7 Step Azure Certification Guide – Which one is best for you?

Azure certification logo Image source: Microsoft docs

Even before you think of enrolling for an Azure certification course, it makes sense to weigh it whether or not it is worth your time, resources and money. Another question you might be having is which Azure certification is best?

The cloud is growing exponentially and so is its demand. The cloud computing platform is the future of the IT industry as the industry statistics show.

So here is your 7 Step Azure Certification Guide. At the end, you will be able to decide which one is best for you.

  1. What is Microsoft Azure certification?
  2. Azure certification path
  3. Categories of Azure certifications and details of individual exams
  4. What is the certification price?
  5. How to prepare for Azure Certification?
  6. Azure certification FAQs
  7. Certification expiry

Microsoft Azure Certification

Keeping in par with the leading industry data, Microsoft Azure has paced up its placing of the cloud trend. It has made continuous improvements to the certification and training types, resources and coverage. It is also one of the top paying ones as seen from many online surveys.

This is to ensure that any individual or corporate who intends to do a certification gets really acquainted with the fundamentals, core concepts and hands on. Since the time of pandemic, many people thought of getting certified. Hence Azure certification for developers is getting some real steam.

Average Salary in India (Cloud) – Infographics

Job RoleAverage
Software Engineer6.5L
Sr. Software Engineer10L
Technical Architect18L
Source: Payscale

Note: Above information is bound to change from time to time and is only an indication to get a general idea.

Interesting read – Reduce your cloud carbon footprint with Microsoft Sustainability Calculator

Azure Certification Path

To be honest, searching for Azure new certification path 2020 can be cumbersome in the vast sea of information on the internet. We have AWS certification, Rackspace certification, Google Cloud certification and IBM Cloud certification to add to the list of cloud certifications. You might be wondering which Azure certification I should do first.

But the good thing is that you can get certified while working from home. Here I will list down the Azure certification roadmap. This will help you find the best Azure certification.

Categories of Azure Certification

As of today that are 4 main parent categories or Azure certification levels.

  • Azure Fundamental certifications
  • Azure Role based certifications
  • Additional certifications
  • Azure Job based certifications

Let’s go meet each category one by one.

NOTE: All the certification prices and information given here are tentative, subjective to change, are as on writing date of this post, might vary in your region and are taken from the official Microsoft doc’s website.

For the latest developments make it a point to visit the official Microsoft site before making any key decisions.

Azure Fundamental certifications

When should you consider the Azure Fundamental certifications?

If you are just starting your technology career, trying to switch careers or looking for just a basic level certification, then this is the certification for you. Here you can opt for the following exams. The Azure certification cost is given along.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Exam AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals ($99 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Describe security, privacy, compliance, and trust
  • Describe core Azure services
  • Describe Azure pricing Service Level Agreements, and Lifecycles
  • Describe cloud concepts

Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals

Exam MS-900: Microsoft 365 Fundamentals ($99 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Describe core Microsoft 365 services and concepts
  • Describe cloud concepts
  • Describe Microsoft 365 pricing and support
  • Explain security, compliance, privacy, and trust in Microsoft 365

Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals

Exam PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals ($99 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Identify the core components of Power Platform
  • Describe the capabilities of Power Apps
  • Demonstrate the capabilities of Power BI
  • Demonstrate the business value of Power Virtual Agents
  • Describe the business value of Power Platform
  • Demonstrate the capabilities of Power Automate

Azure Role based certifications

When should you consider the Azure Role-based certifications?

If you already work with the cloud, are more acquainted with Azure and are looking to upgrade, then this is the certification for you. Here you can opt for the following exams.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

Exam AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Implement Azure security
  • Develop for Azure storage
  • Develop Azure compute solutions
  • Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services
  • Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions

Microsoft Certified: Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Developer Associate (2 exams)

Exam PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant (beta) ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Implement Power Virtual Agents chat bots (10-15%)
  • Create and manage Power Automate (15-20%)
  • Configure the Common Data Service (25-30%)
  • Integrate Power Apps with other apps and services (15-20%)
  • Create apps by using Power Apps (20-25%)

+

Exam PL-400: Microsoft Power Platform Developer (beta) ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Extend the platform (15-20%)
  • Configure Common Data Service (15-20%)
  • Create a technical design (10-15%)
  • Create and configure Power Apps (15-20%)
  • Extend the user experience (10-15%)
  • Develop integrations (5-10%)
  • Configure business process automation (5-10%)

Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate (2 exams)

Exam PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant (beta) ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Implement Power Virtual Agents chat bots (10-15%)
  • Create and manage Power Automate (15-20%)
  • Configure the Common Data Service (25-30%)
  • Integrate Power Apps with other apps and services (15-20%)
  • Create apps by using Power Apps (20-25%)

+

Exam MB-210: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (Syllabus updated on October 2, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Manage core sales entities (50-55%)
  • Configure additional tools and services (15-20%)
  • Perform configuration (25-30%)

Additional certifications

When should you consider the Azure Additional certifications?

If you are purely concentrated on doing specialization, then this is the certification for you. Here you can opt for the following exams.

Microsoft Certified: Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty

Exam AZ-120: Planning and Administering Microsoft Azure for SAP Workloads ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (Syllabus updated on October 2, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Build and deploy Azure for SAP Workloads (35-40%)
  • Design an Azure solution to support SAP Workloads (20-25%)
  • Migrate SAP Workloads to Azure (10-15%)
  • Operationalize Azure SAP architecture (10-15%)
  • Validate Azure infrastructure for SAP Workloads (10-15%)

Microsoft Certified Educator

Exam 62-193: Technology Literacy for Educators ($127 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Facilitate Real World Problem Solving and Innovation
  • Facilitate Skilled Communication
  • Use ICT to be an Effective Educator
  • Facilitate Knowledge Construction
  • Facilitate Student Collaboration
  • Facilitate Self-Regulation
  • Facilitate Student use of Information and Communication Tools (ICT)

Microsoft Office Specialist: Microsoft Word Expert (Word and Word 2019)

Exam MO-101: Microsoft Word Expert (Word and Word 2019) ($100 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Create custom document elements
  • Manage document options and settings
  • Use advanced Word features
  • Use advanced editing and formatting features

Azure Job based certifications

When should you consider the Azure job based certifications?

If you want to select a certification that is related to your job or field of work, then there the below job based certification paths in 2020. If your job role matches the description then you can opt for them.

Developer – If you build and maintain cloud apps.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate

Exam AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate)

  • Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions (10-15%)
  • Develop for Azure storage (10-15%)
  • Develop Azure compute solutions (25-30%)
  • Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services (25-30%)
  • Implement Azure security (15-20%)

Administrator – If you monitor and maintain Microsoft based solutions

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate

Exam AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate. Syllabus to be updated on Nov 24, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Deploy and manage Azure compute resources (25-30%)
  • Implement and manage storage (10-15%)
  • Manage Azure identities and governance (15-20%)
  • Monitor and back up Azure resources (10-15%)
  • Configure and manage virtual networking (30-35%)

Solutions Architect – If you have expertise in security, network and storage.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert (2 exams)

Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate. Syllabus to be updated on Nov 24, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Implement management and security solutions (25-30%)
  • Implement and monitor an Azure infrastructure (50-55%)
  • Implement and manage data platforms (10-15%)
  • Implement solutions for apps (10-15%)

+

Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (Syllabus to be updated on Nov 24, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Design data storage (15-20%)
  • Design identity and security (25-30%)
  • Design monitoring (10-15%)
  • Design infrastructure (25-30%)
  • Design business continuity (10-15%)

Data Engineer – If you manage security and privacy of data.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate

Exam DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate. Syllabus to be updated on Nov 24, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Manage and develop data processing (25-30%)
  • Implement data storage solutions (40-45%)
  • Monitor and optimize data solutions (30-35%)

+

Exam DP-201: Designing an Azure Data Solution ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Design data processing solutions (25-30%)
  • Design Azure data storage solutions (40-45%)
  • Design for data security and compliance (25-30%)

Data Scientist – If you use machine learning (ML) for checking and deploying business solution based models.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate

Exam DP-100: Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate)

  • Optimize and manage models (20-25%)
  • Deploy and consume models (20-25%)
  • Run experiments and train models (25-30%)
  • Set up an Azure Machine Learning workspace (30-35%)

AI Engineer – If you use Machine Learning (ML) and Cognitive Services to design and implement Microsoft AI based solutions.

Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate

Exam AI-100: Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate)

  • Design AI solutions (40-45%)
  • Analyze solution requirements (25-30%)
  • Implement and monitor AI solutions (25-30%)

Dev Ops Engineer – If your enable resources and technology to deliver value based products and services.

Microsoft Certified: Dev Ops Engineer Expert

Pre-requisite – You need to complete

Exam AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator

OR

Exam AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure

Then you qualify for

Exam AZ-400: Designing and Implementing Microsoft Dev Ops Solutions ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate. Syllabus to be updated on Nov 24, 2020 hence go online to check it)

  • Define and implement continuous integration (20-25%)
  • Define and implement a continuous delivery and release management strategy (10-15%)
  • Develop a security and compliance plan (10-15%)
  • Manage source control (10-15%)
  • Develop an instrumentation strategy (5-10%)
  • Develop a Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) strategy (5-10%)
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration (10-15%)

Security Engineer – If you design security, identity and data protection and its access over networks.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate

Exam AZ-500: Microsoft Azure Security Technologies ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate)

  • Manage security operations (25-30%)
  • Implement platform protection (15-20%)
  • Manage identity and access (30-35%)
  • Secure data and applications (20-25%)

Functional Consultant – If your use Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platforms.

Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant Associate (2 exams)

Exam PL-200: Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant (beta) ($165 USD)

Skillset examined (3 levels: Expert, Fundamentals and Associate)

  • Create and manage Power Automate (15-20%)
  • Implement Power Virtual Agents chat bots (10-15%)
  • Integrate Power Apps with other apps and services (15-20%)
  • Configure the Common Data Service (25-30%)
  • Create apps by using Power Apps (20-25%)

+

Exam MB-230: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service ($165 USD)

Skillset examined

  • Implement Omni channel for Customer Service (30-35%)
  • Implement scheduling (10-15%)
  • Manage cases and Knowledge Management (20-25%)
  • Manage analytics (10-15%)
  • Manage queues, entitlements, and service-level agreements (SLAs) (15-20%)

Azure Certification Price

As seen from Microsoft Azure certification list, the Azure certification exam fees can be anywhere from $99 to $165 USD. Note that these prices will change regularly based on time, region and other factors.

What are the benefits of Azure certification salary?

As per the data received by Microsoft, after doing a certification, around 20% certified employees surveyed to receive up to 10% to 20% increase in salary.

Another survey done reported that around 38% employees said that earning a certification helped them confidently perform complex tasks. The same percentage of IT jobs will be somehow related to the cloud by the end of 2021.

How to do Azure certification training?

Now that you have seen the number and categories of exams, you must be wondering how to prepare for certification. There are a couple of ways to go ahead with your certification training.

  • You can go for the free online training
  • Class room or instructor based paid training (Registration required)
  • Finding a Microsoft learning partner
  • Use Practice Tests
  • Additional Tips

Free Azure Training

Microsoft has a lot of free Azure training which you can undertake by learning and exploring the certification paths and modules.

You can have a look at their products page.

Here you can simply filter the list by selecting the keyword ‘Azure’ and it will filter all related material as shown below.

azure certification free training
Image source: Microsoft docs

Then you can browse the Azure topics of your choice and start your learning path. Once you select your topic, it will show you what all modules are covered and the learning time it will take.

azure training module
Image source: Microsoft docs

Instructor Based Training (Paid Courses)

If you are more of the classroom type learner, then the instructor based is the best Azure training for you. But you will need to register for the courses for a fee.

Head over to the products page.

Once again, filter the list with ‘Azure’ and you will be presented with all the classroom based teaching.

azure instructor based training
Image source: Microsoft docs


There is also a language filter in case you want to take the online classes using a particular language. Once you click on a particular course, you will be presented with that course page giving you the entire details.

The page will contain the course name and the number of days required for it. It will also give you a brief summary about that course. For e.g. If you decide to give the azure fundamentals certification, and you open the page for that instructor based course, you will the following sections

  • Course Title (For e.g. Course AZ-900T00-A: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals
  • Number of days required (For e.g. 2 Days)
  • Short course introduction
  • Target audience
  • Job Role
  • To which exam the course applies

Then there will be a course registration section where you will be shown the available dates, fees and a registration link as shown below.

azure instructor based training
Image source: Microsoft docs

Training via Microsoft Learning Partners

Microsoft has a network of learning partners. These are instructors who are Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT). Their goal is to impart certification specific training to aspiring candidates.

To find a learning partner network you can go to the partners link.

Here you can select your country and all the listed learning centers will be available. You can contact the center and enroll for the certificate course of your choice.

Practice Tests

Microsoft has partnered with Mind Hub which collaborates with various publishers. These publishers provide practice tests and study materials which help an aspiring person to prepare for certification exams. You can check out Mind Hub Practice tests on the internet.

Additional Tips

Microsoft Certified Trainers recommend the following tips for students

  • Check out the exams that you want to appear for.
  • There is a ‘Skills Measured’ section on the exam page. You should keep this section handy via a screenshot or by printing it.
  • Focus of the main topic and list out any sub topics.
  • Research on the sub topics using the official Microsoft Docs site or MSDN. Additionally you can visit other trustworthy sources or videos on those topics.

Azure Certification FAQs

There is also a certification frequently asked questions page you can visit.

Here most of the common queries are answered like how to download your certificate, accessing the training transcript and change of your profile details.

Azure certification expiration

As with all certifications, Azure certifications have a validity.

I have tried not to include exams like MB-200 which are slated to expire on 31st Dec 2020 so that readers have the latest information. Instead I have replaced it with the latest PL-200 exams which are in beta stage.

Also I have mentioned the certifications where the syllabus is going to change. As per Microsoft, the syllabus for a lot of exams is going to be updated on Nov 24th 2020. Hence this is to be noted by folks who are starting or already preparing for papers.

Please use below links for checking the validity of your programs and certifications.

To check the expiration of certification courses
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/retired-courses

To check the expiration of certifications
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/retired-certifications

To check the expiration of individual exams
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/retired-certification-exams

Some cloud perspective

Microsoft Azure is going head to head with other cloud players like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and IBM Cloud Foundry etc. Since cloud is the de facto standard for any application which is connected to the internet, it makes sense that a lot of the job demand is going to be in the areas related to the cloud.

Technologies like Big Data, Analytics, Block Chain, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Chat Bots, etc. have pushed the boundaries of cloud computing. The list goes on expanding exponentially.

If you look at the number of announcements, blog posts, releases and new services related to Azure, it just gives us an idea that in the future anything and everything will be connected to the cloud.

Hence we all who are related to the IT industry must keep learning and upgrading ourselves in order to remain relevant and future ready. Hence taking up a certification is one of the key decisions we have to make.

Summary

  • If you are just starting with the cloud and want to certify, you should go for the Fundamentals certification.
  • If you want a certification with salary hike or skill upgrade in mind, you can either go for the Role based or Job based certifications.
  • As per the official Microsoft certification site, many exams are going to retire on 31st December 2020 and syllabus for many papers is changing on 24th November 2020. Hence do check out the certification expiry section above.
  • Most of the certification cost range from $99 to $165 USD.

It was a small endeavor from my end to give you some piece of information related to these certifications. In case you have any doubts your can connect with me or use the comments section below. All the best for your certification.

Hitesh Boricha

I have a little over a decade experience in the IT industry. Having worked in various roles in this industry, I am passionate about technology.

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