REDMOND, Wash. — June 28, 2010 — Seventeen-year-old Jordan Evans, a student at Auburn Mountainview High School in Auburn, Wash., says he found the first few accounting classes he took in high school interesting, but he was intimidated by the software programs that were used in the curricula. So he signed up for a computer skills class that offered him the opportunity to earn a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification. Now he is confident enough using not only Excel but Microsoft Word and PowerPoint that he has plans to pursue a career in accounting after he graduates.
Designed to prepare students and professionals for the work force and college, the MOS certification program helps individuals gain mastery of all Microsoft Office applications including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, SharePoint Server, and Project.
At participating high schools and colleges, instructors teach students to use Office applications in business and computer classes. Students in these programs can choose to take the certification exams whenever they feel ready. Many professionals also pursue the MOS certification program: more than half the MOS exams are taken by people already in the workplace.
Microsoft provides participants with Web-based practice tests, online study guides and textbooks to help them prepare for the exams. After earning a certification, students can get transcripts to prove they are certified and a certification logo that they can put on their resumes.
Today, Microsoft launched the 2010 MOS certification programs. They provide three levels of certification: Specialist, Expert and Master. Each successive level requires individuals to master a greater number of programs. MOS is the only official Microsoft certification for Office products. Microsoft expects at least 1 million people to earn an MOS certification in the next year.
Testing is conducted by Certiport, a commercial testing service, at more than 10,000 testing sites in schools and businesses around the world. Students can begin taking the MOS 2010 Word and Excel exams in English at any Certiport Center worldwide beginning June 30, 2010. The exam will be available later in other languages.
Teacher Patty Eckelman helps sophomore Josh Miller in his computer class at Auburn Mountainview High School in Auburn, Wash. Miller recently earned a Microsoft Office Specialist certification in PowerPoint.
Lutz Ziob, general manager of Microsoft Learning, says this year’s MOS certification program was designed to highlight mobility in Microsoft applications. “Office 2010 frees users from one computer, or even one type of access device,” he explains. “Through Office 2010 you can access your documents through either your smartphone or PC.” Ziob says that with its emphasis on SharePoint Server as a collaboration tool, the new MOS certification will ensure people know how to access documents from a number of different points.
“The economy is tough these days,” says Ziob. “It’s not easy for graduates to find jobs. These skills are valuable in the workplace, and someone who has mastered them — and has the certification to prove it — has a competitive advantage.”
“By migrating to Microsoft Office Specialist 2010, students show their commitment to staying current with leading-edge tools — and that they’re ready to put their skills to work,” says Ray Kelly, chief executive officer, Certiport.
Patty Eckelman teaches business at Auburn Mountainview High School. She’s taught a class that focuses on the MOS certification program since 2001. “For my students, the certification is empowering,” says Eckelman. “It proves their skills to prospective employers and schools.” She says her students can use MOS certification on scholarship and job applications, and that several of the community colleges in the area award credit for it.
MOS certification is also useful for colleges that want to make sure their incoming students have a baseline level of PC knowledge. At Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business, proficiency in Microsoft applications is an essential skill for incoming freshmen. The school now requires students to earn MOS certification before they take some classes such as statistics, which require extensive knowledge of Excel. Today, nearly 2,000 students have earned their certification through the Tulane program. Professors there say they can now spend their time teaching the fundamentals of business, rather than helping students navigate software applications.
For employers, the certification offers a way to provide training for staff. The staffing firm Robert Half International, for example, offers the MOS program to all candidates for temp jobs. “It gives employers a way to identify the most capable candidates,” explains Ziob.
The MOS certification program is now in its 10th year and is available in more than 140 countries.