The global cloud computing industry is booming. With the pandemic rapidly driving the demand for professionals that can carry out digital business transformations, the expected growth for the cloud market is predicted to rise from its 2020 valuation of $371.4 billion to a grand $832.1 billion in 2025. 

With such high demand for IT professionals who specialize in cloud computing, it’s important that you are doing all you can to further develop your knowledge and stand out from the crowd. As well as contributing to your own personal goals, our Microsoft Azure Salary Survey 2020/2021 revealed that 42% of respondents had received a pay rise post-certification, which, on average, was equivalent to a 23% increase.  

With so many great Azure certifications out there, it can be difficult to know which are worth getting, or where you should even start with becoming certified. Here, we will be walking you through the top 13 Microsoft Azure certifications you may want to consider to boost your career progression, from fundamental-level to associate-level, and expert-level. 

Microsoft Azure Fundamental-level certifications 

Although Azure Fundamental certifications aren’t always a prerequisite for other, more advanced certifications, they’re great for demonstrating your knowledge of cloud concepts, as well as Azure workloads and services, privacy and security in Azure and how the pricing and support works.  

These types of certifications are a great starting point for those just beginning their Azure career journey or getting to grips with cloud-based solutions.  

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam AZ-900

The Fundamentals AZ-900 aims to teach candidates about the core three fundamental Azure certifications that every candidate, including non-technical ones, should have under their belt. These exams are designed to show proof of an understanding of foundational cloud concepts like High Availability (HA) and Disaster Recovery, as well as scalability. They will also test a candidate’s knowledge of the basic definitions of key elements including Regions, Availability Zones, and Azure Firewall as well as getting a candidate to show understanding of Azure subscriptions and purchasing Azure products and services.  

The learning materials for AZ-900 are all provided free of charge by Microsoft, however the exam itself will need to be paid for. There are modules within the AZ-900 learning path which will all need to be completed before the exam is attempted. 

What to know before taking the exam 

Cost  $99/£73 
Pre-requisites? None
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  30-40 
Duration of exam  1 hour 

Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals exam AI-900

This new fundamental-level certification requires candidates to already have a good understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as how to implement both across workloads. You will also need to have developed knowledge on describing considerations for inclusiveness, transparency and accountability in an AI solution, which makes this Fundamentals exam a little more difficult – yet very worth it! 

Within the learning materials and the exam itself, you can expect to cover everything from describing and identifying common AI workloads, identifying common machine learning types and scenarios and choosing Azure tools and services for computer vision tasks.  

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $99/£73 
Pre-requisites?   None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  1 hour 

Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals exam DP-900

Any Azure professional looking to gain this certification should have a good knowledge base of core data concepts including relational and non-relational data and how to implement both into Azure architecture. Although there are no specific pre-requisites for taking DP-900, it’s highly advised that you have at least six months’ experience in any Azure cloud role, whether that’s technical, managerial, sales, or something else. You should also go in with a good understanding of the association between IT services and their integrations with the cloud. 

In this exam, you can expect to be tested on describing everything from core and relational data workloads, as well as being able to identify basic workload tasks, and analyze components of a modern data warehouse. On top of this, you’ll also be assessed on data ingestion on Azure, as well as data visualization in Microsoft Power BI.  

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $99/£73 
Pre-requisites?  None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  53 
Duration of exam  1 hour 

Associate-level Microsoft Azure certifications 

The Associate Azure certifications are designed for those who already have a sound understanding of some of the important implementation and problem-solving aspects of using the cloud provider. There are eight associate-level exams that are ideal for those wanting to showcase their intermediate knowledge of using Azure.  

Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate exam AZ-104

As an Azure Associate is responsible for implementing the whole cloud infrastructure to an organization, so it’s necessary that they have a great understanding of how the cloud works, can be implemented and how to manage it.  

The AZ-104 exam is an updated version of the AZ-103 and aims to test how capable candidates are in using Azure for the management of compute and storage, as well as virtual networking and monitoring. The areas covered within the learning modules for the exam involve managing Azure AD objects, as well as storage accounts and data in Azure. You can also expect to learn how to configure VMs for high availability and scalability, the creation and configuration of containers, apps, and virtual networking. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£73 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals exam AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  120 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Developer Associate Exam AZ-204

The Developer Associate exam is ideal for those who have experience in everything from designing and building, to testing and maintaining cloud applications and services on Azure. As an Azure Administrator will be responsible for participating in all stages of cloud digital transformations, including the requirements and design parts, to deployment, maintenance and tuning, anyone looking to gain this certification should have at least one or two years’ experience working with Azure.  

Alongside this, the candidate should also be able to program in a language supported by Azure, and have proficiency in a number of areas including Azure SDKs, PowerShell, Azure CLI, data storage options and connections, APIs, compute and container deployment, apps, debugging and monitoring. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  120 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Security Engineer Associate Exam AZ-500

The Security Engineer Associate AZ-500 exam is designed for those whose current duties involve implementing and managing security controls, as well as identity and access management. These Azure professionals will also have experience making sure cloud data, apps, and networks are secured. As an Azure Security Engineer, you will have a great level of knowledge on how to manage and secure cloud-based solutions and help to establish a hybrid solution.  

For this exam, you’ll need solid skills in both automation and scripting, as well as a good understanding of virtualization technology and networking, and experience using Azure products and services.  

In the module for this exam, you’ll learn how to configure MS Azure Directory (AD) for workloads, privileged management and Azure tenant security. You’ll also develop an understanding of how to implement network and container security, as well as configuring Azure Monitor and log analytics, and managing key vault, and encryption for data, plus security for data infrastructure.   

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  £165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  150 minutes 

Microsoft Azure AI Engineer Associate Exam AI-100

This exam will be best suited for those candidates whose roles involve implementing Microsoft AI solutions, such as natural language processing and agents using Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, and Knowledge Mining. As practiced in the learning resources, the exam will test candidates on their ability to analyze AI solution requirements, as well as recommending the appropriate tools and technologies and be able to implement the right solutions to meet performance and scalability goals.  

Alongside these, you can expect for the exam to cover topics on everything from selecting processing architecture, AI models and services, and identifying the appropriate services and tools for solutions, to designing strategies for data, developing AI pipelines and monitoring AI availability components.  

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  £165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  30-50 
Duration of exam  180 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Data Scientist Associate Exam DP-100

If you’re looking to develop your skills as an Azure Data Scientist, this exam and the learning for it will provide you with the perfect toolkit for success. Within the exam prep, you’ll learn how to apply Azure machine learning approaches that are used to solve business problems.  

The areas covered within the exam include learning how to: create and configure Azure data science environments, analyze and recommend the right tools for system requirements, turning data into useable data sets, performing feature selection and extraction, and identifying data imbalances. 

Candidates looking to take this exam should have a good understanding of, and experience with, data science and using Azure Machine Learning and Databricks.  

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  180 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Data Engineer Associate Exam DP-203

If you’re looking to become a certified Azure Data Engineer, you would have previously opted to take the DP-200 and DP-201 exams. However, as of February 23, 2021, this exam was replaced with DP-203. 

DP-203 is more focused on helping engineers design data storage and then process that data, as well as developing compliance solutions for Azure. Just as with the old DP-200 certification, to take this exam, candidates must be able to design Azure SQL Databases, Cosmos DB, Data Lake Storage, Stream Analytics, and Blob storage solutions. In addition to this, candidates should have subject matter experience in integrating, transforming, and consolidating data from structured and unstructured data systems into something more suited to building analytic solutions. And, have a strong knowledge of data processing languages such as SQL, Python, and Scala.  

The areas covered in the learning for DP-203 and the subsequent exam itself, will include designing everything from relational and non-relational cloud data stores to real-time and batch processing solutions, security solutions, and data retention policies. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  130 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Database Administrator Associate Exam DP-300

For candidates interested in learning more about administrating cloud-based database systems, the DP-300 exam will be the perfect choice. By taking this exam, you’ll learn how to take on larger responsibilities like managing relational databases that have been developed on Azure and SQL, both in the cloud and on-premises. 

The learning materials for the exam and the exam itself will cover a number of areas including: planning and implementing resources of data platforms, implementing secure database environments such as Azure AD, reviewing queries and database tables, and planning High Availability and Disaster Recovery strategies.  

The exam content for this certification will be changing on September 24, 2021. Learn more about the updated DP-300 exam here. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  MS Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  120 minutes 

Expert-level Microsoft Azure Certifications 

If you’re more advanced with Azure, and are looking to gain expert-level certifications, you’ll want to look into the Azure Architect and DevOps Engineer qualifications. To become the former, you’ll need to take both the Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams which will focus on different areas of the job role. For the DevOps Engineer qualification, you’ll just need to sit and pass the Microsoft Azure DevOps Engineer AZ-400 exam.  

Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies Exam AZ-303

The AZ-303 exam is the updated, replacement certification for the Azure Solution Architect AZ-300 exam and has been designed to test how well candidates are able to manage Azure cloud resources. The ideal candidates to sit this exam would be those working in SMEs that have experience in implementing cloud resources on Microsoft Azure which includes security and storage of the resources. They will also need to understand Azure development and DevOps processes to an expert level, as well as possessing an advanced knowledge of IT operations, including networking, disaster recovery and many other core elements.  

The content for this exam will be changing on September 24, 2021. Find more information here. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $164/£120 
Pre-requisites?  None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  180 minutes 

Microsoft Azure Architect Design Exam AZ-304

The AZ-304 exam is the newly updated version of what was once the Azure Solution Architect Design AZ-304 exam. Candidates who take this exam will have subject matter expertise in designing and implementing Azure solutions, including compute, security, networking, and storage. 

Due to Azure Architects having responsibilities that include advising stakeholders and translating business requirements into cloud solutions, this exam requires advanced experience and knowledge of IT operations, including but not limited to, networking, disaster recovery, data platform, budgeting and much more. Plus, all prospective candidates will need to have expert-level skills with Azure administration, development and DevOps.  

The content of this exam will be changing September 24, 2021. You can find out more here. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  120 minutes 

Microsoft Azure DevOps Engineer Exam AZ-400

The AZ-400 exam has been designed for DevOps engineers who specialize in bringing people together with processes and technologies, to provide them with a cloud solution that gets the job done, meeting all business objectives and requirements. That means that a candidate looking to take this expert-level exam will need to be equipped with great knowledge and understanding of Agile practices, as well as having experience with Azure development and operations processes.  

The AZ-400 exam will cover a multitude of topics, including designing a secure development lifecycle and tool integration process, designing and implementing version control, analyzing and hosting infrastructure and much more.  

The content of this exam will be changing on 29 September 2021. Find more information here. 

What to know before taking the exam 
Cost  $165/£120 
Pre-requisites?  None 
Passing score needed  700 
Number of questions  40-60 
Duration of exam  180 minutes 

Gaining a certification in your field can help develop your understanding and proficiency, as well as boost your salary and zipline you to the top of a prospective employer’s resume pile. With this guide, you can discover which exams you should be taking and which route to follow to progress your Azure specialism.  

Looking for more career advice? We have plenty of tips and tricks to help you achieve your goals and well-being within the industry. So, whether you’re looking for how to negotiate flexible hours, or need some help preparing for your DevOps interview, we have a blog to help! 

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