Updated Microsoft Azure Certifications Emphasize IT Roles

Updated Microsoft Azure Certifications

As Microsoft tailors its cloud credentials to specific roles and skill levels, Azure certifications are also being modified.

Microsoft made most of the changes in late 2018 but also made a few changes to its exams and requirements in the early part of 2019. Let’s review a breakdown of what has changed.

Role-focused certifications

The biggest departure from the previous exam format is that Azure certifications are now role-focused. Prior versions covered a wider range of services and required candidates to learn technologies that they may never use in the real world.

The role-based Azure certifications are more practical than their predecessors and more limited in scope. Under the new format, there are specific certification tracks for systems administrators, software developers, architects and operations engineers. In addition, candidates are recognized for different levels of knowledge, with fundamental-, associate- and expert-level options.

Fundamental-level certification

Those who are completely new to Azure can start with the Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals certification. It’s a good option for IT professionals who need to prove they understand general cloud concepts and the core components of Azure. It also measures expertise on fundamental security, privacy and compliance best practices, along with knowledge of Azure pricing and support. Candidates can achieve this certification by passing the AZ-900 exam.

Note: This exam is also a great option for those in nontechnical roles wanting to better understand the platform. Candidates desiring associate- or expert-level certifications are not required to take this exam.

Associate-level certification

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification validates an admin’s ability to implement and maintain workloads on the Azure platform. This includes working with core services related to compute, storage, networking, security and monitoring.

This certification is a bit confusing, as it currently requires that candidates pass two exams — AZ-100 and AZ-101. These replace the administrative skills validated in the previous 70-533 Azure certification exam. However, Microsoft said this will change soon, in an effort to simplify the process based on customer feedback.

The current exams for this certification will be retired in May 2019. At that point, exam takers will be certified through a new exam, the AZ-103. In the interim, keep this in mind as you are navigating the study materials, taking practice exams and scheduling certification tests.

In either case, those who passed the 70-533 exam can achieve this new role-based certification by passing a single AZ-102 transition exam.

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate certification is designed for software developers who want to prove they understand how to design, test and manage applications and services that run on the Azure cloud.

Candidates initially had to pass two exams to achieve this certification during the beta test, but based on feedback, Microsoft decided that the scope of the exam needed to be adjusted. At this stage, developers can take one exam, the AZ-203, to achieve this certification. Anyone who passed a previous exam, the 70-532, for the Azure developer certification can achieve this new associate-level certification by taking the AZ-202 transition exam.

Microsoft added a few more associate-level certifications in early 2019. These exams validate the skills required to work with AI and data science services, as well as data engineering competency around relational databases, NoSQL and big data services:

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate (one exam: AI-100);
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate (one exam: DP-100); and
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate (two exams: DP-200, DP-201).

Expert-level certifications

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification covers a lot of information and is considered by many to be the flagship Azure certification. Candidates are required to have design and implementation expertise with Azure compute, networking, storage and security.

The Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification evaluates a candidate’s ability to work collaboratively across teams and processes, in addition to measuring technical skills for DevOps tasks, such as version control and configuration management. This certification requires an individual to pass just one exam, AZ-400. However, to earn the certification, candidates must have previously completed the Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certification.