Many people can use Microsoft Excel on a basic level. Yet, very few ever master it despite great demand. This is why Excel professionals are so valuable and indispensable.
Microsoft Excel proficiency is one of THE most valuable and indispensable skills one can have. Excel users are so valuable, in fact, that they are vital to the functioning of most multi-billion dollar companies. Without high-end Excel users, many large companies would go belly up in a matter of days. Yet, the value of Excel is not at all limited to professional use.
Excel is beneficial for companies, but it’s also valuable in one’s personal life. Excel has the ability to streamline many aspects of everyday life. Including, but not limited to budgeting, expense tracking, project planning and goal setting.
The immense value of Microsoft Excel in all walks of life is often underappreciated. And, at the same time, the difficulty of learning Excel is often exaggerated. Learning Excel does not need to take weeks, months, or years. In fact, you can learn many of the core functions of Excel in a single day. That is – if you learn from a good Excel course with a knowledgeable teacher.
Here are quick answers to some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding Excel training courses:
Most Excel courses take less than one day to finish. These types of shorter Excel classes can take anywhere from 1 to 24 hours to finish. But, there’s no universal standard that dictates how long an online Excel class has to take. There are various comprehensive Excel certification courses that take months to finish.
Taking an online Excel course can cost anywhere between $0 and $1000. While some courses in Excel are free of charge, the vast majority of them do cost at least $30. Some of the top-rated Excel courses on this list are also based on monthly subscriptions. These classes typically cost around $30-$50 per month.
Excel certification is worth it for anyone who works with numbers and data. For employers, Excel is one of the most sought-after skills when looking at new employees. And, for employees, there are also many benefits. Through Excel, it becomes possible to automatize and streamline many common tasks. Thus, Excel certification is worth it both for employees and employers.
To give you a little motivational push before you start learning your very first Excel tutorial, here’s a quick YouTube video. Here, you’ll see Sohail Anwar detailing 3 Excel-heavy jobs that pay lucrative salaries:
I hope that Sohail’s video gave you some motivation to work with. After all, what he says is true. Excel is one of the most in-demand skills right now and it’s also one of the easiest fast-track methods to landing a high-paying job.
Now, let’s move forward to our top Excel class picks. This a comprehensive list of the best online Excel classes – a quick and simple guide for those who want to learn Excel ASAP. With help from the best Excel courses on this list, you’ll learn all Excel’s most useful features. Excel menus, functions, data visualization tools, VBAs, and more. There are superb classes on this list for all experience levels – from beginners to advanced students.
These are the best Excel courses:
- Best Certification Course: Excel Skills for Business Specialization (Coursera)
- Best Crash Course: Excel Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning)
- Best Medium-length Course: Microsoft Excel – Basic & Advanced (GoSkills)
- Best for Modeling: Data Visualization with Advanced Excel (Coursera)
- Best for Finance: Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel (Coursera)
- Best Free Course: Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel (edX)
- Best Excel VBA Course: Learning VBA in Excel (LinkedIn Learning)
Best Certification Course: Excel Skills for Business Specialization (Coursera)
An intense 3-month Excel certification course.
Coursera’s “Excel Skills for Business Specialization” is an award-winning Excel certification program. It takes around 3 months to finish and it’s led by Dr. Yvonne Breyer from Macquarie University. Dr. Breyer earned Coursera’s Outstanding Educator Award for this series of Excel classes. This award goes to show that this Excel course is not your average online class.
To engage learners from the get-go, Dr. Breyer planned the course lessons in a very meticulous way. She interviewed international business leaders. Plus, she gathered data from businesses to find common Excel usage weak-points. This enabled her to develop a course outline that tackled real problem-areas. Instead of relying on intuition, she analyzed real data to create this Excel tutorial.
The syllabus of this program is very comprehensive and it’s for all experience levels. Those who are complete beginners of Excel at the start of the course will be Excel power-users by the end. The assignments are challenging but fun, and the teaching style of Dr. Breyer is fantastic.
With all that said, it becomes clear why this class deserves to rest among the best Excel tutorials. It’s unique, engaging, comprehensive, and suitable for all experience levels. I recommend this as the top Excel class for anyone who wants to from zero to hero in Excel. It’s lengthy, but it’s more than worth time commitment if you’re serious about Excel. The reviews for this Excel course were also favorable on CodeSpaces and DigitalDefynd.
Best Crash Course: Excel Essential Training (LinkedIn Learning)
An expert-taught 2-hour Excel crash course for beginners.
“Excel Essential Training” is my choice for the best Excel course on LinkedIn Learning. It’s a short 2-hour Excel class that’s aimed at beginners. Yet, it’s usefulness is not limited to novices. That is due to the superb teacher – Dennis Taylor.
Dennis is a renowned author and speaker on the topic of spreadsheet software and Excel. He has worked with various international corporations and his teaching methods are tried-and-tested. He has a knack for teaching complex formulas in simple ways and the curriculum he has built here is superb.
The strength of the curriculum demonstrates itself in many ways. The syllabus is clear, quick, and understandable. Even beginners who have never opened a spreadsheet in their life will follow the lessons with ease. Plus, the progression of lessons feels very natural. This Excel class may be short in length, but it never manages to feel rushed and it always remains easy to follow. At the same time, the lessons waste no time and go straight into the important bits. Very strong indicators of a high-quality online course in Excel.
All in all, this is one of the very best beginner-level Excel courses out there. It’s straightforward and it covers all the Excel basics. It’s also worth mentioning that the Excel certificate from this course is recognized by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA). Consdering the fact that this is a 2-hour course, getting a recognized certificate feels almost too good to be true.
Best Medium-length Course: Microsoft Excel - Basic & Advanced (GoSkills)
A superb 26-hour Excel class taught by a Microsoft MVP.
“Microsoft Excel – Basic & Advanced” on GoSkills is another superb Excel training course. It’s a 26-hour course that’s suitable for all experience levels and it comes with a certificate. This Excel class is a good middle-ground between a full course and a short course. It’s comprehensive, but not as long as something like Coursera’s 3-month course.
Ken Puls, a Microsoft MVP since 2006, leads this training program. The MVP award is Microsoft’s way of recognizing outstanding professionals who work with Microsoft Office products. This award goes to show that Microsoft considers Ken an expert in using their spreadsheet software. You can read Ken’s blog, Excelguru, to find out more about him and his experience with Microsoft Office.
This online course is by far Ken’s most popular course to date, and that’s for good reason. It’s full of practical tips and tricks on Excel formulas, functions, and macros. It starts off with the fundamentals of Excel use – the interface, basic functions, data sorting & filtering. Then, once students are already familiar with the basics, Ken digs deeper down into Excel. He introduces advanced topics such as Pivot Tables, conditional formatting, advanced Excel charts, data validation, and data manipulation.
In a nutshell, this is one of the best Excel classes for students looking for a medium-length course. A course that is affordable, detail-oriented, and easy to follow.
Best for Modeling: Data Visualization with Advanced Excel (Coursera)
A superb 26-hour Excel class taught by a Microsoft MVP.
Another fantastic Excel class on Coursera is “Data Visualization with Advanced Excel”. This Excel class takes around 10 hours to finish and it’s led by Alex Mannella. Alex is an Excel veteran who currently works for the multi-billion dollar company PwC. He has extensive experience in big data mining and response modeling. In addition, he has expertise in data visualization, which is also one of the primary subjects in this course.
If you’d like to learn from Alex’s modeling experience, then you will find this online course a real treat. That is because Alex demonstrates some superb techniques for Excel modeling in this course. It’s cartegorized as a rookie-friendly course. Yet, it’s not the best pick for someone with 0 experience in spreadsheets. Instead, it’s best suited for someone who has basic working knowledge of Excel. Advanced skills are not necessary, but basic skills will be very beneficial.
My only gripe with this online Excel course is that it’s based around the 2013 version of Microsoft Office. It’s already 2020 now, and some of the lessons could use refreshing. Yet, I can’t mark it a major fault because all versions of Microsoft Excel use the same system of formulas. Formulas that worked on past versions of Excel will work on newer versions, and vise versa. Yet, as an Office 365 user, I would still prefer up-to-date material that uses the same interface that I do. Yet, this training program is still the best there is when it comes to learning Excel modeling.
Best for Finance: Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel (Coursera)
A brilliant 13-hour Excel course for those who work in finance.
“Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel” on Coursera is what we are looking at next. This Excel training program takes 13 hours to finish and it’s focused on using Excel for business-related purposes. It’s a superb class and it’s led by Sharad Borle, an expert on Business statistics and data analytics.
For taking this course, prior basic working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Excel is beneficial. But, it’s not a necessity as this course is designed for beginners. This Excel tutorial is part of a series of courses “Business Statistics and Analysis” from Rice University. Also known as Coursera Specializations, these programs are a step above normal courses. They are in-depth, and they provide sought after certificates.
As a standalone online class, this is one of the best Excel courses for finance. It goes deepest into topics such as pivot tables, Excel charts, conditional formatting, graphing, and data manipulation. These are must-have skills for any serious Excel user who works in the financial industry.
If you wish to use Excel for finance and data analysis but you are unsure of where to begin, take this course. It’s short, efficient, full of practical assignments, and it doesn’t break the bank. When it comes to using Excel for data analysis and finance, this is one of the best Excel classes out there. It’s also worth checking out our other top-rated data analytics courses if you’re interested in the topic of data analysis.
Best Free Course: Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel (edX)
A free 1-month Excel certificate program led by Microsoft.
“Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel” on edX is Microsoft’s very own Excel training program. It’s 4 weeks long and introductory, meaning that it’s suitable for beginners who have never used Excel. As a beginner, learning formulas and functions from the very creators of Microsoft Office is a fantastic opportunity.
Those familiar with edX online courses will know that on edX, all the course lessons are free to audit. This means that you can take all the lessons free of charge. But, without paying, you will not have access to certificates or graded assignments. Graded assignments one could live without. But, the Microsoft-branded Excel certificate is the biggest benefit of this course. Thus, I would still advice you to pay the the $99 if you’re planning on taking this Excel class. The certificate is worth the spend.
Yet, I am in a bit of a tight spot here. On one hand, this Excel certification is excellent, and the course is free. But, factoring in the certification means that this course is no longer free. So, do I rank it as the best free Excel course, or as the best Excel certification? Well, I could rank it as either one of them, because this is a superb class after all. If you want to learn Excel from a Microsoft-led online course, then “Introduction to Data Analysis using Excel” is the way to go. In the end, it’s by far the best free Excel course out there.
Best Excel VBA Course: Learning VBA in Excel (LinkedIn Learning)
A fantastic 3-hour advanced course that teaches Excel VBA.
“Learning VBA in Excel” is another top Excel training program on LinkedIn Learning. This one is a more advanced Excel training program than LinkedIn’s previous “Excel Essentials Training”. Yet, it’s as short at only 3 hours and 14 minutes of material. It’s led by Curtis Frye, a renowned book author on Excel-related topics.
I named it the top Excel VBA course as it goes into great detail on the topic of using VBAs in Microsoft Excel. It explains VBA watches, object models, subroutines and much more. The lessons don’t waste any time on introductions. They dive straight into advanced formulas, Excel power pivot tables, and various VBA-related applications.
This is why I must emphasize that this class is for advanced Excel users only. Beginner Excel users will have trouble with progressing through the course lessons. For novice users, it makes much more sense to go with one of our other top-rated picks.
For adept Excel users, this course is a fantastic learning opportunity. In this course, you get the chance to learn from a seasoned user of Excel. And, you get to add some advanced tips and tricks into your Excel arsenal. For intermediate and advanced Excel users, this is one of the top Excel classes available. And, for Excel VBA in specific, this is no doubt the best Excel training program out there.
How to learn Excel online
Can a total beginner learn data science? Sure, here’s how you can learn data science online without any prior knowledge:
1. Choose an online course
While there are plenty of unstructured resources (like YouTube tutorials) online to help you learn Excel from scratch, our advice is to skip them. These kinds of tutorials can be great, but at least for the time being, enrolling in a high-quality Excel course will give you a much more solid foundation.
Whether you’re a novice or intermediate Excel user, a good online Excel course will teach you everything you need to know to level up. No more wasting hours of your time looking for tutorials and projects that are actually relevant to you. With an online course, you’ll have everything in one place.
This is important because one of the biggest problems individuals who want to learn Excel on their own encounter is a lack of structure. Having the correct structure in place can mean the difference between becoming an excel master and never getting beyond basic functions.
Besides, with no guidance, it’s all too easy to feel like you have to focus on everything at once. Excel has hundreds of functions, formulas, and options, but you’d be wrong to think that you need to know them all. An experienced Excel instructor can show you what is crucial and what is unnecessary.
2. Find a project to work on
Most people learn very quickly when there’s a real-life problem to be solved. While most Excel courses include projects, you’ll want to continue using the software long after finishing the course. The best way to do that is to combine Excel with something you’re interested in or enjoy doing.
Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Create a weekly/monthly budget for yourself.
- Design your own task tracker.
- Catalog your music collection.
- Track your workout schedule.
- Simulate stock market investments.
3. Lose the mouse
To make the most out of Excel and boost your productivity, ditch the mouse and find out how to do the things you want to do with your keyboard instead.
Here is a list of useful keyboard shortcuts. Print it out and stick it on your wall until you familiarize yourself with the hotkeys you use the most.
4. Earn a Microsoft Office Specialist Excel Certification
Once you know how to use Excel at an advanced level, you should get a Microsoft Excel certification from Microsoft itself. To get the certificate, you’ll need to take an exam. The exam will test your ability to edit a workbook with more than one sheet and represent data visually.
A Microsoft Office Specialist Excel Certification is a great way to show your current and future employers that you’re well able to use Excel.
5. Enter Excel competitions
What better way to test your Excel knowledge than by joining an Excel competition? Even if you don’t win, you can see the areas you could improve on and gain a ton of motivation to continue your Excel journey.
If you’re a student, you can participate in the global Microsoft Office Specialist World Championship that tests your skills in Excel as well as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.
For adults, there are plenty of financial modeling competitions where contestants have to use Excel to solve financial questions. Two examples are the Financial Modeling World Cup and the Corporate Finance Institute (CFO) Financial Modeling Competition.
6. Stay curious
As you’re doing a specific task in Excel, always ask yourself: is there an easier way to do this? Chances are, there is. Mastering Excel is all about finding the shortest path to a solution. If you Google your question, you’ll probably come across a more efficient way of performing said task.
And, if you’re ever stuck on something Excel-related and can’t find the answer by Googling your question, ask for help on an Excel forum, like Reddit’s excel subreddit.
How to choose a good Microsoft Excel course
The number one thing you should consider when choosing a Microsoft Excel course is your level of experience.
While most Microsoft Excel courses cater to total beginners, some deal with intermediate and even advanced concepts. So, before you enroll in a course, read the curriculum to make sure that it’s not too easy/difficult for you.
Here are the kinds of skills you’re looking to acquire, based on your current understanding of Excel (although these are just guidelines and by no means set in stone):
- Beginner. Basic formulas, tables, and graphs.
- Intermediate. Pivot tables, SUMIFS, INDEX MATCH, VLOOKUP.
- Advanced. Macros, VBA, data modeling, DAX.
The next thing you should look at is who teaches the course. What is the instructor’s experience with Excel? Are they a professional lecturer? Or are they a professional in their chosen field? And what kind of credentials do they have? You want to learn from the best of the best — especially if you’re paying money.
Examine the reviews left by past students, as well. Were they happy with the course? Was the lecturer easy to understand? Were there enough assignments and projects? These are all things you want to know before you enroll in a course.
Is Excel hard to learn?
Whether or not Excel is hard to learn depends largely on the person learning it. For example, people who are good with numbers may find it easier to learn Excel than people who are good with words.
The kind of use case you’re talking about matters, as well. While making a calendar in Excel is straightforward, creating a dashboard report for a business is more complicated.
In general, most Excel users agree that learning Excel is a gradual curve that never ends. Whatever you’re doing in Excel, there’s probably a better and more efficient way to do it, regardless of how many years of experience you have.
However, the continual learning cycle is one of the things the majority of people love most about Excel.