The Complete Guide for the MS Office Certification


The Complete Guide for the MS Office Certification

Microsoft 365 is a diverse management solution provided by Microsoft.  Previously known as Office 365, it offers a complete suite of web applications, device management tools, and cyber & computer security services. Microsoft 365 enables organizations to help increase productivity, reorganize day to day operations, and ensure data security. Keeping in view the continuous advancement in the field of Information Technology, Microsoft felt the need to revolutionize their management solutions. It has moved from selling on-premises software to subscription-based cloud software solutions, and Office 365 is a part of that project.

With the growing passage of time, the tendency of many organizations to move to cloud-based solutions is increasing. Microsoft 365 has undoubtedly become a famous productivity suite for businesses of all sizes across the globe. The service includes accustomed Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Exchange, together with a wide range of enterprise-level services. The popularity of Microsoft 365 popularity has also increased the demand for IT professionals who are skilled in setting up, administer, develop, and secure the Microsoft suite.

Microsoft 365 is designed for professionals from all sectors. Whether you are aiming for a new job, promotion, and want to enhance your Microsoft skills, or you are just looking for personal development, a wide array of Microsoft 365 certifications can fit your needs. However, in this article, we will specifically talk about Microsoft Office 365 certification in detail. If you aspire to land a job working with Office 365, Microsoft offers a wide range of entry-level to associate-level certifications that can help endorse your skills.

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft has taken user's favorite apps like Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams, One Drive, and put them together on the cloud under one umbrella. The users now can access documents from literally anywhere in the world; at any time, they need them across different devices with sharing options. Moreover, Microsoft's built-in intelligence software, users can optimize their projects efficiently in lesser time.

What Microsoft 365 Offers?

Microsoft 365 enables businesses and employees to store, share, and access files anywhere, with up to 1TB of storage per user. Besides Microsoft's well-renowned tools, it can also be used as a collaboration tool, allowing online group chats and meetings. Moreover, it also allows for sharing features with instant feedback and collaboration options. On top of that, it also ensures the security of customer information data.

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based solution, and users can get the latest version of each of these apps. Users can use these solutions regardless of the software and device. Additionally, sixty (60) Skype minutes are also provided every month, and it will also enable users to make effective use of enterprise-level instant messaging and conferencing.

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What is Microsoft Office 365?

Office 365 is part of the Microsoft 365 solution. It is an intelligent suite for Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility & Security. The Microsoft Cloud powers office 365 and it is aimed to help meet user's needs related to system security, reliability, and productivity. Overall, the Microsoft Office 365 suite empowers everyone to work together securely and be creative.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: Office 365

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Office 365 certification is aimed at empowering students and professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to use Office 365 services to plan, evaluate, install, and operate it. MCSA: Office 365 certification is comprised of just two exams, in comparison to other Microsoft MCSA certifications. The exams are as under:

  • Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements
  • Enabling Office 365 Services

The distinctive feature of MCSA: Office 365 that gives it an advantage over other MCSA certifications is its expedited pathway. Most MCSA certifications require three examinations; on the other hand, Office 365 requires just two exams.

Pre-requisite to MCSA: Office 365:

People looking forward to pursuing this certification should have some prior familiarity with the following:

  • Microsoft Windows Server operating system modules (DNS and IIS)
  • Exchange
  • SharePoint
  • Lync

The MCSA is an intermediate-level certification with no formal preconditions. However, before beginning this certification path, having 1-3 years of professional experience is an added advantage.

Steps Involved in MCSA: Office 365

By attaining an MCSA: Office 365 certification, a user qualifies for a position as a 'software as a service' (SaaS) administrator or cloud-based application administrator. It also focuses on Office 365 business productivity solutions, including Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business.

First Step – Skills

You must possess foundational IT skills. Before embarking on Office 365 certification, if you feel that you need basic IT skills, you must pursue one or more Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications.

Second Step – Exams

Pass two exams, as discussed above. Make sure that you prepare for the exam properly as it needs time and money investment.

Third Step – Exams

Successfully passing the exam will earn you an MCSA: Office 365 certification.

Fourth Step – Continue Learning

If you are looking to enhance your skills further, then you must earn MCSE certification by passing one more related exam.

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Who Should Attain MCSA: Office 365?

Office 365 solution has become the benchmark for professionals, individuals, and organizations of the large or small scale who are eyeing to install an effective productivity software to accommodate their array of needs. The Office 365 certification will train your skills and abilities related to the suite of desktop applications by MS Office and web-hosted versions of Microsoft Server solutions.

Obtaining the Microsoft Office 365 certification will help you understand the particulars of this popular productivity software. After completing this training course, you will be able to learn the skills needed to install and manage an Office 365 environment. Moreover, you will also learn how to configure and SharePoint for Office 365.

Professionals from the following areas of expertise must go for this certification:

  • IT Professionals
  • Programmers
  • System Administrators
  • SaaS Administrators
  • Cloud Application Administrators
  • Business Application Administrators
  • Business Analysts
  • Consultants
  • Application developers

Benefits of MCSA: Office 365

Upon completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand Office 365
  • Recognize applications in Office 365
  • Identify the relationship of Office 365 with MS Office, Cloud, and mobile applications
  • Understand and use OneNote and Skype for Business
  • Move an Organization to Cloud
  • Increase user productivity
  • Work remotely
  • Ensure data security

Cost Expiration and Subscriptions

Microsoft provides solutions for home and business separately.

For Home

  • Microsoft 365 Family
  • Microsoft 365 Personal
  • Office Home & student 2019

Microsoft 365 Family

It provides a practical subscription for up to 6 individuals. It comprises of premium productivity apps, up to 6 TB of cloud storage (1 TB per person), and improved security for all devices. It also includes the services of One Drive and Skype. The premium apps included in this package are:

  1. Word
  2. Excel
  • PowerPoint
  1. OneNote
  2. Outlook
  3. Access (PC only)
  • Publisher (PC only)


It will cost Rs. 11,999 per year or Rs. 1,199 per month.

Microsoft 365 Personal

This subscription includes premium productivity apps. 1 TB of cloud storage, and advanced security for all devices. The following apps are included:

  1. Word
  2. Excel
  • PowerPoint
  1. OneNote
  2. Outlook
  3. Access (PC only)
  • Publisher (PC only)


It will cost Rs. 9, 299 per year or Rs. 929 per month.

For Business

  • Microsoft 365 business basic
  • Microsoft 365 business-standard
  • Microsoft 365 business premium
  • Microsoft 365 Apps

Microsoft 365 business basic

It is best suited for businesses that require easy remote solutions, with Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, and office online. It offers mobile web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Other services include Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams.


It costs USD 5.00 inclusive of tax for users per month at annual commitment.

Microsoft 365 business-standard

It is feasible for businesses that need full remote work and collaboration tools, which include Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, business email, and premium office applications across all devices. The secure cloud services include Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. The apps included in this package are as follows:

  1. Word
  2. Excel
  • PowerPoint
  1. Outlook
  2. Access (PC only)
  3. Publisher (PC only)


It costs USD 12.50 inclusive of tax for users per month at annual commitment with a free one month trial.

Microsoft 365 business premium

It is useful for businesses that need secure, remote work solutions with everything included in business-standard, including cyber threat security and device management. The secure cloud services include Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, Intune, and Azur information protection. The premium apps included in this package are as follows:

  1. Word
  2. Excel
  • PowerPoint
  1. Outlook
  2. Access (PC only)
  3. Publisher (PC only)


It costs USD 20.00 inclusive of tax for users per month at annual commitment with a free one month trial.


Office 365 is a subscription, just like other subscriptions. The services do not stop at once if you unintentionally forget to renew it. Office 365 gives leverage of four months without losing any data. The subscription expires gradually, and there is a three-step process that Microsoft offers to its customers to renew or cancel the subscription and move or backup all the necessary data.

  1. Expired
  2. Disabled
  • De-provisioned


In the first step, the process initiates under the head of "Expired." At this stage, you still have access to all office 365 applications and services that were part of your subscription and all data for a month. Administrators can use the office 365 admin center, including issuing licenses to new or existing employees. All data can be backed up if the organization decided to unsubscribe office 365. On the other hand, the subscription can be renewed during these 30 days.


In the second stage, the subscription is in "disabled" mode for two to four months. The only administrator have access and can still use the admin center so that the IT department can make a backup of all data that is stored in Microsoft servers. The applications installed on the PC of normal users will be placed in 'reduced functionality' with limited features, and they cannot use their office 365 accounts and linked servers. During this stage, the global or billing administrator can still renew the subscription.


The third and last stage in which the subscription is officially deregistered. During this stage, the administrators cannot use office 365 services and applications which means the data cannot be backed up. By starting this stage, Microsoft will gradually erase the data from servers. In this case, the administrator have no right to restore the subscription, and access to data in the cloud and office application will be officially terminated. A new subscription or a standalone permanent license needs to be purchased to use office 365 again.


Learners are not typically required to renew MCSA certifications. However, renewal is strongly encouraged because the technology keeps on changing continuously. Therefore, it is beneficial to keep the skills up to date, as well as a desire to learn. Each year certification can be renewed by passing exams from the list of elective skills to enhance your abilities further. Each time earning a certification will add a new certification in the transcript. The process will substitute the current recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or three years (MCSE) to avoid inactivity of your certification.

MCSA: Office 365 Exam Details and Costs

Time for the exam: 2 hours (120 minutes)

Number of questions: 40-60 per exam

Passing score: 700 per exam

Question types: Multiple choice/multiple answers, scenario-based

Exam registration: USD 165 per exam

Salary range

Depending upon the professional experience, learners that hold any MCSA certification like Office 365 can earn between USD 43,793 to USD 136,630 per month. Another study for Microsoft's next-gen certification wage data shows USD 83,036 per month. The designation relating to Office 365 is a systems administrator, network administrator, IT Manager, IT director, and other IT-related posts.

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