advancedexcelskillsWhat exactly does it mean to have advanced skills in Microsoft Excel?  In many job searches, you’ll see it listed time and again, but rarely is the capability described in any detail. So if you have any background with the software, you may be considering whether you are okay to characterize your ability as “advanced.” Moreover, you might wonder if you will be comfortable performing the Excel tasks the company expects from you.

In this article, we’ll take a quick look at some of the most widely used advanced features of Excel. This should help you get an idea of where you feel confident and where you might want to gain some training. You can also get started on learning today with an advanced Excel course online to make sure you are versed in the software.

Advanced functions

Functions are easy to create in Excel and, by design, they simplify and automate tasks that would otherwise be much more labor intensive. That said, there are a number of functions that, in practice, require some skill in order to solve complex problems. Part of the challenge for you is knowing when and how you can apply these and how to design them for your specific purpose.  If this is a specific area you would like to work on, you can take an online course on advance formulas and functions in Excel. Here are some examples:

Logical functions:

Data Functions:

Text Functions

This is not a comprehensive list by any means.  However, exploring these functions and applying them to problems will give you a better understanding of how to use functions at an advanced level in Excel.

Array Functions

In getting acquainted with Excel, most of the functions you will have used output a value to a single cell.  However, there is another set of advanced functions that work on an entire range. One of the most commonly used is the Transpose function, which essentially allows you to switch the axes for your data, so that the rows become the columns, and vice versa.

Data sorting and entry

Understanding functions is critical to using Excel at an advanced level, but it is not the only capability you will want to develop. Another area that may be important in working with spreadsheets day-to-day has to do with organizing and preparing data and cells within your tables. This involves several features of Excel. Here are some of the most common ones:

Macros and VBA

A basic understanding of macros in Excel will help any user complete tasks much more efficiently. While in many cases, an employer might not specifically prefer or require this skill, using macros can help you finish those tight turnaround reports without making mistakes or pulling all-nighters.

Learning VBA thoroughly will give you complete control over your macros so you can customize them to do complex tasks, even ones involving multiple programs.  In cases where VBA is a job expectation, it will likely be stated directly.  However, if you are working on a team that relies on spreadsheets regularly, your knowledge of VBA could allow you to create some enhancements and quickly show your value.

You can begin automating and programming your spreadsheets today with a course on Excel VBA and macros.

Statistical Analysis

If you will be working with statistics in Excel, there are specialized tools designed to help you crunch the numbers.  And since they will save you a lot of time vs. manual calculations, you will likely be expected to know the ones that are applicable to your work.  While some of these items are built in to Excel’s functions, most are available as features of the add-in analysis toolpak.  Make sure you have that resource installed and get to know some of the functions within it.  If you would like some guidance on using the tools, you can also take an online course in statistical analysis with Excel.


Creating a report with data visualization (e.g. graphs and charts) is a capability you learn at a basic level in an introductory Excel course.  However, the tools you have to work with for this purpose are robust and deserve special attention if you will be producing company reports.  You might consider taking a course on creating Excel dashboards that look great and deliver on the data analysis.


The Excel features covered here should give you a feel for what an advanced user can do with the program. However, there is still much more. To name a few, you might want to understand pivot tables, financial modeling functions, and/or referencing data between sheets and workbooks. Consider how comfortable you are with all of these features and try out some of the mentioned resources for getting to know the ones that will take your skills to the next level.

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