Keep Excel-ling – Ways to Improve at Any Excel Skill Level

Excel’s deceptively simple grid interface hides an extremely complex program capable of deep data manipulation and visualization. Students that have taken our Excel Level 1, 2, and 3 courses feel confident in their abilities, and yet are surprised to learn that they can go even further with their Excel skills.

In the past, students that took Level 3 were left to fend for themselves for further training, or they would have to move into much more complicated territory, like backend coding in VBA in order to continue their development, which is often more than most people need.

That is why JN Software and CompuEase have created 40 different Excel courses, with more added all the time. We recognize that every Excel user is different and that a much wider range of learning options can help support individual training goals.

We offer courses that focus on pivot tables, charts, dashboards, Power Pivot and, of course, Power BI. Students can customize their own training classes by creating custom objectives and bringing their own files into their sessions.

These options allow you to design a training program that covers the specific material you need to know. However, it’s not always clear what you’re lacking. This article will help you determine where you are with your Excel skills, where you need to be, and which course will get you there.

A Few Thoughts Before We Begin

Before we move on, it’s worth answering a few common questions.

Students frequently ask whether they must take Excel Levels 1, 2, and 3 in order. If you have no background in Excel, you should certainly start with Level 1. It is recommended that Level 1 is followed by Level 2 and Level 3, as the courses build on previous knowledge. However, it is not a prerequisite, and the two levels can be taken out of order.

The next question people ask is whether they need to take training courses on earlier versions of Excel, like Excel 2010 or 2013, before learning about Excel 2016. The short answer is no. For a more detailed answer, refer to this helpful article.

It’s also important to note that every class listed here is available through CompuEase or JN Software. CompuEase courses are taken at our convenient downtown Ottawa training facility. Registering through JN Software allows you to join these classes live online anywhere across Canada. 

In addition to our public classes, all our courses can be taken privately at our training centre in Ottawa, on-site at your location across Canada or online with a live trainer. We provide various options, knowing that even the way that training is delivered is not “one size fits all”. Making sure you have the skills you need for your day-to-day work is important to us.  If you opt for our private training, whether on-site or online, we are happy to use your documents to help you see the training principles reflected in your own work.

Four Types of Excel Users

To determine where you should focus your training, it is helpful to examine what you already know and the ways in which you use Excel. To do this, we will look at four general categories of Excel users. Find the user that best matches your current skill level. The match may not be exact, but it will still help you determine possible areas for future growth. Of course, you are more than welcome to explore and take any course that we offer. The below is simply a helpful tool to point you in the right direction.

User 1

Level 1: Basic Users

Level 1 users know the fundamentals of spreadsheet navigation. They understand how to input data properly and how to perform basic calculations.

Often, these users are self-taught, either through their own efforts or as part of their job. They know enough to accomplish basic tasks and feel comfortable navigating simple data layouts.

If you don’t have them already, you can learn these skills in our Excel Level 1 course:

If you’re a basic user, your training trajectory should take you into our Level 2 course, and then possibly on to Level 3. There are still essential skills you need to learn before branching out into more focused courses in Excel. You’ll find links to these courses later in the article.

User 2

Level 2: Formula Users

Level 2 users can accomplish more involved tasks. They’re comfortable with more complex formulas and they have a basic understanding of how to organize their database files and how to create basic data visualizations.

You’ll learn these skills in our Excel Level 2 course:

These users often work in finance-related positions that require heavy calculation. If this is you, our Level 3 class would certainly benefit you. You might also consider our Advanced Excel Functions and Formulas course, which teaches more advanced formulas and the proper way to use them in Excel.

You can find that course here:

User 3

Level 3: Data Analysis Users

Level 3 users can mirror Level 2 users, with a focus on formulas and functions, but they often focus more on data analysis tools like pivot tables, conditional formatting, and other reporting tools.

They’ve likely been through our Level 3 course:

Now they’re ready to move on to more specialized material.


If you identify as a data analyst, then the next step in your training might involve learning how to create more engaging data presentations using dashboards. Dashboards are dense panels of charts and graphs that deliver robust visualizations of even complex datasets.

You can start with our dashboard introductory course here:

Then you can delve more deeply into dashboards here:

Power Pivot

For Excel users that need powerful relational database functionality but find Microsoft Access to be unnecessarily complicated, Power Pivot is an excellent focus for your future development. Power Pivot allows for the more advanced use of pivot tables. Users can pull in data from multiple sources and build potent relationships. They can also take advantage of powerful DAX functions for calculating and summarizing data.

If this is you, take our Excel Power Pivot Complete course:

Power BI

Companies and organizations everywhere are harnessing the power of BI (Business Intelligence) for data-driven decision making. Power BI is Microsoft’s implementation of this industry-leading technology.

Excel users that are interested in learning cutting-edge data analysis techniques and powerful new visualization methods should enroll in our complete Power BI training course:

User 4

Power Users

Power users thrive on raw data and aren’t concerned with creating attractive visualizations or using regimented analysis tools designed by others. These are data scientists and similar users. Dashboards and Power BI aren’t enough for power users. They need the ability to create their own custom analysis tools, hand-coded from the ground up.

Users at this level need to learn to code in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). This coding language allows users to create powerful custom applications to analyze, manipulate, and visualize massive datasets involving highly complex functions and formulas.

Those interested in learning VBA can start with our Microsoft Excel VBA Complete course:

Users that are already familiar with VBA and use it regularly can benefit from our consulting services. JN Software Consulting offers Excel guidance outside of our standard and custom courses. We can consult on projects that require custom solutions for difficult problems, help users troubleshoot issues they’re finding challenging, and help users reach the next level in their abilities.

Courses for Everyone

Everyone, no matter their skill level, can benefit from time-saving tips and tricks. The courses below are fun explorations of some of these hidden efficiencies.

Excel Tips & Tricks Level 1

This course condenses many of the hidden gems that we teach in our other courses, along with teaching new material. You’ll learn useful tips that will improve your productivity, increase your efficiency, and generally help you enjoy your work more.

Excel Tips & Tricks Level 2

This course features advanced tips, tricks, and time savers for graduates of our level 1 course. Explore a host of hidden features that can skyrocket your productivity and set you on a path to looking like an Excel genius. Beginners and advanced users alike will find something for themselves in this course.

Click here for more information on our Excel courses.

We also offer all of the above courses as private one-on-one and private group training. With private training, you can customize the courses to your needs, and they can be held online or onsite all across Canada. Contact us today to find out more about how you can tailor these courses to your needs. If you’re in Ottawa or Quebec, call CompuEase at 613-235-6161 or email us. If you’re anywhere else in Canada, call JN Software at 416-264-6247 or email us.
Take a look at all of the Excel training we offer on our website! Visit CompuEase for Ottawa and Quebec, or JN Software for the rest of Canada.
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