Microsoft Azure Exam Certification Path

How to pick the right Azure Exam Certification Path

In my blog, why you should become Microsoft Azure Certified, I described why it makes a lot of sense to work on your Azure skills, take the exam, and become Microsoft Azure certified. Microsoft offers a wide variety of Azure certifications exams and role-based certifications to help you keep pace in your career with today’s business requirements. In this blog post, I want to help you, how you choose the right Microsoft Azure certification, exam, and learning path.

The question which comes up a lot is what Microsoft Azure exam should I take and which certification does matter for my job. To make this decision easier, Microsoft announced a new strategy to create role-based certification at Microsoft Inspire in 2018.

Overview and summary 📚

Before you read the whole article, here is the quick rundown of how you can pick the right Azure exam and certification path for you. You can find a list of all the role-based certification here.

  1. Select the Azure solution area you want to achieve certification. This can be Azure Applications & Infrastructure or Azure Data & AI.
  2. Define if you want to get started with fundamentals or directly with the role-based certifications. The fundamental exams are optional to the certification process. However, by taking the fundamentals exam, you can make sure that you have the right base knowledge for the role-based exams, It also helps you if this is the first Microsoft certification exam you are taking, it makes you familiar with the testing process and the different types of questions.
  3. Select the role you want to achieve the certification. Depending on the solution area and type, you have different role-based certifications available.
  4. Read and verify the requirements like skills and exams for the specific certification.
  5. Select the first exam with which you want to start.
  6. Start learning 🎉

Microsoft Azure Role-based Certification 🎓

Microsoft Azure Role-based Certification Overview

Microsoft Azure Role-based Certification Overview

The new Microsoft Azure exams and certifications are role-based. That means you have different exams and certification paths, depending in which role you are working.

Azure Solution Areas

Picking the right solution area is your essential starting point. There are two main solution areas of Azure certification and exams:

  • Azure Apps and Infra (Applications and Infrastructure)
  • Azure Data and AI (Data and Artifical Intelligence)

In both solution areas, you will find different role-based certifications available.

Microsoft Azure Certification Types

Microsoft Fundamentals and Role-based certification

Microsoft Fundamentals and Role-based certification

As you might have seen, the terms MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solution Associate), MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert or formerly also known as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer) are going away. The new concept of certification is evolving our training and certifications away from product-focus, and more towards role-based focused.

Former NamingNew role-based certification
MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate)Fundamentals
MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)Associate Roles
MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer) or
MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer)
Expert Roles

Azure Applications and Infrastructure certifications and exams

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Azure Apps and Infra certifications are mainly designed for IT professionals and developers. There are the following role-based certifications are available in apps and infra:

Fundamentals

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals – With a focus on cloud concepts, core Azure Services, Azure pricing and support, and the fundamentals of cloud security, privacy, compliance, and trust. It builds the foundation of the Azure exams and requires the base knowledge about Microsoft Azure and cloud computing in general.

Associate and Expert roles

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate – Has a focus on implementing, monitor, and maintaining Microsoft Azure solutions, including primary services related to compute, storage, network, and security. It covers topics infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and others, which makes sure you have the technical Azure foundation. This is the certification I recommend to most people to get started with after they have done the Azure Fundamentals. It is not just for administrators, it helps everyone to understand different base Azure services.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate – Main focus on designing, building, testing, and maintaining cloud solutions, such as applications and services, partnering with cloud solution architects, cloud DBAs, cloud administrators, and clients to implement these solutions. With this focus, the certification is great for developers to understand different Azure services.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate – Focuses on implementing security controls and threat protection, managing identity and access, and protecting data, applications, and networks in cloud and hybrid environments as part of the end-to-end infrastructure. This certification goes through different security configuration, architectures, and services across Azure.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert – Azure DevOps professionals combine people, process, and technologies to continuously deliver valuable products and services that meet end-user needs and business objectives. This exam not only focuses on Azure DevOps but also on different general DevOps practices, such as source control, continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert – The Azure Solution Architect exam focuses on expertise in compute, network, storage, and security so that they can design solutions that run on Azure. This exam has a strong emphasis on understanding different Azure services and architecting solutions on Azure.

This means you have to take the following exams:

LevelCertificationExams to takePrerequisites
FundamentalsAzure FundamentalsAZ-900none
AssociateAzure Administrator AssociateAZ-103none
AssociateAzure Developer AssociateAZ-203none
AssociateAzure Security Engineer AssociateAZ-500none
ExpertAzure DevOps Engineer ExpertAZ-400AZ-103 or
AZ-203
ExpertAzure Solutions Architect ExpertAZ-300 and
AZ-301
none

Azure Data & AI certifications and exams

Azure Data and AI certifications

Azure Data and AI certifications

In Data and AI, you have the following Azure Data & AI role-based certifications are available:

Fundamental

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals – With a focus on cloud concepts, core Azure Services, Azure pricing and support, and the fundamentals of cloud security, privacy, compliance, and trust. It builds the foundation of the Azure exams and requires the base knowledge about Microsoft Azure and cloud computing in general.

Associate and Expert roles

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate – With the main focus on applying Azure’s machine learning techniques to train, evaluate, and deploy models that solve business problems.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate – Focuses on designing and implementing the management, monitoring, security, and privacy of data using the full stack of Azure data services to satisfy business needs.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate – Includes a strong focus on using Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, and Knowledge Mining to architect and implement Microsoft AI solutions involving natural language processing, speech, computer vision, bots, and agents.
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert – The Azure Solution Architect exam focuses on expertise in compute, network, storage, and security so that they can design solutions that run on Azure. This exam has a strong emphasis on understanding different Azure services and architecting solutions on Azure.

This means you have to take the following exams:

LevelCertificationExams to takePrerequisites
FundamentalsAzure FundamentalsAZ-900none
AssociateAzure Data Scientist AssociateDP-100none
AssociateAzure Data Engineer AssociateDP-200 and
DP-201
none
AssociateAzure AI Engineer AssociateAI-100none
ExpertAzure Solutions Architect ExpertAZ-300 and
AZ-301
none

Conclusion 📝

As you can see, there are many different certifications and exams available depending on your job-role. If you are new to Azure, I recommend that you start with the optional Azure Fundamentals exam. If you are confident with cloud computing and Azure, you can directly go to the role-based associate and expert exams.

You can also have a look at my experience with the different Azure exam certifications:

If you want to get started, check out Microsoft Learn and your Azure Free account.

Microsoft Learn 🎓

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Create free Azure Account ☁

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I hope this gives you a good overview of the available Azure certifications and exams. It should also give you an idea of where to start and pick the right Azure exam certification path. In the coming weeks, I will publish a blog on how you start learning for an Azure exam to get Azure certified. If you can’t wait until then, check out Microsoft Learn, which will provide you with different learning modules. If you want to know more about Microsoft Learn, check out my blog post called: Microsoft Learn – A Great Place To Learn!