How hard is Microsoft Azure certification?

How hard is Microsoft Azure certification?

Cloud computing is the wave of the future and because of this, Microsoft Azure certifications are a great way to open the doors to your success. So, how hard is it to get those certifications? In this article we’ll answer this question comprehensively by explaining the different Azure certifications and requirements so that you embark on this journey with the benefit of the excellent map we are about to provide.

As to how hard it is to get your Azure certification, that will depend on the Tier which you select, be it Fundamentals, Associate, or Expert, with Expert being the hardest as it is the only level that requires pre-requisites. 

It sounds complicated on the surface but we’ll explain what you need to know in order to achieve the Azure certification that you are looking for. We’ll advise on the different Azure certifications, the associated tests, and any pre-requisites that you will need to bring to the table before you can progress on the career path of your choice. So, without further ado, let’s talk about Azure certification!  

What is Microsoft Azure?

With technology on the rise, the cost of acquiring and maintaining hardware and licensed software can be affect profitability and subsequently, the growth of businesses. This is where Azure comes in. Azure is a public cloud computing platform. An  alternative data center, through Azure you can host virtual machines, such as servers managing security, antivirus, or hosting the databases of homegrown or commercial software which your company relies on, all at a fraction of the cost of running it at home. It can handle networking, firewalls, archive data, host web apps, and more! Upgrading is no longer a chore, as copies can be maintained of system images so that they can be reverted in an instant if required. 

Simply put, Azure can give you the technology formerly reserved for Enterprise level businesses without having to purchase the actual hardware, full support team, and office space. 

A company needs someone who can architect and manage this powerful solution, however, and that is where YOU come in. 

The first thing that you will need to do is determine which role that you are going to fit in your workaday interface with the Azure business virtualization model. What role do you wish to fill? Do you want to be a solutions architect or perhaps an administrator for the Azure platform? This will help to determine which Tier and certifications are to be desired.

Microsoft Azure Career path – Understanding Tiers, Roles, and associated Certifications 

As of 2019, Microsoft reorganized the Azure certification structure into three Tiers: 

  • Fundamentals
  • Associate
  • Expert.

Each Tier has specific certifications associated with them which are optimal for a particular job or role. There are 9 of these certifications available and their Tier assignment is, further, based on the complexity of this role. 

This means that you can get one certification, for instance, if you want to perform a very specific function in managing or implementing Azure, or you can obtain further certifications in order to be able to perform a wide variety of functions at an Expert Tier level. 

Let’s discuss the Three Tiers and their associated Roles so that you get an idea of what certifications that you will need to acquire and better understand the potential difficulty level for the Azure roadmap you are planning for your new career.

Microsoft Azure Tier 1: Fundamentals 

Azure Fundamentals encompasses your basic foundational understanding of the Azure platform. This is predominately intended for those who wish to work with Azure in a non-technical capacity, such as a Sales or Software acquisition. It is also important for Techs as well as having this certification demonstrates that the technician has acquired the knowledge needed to understand Azure at the basic level. 

This certification is obtained be completing the following exam:

  • AZ-900 – Microsoft Azure Fundamentals

Microsoft Azure Tier 2: Associate

The second Tier requires a more robust level of understanding of the Azure platform and allows you to start targeting roles focused on Administration, Development, or in an engineering capacity for Azure solutions requiring AI, Data, or Security expertise.  

While it is good to have the Fundamentals certification if you would like to be an Azure administrator, there are no pre-requisite certifications required to obtain test for and earn this certification, so you could conceivably go straight to associate if you wish. That said, if you already understand the Fundamentals of Azure it is highly recommended to acquire take the AZ-900 and acquire the certification anyway. It can’t hurt your chances of being hired!

Associate certifications come in 6 different ‘flavors’, so the test that you will need to take will depend on the role that you desire. These are the 5 Associate level roles:

  • Microsoft Certified Administrator Associate – A Microsoft Certified Administrator Associate is someone who has demonstrated an understanding of the product to the level required to monitor, implement, and manage Microsoft Azure solutions, such as Networking, Security, Storage, Computing, and Administration. This certification is obtained by passing the AZ-103 Microsoft Azure Administrator exam.
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Developer Associate – A Microsoft Certified Azure Developer Associate has demonstrated expertise in designing, implementing, testing, and maintaining applications and services on the cloud platform. This, in turn, allows them to work directly with Business clients, Administrators, Cloud architects, and Database Administrators in order to implement customized Azure solutions. This certification is obtained by passing the AZ-203 – Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure exam.
  • Microsoft Certified Azure AI Engineer Associate – Another Developer-type certification, A Microsoft Certified Azure AI Associate is tasked with implementing solutions which require automated agents, speech, bots, and generally associate with data mining and machine learning in order to develop adaptive, automated solutions for the Azure cloud. This certification requires the AI-100 – Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution exam. 
  • Microsoft Certified Data Engineer Associate – The Microsoft Certified Data Engineer Associate has proven that they understand the platform at a developer level in regards to data privacy, security, management, monitoring, and overall design. This allows them to anticipate an organization or client’s data needs from design to engineering to management. To obtain this certification, you will need to pass two associated exams. These exams are: DP-200 Implementing an Azure Data Solution, DP-201 Designing an Azure Data Solution
  • Microsoft Certified Data Scientist Associate – A Microsoft Certified Data Scientist Associate specializes in creating data science environments based on analytics, requirements, scaling concerns, and identification of anomalies through the application of knowledge and machine learning. This allows them to deploy, train, and evaluate Data science models in the desired environments. To obtain this certification, you will need to pass the DP-100 – Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure exam. 
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate –  While the Data Engineer Associate has some grounding in security, Microsoft Certified Azure Security Engineer Associate is adept at a wider range of security applications in regards to applications, networks, data, and implementation of an effective security structure. This certification may be obtained by passing the AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies exam.  

Microsoft Azure Tier 3: Expert 

This is the highest Tier available when it comes to Azure certification. That said, depending on the role which you are targeting, an Expert level may or may not be required. Take a look at the two certifications available and this will tell you if an Associate level understanding will be adequate or if you need to go ahead and pursue an Expert level. The available certifications are as follows:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect Expert – A Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect Expert has demonstrated an expert level understanding when it comes to designing solutions in regards to networking, computing, security, storage, and networking requirements on the Microsoft Azure Cloud platform. To obtain this, two tests must be completed. You will need to pass the AZ-300 – Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and the AZ-301 – Microsoft Azure Architect Design exams respectively in order to earn this certification.
  • Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert – This certification is an indicator that the Technician has the skills to not only develop and engineer solutions but to also work with people and existing processes in order to deliver a custom and streamlined experience on the Azure platform. This certification is the only one currently requiring a prerequisite of an Associate level certification in either Administration or Development. If you already have the Associate certification, then you need only to pass the required AZ-400 Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions exam in order to claim your Expert Tier-level certification.

Now that we have advised you on the career path options and which certifications you will need to pursue them, let’s discuss how you can streamline the process and get your certification faster.

How can I streamline the process to get my certification quickly?

First you are going to want to take advantage of a little-known goody which Microsoft provides. Microsoft allows you free access to Azure and to 25 of their most popular products for one year, including 200$ credit that you can spend for the first 30 days.

This is absolutely free. Microsoft will require your credit information in order to screen out bots and fake accounts, but this information is deleted within 3-5 days of verification. 

You can learn more about your free Azure account details here:

Next, you will want to pursue your training options. Certification guides can often be obtained at your local library, either directly or through interlibrary loan, and you can use these in conjunction with your free Azure account in order to absorb the information and to drive the lessons home with real-world experience! 

Should you require some more interactive training or simply wish to make your progress even faster, there are 3rd party providers of this which you employ. Cloudfoundation is a good one to look for, as they offer a free course in the Fundamentals of Microsoft Azure Cloud computing. 

If you already have some experience with Clouds then it might be possible to jump right to the Fundamentals certification, but we do recommend taking a practice test so that you don’t have to worry about failing the certification and having to pay for the test again. Udemy offers practice tests and if you Google ‘Azure Fundamentals practice test’ then you will come up with a number of resources which offer practice questions, hints, and more. Just be sure to check the dates on the postings as the certification roadmaps are constantly evolving and you want to make sure that you are getting the freshest variations of the questions that you will see on the test.

So, what are you waiting for? Microsoft Azure certification is in high demand, so don’t let any dust gather on you. Obtain those certifications so that you can start your Cloud-computing career now!

Frequently Asked Questions : Microsoft Azure certification   

1. Is Azure superior to Amazon Web Services?

While both platforms are similar, Microsoft is considered best from a security perspective and has considerable advantages in regards to Development options as well, providing an Integrated environment for developing, testing, and deployment that is considered considerably less complicated than the current AWS offerings. 

2. How much does it cost for the Azure certification exams?

Azure certifications can vary in price, although the majority of the exams will cost $165 USD to take if you wish to test for your certification. 

3. What is the passing score for Microsoft certification exams?  

A passing score on a Microsoft certification exam is 700. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to get 70% of the questions right. Due to their scaling system, depending on the particular certification you will need to get anywhere from 50 – 85% of the total number of questions correct. It is a good idea to research the required percentage for the certification which you are targeting if you are able to locate this information on Google although if you are uncertain that you have mastered the material we highly recommend that you wait, study more, and take advantage of the free test environment account provided by Microsoft until you are confident in your understanding of Azure. 

4. How many times can you take the test for the certification?

Microsoft will allow you to take the test for a particular certification up to 5 times in a one year period. After this you will have to wait to take the test again. If you find that you are unable to complete the test after 5 tries make sure that you check for newer materials when next you take the exam, as certifications are constantly evolving and you will want to take your exam the subsequent year with the latest information regarding the current build and applications for Microsoft Azure.

5. How long do Azure certifications last once I have passed my exam? 

Your Azure certifications are good for a period of 2 years following completion of the exams. They stay on your Microsoft transcript even after expiration but after the 2 year period you will typically want to take a ‘refresher’ exam in order to demonstrate your knowledge of the newer iterations of the Azure platform. 

6. What are average salaries for Azure certified technicians?

While rates can vary based on location, Administrators average around 60k per year, with Developers following around 69k. Software engineers can earn around 83k per year up to 91k at the Senior Software Engineer level. Development Operations Engineers at the expert Tier level average around 91k per year, whereas Solutions Architects at the expert level may command up to 131k. Azure certifications, as you can see, are highly in demand.    

7. What is the best way to prepare for my certification exam? 

The best way to prepare for your exam is as follows:

  • First you will want to identify which certification you desire
  • Next you will want to identify which percentages of the test are occupied by which skill sets
  • Once you have identified the skill sets, take advantage of practice exams or test questions associated by skill set, so that you can see which areas are your strengths and which ones you should work more on. 
  • Take your weakest areas and combine your study materials along with your access to your free Azure account, so that when you learn the answer to a question you can further help associate the answer in your mind through actual experience of the product. This will help the lessons to ‘stick’, even when you are a little nervous
  • Once you feel that you are becoming proficient in all of the required areas then you will want to schedule your certification test. Set it for a time in the near future that gives you 2 weeks to one month to further ingrain your lessons and to take available practice tests
  • Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before the test!

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