Office Software Certifications For Your Resume

Quantify Your Skills and Boost Your Chances of Getting An Interview

Whether you are currently searching for a job or know life is likely to take you there in the future, office software certifications add clout to the ‘Technical Skills’ section of your resume.

While Microsoft Office is still the most widely used office suite, and therefore the most strategic certification to start with, a few alternative office suites offer certifications as well.

Quantify Your Skills to Get More Interviews

Nearly every resume lists 'Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.'

As an interviewer, I realized that this same phrase can mean an applicant knows how to concatenate a complex formula in Excel or merely how to open the program and save. When I really needed someone who knew their stuff, resumes stating a credential such as Microsoft Office User Specialist really rose to the top of the stack. Someone without a certification could have been a rock star spreadsheet-ist, but when time was at a premium, I chose those who identified themselves for me.

This is why a certification can quantify your claim and get you closer to an interview.

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Microsoft Office Suite Certifications

This iconic suite is still head of the pack. In fact, according to Forrester Research, most alternative office software developers and users agree that their non-Microsoft tools are still appendages, not replacements, for their productivity.

This means Microsoft Office certifications are your best bet for market coverage. The core Microsoft Office certification is the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS or MOUS); however, Expert designations are offered for some programs.

For a full description of your options, refer to Microsoft’s Certification Site for how those Expert exams must be combined with additional exams for you to attain the certification level of Expert or even Master.

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Apple iWork Suite Certification

By achieving the Apple Certified Associate certification, which tests your knowledge of Apple’s iWork suite as well as iLife, your name will also be listed in a professional registry—not the most important thing, but a nice bonus! A prep course is available, but you do not have to take the course if you feel strong in these productivity skills.

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Google Apps Certifications

Simply put, Google Apps are the mobile version of Google Docs. Check out the Google Apps Training Programs, which includes a more general Google Individual Qualification obtained by passing a series of online tests. After that, an individual or organization can apply for the Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer program.

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LibreOffice Certification

If appropriate for your situation, you may be able to become a Certified Professional Trainer of this popular office suite.​

Just because the popular LibreOffice suite is open source, and therefore free, does not mean there isn't some kind of learning curve. This certificate will be a great way to show that you take this newer type of office software seriously. Check out the Document Foundation's Ambassador-focused approach to certification.

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Additional Options

Many private software institutions, higher education facilities, and community education or continuing education programs offer training in your area. Although I feel having the approval of the software manufacturer to be better, most of these other programs can offer at least a certificate of completion. 

Also, do not be shy about becoming certified as a trainer. You may not want to ever be an official trainer, but for several office suites, a non-trainer certification does not yet exist and the trainer certification is still a dynamite skill-quantifier for those office suite skills.

Cost of Certification

Investing in a certification involves a wide range of pricing. Some exams are more affordable than others, but a general rule is $50-100 USD/exam.

For the Microsoft certifications, prices for site administered exams vary a bit from site to site so be sure to shop around. Also, some certifications are taken with a course, which is typically more expensive, while others are only exams.

To get the most benefit from your certification investment, consider taking one for the latest version of the software. For example, you can still get certified in some Microsoft Office 2013 programs, but it likely makes more sense to take the most recent exam.

Keep in mind you do not need every certification. By pursuing one or two, you will be differentiating your resume significantly.