Training through online courses– whether that’s test prep courses or professional learning– has opened the doors to new learning opportunities, and, increasingly, a chance to get a grasp on some of the most useful and in-demand skills– like Excel courses through LinkedIn Learning.
And now is a better time than ever to learn, with Microsoft announcing a sweeping update that will change data entry in Excel.
The Excel update is especially useful for Data Scientists, or anyone working with especially onerous data sets, with powerful new tools for tracking when a document has been edited and by whom. The update also adds new filters and the ability to search a sheet’s history up to 60 days back. According to Microsoft, this update was among the most requested features for Excel, and it’s easy to see why.
The result? Potentially less, and less serious data entry errors– and a way that Excel will become, for many, more useful than ever in 2021 and beyond.
But while Excel courses and training can be helpful, both for professional purposes and even just tracking personal finances, not everyone has time to enroll in formal courses, or the money to invest in such training.
The good news is that LinkedIn Learning offers courses and training for Excel, with learning at your own pace, and an affordable price. Consider this your guide to why you should learn Excel, and my picks for the best beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses online.
Is learning Excel worth it?
As an educator myself, I always stress the importance of understanding what a course can do for you– professionally or personally– and seeing if your own learning goals align. When it comes to learning Excel, it’s on the surface underwhelming– but in fact is one of the most versatile skills you can learn, no matter your skill level.
While there is a more advanced software for specialized fields, you’ll find that even courses in machine learning use Excel sheets– pointing to how Excel can help you manage and analyze data in ways you might not be aware of.
In other words, don’t underestimate the power of understanding, and being able to use Excel.
What can Excel be used for?
From basic applications, such as tracking personal finances, to advanced applications, like dynamic array functions, learning Excel is very much worth it in 2021.
Another important feature of Excel is the ability to identify trends– something that is powerful across professional fields. Identifying trends allows you to make predictions, tweak your business models, adjust to audiences, and more. While it’s true that there are other options available for identifying trends, Excel makes it fairly easy and intuitive, with capabilities that are suitable for even fields like digital marketing and other great business courses.
Excel is a good option for personal finance, as it’s more cost-effective than specialty programs, such as Quicken. Through a sub-section of Excel, Money, you can easily track your income and expenses, allowing you to set budget goals and encouraging you to stay fiscally responsible. Keeping a budget can help you save for down payments for larger, long-term purchases like homes or cars, save for retirement, and save money in case of emergencies.
Planning and Setting Goals
Excel is an excellent tool for also keeping track of busy schedules and setting long and short-term goals. Some of my favorite features that often go unnoticed are goal planning worksheets, calendars, schedules, tasks and checklists, project management lists, and even seating charts. From personal growth goals to planning a wedding to optimizing for conferences, meetings, and more, Excel is great in that it has effective organizational tools, no additional program or app required.
Working with Large Data Sets
There’s a reason why Excel courses are still sought after. With some training, Excel can be a powerful tool for organizing, filtering, graphing, and charting data. Whether you’re enrolled in some of the best online data science courses or already in a field that requires crunching numbers– Excel simply has more tools than you might imagine that is enormously helpful. Data visualization, LookUp functions, logistic regression, and targeted applications for accountants are just a few of the powerful tools used in Excel.
How can I learn Excel quickly?
You can learn Excel most quickly, in my opinion, by taking online courses. Rather than learning on your own, online courses like those offered through LinkedIn Learning. A beginner-level course covering basic skills could take you as little as a few hours, often less.
That said, faster is not always the best way to learn a new skill. You should also ask yourself what you mean by learning Excel– do you want to learn every feature or just basics for tracking simple data sets?
More advanced functions can take a while to learn and fully master. Some advanced courses also align directly with other coursework and require more intense study. For advanced courses, go at your own pace and don’t rush. It may actually be a better time investment in the long run, as you’re more likely to retain information should you go at your own pace.
What are the best LinkedIn Learning Excel training courses?
For selecting the best Excel training courses through LinkedIn, I chose a few at each skill level, including beginner, intermediate and advanced courses. These courses cover everything from basic foundations and modeling to advanced features like seasonal baseline smoothing for business analytics. However, all of these courses are self-paced, almost all include a certificate of completion, and all are well organized and present information via video lectures. I selected these courses for their quality of content, overall value, and popularity amongst other online learners.
Beginner Excel Courses
These courses are where you should start learning on LinkedIn if you’ve had fairly limited to no experience with Excel. I also recommend enrolling in beginner courses if you’ve used Excel many years ago. As updates happen, some functions change, and these courses are a great way to understand the basic foundations of this software. However, these courses aren’t limited to just personal use– I’ve also included foundational training for financial modeling and other specializations that are needed for a variety of professions.
Excel Essential Training
Not sure how to start learning Excel? I recommend this as the best course for basic training. With two projects and eleven chapter quizzes, it also provides plenty of opportunities to check your understanding, and the course is delivered in an organized way, making it easy to acquire a general understanding of must-have functions within Excel. Focusing on basics such as entering and organizing data, as well as performing calculations, this is an excellent introduction to Excel. Enroll Here.
Excel: Introduction to Formatting
Need a quick course that helps resolve formatting issues? This introductory course takes around an hour and covers ways to make your spreadsheets more efficient, front using target font and colors to borders to better distinguish data. You’ll also cover easy tricks to change numbers, adjust rows and columns, and copy and paste functions to make using Excel dress-free. Enroll Here.
Financial Modeling Foundations
This three-hour course is a little lengthy for a beginner’s course– but it also covers valuable information, training you in the foundations for financial modeling, from creating corporate models to learning the ropes of the valuation process. Buyout models will also be explored, all with supplemental downloads and exercises so you can check your comprehension.
Learning Excel: Data Analysis
An excellent moderately paced look at using excel for data analytics, this intermediate course is a great choice not only for data scientists, but also leaders and finance professionals within the business, technology, mathematics, and finance fields. The course begins with a review of basic operations, such as mean, median, and standard deviation, as well as the central limit theorem. From there, you’ll tackle the core functions for data visualization, testing hypotheses, and modeling. More specialized training includes Bayes’ rule and analyzing COVARIANCE.P vs COVARIANCE.S. Enroll Here.
Excel: Macros and VBA for Beginners
My final choice for beginner Excel training through LinkedIn Learning takes under 45 minutes to complete but is a great introduction to both visual basics for applications and macros. Macros allow you to automate repetitive functions and are not just specialized skills. Making these tasks simple and accessible, I recommend taking this course after the Essential Training course to round out beginner’s level understanding of Excel. Enroll Here.
Intermediate Excel Courses
LinkedIn Learning intermediate courses and training for Excel offer a great middle-ground for when you’re already acquainted with both the basics of Excel and also the entry-level information you need for more specialized purposes. Something I like about these intermediate courses is that many topics covered– such as advanced formulas and creating a dashboard– are at once more targeted than beginner courses, but also not quite as niche as some advanced Excel courses and training.
Excel: Advanced Formulas and Functions
The intermediate course is excellent training for anyone going into business intelligence, but even accounting and related fields. Focused solely on formulas and functions that go beyond the basic Excel features, you’ll learn how to use INDEX, MATCH, VLOOKUP, and other text and statistical tools. I also appreciate that the lead instructor provides every day, real-world examples– helping to break up the grind on learning formulas, making it more interesting, and potentially improving retention– alongside ten chapter quizzes and two projects. Enroll Here.
Excel: Creating a Basic Dashboard
This LinkedIn Learning course is especially valuable, helping you learn some must-have skills for any form of data analysis. In an hour and a half, you’ll learn how to use PivotTables, set up conditional formats, and better organize both charts and sparklines. The training also includes everything you need to know to set up your dashboard, including data linking and making the most use of space within spreadsheets. Enroll Here.
Excel: Lookup Functions in Depth
As a perfect follow-up to the Basic Dashboard course, LinkedIn Learning offers more in-depth training for Lookup Functions that further help you improve your efficiency. Led by the same instructor as the previous courses, you’ll gain an understanding of the most critical functions within the Lookup tool. UNIQUE, SORT, FILTER, MATCH, XLOOKUP, VLOOKUP, and HLOOKUP are all covered, with tips on how to use them in your own datasets. Enroll Here.
Excel Data Visualization: Mastering Charts and Graphs
Two projects, three-chapter quizzes, and two and a half hours of content help you tackle twenty essential charts and graphs in Excel for powerful data visualization. The training covers everything from text and axes adjustment to making use of built-in templates, constructing basic graphs and chart types, and even using helpful but more advanced visualization tools, including geospatial heat maps and 3D power maps. Enroll Here.
Excel for Accountants
An intermediate course designed with accountants, financial analysts, and bookkeepers in mind, this LinkedIn Learning training allows users to chart profit and loss margins, make forecasts for sales, provide business valuation, and efficiently report data. You’ll also learn how to analyze data faster with QuickBooks, practices for importing and exporting data, and more efficient record keeping. In addition, this packed course touches on tax-specific issues, financial statements, and more– all in concise lessons, with two projects and four quizzes to check for comprehension. Enroll Here.
Advanced Excel Courses
These advanced courses are excellent options if you’ve already taken courses in business analytics, data science, or other specialty fields and need to be able to perform more complicated data analysis and manipulation. Coursework ranges from logistic regression to forecasting using seasonal baseline smoothing and working with dynamic array functions with Office 365.
Logistic Regression in R and Excel
This advanced course ties into programming, data analysis, statistical analysis, and business management. For this LinkedIn Learning course, you’ll learn how functions within Excel can allow you to make longer-term and more effective business decisions, with the ability to use advanced logistic regression. The course begins with training in logarithms, advanced to the binomial distribution, and probability. From there, you’ll learn how to perform other specialized functions such as inferential statistics, likelihood ratios, and multinomial regression, as well as how to interpret outcomes. Enroll Here.
Learning VBA in Excel
I recommend taking this three-hour course as a complement to VBA for Beginners. Going beyond the basics, you’ll go further in automating tasks in Excel, touching upon additional features, techniques, and see how they tie into practical applications. The course also includes exercise files, projects, and quizzes. Enroll Here.
Business Analytics: Forecasting with Seasonal Baseline Smoothing
Those in accounting, business administration or analytics, financial analysis, and accounting can all benefit from this advanced LinkedIn Learning Excel course. Led by business analytics expert Conrad Carlberg, the course focuses on using forecasting models, specifically Seasonal Baseline Smoothing, to provide accurate predictions. You’ll also use both Excel and R to make data predictions more efficient. Enroll Here.
Excel: Using Dynamic Array Functions
My final pick for the best Excel courses offered from LinkedIn Learning is this advanced course in Dynamic Array functions. You’ll learn how to make your spreadsheets more nuanced, efficient, and organized using special features, while also reducing errors. Functions covered include FILTER, RANDARRAY, SEQUENCE, SINGLE, SORT, SORTBY, and UNIQUE. This is a versatile advanced course, with a practical example for every function.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answer: An Excel certificate can be listed on your CV, but keep in mind that it does not ensure a job, nor is it necessary for everyone. But if you are determined to become certified, you’ll need to take the official Microsoft Office Specialist Excel exam and earn a score of 700 or better within the allotted hour. Exams are typically administered across the United States at designated locations between 11 am and 5 pm. To train for these courses, I recommend either looking into Microsoft training or online learning courses.
Answer: Formulas within Excel help you to both better organize and streamline your data. While there are countless formulas, the basic, must-know formulas include SUM, AVERAGE, IF, COUNT, and MAX and MIN.
Answer: Excel certification is not inherently hard, but it does certainly require test preparation. Without practicing or having a fairly firm grasp of Excel, there’s a chance you won’t pass. Just as you likely practiced and maybe took test prep courses for the SAT, now you need to give yourself at least a month to prepare, and longer if you’re not familiar with Excel.
Learning Excel online may just be one of the helpful skills you can pick up, whether you’re a professional in business or finance or just want powerful tools to keep track of your personal finances.
One powerful complement to Excel training? Check our guide to the best online coding courses.