4 Best Certifications for Middle School Business and Career Courses
In 2021, the Google Apps certification for students was discontinued. As a result, middle school teachers across the US are scrambling to find a replacement certification to offer their business education students.
As a business and career readiness curriculum developer, we hear from teachers like you facing this challenge every week.
To help you and your students succeed, we’ve put together a list of the most common certification options we hear from middle school teachers like you:
- Microsoft Office Specialist
- IC3 Spark
- Communication Skills for Business
- 21st Century Success Skills Assessment
You’ll learn what topics each certification focuses on to help you determine if it will be a good fit for your program.
You’ll also discover how middle school teachers use digital curriculum to prepare students for these exams.
Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications
The Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certification program is designed to assess someone’s knowledge and skills with Microsoft Office applications.
Though there are certifications for many Microsoft applications and skill levels, we recommend middle school teachers focus on the three most basic MOS certifications:
- Microsoft Word Associate
- Microsoft Excel Associate
- Microsoft PowerPoint Associate
MOS Word Associate Certification
The MOS Word Associate certification measures a student’s capabilities with Microsoft Word to create professional and informative documents in the workplace.
The MOS Word Associate exam is made up of 35 questions across six objective domains:
- Manage Documents
- Insert and Format Text, Paragraphs, and Sections
- Manage Tables and Lists
- Create and Manage References
- Insert and Format Graphic Elements
- Manage Document Collaboration
When a student earns the MOS Word Associate certification, they prove they have mastered document creation, collaboration, and communication when using Word.
MOS Excel Associate Certification
The MOS Excel Associate certification measures a student’s knowledge of using Microsoft Excel to manage and represent data.
The MOS Excel Associate exam includes 35 questions across five objective domains:
- Manage Worksheets and Workbooks
- Manage Data Cells and References
- Manage Tables and Table Data
- Perform Operations by Using Formulas and Functions
- Manage Charts
By earning the MOS Excel Associate certification, students demonstrate they have mastered data analysis, manipulation, and presentation when using Excel.
MOS PowerPoint Associate Certification
The MOS PowerPoint Associate certification measures a student’s knowledge of using Microsoft PowerPoint to create and deliver professional-looking presentations.
The MOS PowerPoint Associate exam is made up of 35 questions across five domains:
- Manage Presentations
- Manage Slides
- Insert and Format Text, Shapes, and Images
- Insert Tables, Charts, SmartArt, 3D Models, and Media
- Apply Transitions and Animations
By passing the exam, students show they have mastered designing and delivering presentations when using Microsoft PowerPoint.
Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications would be a good fit for a middle school computer applications class. If you teach a course with a broader variety of business and career topics, one of the other options may be a better fit.
Think the MOS certifications are right for your needs? Learn more here: Top 3 Microsoft Office Certification Test Prep Materials
IC3 Spark Digital Literacy Certification
The Internet Core Competency Certification (IC3) Spark exam is a digital literacy certification program used to measure students’ knowledge of computing systems, software applications, and other digital literacy topics.
Middle school teachers love IC3 Spark because it covers the essential information students need to know about digital literacy without diving into the complexities of similar topics like computer science and information technology.
The IC3 Spark certification focuses on three overarching areas of digital literacy - computing fundamentals, key applications, and living online.
The Computing Fundamentals portion includes foundational information about basic computer principles.
The Key Applications portion focuses on popular word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.
The Living Online portion includes skills needed for using the Internet in both personal and professional settings.
On the IC3 Spark exam, these areas are broken down into 12 subtopics:
- Operating System Basics
- Computer Hardware and Concepts
- Computer Software and Concepts
- Common Application Features
- Word Processing Activities
- Spreadsheet Activities
- Presentation Activities
- Digital Communication
- Digital Citizenship
- Safe Computing
- Research Fluency
After passing the exam, students receive an IC3 Spark Global Digital Literacy Certificate, which acknowledges they are well-versed in digital literacy concepts and skills.
The IC3 Spark certification is a good fit for a middle school teacher with students who aren’t very familiar with computers, digital literacy, and other related concepts.
Think the IC3 Spark certification could be right for your classes? Learn more:
- An In-Depth Review of the IC3 Spark Certification
- IC3 Spark vs. IC3 GS5 Digital Literacy Certifications: What’s the Difference?
- How to Prepare Students for the IC3 Spark Exam
Communication Skills for Business Certification
Unlike the previous two items on our list, the Communication Skills for Business (CSB) certification focuses on teaching soft skills.
While the CSB certification primarily focuses on communication skills it will also help candidates develop critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
The CSB certification exam includes 35-50 questions covering six domains:
- Describe Basic Communication Principles
- Plan for Effective Communication
- Apply Best Practices for Creating
- Deliver Your Message
- Receive Communications
- Analyze Communication Scenarios
Overall, the CSB certification provides proof that students understand the core principles of good communication, and have the skills required to be effective and efficient in their future careers.
The Communication Skills for Business certification is a good fit for a middle school teacher focused on helping students build business and career skills for their future workplace.
Think the CSB certification is a good fit for your course? Dive into these related resources:
- 3 Best Communication Lesson Plans for Middle School
- Guide to Teaching the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills
21st Century Success Skills Assessment
The 21st Century Success Skills exam focuses on personal traits, knowledge, and skills that are required for students to successfully transition from their schooling into the workforce.
The 21st Century Success Skills exam includes 46 questions covering five standards:
- Personal Success Traits - understand and demonstrate the personal traits that encourage productivity, quality work, self-initiative, and employability.
- Research - understand and demonstrate how to search for and locate information for any given subject.
- Reason - understand how to think and objectively analyze information critically.
- Relate - understand how to relate the analysis of information to different situations (problem-solving).
- Results - understand how to apply the decisions/results made from the analysis of information by effectively communicating those decisions/results to others.
The 21st Century Skills certification is a good fit for a middle school teacher focused on building career readiness skills for their students.
Think the 21st Century Success Skills exam could be right for you? Learn more:
Which Option is Right for Your Middle School Courses?
Truthfully, there is no single best assessment option for middle school business courses.
Your choice will depend on the standards and requirements for the courses you teach, along with what you believe will be best for your middle school students.
No matter which option you choose, it’s crucial that your curriculum supports the topics and skills your students need to learn.
Some middle school teachers choose to build their curriculum from scratch or pull together lessons and activities from a variety of sources. Both of these options can work well for teachers who enjoy spending time creating a curriculum just for them.
However, if you need a more robust solution that takes the heavy lifting of planning and grading off of your shoulders, consider checking out Business&ITCenter21.
Business&ITCenter21 is a digital curriculum used by thousands of middle school teachers to teach business fundamentals, career readiness, and digital literacy skills.
It contains more than 600 hours of curriculum content to save you time with planning
Wondering if Business&ITCenter21 would work for your classes? Watch the 4-minute demo video to find out: