Microsoft Office Specialist

Gwen Dickerson, CPS, decided to strengthen her resume by earning Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications in Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

"I wouldn't say the vast majority of employers are requiring or asking for MOS certification, but it is a way to validate that you have a good working knowledge of office software used by approximately 95 to 98 percent of the world's business community," says Dickerson, administrative assistant to the plant manager at Greenwood, South Carolina-based Eaton Electrical.

Available Certifications

MOS is by far the best-known computer skills certification for admins. More than one million people around the world have earned MOS certifications, according to Microsoft.

MOS exams are offered at two levels -- Core and Expert -- and in five Microsoft Office Programs (2000 and XP) -- Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access -- as well as Microsoft Project 2000 and 2002. Additional tests qualify a user for an MOS Master certification, which demonstrates the highest skill level in multiple programs.

Some other software makers, such as Adobe, offer certifications, but they are not as recognized, says Gerri Wicklund, business technology instructor at Madison Area Technical College (MATC). You can also earn other software and IT certifications at Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW).

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