13 Advanced Excel Skills for Business

Which Excel skills will help further your career? Discover the top 13 advanced Excel skills that employers are looking for and the benefits of learning them.

Many entry-level roles today require a proficiency in Excel with the skills to navigate spreadsheets, manipulate data and perform basic calculations. However, as you advance in your career and move to higher-level positions, more advanced Excel skills become crucial to your success.

Having a strong command of Excel skills not only enhances your chances of securing employment in competitive job markets but also strengthens your CV. A comprehensive understanding of Excel helps you tackle complex tasks, analyse data, and make informed decisions, improving your productivity.

Whether you are returning to work after a career break or making the switch to a new career after the military, investing time and effort into developing your Excel skills can yield many professional benefits and open doors to new opportunities. Let’s explore the advanced Excel skills employers are looking for and how they can benefit your career.

What’s in this article?

What are the Excel skill levels?

Excel proficiency falls into one of three categories: basic, intermediate and advanced. It’s essential to determine your current skill level to find out how you can advance your Excel knowledge further.

Basic Excel skills

Basic Excel skills typically encompass a foundational level of knowledge and proficiency in using the fundamental functions of Excel, such as basic spreadsheet formatting and switching between different view options.

Examples of basic Excel skills include:

  • Data entry and formatting
  • Creating simple formulas e.g. AVERAGE, SUMIF and COUNTIF
  • Navigating the Excel interface
  • Managing worksheets
  • Presenting data in basic visual charts
  • Sorting and filtering data in ascending or descending order
  • Subtraction, multiplication and division

Intermediate Excel skills

Intermediate Excel skills involve a deeper understanding of Excel’s features and functionalities. Users should have knowledge of how Excel functions behave when copied, pasted, or dragged to different locations. This allows you to effectively use Excel's functions and ensures accurate data analysis and manipulation.

Examples of the intermediate Excel skills include:

  • Advanced formulas and functions e.g. VLOOKUP
  • Creating charts and graphs
  • Data tables and what-if analysis
  • Making use of the Formula tab and Functions library
  • Using formulas to manipulate basic data

Advanced Excel skills

To reach this level of proficiency, you should be proficient in handling extensive volumes of data using spreadsheets, graphs, data tables, calculations, and automation to generate desired outcomes. Advanced Excel users have the expertise to create complex spreadsheet models, interactive dashboards, and customisable templates that can be used by users with basic and intermediate skills. Your ability to design and implement compound and intricate formulas, including array formulas, will allow you to tackle sophisticated problems and achieve advanced data manipulation with confidence.

Examples of advanced Excel skills include:

  • Applying advanced formulas e.g. INDEX MATCH, OFFSET and SUMPRODUCT
  • Building a PivotTable to extract insights from data
  • Effective use of the AutoFilter feature
  • Record and edit macros

What are advanced Excel skills?

Advanced Excel skills refer to a specialised and sophisticated level of proficiency that surpasses the basic knowledge of Excel formulas and features. Individuals with advanced Excel skills possess a breadth of knowledge and expertise that enables them to perform complex data analysis, create dynamic reports, automate tasks, and handle large datasets efficiently. These skills are vital in sectors that rely heavily on data-driven decision-making, such as financial services, data analysis, and market research.

Benefits of learning advanced Excel skills

Learning advanced Excel skills can provide a number of benefits that can positively impact your current role and your future career. These benefits include:

  • Career advancement – improve your job prospects, and increase your earning potential, as advanced Excel skills demonstrate your ability to handle complex data and successfully upgrade your existing skill set.
  • Increased efficiency - perform complex tasks more quickly and efficiently by automating repetitive processes.
  • Enhanced data analysis - analyse large datasets, perform sophisticated calculations, and generate meaningful insights using advanced functions to uncover patterns, trends, and relationships in the data.
  • Improved decision-making - create dynamic reports and dashboards that provide clear visual representations of data.
  • Continuous learning and adaptability - staying updated with new formulas and capabilities allows you to remain competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.
  • Process automation - Excel’s automation capabilities allow you to automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and eliminate manual errors, which creates more free time for strategic activities.
  • Versatility and integration - gain a versatile skill set that can be applied across a range of industries, such as finance, operations, and human resources.

What advanced Excel skills are employers looking for?

Whether you work in finance or data analysis, there are a range of advanced Excel skills that employers look for in a successful candidate. Let’s find out what they are!

Top 13 advanced Excel skills

  1. PivotTables
  2. Conditional Formatting
  3. Macros
  5. Power Pivot
  6. Filters
  10. SUMIF
  11. Data validation
  12. Power query
  13. Data manipulation

1. PivotTables

PivotTables extract relevant information from large sheets or workbooks and condense it into a concise table. They also allow for data rearrangement, enabling for a more organised approach to specific tasks. Using PivotTables helps users work with manageable data tables, enhancing efficiency, and expediting workflow.

2. Conditional Formatting

Conditional Formatting is a valuable technique for constructing spreadsheets, as it provides users with an effortless method to incorporate a visual analytical element into their data collections. By specifying certain criteria, this feature alters the contents and colour of cells, for example, it can highlight negative numbers to draw attention to them.

3. Macros

Excel users have the capability to automate repetitive tasks by creating macros in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). This skill entails using Excel’s programming features to record specific keystrokes that form a macro. Instead of manually entering or manipulating repetitive information, users can execute the macro to perform the same function repeatedly across the sheet or workbook.


The OFFSET function is a pre-existing function within Microsoft Excel. It serves the purpose of retrieving a range of cells that is a specified number of rows or columns away from a reference cell or range. In Excel, referencing a cell usually involves either clicking on it or manually entering it in a column and row.

Ranges returned by the OFFSET function can be a single cell or a series of consecutive cells. When a range is returned, users have the flexibility to determine its size by specifying the number of rows and columns. Being skilled in using the OFFSET function proves useful when working with formulas that require a dynamic range.

5. Power Pivot

Power Pivot, an Excel add-in, is a powerful tool for constructing intricate data models. Its most remarkable feature is its capability to handle vast data sets from multiple sources, all within a single Excel file. Advanced Excel users use Power Pivot to establish connections between PivotTables and other databases.

Power Pivot simplifies data analysis by linking and combining tables, which can then be used in PivotTables and Charts for analysis and visualisation. This add-in significantly speeds up information analysis and makes sharing results easier.

6. Filters

Filters in Excel allow users to focus on specific data while hiding the rest of the sheet. Advanced users can use multiple filters to extract highly specific information, which makes it easy to extract precise data based on custom criteria.


IFERROR is a handy command that aids in data cleaning. By applying it to a cell or range of cells, any cells that contain error codes are transformed into blank cells. This allows for a visually appealing data presentation and assists in fixing broken values like #VALUE! or #REF!.


INDEX MATCH combines the capabilities of Excel’s INDEX and MATCH functions into a powerful formula. It serves as a more advanced and dynamic alternative to the VLOOKUP or HLOOKUP formulas. The MATCH function locates the position of a cell within a row or column, while the INDEX function retrieves the value of a table cell based on specified column and row numbers. By using vertical and horizontal criteria, these two formulas can search and retrieve the value of a cell within a table.


The COUNTIF function is a valuable tool for determining the frequency of a specific word or phrase within a selected data set. This function is commonly used by advanced users to quickly count occurrences of specific information, such as department names or other identifying features, instead of manually performing the count.


COUNTIF is useful for determining the frequency of a specific entry in qualitative data, whereas, the SUMIF function allows you to calculate the sum of values that meet specific criteria. With SUMIF, you can instruct Excel to find the total of values associated with a particular word or phrase, or values greater than or less than a specific number. This tool enables Excel experts to interpret data and calculate totals without the need for manual calculations, saving time and effort.

11. Data validation

Data validation tools help advanced users identify and correct data mistakes. These tools include functions like email address verification, drop-down menus, duplicate entry notification, and autocorrect for spelling validation. Using these tools ensures data accuracy and improves data quality.

12. Power Query

Power Query is a versatile tool that helps users connect to external data sources, as well as clean and manipulate the data. By learning Power Query, users can easily import data from different sources into Excel and use various Excel tools for data analysis. It is a powerful tool for handling large datasets and requires an understanding of data sources beyond Excel, making it an advanced skill in data management.

13. Data manipulation

Data manipulation is an advanced skill that involves combining, organising, and eliminating data to create a more uniform dataset. Examples of data manipulation include merging columns, splitting data into multiple columns, consolidating lists, and removing duplicates. It helps to organise and streamline data effectively.

What jobs require advanced Excel skills?

While Microsoft Excel skills are widely used across various industries, certain jobs require advanced skills and in-depth knowledge of Excel. The specific level of expertise required can vary depending on the nature of the job. Here are some examples of jobs that require advanced Excel skills.

Data Analyst

A Data Analyst's role involves transforming collected data into a meaningful narrative to assist organisations in making informed decisions. By analysing data trends, they can also provide predictions for future demand and organisational growth. Advanced Excel skills for data analysis include working with PivotTables, using INDEX MATCH functions, creating charts and forecasts, and using trending tools. These skills help organise data in a readable format and make it easier to extract valuable insights.

Financial Analyst

Financial Analysts play a vital role in tracking and maintaining an organisation’s financial performance. They analyse market conditions, prepare forecasts, and generate reports. Excel is an essential tool for financial analysis, allowing for risk analysis, budgeting, cash flow tracking, and data manipulation using functions like PivotTables.

Market Analyst

Market Analysts collect data, analyse market conditions and identify business opportunities. Proficiency in PivotTables, Conditional Formatting, and VBA, is crucial for efficient data management and visualisation. These skills help analysts make data-driven presentations and support informed decision-making.

Advance your career with FDM!

At FDM, we are committed to supporting individuals transition to a career in technology. Our programmes provide comprehensive training and support to equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in your career. We offer industry exposure, networking opportunities, and ongoing career advice to ensure a successful transition and long-term career growth. By joining our programmes, you can gain valuable experience and expertise, setting a strong foundation for a rewarding career in the tech industry.

Are you ready to put your skills to the test? Find out more about our Returners and Ex-Forces Programmes today, or contact us for more information.

About Preeta Ghoshal

Preeta is a content writer with over 10 years’ experience across print, digital and broadcast media. She has worked extensively in multi-media content creation. Her work reflects a mix of subject matter research and storytelling to produce content that is both informative and easily digestible. She is presently providing content support to each of the FDM programmes and the wider marketing team.

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