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Visual Basic for Applications is the automation language used to control the features of Microsoft Office products such as Excel, Word and Access. VBA is native to Microsoft and not used by any other major software manufacturer. Instead, it is used in applications developed by VBA programmers to manage data using features such as calculating dates and figures and building databases. There is not a specific path for becoming a VBA professional developer; however, you can take steps to build the right skills and create a client base.
Learn the basics of VBA programming. An introductory course offered through a community college or continuing education program can get you started. Online classes and step-by-step VBA books are available alternatives. Learning the basics from a seasoned programmer can provide information about VBA programming you may not learn on your own.
Learn Structured Query Language. SQL is the programming language used in VBA and in most other database products to update, build, manage and query a database. Learning more about SQL and its many uses is central to learning VBA programming. Courses in SQL are taught through continuing education programs and colleges that teach computer programming.
Learn to work in a professional manner. VBA development includes learning how to contract with a client, create a project plan, meet deadlines and implement a VBA project. Courses in project planning are helpful. Working for a software or IT company or in an IT department can also help you learn the steps involved in project planning and implementation.
Work on a wide variety of VBA projects. Gain your initial work experience by applying VBA anywhere you can, including at work, at home and for friends. Experience is a sure way of gaining more knowledge about VBA and its many uses and of building a client resume.
Becoming a Professional
Open accounts with online freelance marketplaces and build a client base. Websites such as Guru, Elance and oDesk create a place for VBA programmers and other types of freelance professionals to post their skills and bid on client projects. Creating an account and bidding on your first five to 10 projects is usually free. After that you may need to pay a small monthly fee or percentage of your sales to the website.
Obtain a Microsoft certification. Although a Microsoft VBA certification does not exist, other related Microsoft certifications, such as Microsoft Office Specialist, are available. Successful completion can assure clients you are accomplished with the Microsoft Office Suite, understand the viewpoint of the user (necessary for designing a user interface for VBA applications) and can manage projects easily. Unofficial VBA certifications are also available and may be worth investigating.
Specialize in an industry. VBA can be used to automate data for the insurance, medical and other industries. Specializing in developing VBA applications for a particular industry is helpful in becoming a VBA expert, building a reputation and building a larger client base.
Speak to others about VBA. Become a speaker at conferences and seminars that can help broaden your business and build your reputation as a VBA developer. Events geared toward managers and departments that might be interested in your skills are a good place to start. Creating your own speaking engagement at a local library or other community business event is also an option. Joining the local chamber of commerce can put you in touch with business people looking for your skills.
Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.