Although Microsoft Office 2003 Edition was released nearly a year ago, the accompanying Office Specialist certifications are just now coming into full flower. Each of the major Office components -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook -- rates its own exam, with two additional exams on Word and Office for candidates seeking expert level credentials.
Exams on PowerPoint and Access are the two most recent additions to the Microsoft Office 2003 Specialist offerings, leaving only the Office 2003 Outlook Specialist exam outstanding.
The Microsoft Office Specialist program incorporates three levels of certification:
1. Microsoft Office Specialist: Candidates must successfully complete any single Office Specialist exam on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access or Outlook.
2. Microsoft Office Expert: Candidates must successfully complete either of the expert exams on Word or Excel. The only two credentials that qualify for this cognomen are the Microsoft Word 2003 Expert and the Microsoft Excel 2003 Expert since they're the only expert level exams available.
3. Microsoft Office Master: Candidates must successfully complete both the Word 2003 Expert and the Excel 2003 Expert exams, plus the PowerPoint Specialist exam, and either the Outlook or the Access Specialist exams, for a total of 4 exams (out of 7 total exams).
Surprisingly, the Microsoft Office Specialist program has granted over 1.6 million certifications, making it the second largest cert program around -- second only to the MCP program plus all of its related certifications, in fact. Microsoft promises that the lone holdout for a complete Office 2003 Editions program -- the Outlook exam -- will be "coming soon," and I expect to report an announcement of same before Halloween. For more information about Microsoft Office Specialist certs, exams, and requirements for Office 2003 Editions, check the program's requirements page.
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Ed Tittel is a long-time certification follower. He's series editor for Exam Cram 2, a popular assembly of cert prep books from Que Publishing, and a contributing editor for Certification Magazine. He also covers certification topics for InformIT.com, and numerous other TechTarget Web sites.