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How Hard Is It to Learn Excel?

David Munyaka - January 20, 2022


Microsoft Excel is a powerful tool widely used in offices around the world. It is a spreadsheet program designed to improve data storage, extraction, and statistical analysis. Today, companies have access to more data than ever. According to DataRails, more than 1.5 billion people use Excel to manage trillions of dollars.

If you work with data, you should strongly consider learning this program. But, is Excel hard to learn? Fortunately, mastering this piece of software is a fairly straightforward process, as there are tons of resources out there that can help you become a pro in no time. In this article, we’ll unearth the best tips, courses, and resources that can help you learn Excel.

​​What Is Excel Used For?

Excel is a spreadsheet software with many features that allow you to organize just about any type of information or data. You can place data in cells, group them in rows, perform basic math functions, or even build basic charts. Below are some more ways you can use Excel.

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  • Data analysis. Excel is widely used by data analysts , who are crucial to helping businesses or government entities make decisions. Whether you’re recording data on sales, website traffic, supplies expenditures, or insurance claims, Excel can help.
  • Project management. You can manage projects of all sizes using Excel. As business operations often involve complicated logistics, accurately keeping track of moving pieces is essential to success. Excel can be used for complex tasks like budgeting and keeping track of deadlines.
  • Office administration. Office administrators like secretaries and clerks use Microsoft Excel to store and organize administrative data. Additionally, they also use Excel for calculations, invoicing, and other common tasks like contacting suppliers or clients.
  • Performance reporting. Excel can be used to convert data into a performance report using a powerful feature called PivotTables.
  • People management. MS Excel can also be used to organize information about people, especially within large organizations. For example, it can be used to store employee information, such as names, email addresses, and start dates, in a convenient way where it can be accessed when needed.

How Hard Is Excel to Learn?

Excel can be a challenging tool to master if you’re a beginner and have no experience in data or spreadsheets. However, learning the basics is a straightforward process that only takes a short amount of time, especially if you get some help from online courses.

With that said, the more you use Excel, the more you’ll become familiar with its functions. If you keep practicing, you’ll soon be using advanced features of the program with ease. Absolute beginners who lack a basic understanding of computers will take longer to feel comfortable with the program.

Is Excel Harder Than Google Sheets?

Yes, Excel is slightly more challenging to learn than Google Sheets because it has more features. Both applications will be challenging for beginners who know nothing about spreadsheets. With that said, it’s still a good idea to learn Excel because it has more features that make it better for statistical and data analysis, such as conditional formatting.

Tips to Learn Excel

  1. Decide why you want to learn Excel. Why do you want to learn Excel? Do you want to get better at visualizing and evaluating data to land an office job? Are you looking to improve your productivity by getting organized? Whatever the reason, figuring out what you want to use Excel for will direct you toward what features you need to learn.
  2. Find effective learning resources. As a beginner, it’s not about how fast you learn, but about whether you are truly grasping the basics. Look for respected online resources that will help you jump into more difficult Excel topics. Fortunately, there are a ton of free and paid resources online for both beginners and advanced learners.
  3. Consider online courses. One of the best ways to learn Excel is by enrolling in an online course. Edu4Sure has a great Microsoft Excel course that will turn you into a pro. There are many more advanced courses and video tutorials that can help you use this analytics software for more complex functions.
  4. Practice. Because Excel has so many features, you’ll need to keep practicing if you want to become an expert. You can start by solving simple math problems with a basic formula. Then, you can move on to creating charts and tables. You could also try your hand at one of the top Excel projects if you’re really ready to put your skills to the test.
  5. Learn keyboard shortcuts. If you want to up your efficiency, consider learning the program’s keyboard shortcuts. Then, you’ll be able to perform mathematical functions and draw tables or quick analysis without even using your mouse.

How Long Does It Take to Learn Excel?

It will take you about 18 to 20 hours to fully learn Excel. If you’re only interested in the basics, it’ll be much quicker. However, keep in mind that Excel is a large application that has many different functions. As a result, you shouldn’t rush your learning process. Consider attending one of the best Excel bootcamps or an online course if you want to learn effectively and quickly.

Where to Start Learning Excel

A woman standing in front of a laptop holding a pen and a notebook. Is Excel Hard to Learn?
You can learn Excel at home by yourself, or attend a coding bootcamp if you want to receive expert instruction.

You’ll be pleased to know that there are several ways you can get started learning Excel. You don’t have to attend costly, in-person classes at a university to learn this program. There are plenty of paid and free online courses and resources that you can learn from in the comfort of your home.

Excel Coding Bootcamps

Bootcamps are short and immersive programs designed to help people gain the skills they need to pursue a career in tech. There are many bootcamps out there, so make sure to choose one that matches your career aspirations. If that involves Excel, you might want to check out General Assembly or Springboard.

Excel Online Courses

Top sites such as Udemy , Coursera, and LinkedIn offer both paid for and free Excel courses. In most free online courses, you will learn at your own pace, with quizzes taking place periodically to test your understanding. LinkedIn’s courses are the place to go if you need a guide for beginners.

Excel Degree Programs

Excel is not an academic discipline that warrants a standalone degree program. However, there are professional certification programs for Excel. Getting one of these certificates, such as the Microsoft Excel Expert credential straight from the company that created the program, will validate your professional abilities.

Excel Free Resources

If you’re on a tight budget and are looking for free Excel resources, there are a few options. In Microsoft Excel Help Center, the tech giant has uploaded a wide array of tutorials to help you learn. You can also check out the dozens of professionals who’ve uploaded Excel tutorials on YouTube. Other resources include GCFLearnFree.org, ExcelCentral, and Excel Exposure.

Is It Hard to Get a Job with Excel?

No, it is not hard to get a job with Excel. Many jobs require experience with Excel or other productivity software. These skills are transferable and are used in sectors such as hospitality, finance, and construction. Learning Excel will increase your chances of landing a job.

Jobs You Can Get with Excel Skills

  • Accountant. Accounts must have Excel skills as they deal with numerical data every day. Excel’s spreadsheets and advanced features can greatly help in manipulating and organizing data.
  • Financial analyst. Excel is great for financial modeling. It has many functions that help with analyzing numbers and producing fundamental accounting ratios.
  • Administrative assistant. Administrative assistants and secretaries arrange documents, and schedule meetings using Excel. They also might use it to maintain databases and perform basic bookkeeping.
  • Retail store managers. Excel has numerous functions that can help manage inventory, budgets, and sales, which will come in handy for retail workers.
  • Project manager. Microsoft Excel helps project managers with visualization, planning, and tracking their projects.

Is Excel Worth Learning?

Yes, Excel is worth learning because it is one of the most popular spreadsheet applications in the world. Microsoft Excel is a transferable skill that can be used in many sectors. Excel can also be a springboard into learning in-demand programming languages.

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Studying Microsoft’s Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) code can help you develop an understanding of other programming languages such as Python and Java, which can help you launch a career in tech.

FAQ: Is Excel Hard to Learn?

Can you learn Excel in a day?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to learn all the features of Excel in one day. However, you can learn many basic Excel functions in a day.

What is the hardest thing to learn in Excel?

VBA is the hardest concept to learn in Excel. It is a computer language developed by Microsoft to allow users to create macros to generate custom forms, graphs, and reports. It is also used to automate repetitive word-processing and data-processing functions. It takes a lot of practice to learn VBA.

Are Excel skills in demand?

Yes, Excel skills are in demand because this application is one of the best spreadsheet applications around. It has all the function functions you’ll need to manipulate and organize data. However, keep in mind that Excel skills are usually combined with other skills such as data analysis.

Is Excel easier to use than Word?

Learning Microsoft Word is easier than learning Microsoft Excel. However, Word isn’t used for data manipulation, so it’s likely that you will need to learn both.

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David Munyaka

About the author: David, a certified Executive Coach by the International Association of Professions Career College, is a business researcher, developer, and consultant. His writing has appeared online in various human resource and finance publications. David has over a decade of experience writing about career-related topics, and he also has a background in web development languages like HTML. He holds a Bachelor of Business in Commerce and Finance from Kenyatta University.

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