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Surgent’s Critical Skills Certificate: Excel® for Accounting and Finance Professionals

In today’s business world, most people need to be able to find their way around an Excel® spreadsheet. For those in accounting and finance roles, however, the bar is much higher. To perform at peak proficiency, CPAs and other accounting and finance professionals truly need to be Excel® “power users.”

That’s why Surgent developed the Critical Skills Certificate in Excel for Accounting and Finance Professionals. In eight highly-targeted hours of online instruction, we will equip you with the exact level of advanced Excel skills you need as a working CPA or other accounting and finance professional.

This Certificate Course is ideal for new graduates seeking positions in accounting and finance, as well as new hires or associates who could benefit from a deeper understanding of Excel®’s capabilities.

Surgent’s Critical Skills Certificate Course in Microsoft Excel® for Accounting and Finance Professionals:

  • Includes four 2-hour courses (a total of 8 hours of instruction)

  • All coursework is delivered 100% online and on-demand for complete go-at-your-own-pace flexibility

  • Each course segment includes a short proficiency exam to reinforce new skills

  • All courses are presented by Jeff Lenning, CPA, CITA, a top-rated instructor who specializes in teaching technology to accounting and finance students and professionals

After completing all four modules (including four short proficiency exams), you will receive a certificate, as well as a digital badge that you can add to LinkedIn and other social media profiles. By adding these items to your resume and online profiles, you’ll show that you have completed and passed the only Excel® curriculum offered by Surgent—the nation’s trusted leader in professional education for accounting and finance professionals. Set yourself apart from other job candidates and demonstrate that you have the skills to deliver value from day one on the job.


What Topics and Skills Are Covered in Surgent’s Certificate Course in Microsoft Excel®?

CPAs and other accounting and finance professionals need to be extremely proficient in Excel®’s extensive capabilities. Each of the four modules in our Certificate Course will help students master the specific functions and capabilities of Excel® that are critical for professionals in accounting and finance roles.

Module 1: “Mastering Must-Have Skills for Accounting and Finance Roles”

Module 1 Overview:  There are certain “must-have” skills for everyone using Excel—the ability to create workbooks and sheets, enter text and data and use basic functions like sorting and summing.  For many business people these capabilities may be all they will need throughout their career.  For an accounting and finance professional, these skills are just pre-requisites to the real must-have skills they will use every day in the tax and accounting world.  In this first module, you’ll get a thorough grounding in the time-saving shortcuts and strategies finance professionals use to boost their productivity in Excel.

Major Topics in Module 1:

  • More about Summing than you knew there was to know, including better ways to sum than the “sum” function.

  • The biggest pitfalls in Excel and how to work around them

  • The most important keyboard shortcuts for accounting and finance pros

  • Better alternatives to hiding rows and columns

  • The best and fastest ways to navigate between workbooks and files

  • How to structure worksheets so that embedded functions include any newly inserted rows

  • How to use Excel with Styles


Module 2:  Taking Control of Your Data with Tables and Conditional Summing

Module 2 Overview:  In this module, we will explore the powerful concept of splitting data from reports and dig into the mechanics that enable this technique.  The key to it all is the Tables feature and the function that lets you take control of your data with tables is the multiple condition summing function.  We’ll first understand these items fully and then apply them in a variety of ways.

Major Topics in Module 2:

  • Understanding how and when to use the Table feature

  • Using the Table object to store data

  • Mastering the function arguments for conditional summing

  • Using the multiple-condition summing function to aggregate table data

  • Using the table object to create mapping tables

  • Building crosstab style reports


Module 3:  Getting the Most From VLookups and Other Lookup Functions

Module 3 Overview:  Many Excel users pull values from one cell into another by using direct cell references (for example, =G10).  This may work but it misses out on the major efficiency gains that can be achieved by using a variety of Excel lookup functions.  Power users of Excel are aware of and use the VLookup function but they are also painfully aware of its limitations—especially that it cannot go left.   The most expert Excel users know how to bypass those limitations by using nesting functions and the real Excel rock stars know about capabilities that let them move beyond VLookup altogether.  In this third module of the Excel Certificate Course we will unlock these secrets for you.

Major Topics in Module 3:

  • Recognizing when and why a lookup function would be better than a direct cell reference

  • Using three key Excel lookup functions as an alternative to direct cell references

  • Understanding and applying the capabilities of VLookup functions

  • Understanding the limitations of VLookup functions

  • Mastering ways to move beyond VLookup limitations

Module 4:   “Unleashing the Potential of the ‘PivotTable’”

Module 4 Overview:  Of all of the advanced Excel capabilities used by accounting and finance professionals, none are as critical to unlocking Excel’s full potential as the PivotTable.  A PivotTable is essentially an Excel report that summarizes data.  That sounds simple enough but in fact these tables require advanced Excel skills to build.  If you haven’t yet explored PivotTables, it’s time. 

Major Topics in Module 4

  • Mastering the basics of PivotTable functionality and capabilities

  • Retrieving data from a database and feeding it into a PivotTable

  • Understanding how external data sources can be used to feed a PivotTable

  • Using Excel’s web browser to pull data from web pages into your Excel PivotTable


Surgent Critical Skills Certificate: Excel for Accounting and Finance Professionals (CSCE)

Thank You!


Surgent Critical Skills Certificate: Excel for Accounting and Finance Professionals (CSCE)

Thank You!


Who Should Take This Course?

Accounting and finance students/recent graduates, as well as any junior associates or other professionals working in finance and accounting who would benefit from more advanced Excel® skills.



Foundational knowledge of the basic properties of Excel®, whether obtained from an undergraduate level course or workshop, independent use of the program, or the many excellent free tutorials and videos available online.

This course does not qualify for continuing education credits.


"Very well done-Jeff was able to put things in terms I could easily understand."
-Recent course participant

"Jeff is excellent. He is knowledgeable and engaging."
-Recent course participant

"Jeff is an EXCELLENT teacher!"
-Recent course participant

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