In case you haven’t been paying attention, Cloud computing has been revolutionizing business. With virtual machines, data storage, and more available through the web, companies can reduce their hardware costs dramatically and subsequently grow swiftly by reinvesting those funds. So who is the ideal person to get these certifications and benefit with a career path in Azure cloud computing?
Why, that would be YOU, of course.
In this article we are going to discuss Microsoft Azure roles for Techs and aspiring Techs who want to expand their expertise or simply break into this lucrative field. We’ll tell you what certifications you need to obtain to enhance your current skills, to target a specific role at any level of expertise, and provide you with some information on resources that can help you to get started at no cost to yourself. So, who can benefit from these certifications?
Azure Primary Roles
Veteran technicians or those enthusiasts who are looking to break into the field are both in luck. If you currently work in Tech, for instance, then you can expand the role that you are already working in to include Azure technology with a little studying and application of that study to your current knowledge. If you are a novice, then you can use these roles as guidelines for your ‘dream career’ path.
Azure certified technicians are in high demand, these days, and you will want to take advantage of this as soon as possible before the market gets flooded and you lose your chance. So, what role would you desire to obtain or expand into?
Azure Sales Representative or In-house Technical acquisition
Successful Tech resellers are rock stars in their companies, but they need to know their product. Perhaps Sales isn’t your thing, but you ARE in charge of evaluating new tech for assimilation into the company infrastructure. In either case, this is where a Fundamental level certification is going to be called for (unless you will also be providing some administration, in which case you should check the ‘Azure Administrator’ entry which follows).
The AZ-900 Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification is good for Sales and for Acquisition, intended as a certification for non-technical personnel who simply need a foundational understanding of Azure Cloud computing.
This certification is specifically focused on the following:
- Azure pricing and support
- Cloud concepts
- Core Azure services
- Understand security, privacy, compliance, and trust models
Administrators wear a lot of hats, which is to say that they are seldom doing administration on one specific medium. Quite often the Administrators in a company will work with a number of technologies, handling such things as NT administration, SQL DBA rights, and more. With more and more companies moving business resources to the Cloud this is a chance for a current or aspiring administrator to add an extremely marketable skill to their panoply. The certification required for this is an Associate level certification and the test that you need to take to earn it is the AZ-103 Microsoft Azure Administrator exam.
This exam is going to focus primarilyon these aspects of Cloud administration:
- Managing Azure subscriptions and resources
- Managing identities in Azure
- Management and deployment of virtual machines
- Configuring and managing virtual networks
- Implementing and managing Cloud storage
Azure Data Engineer
Azure Data Engineers are the ones responsible for managing data storage, managing streaming data, data retention policy implementation, accessing external data, and more. If it’s data related then depending on the specifics, you will either want to go with the Data Engineer or the Data Scientist associated certifications. With the Azure Data Engineer certification you will need to exhibit a level of expertise with the following Cloud applications:
- Azure Blob storage
- Azure Cosmos DB
- Azure Data Lake Storage
- Azure Databricks
- Azure Data Factory
- Azure Stream Analytics
- Azure SQL Database
- Azure SQL Data Warehouse
This is going to require the acquisition of 2 certifications, as this is a high level of technical expertise. Those two certifications are the DP-200 Implementing an Azure Data Solution and the DP-201 Designing an Azure Data Solution.
The skillsets for this combination of certifications includes the following:
- Designing Azure data storage solutions
- Designing data processing solutions
- Designing data security and compliance schemas
- Implementing data storage solutions
- Management and development of data processing
- Monitoring and optimization of data solutions
Azure Data Scientist
If you already work in Data science or if it is an aspiration of yours then color us a little envious. Data science is fascination, obtaining analytics through construction of AI solutions that can process visual data, recognize speech, predictive analytics and more. Data mining of this sort can be invaluable to a company and Microsoft has a certification that can help to make sure that you stick out when it comes to Azure Data Scientist applications. For this certification you are going to need the DP-100 – Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure. The focuses for this exam are as follows:
- Defining and preparation of the development environment
- Model development
- Performing feature engineering
- Preparing data for modeling
Azure Security Technician
Security is always in demand and like any other medium, Azure requires its own security experts. Protecting applications, data, and virtual networks is the name of the game with a role like this. Also included is vulnerability assessment, which is a must in this age of fast-evolving threat vectors. A Microsoft Security Engineer is equipped to do this and to remediate threats with a number of tools which they will have at their disposal and aside from standard Cloud security, Hybrid technology is also covered. If this sounds like a role which you would enjoy or if you already work in Security then you will want to acquire your AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies certification by passing the Microsoft exam.
The areas covered the most in this exam are going to be:
- Implementing platform protection
- Managing access and identity
- Management of security operations
- Securing data and applications on the Cloud
Azure AI Engineer
Artificial intelligence is evolving like the rest of our technologies and it’s getting quite advanced. As an Azure AI Engineer, your primary focus is the evaluation of AI requirements within an infrastructure, followed by recommendations of applications and strategies in order to meet those needs, and finally the implementation of these technologies within the Cloud. AI Engineers get to work with a lot of different Azure technicians, such as Developers, Solution Architects, and Data Scientists, so it’s a technical role that can be both rewarding and exciting. In order to get your foot in the door, you’ll want to acquire the AI-100 – Designing and Implementing an Azure AI Solution certification. The exam is going to primarily focus on measuring the following skills:
- Analyzing and Evaluating solution requirements
- Design of AI solutions for requirements
- Implementation and monitoring of these AI solutions
Azure Solutions Architect
This is one of the Expert level proficiencies with Microsoft Azure Cloud computing technology and along with Developer roles it is among the highest paying. So, what does an Azure Solutions Architect do? Well, a Solutions Architect takes a company’s requirements on the Cloud network, such as virtual machines, database storage, analytics, and more, and they take this data to engineer a solution on the Azure cloud that can provide a solution for the company’s needs. Aside from structuring this solution, the Azure Solutions Architect is responsible for making sure that it is also secure and reliable. It’s a wide scope and as such, it requires 2 certifications in order to be able to command this title and it’s associating implication of expertise. In order to be an Azure Solutions Architect you will want to obtain the AZ-300 – Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and the AZ-301 – Microsoft Azure Architect Design certifications. The primary skill focus on these two tests from Microsoft will consist of:
- Configuration and deployment of infrastructure models
- Creating and deploying apps
- Designing a business continuity strategy
- Designing a data platform solution
- Designing an infrastructure strategy
- Designing for security and identity concerns
- Designing schemas for deployment, migrations, and integration into existing structures
- Determining workload requirements
- Develop solutions for the Azure Cloud and for Azure storage
- Implement authentication and secure data
- Implementing workloads and security stratagems
Some people prefer, rather than Administration or working strictly with Data, a more integrated position when it comes to emerging technologies. Developers get to work more closely than anyone when it comes to a particular technology and Azure is no exception to this rule. There are both Associate-level and Expert-Level certification paths that you can take, depending on the career role that you are envisioning for yourself.
As an Associate level Microsoft Azure Developer your chief focus is going to be the design and development of services and apps to be used in the Azure Cloud environment. This includes the design phase, deployment, monitoring, testing, and maintenance of said apps and services as well. If this sounds like what you are looking for, you will need to take the AZ-203 – Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure exam. This exam is going to focus primarily on the following:
- Connection and consume function for Azure and third-party services
- Developing Azure Infrastructure for Service compute solutions
- Development for Azure storage solutions
- Developing the Azure Platform for Service compute solutions
- Implementing Azure security
- Monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing solutions
If you wish to pursue Development at an Expert level then your responsibilities are similar but on a larger scale. You’ll want to be proficient in Agile, as well as Azure Administration and Development. Technically, to obtain this role, you will only need one Associate level certification in either Administration or in Development and then you will need to pass the AZ-400 Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions exam.
Like the Azure Solutions Architect, this Expert status is in high demand, and in order to pass the test you will need to have a good understanding of the following:
- Designing a DevOps strategy
- Implementing continuous delivery
- Implementing continuous feedback
- Implementing continuous integration
- Implementing the application infrastructure
- Implementation of DevOps development processes
- Implementation of dependency management
Now that you know your role and the certification requirements, what comes next?
We promised you some training resources and we intend to deliver exactly that. Microsoft offers free online training options for Azure, you just need to know where to look for them. In order to locate Microsoft’s free training modules you will want to use the following link:
When you click this link, simply select ‘Learn More’ under the exam listing that you are interested in. This will take you to a detailed explanation of the certification which includes listings of free online course modules that you can take advantage of. The main link also provides a link for Microsoft’s practice tests (which are worth investing in so that test with confidence) but we recommend you go through all of that free training first before you commit to purchasing these and the certification exam that will follow.
Lastly, don’t limit yourself to the online testing, you will also want to apply your knowledge by actually using the product. Azure is available for 1 year for free and you can sign up here: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/free/
You know the requirements for the certifications that you need and you have resources that allow you to train for free, the future is up to you!
Frequently Asked Questions: Who Can Do Microsoft Azure Certification?
1. How much does Azure certification cost?
Typically your certification exam is going to cost around $165, so you will want to make sure that you are familiar with the material. Practice tests come highly recommended, as this gives you a way to test what you have learned, but be sure that you get the practice test from a reputable provider (preferably Microsoft) to ensure that the information in your practice test is up to date.
2. Where can I take my certification exam?
Through Microsoft’s website you can interface with Pearson Vue to take your certification exam at one of their many worldwide locations. Some exams may even be done online, but check on the Microsoft information page for the specific certification that you are interested in to see if your test is among these. For physically taking the exam, schedule from the information page at Microsoft.com for your specific certification by selecting ‘schedule exam’ and a location, date, and time may be set up from there.
3. Do Azure certifications expire?
While achievement of a certification will stay on your Microsoft transcript, the Azure certifications are valid for a period of 2 years, after which you will need to renew.
4. How many questions do I need to get right to pass a Microsoft exam?
Typically you will need to score between 50% to 85%in specificcategories in order to pass a certification exam. Typically the information page for your certification that is hosted on Microsoft.com will list the categories and associated ‘weights’ so that you will have a good idea of where you should focus most in order to pass the test.
5. How many times can you retake a Microsoft exam and what should I do if I fail?
You can take the same certification exam up to 5 times, after which you will no longer be able to retake the test until a period of 12 months has passed from the date of your last attempt. If you fail the exam after the first time, we highly recommend that you acquire the test exams directly from Microsoft in order to assist you in reviewing and practicing for retaking the certification exam. Typically available at a cost between $99 and $109 USD for either 30 or 90 days of access, this may sound like an expensive option but consider this: Practice tests acquired at less expense from a third-party vendor are not necessarily going to be up to date and in some cases, maybe not even very pertinent. So if you fail the exam one time, Microsoft’s practice tests may be just the thing to give you the edge that you need.
6. Which Azure certification is the best?
The best as far as potential salary-changers go are actually going to be between the Microsoft Certified DevOps Engineer Expert and the Microsoft Solutions Architect Expert certifications. These are the highest Tier ranking of expertise and subsequently the hardest to obtain. Industry statistic indicate that these skills are very much in demand so if you want to shoot for the stars then you should engineer your certification path towards achieving one of these two roles.
7. Is Microsoft Azure easy to learn?
If you already have a grounding in Cloud computing concepts then a lot of the material will be easier to grasp. That said, conceptually it is easy to understand but it will take some time to learn how to properly configure it. Take advantage of the free Azure account that we’ve mentioned earlier in the article and if you use it in conjunction with the free Microsoft training then Azure is going to be much easier to pick up.