The 12 Microsoft Azure Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?

Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing technology in this modern era. According to the IDC report, “public cloud spending will grow from $229 billion in 2019 to nearly $500 billion in 2023.” Therefore, nobody can deny the rapid growth of cloud computing in recent years.

Many big names have made their presence in the cloud arena with their unique services in a cloud computing environment such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), IBM Cloud, Rackspace, etc. — and Microsoft Azure is an emerging market-leader with 29% application workload of the overall cloud market.

Becoming a Microsoft Azure certified professional is the most demanding certification path in the cloud market. In this article, we’ll cover the 12 Microsoft Azure certification exams and provide vital information to help you choose a career path.

Whether you are looking to study for an Azure certification or simply want to find out more about what Azure can offer your enterprise, Cloud Academy’s Microsoft Azure Training Library is loaded with learning paths, courses, practice certification exams, hands-on labs, lab challenges, and lab playgrounds. Our learning paths are guided learning experiences that provide step-by-step training to build your technical knowledge and hands-on skills using actual Azure accounts in live environments.Cloud Academy Azure Certifications

Microsoft Azure Role-Based Certifications

Microsoft has announced some changes in its Azure role-based certifications such as Azure Administrator, Azure Solution Architect, Azure, Developer, Azure AI Engineer, and also announced three new certifications. Two of the certifications are fundamental paths: Azure AI Fundamentals (beta) Exam AI-900 and Azure Data Fundamentals (beta) Exam DP-900. And the other certification is an associate path: Azure Database Administrator (beta) Exam DP-300.

Microsoft now has 12 Microsoft Azure certifications with 14 exams, which are organized into three levels: Fundamental, Associate, and Expert. These certifications purely focus on building knowledge and skills related to market job roles. This revolution was made with the engagement of the community after identifying the job requirements.

Microsoft also announced two new fundamental level certifications, Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals (beta) Exam AI-900 and Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals Exam DP-900.

  1. Microsoft Certified: Azure – Fundamentals Exam AZ-900
  2. Microsoft Certified: Azure AI – Fundamentals Exam AI-900 (beta)
  3. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data – Fundamentals Exam DP-900 (beta)
  4. Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator – Associate Exam AZ-103
  5. Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer – Associate Exam AZ-203
  6. Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer – Associate Exam AZ-500
  7. Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer – Associate Exam AI-100
  8. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist – Associate Exam DP-100
  9. Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer – Associate Exams DP-200 and DP-201
  10. Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator – Associate Exam DP-300 (beta)
  11. Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect – Expert Exams AZ-300 and AZ-301
  12. Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer – Expert Exam AZ-400

Fundamental-Level Microsoft Azure Certification

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900

This certification is designed to validate the foundational knowledge level of Azure cloud services. It also helps non-technical candidates understand cloud services that are offering services such as sales, purchasing, and marketing Azure cloud services.  

Areas Covered

  • Understand foundational cloud concepts such as High Availability (HA), Scalability, Fault Tolerance (FT), Disaster Recovery, scalability, and the difference between CapEx and OpEx
  • Describe Regions, Availability Zones, Resource Groups, Azure Resource Manager, and Azure architectural components
  • Describe Azure Firewall, DDoS protection, Network Security Group (NSG)
  • Describe Azure subscription, understand purchasing of Azure services and products, Azure free account, and pricing calculator

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: No special prerequisites
  • Number of Questions: 30 – 40
  • Duration: 60 Minutes
  • Passing Score Required: 700
  • Cost: $99

Exam AI-900: Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals (beta)

Candidates who are interested in earning this new fundamental level certification must have a basic knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and how to implement them on Microsoft Azure.

Areas Covered

  • Describe AI workloads and considerations, identify features of common AI workloads, and guiding principles for responsible AI
  • Describe fundamental principles of machine learning on Azure, identify common machine learning types and scenarios
  • Describe features of computer vision workloads on Azure, identify common types of computer vision solution, identify Azure tools and services for computer vision tasks, and identify Azure tools and services for NLP workloads
  • Describe features of conversational AI workloads on Azure and identify common use cases for conversational AI Azure services for conversational AI

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: No special prerequisites
  • Cost: $99

Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals Exam DP-900 (beta)

Candidates who want to earn this new certification should have core data concepts such as relational or non-relational data while implementing them on Microsoft Azure architecture.

Areas Covered

  • Describe types of core data workloads, batch and streaming data, and core concepts of data analytics.
  • Describe relational data workloads, relational Azure data services such as comparing PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS delivery models.
  • Identify basic management tasks for relational data including provisioning and deployment of relational data services and describing query techniques for data using SQL language.
  • Describe non-relational data workloads and non-relational data offerings on Azure and describe provisioning and deployment of non-relational data services.
  • Describe analytics workloads and components of a modern data warehouse
  • Describe data ingestion and processing on Azure and data visualization in Microsoft Power BI

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: No special prerequisites
  • Cost: $99

Associate-Level Microsoft Azure Certifications

Microsoft Azure Administrator – Associate Exam AZ-103

This new certification was created on May 1, 2019, and validates the knowledge and skills of implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Microsoft Azure services, including compute, storage, networking, and security. It combines the skills of two expired exams, AZ-100 and AZ-101, which were retired on May 1, 2019.

Areas Covered

  • Manage Azure subscriptions, resource groups, analyze resource utilization and consumption and manage role-based access
  • Create and configure storage accounts, Azure files, and Azure backups
  • Deploy and Manage virtual machines (VMs) and VM backups
  • Configure and manage virtual networks, Implement Azure load balancer, and Network Security Group (NSG)
  • Create and manage Azure Active Directory (AD), AD objects, users, and groups

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 150 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

>Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate Exam AZ-104 (beta)

Exam AZ-104 for Microsoft Azure Administrator is the updated version of Microsoft Azure Administrator AZ-103 . The Exam AZ-103 will be available until August 31, 2020, so candidates can take either exam until then.

This new exam was initially introduced as a beta exam and will not be scored immediately. This is because Microsoft will collect data on the questions and quality of the exam. This new exam will test the knowledge and capabilities of the candidates in the configuration and management of compute, storage, virtual networking, and monitoring in the Azure environment.

An Azure Administrator is a subject matter expert (SME) who is responsible for implementing the Azure-based cloud infrastructure of an organization.

Areas Covered

  • Manage Azure AD objects, role-based access control (RBAC), and subscriptions and governance such as configuring Azure policies and resources
  • Manage storage accounts and data in Azure storage, configure Azure files, Azure blob storage, and configure storage tiers for Azure blobs
  • Configure VMs for high availability, scalability, and Automate deployment and configuration of VMs
  • Create and configure VMs, containers, and web apps including app services and service plans
  • Configure and manage virtual networking, backup, and monitor Azure resources

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Developer – Associate Exam AZ-203

This certification is designed for developers who design, build, and maintain cloud applications and services with the coordination of cloud database administrators (DBAs), cloud solution architects, cloud administrators, and clients. Certified Azure developers participate in all phases of development such as solution design, deployment, testing, and maintenance with coordination of cloud DBAs, cloud solution architects, and cloud administrators.

Candidates must be skilled in at least one cloud platform supporting programming language and should have at least one year of experience in software development for scalable solutions.

Areas Covered

  • Provision VMs, create Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, manage and implement batch jobs, create Azure Managed Kubernetes Service (AKS) cluster, and create container images
  • Create Azure app services web apps, mobile apps, API apps, and implementation of Azure functions
  • Develop solutions for the usage of storage tables, blob storage, Cosmos DB storage, and relational databases
  • Implement Azure security as authentication, access control, and secure data solutions
  • Implement autoscaling rules and patterns, integrate content delivery and caching, and use Azure Monitor to analyze and troubleshoot solutions

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 180 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Developer Associate Exam AZ-204

Microsoft Azure Developer Associate Exam AZ-204 is the latest version of the Microsoft Azure Developer Associate AZ-203 exam that has been available since February 2020.

Candidates for this certification should be familiar with designing, building, and testing Azure-based apps and services. Candidates should also have 1-2 years of development experience with proficiency in data storage and connections, Azure SDKs, debugging, monitoring, and performance tuning, etc.

Areas Covered

  • Implementation of IaaS services such as provisioning of VMs, creation of RM templates, and implementation of Azure functions
  • Develop solutions for Cosmos DB storage and blob storage
  • Implementation of Azure security such as user authentication and authorization, and role-based access (RBAC)
  • Troubleshoot and monitor Azure solutions such as developing code to implement CDN
  • Develop event-based solutions, message-based solutions, App Service Logic App, and implement API management while creating APIM instance

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Security Engineer – Associate Exam AZ-500

This certification is designed for candidates who implement and manage security controls, identity, and access management and are responsible for securing cloud data, apps, and networks. As a Microsoft Azure security engineer, candidates are responsible for managing and securing cloud-based solutions and may also secure hybrid cloud solutions as part of an end-to-end infrastructure.

This exam requires strong skills in automation and scripting, a deep understanding of virtualization technology and virtual networking, and a strong familiarity with Microsoft cloud services and products.

Areas Covered

  • Configure MS AD for workloads, Azure AD privileged identity management, and Azure tenant security
  • Implement network and container security, host, and Azure resource management security
  • Configure Azure monitor and Azure log analytics, manage security alerts, and configure security policies
  • Configure and manage security for data infrastructure, configure SSL/TLS for application security, and configure and manage key vault and encryption for data at rest

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 150 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure AI Engineer – Associate Exam AI-100

This associate-level certification is designed for candidates who implement Microsoft AI solutions like natural language processing, speech, computer vision, bots, and agents using Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, and Knowledge Mining.

Candidates for this exam have to:

  • Analyze the requirements for AI solutions
  • Recommend appropriate tools and technologies
  • Implements solutions that meet scalability and performance requirements

Areas Covered

  • Select the processing architecture, appropriate data processing technologies, AI models and services, and identify automation requirements and appropriate services and tools for a solution
  • Design a strategy for ingesting and egress data, pipelines for AI apps, integrate bots and AI solutions, and define how users and apps will authenticate to AI services
  • Develop AI pipelines, implement AI workflow, and data logging processes
  • Monitor AI components for availability, maintain AI solution for continuous improvements, and recommend changes to an AI solution as per performance data

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 30 – 50
  • Duration: 180 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Data Scientist – Associate Exam DP-100

This certification is designed to learn about designing and implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure. You will learn how to apply the Azure machine learning approaches in training, evaluation, and deployment of models that are used to solve business problems.

Areas Covered

  • Create and configure Azure data science environments, assess the deployment environment constraints, analyze and recommend tools to meet system requirements
  • Prepare and transform data into usable data sets, identify and resolve anomalies, and review visual data analytics to discover patterns
  • Perform feature selection, extraction, and scaling
  • Identify data imbalances, split datasets, and evaluate model performance

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 180 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Data Engineer – Associate Exams DP-200 and DP-201

To become a certified as Azure Data Engineer, you’ll have to pass two exams: DP-200 and DP-201.

Exam DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution

This exam is designed to implement data solutions that include provisioning of data storage services, batch data processing, develop streaming, implement security requirements, implement data retention policies, and accessing external data sources. Candidates must have the ability to implement Azure SQL Databases, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Stream Analytics, and Blob storage services.

Areas Covered

  • Implement relational and non-relational data storage solutions
  • Manage data security by implementing data masking and encrypting data at rest and in motion
  • Develop streaming and batch processing solutions
  • Monitor data storage, data processing, and optimize Azure data solutions

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 50
  • Duration: 180 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Exam DP-201: Designing an Azure Data Solution

This is the second exam for Azure Data Engineer and this exam helps engineers to design data storage, data processing, and data security and compliance solutions for Azure services. Candidates must have the ability to design Azure SQL Databases, Azure Cosmos DB, Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Stream Analytics, and Blob storage services.

Areas Covered

  • Design relational and non-relational cloud data stores
  • Design real-time and batch processing solutions and provision compute resources
  • Design security solutions as encryption, auditing, and privacy of the data
  • Design data retention policies and plan archiving strategies

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 50
  • Duration: 150 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure Database Administrator Associate Exam DP-300 (beta)

This is the newly announced role-based Azure certification exam that would be ideal for the candidates who are interested in administering cloud-based database systems. This exam is initially announced as a beta exam and certification will be earned on passing the beta exam. By achieving this certification, candidates will be responsible to administer and manage relational databases on cloud and on-premises developed on Azure data services and SQL Server.

Areas Covered

  • Plan and implement resources of data platform such as deploy database solutions on selected platforms and configure customized deployment templates
  • Implement a secure database environment such as Azure AD authentication and implement security for data at rest and data at transit
  • Monitor activities, implement performance-based maintenance tasks and configure resources for optimal performance
  • Review queries, index design, and database tables
  • Planning and implementing High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) strategy for continuous services and perform backups

Exam Information

  • Exam language: English
  • Cost: $165

Expert-Level Microsoft Azure Certifications

Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect – Expert Exams AZ-300 and AZ-301

To become an Azure Certified Solutions Architect, you’ll have to pass two exams: AZ-300 and AZ-301.

Exam AZ-300: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies

This expert-level exam is designed for candidates who are the advocate for businesses and translate business needs into reliable, secure, and scalable Azure cloud solutions. Candidates require advanced knowledge and expertise in various IT operations including virtualization, identity management, virtual networking, security, business continuity, data management, disaster recovery, budgeting, and governance. This expert-level certification requires proficiency in Azure administration, development, and operations.

Areas Covered

  • Analyze resource utilization, provision VMs, create Resource Manager templates, create and verify virtual networking and connectivity, configure storage accounts, and manage Azure Active Directory
  • Migrate to Azure, manage role-based access, configure serverless computing, implement application load balancing, and integration of on-prem with Azure
  • Create and deploy apps, configure Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
  • Implement multi-factor authentication and implement secure data solutions

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 150 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies (beta)

The exam AZ-303 is the updated version of the current Azure Solution Architect AZ-300 exam that will be available around June 29, 2020, for testing the capabilities of candidates for managing Azure cloud resources. You can also take exam AZ-300 until it retires around September 30, 2020.

Candidates who are interested in earning this certification should be SMEs in implementing cloud resources on Microsoft Azure such as compute, storage, networking, and security of the resources.

Areas Covered

  • Implement Azure AD, infrastructure monitoring, storage accounts, and virtual networking
  • Manage workloads in Azure cloud, implement network security, and load balancing
  • Implement container-based apps, create and configure AKS
  • Implement NoSQL and Azure SQL databases

Exam Information

  • Exam Language: English
  • Cost: $165

Exam AZ-301: Microsoft Azure Architect Design 

This is the second expert-level exam for Azure Solutions Architect and Microsoft Certified Solution Architect is to be considered the most distinguished job designations in the IT industry. To earn this certification title, you need to exhibit your knowledge and expertise in various aspects of IT fields including identity, data management, virtualization, networking, security, disaster recovery, and much more. This expert-level design certification requires proficiency in Azure administration, development, and operations.

Areas Covered

  • Design compute, storage, networking, and monitoring strategy
  • Gather information and infrastructure requirements, define logical grouping, and determine storage locations for logs
  • Design identity management, risk prevention for identity, and monitoring strategy for identity and security
  • Design and document data flows and data protection strategy
  • Design a site recovery and data archiving strategy
  • Design deployment, migration, and API integration strategy

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam AZ-900 (optional)
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 150 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design (beta)

The exam AZ-304 for designing Microsoft Azure architecture is the updated version of the current Azure Solution Architect Design AZ-301 exam that will be available around  June 29, 2020, for testing the capabilities of candidates. You can also take exam AZ-301 until it retires around September 30, 2020.

Areas Covered

  • Gather requirements, optimize consumption strategy, and design auditing and monitoring strategy
  • Design authentication, authorization, and identity management
  • Design data management, data protection, and data flow strategies
  • Design high availability, site recovery, and data archiving strategies
  • Design deployments, migration, and API integration strategies
  • Design compute, storage, networking, and monitoring strategies

Exam Information

  • Exam Language: English
  • Cost: $165

Microsoft Azure DevOps Engineer – Expert Exam AZ-400

This certification is designed for DevOps professionals who bring people, processes, and technologies closer to deliver valuable services and products that meet business requirements and objectives. DevOps professionals are responsible for delivering cloud services by improving collaboration and communications, designing, and implementing strategies for app coding, and creating automation, continuous delivery, monitoring, and feedback. For this job role, candidates should be proficient with Agile practices and familiar with both Azure development and operations processes.

Areas Covered

  • Design a secure development lifecycle and tool integration process
  • Design and implement version control and mobile DevOps strategy, implement and integrate source control, and manage to build infrastructure
  • Analyze and manage hosting infrastructure and Azure Kubernetes Service infrastructure
  • Implement infrastructure as code, compliance, and security of the infrastructure
  • Design and optimize the feedback mechanism

Exam Information

  • Prerequisites: Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certification
  • Number of Questions: 40 – 60
  • Duration: 180 Minutes
  • Cost: $165

Conclusion

Microsoft is one of the biggest players in the cloud market with 29% application workload of the overall cloud market. If you are interested in making a career using Microsoft Azure technologies, I highly recommended choosing the above-mentioned certifications.

These 12 role-based certifications include configuration and management of compute, storage, networking, security, reliability, integration, development, and operations capabilities. Organizations are rapidly adopting Microsoft Azure cloud services and the demand is growing for certified Azure administrators, solution architects, developers, and security engineers.

To become certified and successfully land a job, you’ll not only need to learn how to configure, manage, and secure Azure cloud environments, but you’ll also need practical, hands-on experience. Cloud Academy offers Microsoft Azure Certifications Learning Paths that not only help you pass the Azure certification exams, but also allow you to test your skills in real-world environments with hands-on labs, lab challenges, and lab playgrounds. From configuring Azure infrastructure for cloud administrators to integrating Azure services for cloud architects, these learning paths fully prepare you with the knowledge and experience you need to start or advance your Azure career.

Nisar Ahmad

Written by

Nisar Ahmad

Nisar is a Systems Engineer, double VCP6 (DCV & NV), 4 x vExpert 2017-20, and owner of a tech blog, myvirtualjourney.com, with 10 years experience of administering and managing data center environments using VMware and Microsoft technologies. He is a passionate technical writer and loves to write on virtualization, cloud computing, hyper-convergence (HCI), cybersecurity, and backup & recovery solutions.


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