Many of us have heard of Excel, and even used it in school, college or office. But we often have misconceptions about Excel and remain unaware of how powerful the software is. In this article, I will take you through a list of the best Microsoft Excel courses available online. My selection is for beginners, so the courses cover only the basics of Excel (with a few exceptions) and VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is not covered.
Whether you’re someone who has never used Excel before or someone who has little idea of Excel, these courses will help you grasp the basic concepts and build your fundamentals in Excel. I’ve built this list from an online catalog of over 900 Microsoft Excel courses by following a well-defined methodology that you can find below.
What Is Microsoft Excel ?
Microsoft Excel is a popular spreadsheet application developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft Office suite containing other software like Word, PowerPoint, and Access among others. Not only Windows, Excel can also be run on Android, MacOS, and iOS.
Excel is widely used for performing simple to complex calculations and data visualization (that is creating interactive graphs and charts from your data). It also comes with a built-in programming language called VBA or Visual Basic Applications. VBA is a special programming language you can even use to manipulate data on the spreadsheet which is otherwise difficult to do!
In Excel, data is stored in “cells” formed by the intersection of rows and columns. Like many other spreadsheets, Excel can be used to organize data and perform arithmetic operations. Excel is used in many fields such as science, engineering, finance and simple daily calculations.
Why Are Excel Skills Important ?
Since Excel has such a wide variety of uses, it’s only natural that it’s a much sought-after skill. According to a research by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) of the Government of UK, Microsoft Excel is one of the most common productivity software skills requested by UK employers. With the highest number of job adverts of 810,239, a high advertised salary of £31,300 and a versatility of 0.98 (very high), Microsoft Excel has a projected growth rate of 23% in the next 5 years.
In the US too, millions of jobs require you to have Excel skills. A research by Burning Glass Technologies and Capital One has found that having digital skills leads to better employment and higher income. In fact, the impact is actually more not on sophisticated skills such as writing code but on using software such as spreadsheets.
Different jobs demand different levels of Excel proficiency. Be it simple data manipulation, core financial calculations, or advanced subskills of Excel such as VBA and pivot tables, Excel finds its way into just about every job aspect. Regardless, fluency in Excel makes you more versatile and is definitely a plus for your career.
- Excel Skills for Business: Essentials (Macquarie University): My #1 pick for the best Microsoft Excel online course is the free-to-audit Excel Skills for Business: Essentials, offered by Macquarie University on Coursera. The course is made keeping the beginners in mind with its excellent course structure, high-quality videos, detailed explanations, impressive readings, and ample practice opportunities, this course easily makes it to the top of this list. At every step, the instructors will be there to remind you that in order to build a strong foundation, you must practice thoroughly. There are practice opportunities at every step of the course. And to make the process more fun, they will take you through Sean’s Excel journey. Who’s Sean? Well, it could be you! This unique storytelling way of teaching makes your learning more personalized. Though originally intended for business, this course will teach you the building blocks that are applicable to any scenario. So, don’t be scared by the course’s name if you don’t come from a business background!
- Everyday Excel, Part 1 (University of Colorado Boulder): My second pick for the best Microsoft Excel online course is the free-to-audit Everyday Excel, Part 1, offered by the University of Colorado Boulder on Coursera. This course is one of my personal favorites since this was the first course I ever took on Excel. I instantly became a fan of the instructor’s teaching style, and proceeded to take his next two courses, Everyday Excel, Part 2 and Everyday Excel, Part 3 (Projects). So if you’re looking for an interactive instructor, you should definitely check this one out! Many Excel courses use complex examples with large volumes of complex financial or scientific data that many of us might not be familiar with. But Charlie Nuttelman uses very simple and goofy examples to grab the learner’s attention. Even if he ever uses technical examples, he makes sure that the focus is on Excel and not on the subject. As a civil engineering student, I find it really thoughtful that he, as an engineer himself, emphasizes on the utility of Excel in this field. This is often overlooked in many courses, so it’s definitely a thumbs-up from me!
- Excel: Fundamentos y herramientas (Universitat Politècnica de València): My third pick for the best Microsoft Excel online course is the free-to-audit with limited access Excel: Fundamentos y herramientas, offered by Universitat Politècnica de València on edX. This course is one of Class Central’s 250 best online courses of all time. Each year, we publish this ranking based on thousands of learner reviews. Our list shows the best courses in their respective subjects. So if you understand Spanish, this course is undoubtedly one of the must-trys on this list.
- Excel for Everyone: Core Foundations (The University of British Columbia): My fourth pick for the best Microsoft Excel online course is the free-to-audit with limited access Excel for Everyone: Core Foundations, offered by The University of British Columbia on edX. As its name suggests, the course is for everyone. So whether you are someone who has little or no understanding of Excel, or someone who uses Excel regularly, but wants to enhance your Excel skills, you can learn the fundamentals of Excel in this course. From basic operations to an introduction to more advanced techniques, this course will equip you with essential Excel skills so that you can succeed in any organization. Along with teaching the basic concepts of Excel, this course will also give you a foundational understanding of business data analysis. That’s why, most of the examples used in this course are finance-related. But you can still learn the foundations of Excel since the concepts remain the same across all fields.
- Work Smarter with Microsoft Excel (Microsoft): My fifth pick for the best Microsoft Excel online course is the free-to-audit Work Smarter with Microsoft Excel, offered by Microsoft on Coursera. Microsoft, being the creator of Excel, knows the software best. So it’s a good idea to learn it directly from them to understand the concepts correctly. This course is well-designed with professional visuals and crisp explanations. The videos are short and to the point, eliminating any extra information that might confuse the learners. Another great feature of this course is that it will help you prepare for Microsoft’s Exam MO-200: Microsoft Excel (Excel and Excel 2019). This exam tests your ability to use the principal features of Excel such as working with worksheets and workbooks, managing data cells and ranges, creating and editing tables, performing operations using formulas and functions, and representing data visually using graphs and charts. Obtaining Microsoft’s certification will show that you have industry associate-level expertise in Excel, and will be ready to enter the job market. This means that by completing this course, you will not only learn Excel from the experts, but will also be confident in your Excel skills if you want to sit for Microsoft’s certification exam