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Microsoft Certification Exams

Shailendra Chauhan  Print   17 min read  
15 Jan 2020
09 Jul 2020
Beginner
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In this technology era where cloud computing is revolutionizing the software industry, the importance of attaining a Microsoft Azure certification cannot be fathomed. Microsoft is the world leader in the software industry and Azure has shown consistent growth over the years in the cloud sector.

Microsoft Certifications

In this technology era where cloud computing is revolutionizing the software industry, the importance of attaining a Microsoft Azure certification cannot be fathomed. Microsoft is the world leader in the software industry and Azure has shown consistent growth over the years in the cloud sector. The key point here is how to get these certifications. Many keen people in and out of the software industry have heard about such programs. Here we provide you a detailed account of how you can achieve these certifications. It can be a little tricky to choose what role suits you and the subsequent steps to be certified in that particular role. This article aims to provide you a gist of the entire process and answer all queries simultaneously.

Why should you opt for a Microsoft certification?

The name of the brand in discussion here is sufficient to prove the worth of these certifications. However, for those who need more details, we have some convincing factors that may appeal to you better.

Growth of Azure

The Azure segment of Microsoft is increasing by leaps and bounds each day. This sector deals with all the cloud operations of the company. Although there are many upcoming competitors in the market, the growth curve of Azure is unmatched. In technological terms, Azure is said to have the vision for future cloud operations as well as the resources to execute the same. The imminent growth of Azure is a focal reason why you should pursue these certifications. If you are certified by a trusted brand and a market leader in the cloud sector for any role concerning the same segment, it is a matter of great pride.

Technological expertise

No one can doubt your caliber in the role you are certified in. This is so because the certifying authority is a trusted entity and also due to the exquisite designing of these courses. Experts regard this certification program as very intricate. The program is indeed very thoughtfully created, consisting of various stages. You will require having genuine computing skills to gain the highest level in a specific role.

Enhancement of soft skills

These are not just hourly courses distributing free certifications. The programs being talked about here are legitimate courses that need consistent efforts. The entire process will be a learning experience and as you achieve qualify each level, your confidence will be boosted. In a way, these courses will help you to work on your soft skills as well.

Employment opportunities

As your knowledge in various fields increases, you will be given more credibility in your workplace also. Of course, the process of becoming a Microsoft certified cloud engineer is not a piece of cake. Due to the increasing demand of cloud services, you will observe better employment avenues around you. Such scenarios will suit you the most because you will have the required potential to survive in the highly competitive software industry.

Vital statistics

As per recent statistics, the percentage of cloud related jobs in the software field will account for 38% of the total jobs by 2021. This is a huge percentage, considering the variety of roles available in this field. This is a historic era for cloud computing and it is better to have an edge over the others here. According to the official statistics published by Microsoft, 35% of the certified professionals agree that they always have the upper hand in technical discussions now. 36.9% of the IT executives who have achieved Microsoft certifications claimed that the program helped them to undertake prime roles in their respective organizations and deal with complex challenges in the workplace.

Job Roles

Microsoft can certify you in various roles. There are four basic portfolios offered for these certifications. The prime roles have been selected considering a variety of skill sets, and each of them symbolize multiple functions. These are groups of real-world jobs targeted by Microsoft. This concept ensures that maximum number of people working in any discipline find the programs informative and useful. The four job roles are described in detail below.

Developer

You can become a Microsoft certified Developer, meaning that you are capable of designing and testing cloud solutions. The building and testing aspects of development are also a part of this certification. The exact name for this certification offered by Microsoft is called the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate certification. This is a cloud centric developer position.

Administrator

You can also opt for an Administrator distinction, which states that you can effectively manage and monitor cloud operations. The maintenance and implementation of cloud technologies is an added asset of this certification. The specification for this role is Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Azure administration. The point imperative to note here is that the administrative functions concern only the cloud operations.

Solutions Architect

You can be a certified Solutions Architect if you know the Azure framework well and have good knowledge of implementing various cloud-based operations using the platform. Another quality tested here is how well you can devise the cloud operations to suit the needs of the business queried by the client. The detailed label of this certification is the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. All the solutions architect qualifications here are purely centred around cloud aspects.

Functional Consultant

Being asserted as a Functional Consultant means that you have the ability to design customer centric plans and can utilize the Microsoft Dynamics 365 to satisfy their requirements. Consultation certification can be awarded in the field of sales, marketing, field service or customer service, based on your skills.

Expertise Levels

These levels describe your growth trajectory in the role that you have opted for. It is a three-tier structure, starting from the basic s and then advancing towards the higher levels of expertise. As you progress in learning new skills, your expertise level is bound to elevate. It does not matter whether you are just a fresher or have completed years in this software profession, you can be certified by Microsoft if you put in the required efforts. There is a roadmap for everyone’s needs and current job role in the industry. It is easier now to pave your way to a Microsoft because of the distinct role segments and varied levels. Even if you are at the beginner level, you are doing better than those who haven’t started yet. Buckle up and take on the challenge that will transform your professional life, over the years. You can achieve the Fundamentals, Associate and Expert levels in each of the roles described above.

Fundamentals

The Fundamentals stage indicates that you are a beginner in a specific role. It is ideal for those who are in between careers or the ones who have just step their first foot in the software industry. People with zero to two years of hands-on experience are considered for this level of certifications. There are three prime Fundamentals certifications offered by Microsoft as of now.

  1. Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

  2. Microsoft 365 certified: Fundamentals

  3. Microsoft certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals

Another vital point to keep in mind here is that Microsoft recommends you start your journey with these certifications. However, it is not mandatory to possess a Fundamentals certification to be considered for the higher levels of the program. The level you are suitable for solely depends upon your capability and skillset at that particular moment of application and the number of years you have experienced in the software field. Also, it is the discretion of Microsoft to assert you for the role and level you appeared for.

Associate

You can apply for an Associate level certification when you have two or more years of expertise in the said field. Most of the certified IT professionals today, fall under this category. A number of factors govern your level of certification.  A viable reason for the surplus of Associate professionals is likely the fact that Cloud Solutions is still an emerging field and people are still getting to know about it. Additionally, the cloud providers are also devising new frameworks each year that surpass their previous counterparts. So, overall, it is a relatively new concept that needs persistent efforts to be excelled in.

Expert

To be certified as an Expert in your chosen role, you need to have profound technical knowledge and an experience of around five years in the software sector. Only those with advanced skills regarding latest cloud technologies. You need to have a corresponding Associate certification for the attainment of an Expert level certification.

Associate Certification Pathways

Since the Associate level certifications are the most trending nowadays, we have defined diverse pathways to achieve this pedestal. These options have Azure at the center of it all and you can imagine them as the branches of that core. You can opt for these pathways if you have at least two years of work experience.

Microsoft Certified: Azure Associate

This distinction can be awarded to anyone from any of the permissible roles of Developer, Administrator, Solutions architect and Functional consultant. The various certification paths are listed below.

  1. Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate - If you hail from the cyber security department, you can opt for this field to specialize in. This recognition requires you to have sound knowledge about security controls, access controls and identity reservations with the help of Azure. You must be efficient in managing security and access, implement platform protection, manage security operations, and secure data and applications using all the Azure methodologies.

  2. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate - If you can administrate various sectors such as computing, networking, storage, security and other cloud facilities by Azure, this pathway is perfect for you. In-depth knowledge of the IT lifecycle is a necessity. You should be able to manage Azure subscriptions, including resource groups, implement and manage storage. Other skills required are deployment and management of virtual machines, configuration and maintenance of virtual networks, managing identities along with implementing hybrid identities.

  3. Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate - AI is another trending technology and when it combines with cloud services, the results are phenomenal. This is meant for professionals who work on Cognitive Services, Machine learning, and Knowledge mining for various cloud-related operations. The required skill set includes natural language processing, speed, computer vision, bots, and agents. Other vital qualifications are analyzing solution requirements, designing solutions, integrating AI models into solutions and implementing, maintaining those solutions.

  4. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate -The field of Big data is still an evolving topic and the demand of professionals working in this sector is enormous. If you are acquainted with this concept, earning this Microsoft certification will not be much difficult.

  5. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate - Data scientists do most of the job in a data center and basically, they are the ones who run the entire operation. If they do not work properly, all the building and designing work can go in vain.  The tag of an Azure Data Scientist is a very respected position in the cloud services sector.

  6. Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate - This distinction is targeted towards executives with a keen interest and knowledge of design and building all kinds of applications and services pertaining to the cloud segment. You need to be an active participant of all the contests organized by Microsoft and equip yourself with the skills of testing and maintaining the solutions you create as well. You should also be able to communicate well with Cloud Solution architects, Azure DBAs, Azure administrators and clients alike to implement your design and present it as a viable entity. The skills required are developing Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS). Along with having detailed knowledge about both these concepts, you must also know how to compute solutions regarding the same services.

    Apart from all that is mentioned above, you need to learn how to manage Azure storage and all the tools related to it and implement Azure security using all the available methods. Another requirement is being able to monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions. Knowing how to connect to and consume Azure services as well in-depth knowledge about third party services is mandatory as well. The Developer profile is quite vast and therefore, more qualifications are required in this pathway.

Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Associate

A Dynamic 365 associate has multiple job roles. The various pathways that you can choose under this domain are listed as follows.

  1. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant - Configuring market applications and managing segments and lists is an inseparable part of the job. You must excel in creating and managing marketing mails using cloud services, and configuring and analysing customer responses using Azure products. Managing events, seminars, and customer journeys is also required.

  2. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant - You must be thorough with the Microsoft 365 platform and should be able to implement solutions using the Dynamics Core setup. You have to manage inventory and purchasing in this role. Configuring field service applications and managing work orders is focal here. Scheduling and dispatching work orders, and looking after field service mobility is a major concern with this profile.

  3. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Financials Functional Consultant - You must be acquainted with common functionality and implementation tools of the Azure platform. Configuring security, processes, and applications play a vital role in this profile. You need to set up and configure the entire financial management framework for the client herein. Managing budget and fixed assets along with monitoring payable and receivable accounts is needed.

  4. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Manufacturing Functional Consultant - Performing data migration is the prime job in this profile. You should manage, create, and process production batch orders efficiently. Moreover, focusing on lean orders is also vital. The basic requirement is to set up and configure the manufacturing aspect and validate, support the solutions you create.

  5. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations, Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant - The management of warehouse and transportation along with managing business processes is important in this profile. Implementing and supervising supply chain processes is also an integral part of this role. Production information and inventory management is another skill you must possess for qualifying in this certification exam.

  6. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant -Interacting with the customers is the prime aspect of this profile. You need to manage cases and the entire knowledge base along with supervising queues, SLAs, and entitlements. It requires configuring the voice of customers and implementing security, integration in the respective framework.

  7. Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant - You need to be efficient in solving, analysing, and discovering cloud operations. Managing user experience design, data, and entities is the prime purpose of this role. Implementation of security and integration to deploy solutions and then test them is an integral necessity of this distinction. You can perform well in this segment if you are experienced in performing configuration and managing core sale entities.

Microsoft 365 Certified Associate

Multiple options are available in this regard also, such as:

  1. Microsoft 365 Certified: Messaging Administrator Associate

  2. Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator

  3. Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator

  4. Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator

All these roles are also suitable choices for the associate certification. They require administrative capabilities and skill sets. Executives opting for this segment should be well-versed in the specific areas, such as messaging services, desktop services, security services, and teamwork services. The basic requirement is being able to supervise all these distinguished cloud operations so that they work cohesively for the fulfillment of the client.

Associate Qualifying Examinations

The required skills for each roles have been extensively described. The above-mentioned distinctions can be awarded to you only if you successfully clear the respective examinations for those roles.

  1. Exam AZ-103: Azure Administrator Associate

  2. Exam AZ-203: Azure Developer Associate

  3. Exam AI-100: Azure AI Engineer Associate

  4. Exam DP-200 and DP-201: Azure Data Engineer Associate

  5. Exam DP-100: Azure Data Scientist Associate

  6. Exam AZ-500: Azure Security Engineer Associate

Expert Certification Pathways

You can achieve an Expert level certification from Microsoft in three ways.

  1. Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert - Prior knowledge of designing and implementing DevOps frameworks is a must to excel in this field. Skills such as version control, compliance, infrastructure as code (IaC), configuration management, build, release, and testing with the help of cloud-based services are mandatory. You need to be thorough in designing a DevOps strategy, implementing DevOps processes, and contiguous integration. Putting setups such as dependency management and continuous delivery are important aspects of the profile. You should be able to implement application infrastructure as well.

  2. Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert - Cloud-based solutions such as computing, storage, and security are the key roles in this profile. The basic job is to monitor various cloud services.

  3. Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert - Designing and implementing Microsoft 365 services are the most important requirements in this profile. Management of user identity, roles, access, and authentication is also vital. You need to plan Office 365 workloads and applications and supervise the 365 governance system.

Expert Qualifying Examinations

To achieve an expert Microsoft certification, you need follow few guidelines. There are special pre-requisites for every expert role. If you match the pre-requisite, you are eligible to appear in the respective examination. You will be awarded the Expert tag only after you successfully clear the exam.

  1. Exam AZ-400: DevOps Engineer expert (Pre-requisite: Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certification)

  2. Exam AZ-301: Azure Solutions architect expert (Pre-requisite: Azure Architect Technologies certification)

  3. Exam MS-100 & MS-101: Enterprise Administrator expert (Pre-requisite: Any of the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate, Security Administrator Associate, Teamwork Administrator Associate, Messaging Administrator Associate, Productivity certification)

Conclusion

There are diversified job roles concerning Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Dynamics technologies. Each of them require a specific experience term and certain skill sets. We have discussed in detail the entire process of achieving a Microsoft certification.  The value of these listings is immense in the fast-paced software industry. Learn the respective skills and appear for the examinations to be asserted by Microsoft in your favorite job role.

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