain level of expertise in the Office suite products. Certification is just one of the many ways you can put your best foot forward but it won't take the place of competency and hard work. Keep in mind that if certification doesn't matter to your current employer, it might matter to your next.
The biggest obstacle to certification is its cost. The cost alone will keep many folks from trying because it's expensive. Don't hesitate to talk to your boss—perhaps the company would be willing to pick up the tab. Many employers do because certified experts are more competent and productive. At least, that's what Microsoft says:
- 87 percent of employers report increased competency in their certified employees.
- 83 percent of employers feel their certified employees are more productive.
- 77 percent of employers feel certification has a positive effect on credibility among co-workers and clients.
- 82 percent of employers believe certification directly benefits their organization.
- 67 percent of employers feel certification simplifies hiring and advancement decisions.
If you'd like to learn more about certification benefits for Office specialist, visit
For more information, visit
Both sites provide the discussion and statistics you’ll want to show your boss when you ask the company to foot the bill for your certification. From the second site, you can take a practice exam. You'll have to sign up for a CertiPort id, but the process is fairly painless. Personally, I think the practice exam is worth the trouble. It'll point out your weak spots and help you prepare. It might also help you decide whether certification is really for you.
The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification is one of the easier ones to obtain. It might be the only certification you ever consider. If you have an MOS, I'm interested in your experiences. Was it worth your time? Did your employer pay the fee? I'd like to hear your certification stories—good and bad.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.