Is Excel worth learning?

Table of Contents

It’s more than 30 years since the inception of Excel, and over the years, it has become an essential tool in data analytics.
Over the years, the developer has added newer functionalities into the program; thus, giving in more capabilities. The interface has changed so much – modern excel looks better and is easier to learn and use.
Funnel and 2D map charts and Geographic and stock data are some tools that make excel powerful.
Microsoft Excel spreadsheet has evolved from the simple Excel v2.0 for Windows in 1987 to the latest Microsoft Excel version 2019 16.0.6742.2048.
This newer version is available as both a desktop application for Windows and macOS. Besides, you can get it as a web app as part of the Office365 subscription service.

Is Excel worth learning
Is Excel worth learning

What are the benefits of learning Excel?

Excel is a reliable tool as it comes to data management tools. That’s why many professionals across the globe use Excel. 

Teachers, scientists, and business people use Excel, thanks to its impressive with all devices as well as operating systems. 

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Did you know that Excel is ideal for auditing, configuring, and displaying data suitably? 

Almost every job requires some knowledge of Excel. 

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Sadly, the majority of people understand the basics. You can do training in Excel to better your skills and acquire an in-depth understanding of Excel.  

The benefits of learning Excel include: 

  1. Excel is time-saving 

Excel is full of time-saving features. Though not everybody is an expert at using Excel, you can save an incredible amount of time even with the necessary skills.

AutoSum is an essential time-saving feature in Excel. You can use it to calculate the sum of large values within a second. Accountants perform foot and cross-foot on table values – a very complicated process.

Ideally, it involves getting each column (foot) and then verifying each foot’s accuracy by getting the sum of all the foots and comparing it to the sum of rows (cross-foot).

Excel lets you do these complex and time-consuming operations in 2 steps.

Simply use AutoSum.

Now, use the AutoSum to insert sum formulas, which total all columns and rows simultaneously. Highlight the data with an additional row and an extra column. Then click the AutoSum button on the Home tab. That’s it!

Besides, with excel, you can edit multiple worksheets in the same Excel workbook at the same time and format faster using the Format Painter. 

Other time-saving features include:

  • Open several files at a go.
  • Add multiple cells 
  • Quickly move or copy columns and rows. 
  • Parse values without using functions
  • Document your named ranges
  1. Build Data with Tables and Graphs

Translating data into tables and graphs is one of the significant functions of Excel. Tables and graphs are essentially visual representations, which organize information into desirable patterns and relationships. 

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You can represent any data – sales, profits, income, students score, and scientific outcomes using graphs, tables, and charts. Besides, you can translate the data to make it easier for people to understand. 

Information in tables and graphs is much easier to understand, format, filter, and sort data. Besides, if you need to expand rows or columns or get totals, excel allows you to do it automatically.

  1. Organize Data Easily

Sorting and classifying data sets makes them more useful to the users, and excel cam make the process a lot easier. 

Organizing data is a complex process that involves re-ordering or analyzing the arrangement of data. It may involve structured and unstructured data.

While structured data comprises data in tables, which you can easily integrate into a database and then feed into analytics software like Excel, unstructured data is raw and unformatted. 

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Unstructured data is a simple text document – information is scattered throughout random paragraphs. 

Putting together such data can be hectic. Data organization strategies help to make better use of data. For instance, executives focus on data organization to streamline business processes to improve the business model in business.

Now, if you know how to use Excel, you can organize all types of data easily. Excel has expandable capacity, and multiple rows and columns – 1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns. 

Beyond organizing these large sets of data, you can save them on your computer. Are you an accountant? Excel will let you store records of multiple transactions and verify them daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly.  

To easily organize date you can try these tips:

  • Using Hyperlinked Cells – intuitive navigation mechanisms
  • Use A Template – excel has professional templates that you can use. This prevents the tendency to recreate spreadsheets all the time. Use this route to get them File > New > New from Template.
  • Hide what you don’t want to see and highlight what you need to see – This saves time when looking for vital information.
  • Avoid blank rows and columns – allows excel to detect and select related data.
  1. Proficient in spreadsheets

Learning Excel is a gateway to proficiency in spreadsheets. Keep in mind; Excel is the pioneering spreadsheet, so other spreadsheets tend to copy from excel bit in features and functionalities.

So when you learn excel, you can manage data efficiently. That means you’ll be able to create, edit, format, filter, and sort data accordingly. You can learn MS Excel in a day, but, little by little, you can polish your skills to be proficient.

  1. Table creating abilities

Creating perfect tables means taking a deeper dive into the features and functionalities of excel. That means you’ll have the potential to manage both text and images in the standard format. 

This way, you can manage, present, and maintain perfect excel reports, which are valuable for professionals. But to do that, you need to master the tools and techniques of excel.

  1. Improve Skills

Beyond your education, you need to better your technical skills, and learning Excel is one way of improving your skills and gaining practical knowledge. 

If you are an accountant, you’ll know how to manage accounts, and if you are a teacher, you’ll learn how to present comparison tables for your student’s grade. 

So find a decent MS Excel training academy to learn the nitty-gritty of excel, such as organizing data in assorted tables, columns, and rows. Besides, you’ll know how to work concurrently on unrelated Excel sheets.

Simply put, excel makes you better regardless of what you do – data organization, clear idea communication.

Ideally, Excel training can help you to: 

  • Manipulate, Visualize, and evaluate the data.
  • Create equations to provide more data on vital functions like project efficiency, workflow, financial projections, and budgets
  • Maintain, organize, and reconcile complex financial and inventory accounts.
  • Create an easy-to-read data set for upper management to analyze current projects
  • Provide answers and develop solutions to problems affecting the business by interpreting data at a more advanced level.
  • Design spreadsheets that organize data accurately and provide a clear picture of the information 
  • Read and comprehend spreadsheets.
  • Create tracking systems for multiple departments and operations like workflow processes.
  1. Get Certificate

Once you train, you’ll get a certificate – no doubt about it. However, your certificate will carry more weight if it is from an accredited academy. Such a certificate increases your chances of landing a more decent job. 

Besides, having a decent grasp of excel can make you a data configuration expert. 

For instance, formatting spreadsheets accordingly, i.e., using different colors to emphasize a point. 

  1. Learning excel can increase your salary.

Get it right – getting the proper training in excel can increase your job prospects and your starting salary. Every recruitment manager understands the importance of excel, though it is a universal computer program.

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According to research, a middle-skill job applicant proficient in Microsoft excel earns $22.66/ hour on average while their peers with not Excel knowledge earn $20.14/hour. For an eight-hour shift, it means an extra $20 per!

What’s impressive is that full-time employees in certain industries can start anywhere between $1,000 and $7,000 per year, depending on their Excel skills. 

  1. Macros

It is possible to automate tasks in excel using the excel VBA, a process called VBA. Training in Excel can make you have a better understanding of macros, and hence be able to execute your tasks easily.

The critical thing about macros is that it saves lots of time and improves employees’ efficiency and overall company efficiency.

  1. Help to identify trends.

When you have a deeper understanding of excel, you can understand emerging trends through excel data. Through in-depth analysis, you can see trend lines beyond the graph. And this can help in creating future strategies.

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After learning excel, what next? 

Excel is an excellent tool for data analysis and modeling. Though it comes at a price, it is affordable than other similar tools but packs more data analysis features.  

But did you that you can be a better employee if you combine excel with other skills? Below are valuable skills to learn:


Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is a slight alteration of the original Microsoft Visual Basic version. 

You should learn VBA if you do excel duties that require repetitions. You can write as well as debug VBA codes within Visual Basic code editor, which allows you to do calculations in spreadsheets. 

Excel has a Macro Recorder, which you can use to record daily jobs in the form of VBA codes. If you have experience in VBA programming, you can alter Visual Basic editor’s code and run it as Macro. 

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SQL is another programming language in a database that stores numerous tables of data. So learn this language if you are managing various data records.

Ideally, SQL allows storage, retrieval, and analysis of data without viewing or sorting the entire table. Besides, SQL works with different programming languages for the storage of data for search engines, eCommerce stores, and news websites. 


Tableau is simply a visualization tool. It can create representations of analyses in illustrated forms; thus, making it easier to conclude.

Excel creates graphs like bar charts and pie charts. But isn’t engaging enough to your readers. Try using Tableau for better results as it has powerful visuals and is easier for an inexpert audience.

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Is Excel a valuable skill?

Undoubtedly, Excel is a valuable skill – that’s the reason you should learn how to use it. 

Currently, Excel is the king for office work. Learning everything about excel is a mammoth of a task. But it is rewarding.

Try to grasp a handful of essential features and functionalities, which can help you go a long way. 

If you are a user of Microsoft Excel, you will fall into either of the two categories:

  • First, users who create neat little tables.
  • Second, users can create striking and sophisticated graphs, tables, and charts and do compelling data analysis, magical formulas, and macro tricks.

So which one are you? 

Excel can only be valuable if you are close to 80 percent proficient. Learn the below skills to be proficient:

  1. Vlookup

Vlookup means Vertical Lookup. The Vlookup function within excel lets you search for certain values in a column, different sheets or workbooks, and return values or create summaries in a central location.

A VLOOKUP function has 4 components: 

  • The value you want to search 
  • A specified range to find the value and the return value
  • The number of the column encompassing the defined range containing the return value
  • 0 or FALSE for an exact match and 1 or TRUE for an approximate match.

Syntax: VLOOKUP ([value], [range], [column number], [false or true])

Vlookup is a valuable function in many organizations, including retail stores. For instance, in a retail store, each product has a unique inventory number. While looking up from the product, use the inventory number in Vlookup. 

  1. IF formulas

IF formula is essential in testing for a specific condition. Ideally, they run a logical test and return one value for TRUE result and another for FALSE results. But you can test for more than a single condition by nesting the IF function. You can combine the IF function with logical functions such as AND and OR to extend the logical test.


=IF (logical_test, [value_if_true], [value_if_false])

IF and IFERROR are the most useful IF formulas in Excel. 

IFERROR lets you return a particular value (or a blank value) when the input formula returns an error. For instance, if you perform a Vlookup to another sheet/table, the IFERROR formula will render the field blank should the reference not be found.

  1. Creating charts

Creating a chart is easy. First, you need to enter data into excel – columns and headers. After that, follow Insert > Chart > Chart Type. 

If you are using Excel 201, it comes with a Recommended Charts section. Further, the section has layouts based on the data type you’re working with.

Now, create the generic version of the chart, and then go to the Chart Tools menus and customize it.

  1. PivotTables

PivotTables are summary tables that allow you to count, average, sum, and perform other calculations based on reference points you enter. 

Excel 2013 added Recommended PivotTables, which will make it a lot easier to create a table that displays the data you need.

You can create a PivotTable manually; but, ensure you tittle your data appropriately, and then click on Insert > PivotTable and finally select your data range. 

The upper half of the right-hand-side bar has all the fields need. You’ll generate your table in the bottom half area.

For instance, you can count the number of fails and passes using PivotTables. Just place your Pass/Fail column into the Row Labels tab and then again into your Pivot Table’s Values section.

Typically, it defaults to the correct summary type. However, you select other functions because there are multiple functions in the Values dropdown box. Furthermore, you can create subtables that summarize data by category.

  1. PivotChart

A PivotChart is partly a PivotTable and somewhat traditional Excel chart. This valuable tool in excel presents complex data in an easy-to-digest way. 

PivotCharts have similar functions as traditional charts. For instance, they have data series, categories, etc. But unlike traditional charts, they come with interactive filters, which allow you to browse through data subsets easily.

  1. Flash Fill

Flash Fill is a feature in Excel 2013 and other latest versions of excel. And the feature is vital in helping you pull necessary information pieces from a concatenated cell. 

For example, working on columns with names in “Last, First” format, Flash Fill automatically fills data. What you should do is type the first person’s first name in a field next to the one you’re working on, and then click Home > Fill > Flash Fill.

 Excel will extract the first name from the remaining people in your table. 

  1. Power View

The best thing with excel is that it lets you analyze and view data. Power View is an interactive functionality in excel that allows you to explore and visualize data. Besides, you can use the tool to pull and analyze massive data quantities from external sources. 

Go to Insert > Reports in Excel 2013.

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Who should use Excel?

While excel is a common and powerful tool, many people only use basics. Those who know how to tap the benefits of excel can land a better paying job.

Look, do you know how to convert PDF to excel? It sounds simple, but it requires a proper understanding of excel.

Excel has uses in the following fields:

Financial Analysts

One powerful spreadsheet program to understand as a financial analyst is MS excel. You’ll need to make recommendations and conclusions from financial data. And that is after consolidating, sorting, filtering, and analyzing numerical data.

Besides, excel will help you show things like sales and direct costs, annual revenues, and spending.

Retail Store Managers

How would you manage your store without a spreadsheet? A store manager will need to monitor inventory, leading staff, and maximizing profit. That means they need to prepare annual budgets, analyze consumer and sales trends, and schedule expenditures. Excel is the best tool.

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Administrative Assistants

Excel is an invaluable skill for administrative assistants. These individuals perform multiple tasks, including minor bookkeeping, creating client databases, generating reports, organizing document systems, and maintaining computer records. All these activities involve Excel.

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Project Managers

The scope of project managers is broad. But they need to work efficiently to ensure that their projects are successful. 

Look, a project manager will allocate resources, manage employees, deal with vendors, and create vital documents.

Excel is the basic spreadsheet that project managers can use to run their activities effectively. Ideally, excel lets them streamline operations, manage financial records, generate reports, sort out vendor lists, and create Gantt charts.

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Data Journalists

Journalists need to integrate data into their stories to increase credibility, and excel is the simplest tool they can use to collect and analyze the data they collect. However, they may opt to use other complicated tools.

Most journalists prefer Excel because they can use it with or without in-depth coding and high-level database skills.

Business Analysts

If you are a business analyst, your job is to analyze a business, document its systems, and assess various aspects of the company, including weaknesses and solutions.

Such a process needs keeping track of data and later analyzing the data. That means you need a spreadsheet, and Excel has been a favorite tool for many business analysts.

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Though accountants deal with niche-specific software like QuickBooks, excel usually is their starting point. That’s why the majority of accountants are proficient in excel. 

Ideally, an accountant must understand the function of various excel formulae necessary for filtering values, summing, averaging, and calculating the standard deviation. Besides, they need to know how to format and auditing data.  

Benefits of learning Excel

Excel has wide-ranging capabilities. Every educated individual needs to learn at least the basics of MS Excel to help them in their career path.

But some people take it to a higher level by learning Advanced Excel. This puts them in a prime position to:

  • Manipulate data using Pivot tables
  • Creating a Dashboard for visualization Charts
  • Use PowerBi, a next-level visualization tool in Excel.


Whether you are doing research, you are a business person, a teacher, data analyst, project manager, or an accountant, excel is vital.

With excel, you can do lots of tasks, including data entry and storage, verification of data, managing businesses, analyzing data, accounting, budgeting, forecasting, and reporting(visualization).

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If you deal with any amount of data, it is worth learning excel. Beyond career progress, you’ll earn a better salary than your peers.

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.