Is the MOS Certification Worth It

by | Feb 15, 2017 | Personal Thoughts | 0 comments

Throughout my 18 plus year career this question has been directed towards yours truly more times than I can remember.  The worst part being is when I answer it I mentally cringe inside knowing the person will most likely not like my answer.  So, let’s get to it- is the MOS certification worth it?  Answer- it depends on who is paying for it. Sorry…  please allow me to elaborate.

Overall you can never go wrong getting certified to any degree, that said the MOS certification has never been all that credible in my view largely because the people who administer the test, of whom I work with directly, often classify the MOS exam as nothing more than a revenue generator. There I said it…

Over the years I have taken the highest level of MOS certifications offered, passed them and in the back of my mind  was searching for relevance.  Meaning actively looking for practical applications of the exam in the real world, of which I could barely see. Phrased differently passing the MOS exam does show some degree of competency- yet does that really mean you know the subject matter. Sure certs might get you in the door, but then what.  Any knowledge gaps, or inadequacies will be quickly exposed.  So where does that leave you.  To take the exam or not?

One of the best solutions to this stems from a response I read in a forum a few years ago posted by a hiring manager.  He stated that if he ever interviews someone who is MOS certified, let’s say in Excel for this example, he asks a follow up question- give me your top ten Excel formulas.  That, in my view, is splendid.  Do you see what he did?  He acknowledged your certification he then followed up with a question that proves if you truly know excel or not.  If you are really good with Excel you will rattle off such things like, IF, VLOOKUP, SUMIF, MATCH, INDEX, OFFSET, etc.  If not you’ll sit there looking like a stooge, eyes rolling around, desperately searching for an answer.  Obviously the second scenario is not where you want to find yourself.

Therefore if your employer will pay for the MOS certification, go for it.  If your employer will not pay for, or you have to shell out the money yourself- save it for something more relevant. But no matter what prepare a list of the top five or ten things you can do with the software; put together a portfolio. For instance create some sleek, modern sample PowerPoint presentations, or develop an Excel file with a bunch of dashboards since this is a very effective way to showcase your competencies.

In conclusion there is no doubt some people will completely disagree with my point of view (say the people who sell MOS exam prep material and/ or those who provide the testing service) and that is more than fine.  Simply feel free to make your own determination and career decisions you see fit.