With the advancements being made in technology and an emerging new order in the post-pandemic world, various fields in the IT sector are experiencing an incredible boom in demand for skilled professionals as companies, organizations, and individuals move their physical businesses to fully online environments.
Microsoft Azure is one of the platforms facilitating the ongoing digital transformation of different sectors and businesses. Essentially, cloud computing is growing at record speeds with the big three cloud computing giants: Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) fighting for supremacy, which in turn, is pushing it to the next level. With regards to Azure, there is a general consensus that Microsoft’s cloud platform is faster, safer, and cheaper than on-premise servers.
For an IT professional, this surge in demand presents an opportunity to capitalize on the fast-growing market and identify how to become more appealing to recruiters. Nothing says competence and commitment more than a Microsoft Azure certification or having one in either Google Cloud Platform or AWS.
In this article, we will focus on Microsoft Azure certification paths you can explore to advance your skills and career, as well as provide tips on how to choose the correct Azure certification that meets your professional needs.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Need Microsoft Azure Certification?
With a Microsoft Azure certification, you are well-positioned to capitalize on the growing demand for skilled professionals and get access to better career options since recruiters look favorably to platform-certified professionals. It goes without saying that cloud computing is growing fast. However, the current pool of skilled professionals is not meeting the growing demand. For this reason, enrolling in an Azure certification course means you can enjoy professional advantages such as:
- Higher salaries.
- Improved benefits.
- Working at high-profile companies.
- The freedom to choose your location.
- More bargaining power to pick between companies.
And these are just a few of the benefits of getting a Microsoft Azure certification. There is more that comes with being a certified professional. For an aspiring IT professional, or even current specialists looking to advance their skills or career, there is no doubt that the largest sectors in the market require cloud computing professionals. The good news is that they also pay well.
Some of the sectors that are seeing a high demand for Azure certification holders include health, finance, and e-commerce. Businesses operating in these industries understand that hiring professionals with a Microsoft Azure certification to manage their cloud environments will translate into more efficient usage of storage, networking, and computing. This in turn saves them money, while improving the overall speed and quality of service provided.
What are the Benefits of Microsoft Azure Certifications?
If you are wondering if an Azure certification is worth it, the answer is recruiters often favor candidates holding certifications. Microsoft administers very complex exams to those trying to get Azure certifications. The exams provide excellent challenges for learners to test learners in every area approached.
Essentially, Azure certification exams test your:
- Level of readiness.
- Ability to adapt on the fly.
- Speed of recovery from catastrophic errors.
Some exams, especially those in the Specialty and Expert categories, require the participants to have extensive experience with Azure, as knowledge alone will often not be enough.
Microsoft is known to have very high standards when it comes to security, cost management, and implementation. Holding a Microsoft Azure certification shows recruiters that you are;
- Committed to cloud computing.
- Well-versed in the best practices used in Azure.
- Comprehensively knowledgeable of the technologies covered in your certification.
Unquestionably, Azure certifications are a significant investment, both when it comes to time, preparation, and cost. Ranging from $99 for Fundamentals level certificates to $165 for Associate, Expert, and Specialty certificates, getting certified is a huge commitment. This is even before you factor in preparation costs, such as Azure certification courses, preparation exams, and third-party sources to aid in the study. The best part is that companies and recruiters know the best prepared and committed professionals commit to getting a Microsoft Azure certification.
With IT professionals holding Azure certifications making over $149,000/year even at entry-level positions such as DevOps, being certified will definitely boost your average salary. Nonetheless, it is important to note that this doesn't mean that having a Microsoft Azure certification will instantly land you a dream job in the right company. However, companies look at you with different eyes when you couple certifications with work experience. This is especially noticeable in professionals with multiple certifications. They're often asked tough questions during recruitment interviews, but they can negotiate overall higher salaries as well as benefits, and sometimes even be hired for senior positions within the company.
Azure-certified professionals earn more overall when compared to software engineers without a Microsoft Azure certification to their name. This applies even to entry-level positions. If you wish to boost your career and enjoy overall higher salaries that grow yearly, learning Azure is a great idea.
Are Microsoft Azure Certifications Worth It?
Market analyses show that the Cloud industry will be experiencing significant growth between 2021-2025. Cloud revenue is expected to almost double to $287.03 billion as the market tries to accommodate all the new businesses transitioning to online platforms.
While Amazon is still the largest player in the cloud computing scene and GCP fights to catch up, Microsoft Azure had a 50% revenue growth both in 2020 and in the second quarter of 2021. Gross margins for Azure also have grown, from 67% in 2020 to 71% in 2021.
Microsoft is preparing its Intelligent Cloud platform to be the largest player in the next 10 years. Azure generated $6.4 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2021, translating to 36% of the total consolidated income from Microsoft.
Even though Azure may be the most intuitive and user-friendly platform to learn, it's still essential to have some previous knowledge before diving into it. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed by what you need to study to attain a certificate.
What Kind of Azure Certifications does Microsoft Offer?
Microsoft Azure currently offers a total of 21 certificates. Primarily, these Azure certifications are Divided into four different levels based on difficulty and scope. They are:
In this article, we'll provide the best, most in-demand Azure certifications list certificates, touching on what they entail and their costs.
Microsoft Azure Fundamental Certificates
Certificates for the Azure Fundamentals level are aimed at those just getting into Azure and wanting to learn all the basics. At this level, you will get a basic understanding of Azure-related knowledge such as;
- Azure resource management
- Disaster recovery
- Fault Tolerance
Azure Fundamentals level certification doesn't necessarily require previous cloud computing knowledge or experience in the area, and by studying the correct material, you will be able to pass the exam.
The Azure Fundamental level certification exam costs $99 plus taxes.
The Azure Fundamentals certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Azure DDoS protection, Network Security Group, and Firewall.
- Fundamental concepts such as disaster recovery, scalability, and High Availability (HA).
- Exploration and usage of Azure’s main products.
- Differences between Private, Public, and Hybrid cloud.
The Azure Data Fundamentals certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Dealing with analytics, management, and components of a modern data warehouse.
- Data ingestion and processing using Azure and data visualization and analysis in Microsoft Power BI.
- Management tasks such as provisioning and deployment of data services and using query techniques in SQL.
The Azure AI Fundamentals certification exam assesses your ability in:
- AI workloads and considerations.
- Features of conversational AI workloads using Azure.
- Features of Natural Language Processing (NLP) workloads using Azure.
- Fundamental principles of machine learning using Azure.
The Azure Security, Compliance, and Identity Fundamentals certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Capabilities and usage of Microsoft security solutions.
- Concepts of security, compliance, and identity using Azure.
- Microsoft compliance solutions.
Microsoft Azure Associate Certificates
Certifications for the Azure Associate level are aimed at professionals already working with cloud computing with at least 1-2 years of hands-on experience with Azure. Associate-level exams aren't complex and will significantly deepen your knowledge in the approached topics. They're meant to be taken directly after you're done with Fundamentals level certificates.
This level will help professionals already working in the field take their careers to the next level. The Associate level certification exam costs $165 plus taxes. It's recommended to have previously passed on Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification Exam as it gives much-needed knowledge that will be asked for in Associate exams.
The Azure Data Scientist Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Performing extraction, feature selection, and scaling.
- Splitting data sets, evaluating model performance, as well as identifying and acting on data imbalances.
- Converting data into usable data sets, monitoring visual data analytics to discover patterns, as well as identifying and resolving anomalies.
The Azure Security Engineer Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Management and configuration of data infrastructures, the configuration of TLS/SSL for application security, managing and configuring key vault, as well as encryptions for data at rest.
- Configuring Azure Log Analytics and Azure monitor, configuring security policies, as well as, managing security alerts.
- Implementing network and container host, security, as well as Azure resource management security.
The Azure Database Administrator Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Monitoring activities, configuring resources for optimal performance, and implementing performance-based maintenance tasks.
- Reviewing queries, database tables, and index design.
- Implementing and planning High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) strategy for continuous services, as well as, performing backups.
The Azure Administrator Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Implementing and managing storage.
- Deploying and managing Azure compute resources.
- Monitoring and backing up Azure resources.
- Managing and configuring virtual networking.
- Managing Azure governance and identities.
The Azure Developer Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Developing for Azure storage.
- Developing Azure compute solutions.
- Connecting to and consuming Azure services and third-party services.
- Implementing Azure security.
The Azure AI Engineer Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Implementing natural language processing solutions.
- Implementing knowledge mining solutions.
- Implementing conversational AI solutions.
- Implementing computer vision solutions.
- Planning and managing an Azure Cognitive Services solution.
The Azure Identity and Access Administrator Associate certification exam assess your ability in:
- Planning and implementing identity management solutions.
- Implementation of access management for applications.
- Implementation of identity management solutions.
- Implementing authentication and access management solutions.
The Azure Data Engineer Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Optimization and monitoring of both data storage and processing.
- Designing and implementing data storage.
- Designing and developing data processing.
- Designing and implementing data security.
The Azure Security Operations Analyst Associate certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Identifying and mitigating threats using Azure Sentinel.
- Identifying and mitigating threats using Microsoft 365 Defender.
- Identifying and mitigating threats using Azure Defender.
Microsoft Azure Expert Certificate
Certificates for the Azure Expert level are meant for professionals with three to five years of working experience using Azure technologies, applications, and products. The Expert level certification exam costs $165 plus taxes. Expert level certificates have an ample scope, approaching most of the related Azure technologies and methodologies.
This exam level is challenging, as it approaches many subjects and goes fairly in-depth in all of the approached subjects. Some certifications require a related Azure Associate certification to be earned before taking it. For example, Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certificate requires you to have either Azure Developer Associate or Azure Administrator Associate certificates before taking it.
The Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Source control management.
- Creating security and compliance plans.
- Managing cloud hosting infrastructure.
- Forming instrumentation and SRE strategies.
- Defining and implementing continuous integration.
The Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Cloud migration to Azure strategy.
- Configuring Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
- Configuring serverless computing using Azure.
- Designing infrastructure.
Microsoft Azure Specialty Certificates
Certificates for the Azure Specialty level are meant for professionals with several years of hands-on experience in the specific approached area. The Specialty level certification exam costs $165 plus taxes. The difficulty is around the same level as those Expert level certificates. However, instead of approaching a large number of subjects, here, the scope is very narrow. The exam aims for maximum depth, ensuring the professional knows everything in the category and deals with even the most complex problems.
No previous Azure certifications are needed to take exams at this level, but the difficulty should not be taken lightly. Specialty certificates will test your knowledge in a specific area and, in most cases, preparation exams and study won’t be enough. Real-world experience is strongly recommended before taking exams at this level.
The Azure IoT Developer Specialty certification exam assesses your ability in:
- Processing and managing data.
- Provisioning and managing devices.
- Monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing IoT solutions.
- Provisioning and managing devices.
- Configuring, deploying, and monitoring IoT Edge modules.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Microsoft Azure Certifications Expire?
Since June 2021, Microsoft Azure certifications expire after one year instead of the previous two-year expiration period. At this point, the candidate must go through the process of recertification to keep the certificate valid.
How do you Verify if a Professional is Certified?
To check if someone holds an Azure certification, ask the candidate for their Azure Certification Microsoft transcript ID number and access code. Next, go to Microsoft's MCP Transcript and input the ID number and access code. It will provide you with the candidate's record, certifications, expiration date, and when each Azure certification was awarded.
Which Certification is Better, AWS or Azure?
This is a difficult question that would need its own article to answer. Thankfully, we have prepared an AWS certification course guide that goes in-depth on the platform's advantages, differences, and market. Make sure to check them before making your decision.
Can you get Azure Certified for Free?
Yes. Microsoft periodically launches training days for developers, and some of those free challenges award free Azure certification passes to those that pass the exam. Such challenges are time-limited and limited to several available certificates. If you want to get a free certificate for Azure, be sure to study for those challenges and save up to $165.
Cloud computing is a constantly growing market, with a huge need for professionals, and this demand alone is enough reason to get an Azure certification. Between better job positions, greater salary, professional flexibility, and working in more locations, being certified comes with too many benefits to pass up.
In this article, we tackle the most popular Azure certification courses and outline which ones you can take to be best prepared for your Azure certification exam. We recommend up-to-date, high-quality courses with very communicative instructors to help you in this learning journey.
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