Salary Survey Extra: Deep Focus on Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) credential is a career cornerstone for many tech professionals.In the ’90s and early 2000s, Microsoft Office conquered the workplace world. Over the past couple of decades, the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification has conquered high school and college classrooms, becoming one of the most widely-held (if lightly regarded) tech credentials of them all.

Microsoft Office Specialist certification has two advanced tiers — Expert and Master — and is spread across several different Microsoft Office products: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook. For Salary Survey purposes, we included all three MOS tiers, but didn’t break them out by product specialization. The unadorned base-level Microsoft Office Specialist (No. 72 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list) is the subject of today’s proceedings.

Microsoft Office Specialist certification has a massive global footprint — just look at the results of any of the annual MOS World Championship competitions that have been held over the past 19 years. For this article, however, we’re only considering data from U.S. certification holders. We didn’t get enough international responses to create a reliable portrait.

Here’s what the salary picture looks like for MOS holders who responded to the Salary Survey:

All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $75,170
Median Annual Salary: $65,000
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 2.9 percent
Very Satisfied: 14.7 percent
Satisfied: 50 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 32.3 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]

A majority of the MOS holders we heard from are men: 61.7 percent of respondents. We heard from far more women than is the Deep Focus norm, however — a nearly-40 percent showing that probably reflects the educational setting where many (if not most) MOS credentials are earned. Somewhat surprisingly, most of the MOS-certified individuals who responded to the survey are middle-aged or older. Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed are either between the ages of 45 and 54 (38.2 percent) or between the ages of 55 and 64 (35.3 percent), with a further 20.6 percent of respondents between the ages of 35 and 44. The outliers are the 3 percent of those surveyed who are between the ages of 25 and 34, and the 2.9 percent between the ages of 65 and 74.

Nearly 85 percent of the MOS holders who responded to the survey have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most MOS holders is either a bachelor’s degree (38.2 percent of respondents), master’s degree (also 38.2 percent), associate’s degree (3.5 percent), or doctorate or professional degree (both 2.7 percent). All that leaves is the 14.7 percent of those surveyed who completed some level of post-high school technical training.

A rare 100 percent of MOS holders who participated in the survey are employed full-time. To break that down further, roughly 80 percent of those surveyed put in either a standard 40 hours at the office each week (44.1 percent) or work between 41 and 50 hours per week (35.3 percent). The outliers are the 11.8 percent of those surveyed who are at the office for more than 50 hours per week, the 5.9 percent who put in between 31 and 39 hour per week, and the 2.9 percent who put in between 20 and 30 hours per week.

In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of MOS holders we heard from are employed at the rank-and-file employee level (35.3 percent). The rest, in descending order, are either senior specialists (23.5 percent of respondents), specialists (20.6 percent), managers (14.7 percent), and senior managers or directors (both 2.9 percent).

A striking 67.6 percent of the MOS holders who responded to the survey are IT veterans, having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for more than a decade. The rest have been plying their certified skills for either between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (3 percent), between 3 and 5 years (17.6 percent), between 6 and 8 years (3 percent), or between 8 and 10 years (8.8 percent).

Finally, here’s the view of MOS holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:

At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification: 
Several times a day: 73.5 percent
Several times a week: 8.8 percent
Several times a month: 6 percent
Occasionally: 8.8 percent
Rarely: 2.9 percent

Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills. 
Strongly agree: 47.1 percent
Agree: 26.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 20.6 percent
Disagree: 5.8 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 41.2 percent
Agree: 29.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 23.5 percent
Disagree: 5.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 44.1 percent
Agree: 26.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 20.6 percent
Disagree: 8.8 percent
Strongly Disagree: [No responses]

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CertMag Staff

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