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Why Learn Excel? Here are 4 Good Reasons

Lily Herman

Lily Herman

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Teachers use it when they need to need compare a student to their peers. So do entrepreneurs, when they’re considering which offering(s) to keep and which to retire. As do scientists, who want to figure out the homogeneity of a dataset.

What am I talking about? Microsoft Excel of course.

The three professions are among the 80 percent of job openings that require spreadsheet and word-processing software skills, according to a study conducted by Burning Glass. Yet so many people never even give Excel a chance because it has an intimidating stigma around it.

The bad news is “technological illiteracy, much less technophobia, is no longer a sustainable option for the modern worker. Effectively, entire segments of the U.S. economy are off-limits to people who don’t have basic digital skills.”

The good news? Well, there’s lots of good news actually. Keep reading, and you’ll learn why you need to add Excel to your resume.

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1. Excel is not just for making tables

When you were in school, maybe you used Excel to plug in a few number tables or add two cells together. However, Excel is so much more complex than that. For example, did you know that the program can do all of the following:

  • Organize data in an easy-to-navigate way
  • Do basic and complex mathematical functions so you don’t have to
  • Turn piles of data into helpful graphics and charts
  • Analyze data and make forecasting predictions
  • Create, build, and edit pixelated images (yes, creatives use it, too!)

Long story short? There’s a lot more to the program than you probably even realized, and there’s a use for it no matter what you do. It’s more about problem-solving in an organized manner than it is about rows of data, and this shift in perspective will allow you to think more critically about how Excel can help you.

2. Excel helps you get stuff done

“I don’t want to get through my work more efficiently,” said no professional ever.

In addition to organizing data, Excel’s plethora of programs and functions are meant to save you time. Instead of adding up 127 columns of monthly expenses yourself, for example, Excel does the math for you, and you’ll know it’s correct.

By using Excel, you’ll save a ton of time at your job and/or in your personal life, and it’s guaranteed to be more accurate than something you could’ve done by hand. What’s not to love?

3. It will increase your salary

Did you know that Excel know-how can instantly increase your job prospects as well as your starting salary? Excel is a transferrable skill that any hiring manager understands is critical. That’s the beauty of knowing such a universal computer program: It gives you options.

But more importantly, let’s talk about the big bucks here.

Research shows that middle-skill job applicants who know Microsoft Excel make $22.66 per hour on average compared to the $20.14 per hour their peers make who don’t know the program. That’s roughly an extra $20 per eight-hour workday and $100 per work week, simply for knowing how to use a single computer program. Moreover, full-time employees in certain industries can see a starting salary bump of anywhere from $1,000 to $7,000 per year based on their Excel skills. That’s not chump change you can ignore.

4. Excel will make you better at your job (no matter what that is)

Investment bankers and accountants aren’t the only ones who rely on Excel; scientists, teachers, business owners, graphic designers, and so many other people turn to the program for help. Regardless of what you do in the office, chances are there’s some way for Excel to be helping you do your job better; it’s just a matter of figuring out what that is.

For instance, is there a better way you could be organizing your data? Could graphics allow you to better communicate your ideas? Do you just need a place to dump all of your brainstorm ideas? Turn to Excel next time instead of those random pieces of paper filled with your chicken scratch.

Even better, being great at Excel can make you the go-to person in the office; you never know when your boss or a colleague needs someone with some Excel hacks to work his or her magic, and that person could be you. Who doesn’t want that gold star?

And that’s why you should learn Excel

Excel may seem intimidating at first, but by just starting to use the program for basic tasks in your life, you’ll get a better feel for how it works and also how it can make everything you do so much easier.

If you want to get started on a path to mastering Excel, then check out our online Excel course.

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Join the Excel conversation on Slack

Ask a question or join the conversation for all things Excel on our Slack channel.

Lily Herman

Lily Herman

Lily Herman is a New York-based writer and editor. Her work has been featured on Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Mashable, Fast Company, Teen Vogue, ELLE and more. Follow her on Twitter.