How to Get Azure Certified in 2021
Have you started building your technical knowledge of Microsoft Azure and are now wondering where to go next? Pursuing a Microsoft Azure certification is a great way to build on your existing skills and move your career forward. This article provides relevant, up-to-date information on Microsoft Azure certification paths. I will start by explaining Microsoft’s role-based certifications and listing the Azure certifications that are currently available.
You can choose from many learning paths, depending on your current job role and career plans, from Azure Data Engineer or Azure DevOps Engineer to Azure Solutions Architect and more. Once you’ve chosen which certification you want to pursue, you can find an upcoming Microsoft exam to attend remotely from home or at a test center. Before you begin studying, it is best to learn about the Azure certifications so you can choose which certification path is right for you.
Last Updated March 2021
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Microsoft role-based certifications
Microsoft introduced role-based certifications in 2018 to align Azure knowledge and skills with relevant career and business requirements.
There are currently nine role-based Azure certifications available. Microsoft updates the list regularly as technology and career paths evolve. As of mid-2020, the following Azure role-based certifications are available, listed in order of difficulty level:
- Azure Administrator
- Azure AI Engineer
- Azure Data Engineer
- Azure Data Scientist
- Azure Database Administrator
- Azure Developer
- Azure DevOps Engineer
- Azure Security Engineer
- Azure Solutions Architect
These Azure role certifications start with the beginner stage before moving on to intermediate and advanced experience levels.
Getting started with Azure fundamentals
If you’re new to cloud computing or working with the Azure platform for the first time, you’ll want to start with the basics. Or, in the case of Azure certifications, the fundamentals. Microsoft’s baseline certification for Azure is the AZ-900 Fundamentals certification. This certification is not a prerequisite for any other Azure certifications, but it’s definitely the best way to start your journey with Azure:
The topics covered in the Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 exam include:
- Cloud concepts (20-25%)
- Core Azure services (15-20%)
- Core solutions and management tools on Azure (10-15%)
- General security and network security features (10-15%)
- Identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features (20-25%)
- Azure cost management and service level agreements (10-15%)
After completing this track, you will gain foundational knowledge of Azure cloud services.
For more information on this exam, visit the AZ-900 official exam landing page.
Role-based Azure certifications
Once you have your foundation in place and have passed your Azure Fundamentals certification exam, many cloud computing specialists will choose a learning path based on their function in an IT team or how they’d like to progress in their careers.
Many role-based certifications and learning paths are available. I will now present them all, one by one, covering the relevant role, certification, and exams associated with each one of them.
Azure Administrator Associate
The Administrator Associate is the most popular Azure certification.
This could be your next step if this aligns with your current and or future career goals. To get this certification, you will need to prepare and pass the AZ-104 exam. After completing this learning path, you will receive your next impressive Microsoft badge. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate is the certification associated with the administrator role.
The Azure Administrator Associate AZ-104 exam measures your skills and knowledge of how to:
- Manage Azure identities and governance (15-20%)
- Implement and manage storage (10-15%)
- Deploy and manage Azure compute resources (25-30%)
- Configure and manage virtual networking (30-35%)
- Monitor and backup Azure resources (10-15%)
After completing this track, you will be able to implement, manage, and monitor an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment.
Interested? For more information, visit the AZ-104 official exam landing page.
Azure AI Engineer
If you want to pursue a role as an artificial intelligence (AI) engineer, there are two exams currently available: beginner and intermediate. You may want to start with the beginner level AI-900 exam to get comfortable with the subject. Still, this is not a prerequisite for the AI-100 exam, the intermediate level exam.
The Azure AI Fundamentals AI-900 exam measures your skills and knowledge of:
- AI workloads and considerations (15-20%)
- Fundamental principles of machine learning on Azure (30-35%)
- Computer vision workloads on Azure (15-20%)
- Natural Language Processing (NLP) workloads on Azure (15-20%)
- Conversational AI workloads on Azure (15-20%)
Passing this exam will get you the Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals certification. After completing this track, you will gain foundational knowledge of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) concepts and related Microsoft Azure services.
Interested? You can find more information on the AI-900 official exam landing page.
The intermediate AI-100 exam corresponds to Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate certification.
The Azure AI Associate AI-100 exam will test your skills and knowledge of:
- Solution requirements (25-30%)
- Designing AI solutions (40-45%)
- Implementing and monitoring AI solutions (25-30%)
After completing this track, you will gain the knowledge and experience designing and implementing AI apps and agents using Microsoft Azure tools.
If you are interested in this exam, you can find more information on the AI-100 official exam landing page.
Azure Data Engineer
For data-related learning paths and certifications, data engineer and data scientist role-based certifications are available.
If you want to become a certified Azure data engineer, multiple exams are available. If you are a beginner, start with the DP-900 exam to become Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals certified.
The Azure Data Fundamentals DP-900 exam measures your skills and knowledge of how to:
- Describe core data concepts (15-20%)
- Describe how to work with relational data on Azure (25-30%)
- Describe how to work with non-relational data on Azure (25-30%)
- Describe an analytics workload on Azure (25-30%)
After completing this track, you will be familiar with relational and non-relational data as well as different data workloads, including transactional and analytical.
Interested? You can find more information on the DP-900 official exam landing page.
The intermediate level certification, Azure Data Engineer Associate, requires passing two exams. The DP-200 and DP-201 exams cover both implementing and designing an Azure data solution.
The Azure Data Solution DP-200 exam will test your skills and knowledge of:
- Implementing data storage solutions (40-45%)
- Managing and developing data processing (25-30%)
- Monitoring and optimizing data solutions (30-35%)
After completing this track, you will be able to implement data solutions using Azure services, such as Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Factory, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Databricks, and Azure Blob storage.
If this exam interests you, you can find more information on the DP-200 official exam landing page.
The Designing an Azure Data Solution DP-201 exam will test your knowledge of the following topics:
- Designing Azure data storage solutions (40-45%)
- Designing data processing solutions (25-30%)
- Designing for data security and compliance (25-30%)
After completing this track, you will be able to design data solutions that use the following Azure services: Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Synapse Analytics, Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Data Factory, Azure Stream Analytics, Azure Databricks, and Azure Blob storage.
If this is something you are interested in, visit the DP-201 official exam landing page.
Azure Data Scientist
If the Azure Data Scientist role sounds interesting to you, the DP-100 exam might be what you are looking for. DP-900 is not a prerequisite for this certification, but it helps to start with that certification. This is an intermediate level exam that allows you to earn the Azure Data Scientist Associate certification.
The Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure DP-100 exam will test your ability to:
- Set up an Azure machine learning workspace (30-35%)
- Run experiments and train models (25-30%)
- Optimize and manage models (20-25%)
- Deploy and consume models (20-25%)
After completing this track, you will be certified in data science and machine learning and have proved your ability to implement and run machine learning workloads on Azure.
Interested? More information is available on the DP-100 official exam landing page.
Azure Database Administrator
Is there any database-related certification exam available? Yes, indeed. You should start with the beginner level exam, DP-900, that I covered already. Again, this will get you the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals badge.
Moving forward from your fundamentals certification, you can take the DP-300 associate (intermediate) level exam as part of the Azure Database Administrator role. The exam covers both implementation and database management.
The Administering Relational Databases on Microsoft Azure DP-300 exam measures your ability to:
- Plan and implement data platform resources (15-20%)
- Implement a secure environment (15-20%)
- Monitor and optimize operational resources (15-20%)
- Optimize query performance (5-10%)
- Perform automation of tasks (10-15%)
- Plan and implement a high availability and disaster recovery environment (15-20%)
- Perform administration by using T-SQL (10-15%)
Completing this track will prove your skills in implementing and managing the operational aspects of cloud-native and hybrid data platform solutions built on Azure Data Services and SQL Server.
For more information, visit the DP-300 official exam landing page.
Azure Developer and DevOps Engineer
Do you want to become an Azure DevOps engineering expert? This involves a two-step certification process. First, prepare and pass the AZ-204 Azure Developer Associate exam. This is covered by the Azure Developer role. It certifies your ability to design, build, test, and maintain cloud apps and services on Microsoft Azure.
The Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure AZ-204 exam test your skills and knowledge of:
- Developing Azure compute solutions (25-30%)
- Developing for Azure storage (10-15%)
- Implementing Azure security (15-20%)
- Monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing Azure solutions (10-15%)
- Connecting to and consuming Azure services and third-party services (25-30%)
Once you have passed this exam, you will earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate title.
After completing this track, you will certify your knowledge and expertise to design, build, test, and maintain cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure.
Interested? More information is available on the AZ-204 official exam landing page.
Continuing on, you will now be able to pursue the DevOps Engineer Expert advanced level certification. This involves passing the AZ-400 Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions exam and is part of the Azure DevOps Engineer role. Please note that this expert-level certification has some prerequisites. You need to have passed the AZ-104 (administrator) or AZ-204 (developer) associate level exams before taking this exam.
The Developing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions (AZ-400) tests your abilities on the following topics:
- Developing an instrumentation strategy (5-10%)
- Developing a site reliability engineering strategy (5-10%)
- Developing a security and compliance plan (10-15%)
- Managing source control (10–15%)
- Facilitate communication and collaboration (10-15%)
- Defining and implementing continuous integration (20-25%)
- Defining and implementing a continuous delivery and release management strategy (10-15%)
This is not the easiest certification to get, but the curriculum is valuable and rewarding. After completing this track, you will have displayed your ability to design a web application implementation strategy and deploy web applications with continuous integration.
Interested? More information available on the AZ-400 official exam landing page.
Azure Security Engineer
Security, security, and more security. There are never enough skilled security experts in the technology space. Implementing security controls and threat protection for your organization is a must. If you are interested in this type of career, the Azure security engineer role-based certification path is an excellent choice. The AZ-500 exam corresponds to Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate certification.
The Microsoft Azure Security Technologies (AZ-500) exam measures your skills and knowledge of how to:
- Manage identity and access (20-25%)
- Implement platform protection (35-40%)
- Manage security operations (15-20%)
- Secure data and applications (30-35%)
After completing this track, you will know how to implement security controls and threat protection, managing identity and access, and protect data and applications in an Azure environment.
You can find out more about this exam on the AZ-500 official exam landing page.
Azure Solutions Architect
Last, but definitely not least, is the Solutions Architect role, an expert-level certification. This involves passing two expert level exams: the AZ-303 and AZ-304.
The Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies (AZ-303) exam will test your skills on the following topics:
- Implementing and monitoring an Azure infrastructure (50-55%)
- Implementing management and security solutions (25-30%)
- Implementing solutions for apps (10-15%)
- Implementing and managing data platforms (10-15%)
After completing this track, you will have the knowledge to implement solutions that run on Microsoft Azure, using compute, networking, storage, and security.
Interested? More information is available on the AZ-303 official exam landing page.
The Microsoft Azure Architect Design (AZ-304) exam will test the following skills:
- Design monitoring (10-15%)
- Design identity and security (25-30%)
- Design data storage (15-20%)
- Design business continuity (10-15%)
- Design infrastructure (25-30%)
After completing this track, you will prove your knowledge to design solutions that run on Microsoft Azure, including aspects like compute, network, storage, and security.
If you are interested in this exam, you can find more information on the AZ-304 official exam landing page.
Once you pass both exams, you will earn the title of Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.
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How do you take an exam? What are your options?
You can take any of the Microsoft exams at any Pearson VUE test center worldwide. Some exams are available at Certiport test centers as well. More information on exam schedules is available on the Microsoft official exam page. Be sure to check before scheduling your exam to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
If you schedule your exam with Pearson VUE, you also have the option to take the exam remotely from your own laptop, either at home or at the office. I prefer this option to save time and skip the drive to the exam test center.
There are a lot of options to choose from to build your professional Azure skills. The hard part is usually getting started. Once you get a basic understanding of Azure and grasp the fundamentals, I can guarantee you won’t want to stop there. Azure cloud computing is addictive.
Start today with Microsoft Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 exam preparation. Once that’s done, move on to the next achievement with whichever path suits you best!
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