A Guide To Microsoft Certifications: Types and Paths

You can get closer to the job and salary that you desire by obtaining certifications. This article will discuss Microsoft’s new role-based certifications as well as how to get them.

What is a Microsoft certification, and how do you get it?

Microsoft certifications are proof of your technical abilities in certain Microsoft technology-related roles. Microsoft offers over 250 certifications that are based on related exams. You may need to work in a sequential order to obtain them all. An exam costs $165 on average. Each year, renewal is necessary to maintain your current knowledge about the product.

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Why should you get a certification?

Demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in Microsoft products can help you move up the ladder, increase your earnings, and open up new opportunities. Your resume should include certifications to help you stand out among other applicants. Depending on the specialty, certifications may require up to three exams.

Types of certification

Microsoft switched from product-based certifications in early 2021 to role-based certification models. For:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA).
  • Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD).
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).

Role-based certifications are valid for the technical skills that you would have acquired in the first year (beginner), three years to five years (intermediate), or five to seven decades (expert), depending on which job role you hold.

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1. Path to Administrator Certification

Administrators are basically responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Microsoft solutions. There are three levels of certification: expert, associate, and fundamental. Employers are looking for the following certifications:

  • Azure Administrator Associate: Candidates must have expertise in managing, implementing, and monitoring Microsoft Azure environments. The exam required: AZ-104.
  • Azure for SAP Workloads: Candidates should have extensive experience in the SAP system and be able to apply that knowledge to the ongoing operation of an SAP solution on Microsoft Azure. The exam required: AZ-120.
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Specialty: Candidates can be Microsoft Azure administrators who have subject expertise in managing remote apps and virtual desktop experiences for any device on Azure. The exam required: AZ-140.
  • Azure Stack Hub Operator Associate – Candidates are Azure administrators and Azure Stack Hub operators that provide cloud services to customers or end-users from their own datacenter using Azure Stack Hub. Exam: AZ-606
  • As a Messaging Administrator Associate, candidates will be able to configure, manage, troubleshoot, and monitor recipients, permissions, and mail flow in hybrid and cloud environments. MS-203 is required.
  • Modern Desktop Administrator Associate: Candidates will be responsible for deploying, configuring, securing, managing, and monitoring client applications and devices in an enterprise environment. Exams required: MD-100 and MD-101.
  • Security Administrator Associate: Candidates are responsible for proactively protecting Microsoft 365 enterprise environments and hybrid environments. They also implement and manage security solutions and respond to threats. MS-500 is required.
  • Enterprise Administrator Expert: Candidates can plan, migrate and deploy Microsoft 365 services. Requirements for the exam: MS-100 or MS-101
  • Teams Administrator Associate: Candidates are required to configure, deploy, and manage Office 365 workloads in Microsoft Teams. This role focuses on effective collaboration within an enterprise environment. MS-700 is required.
  • Associate in Identity and Access Administration: This role allows candidates to design, implement, and manage an organization’s access and identity management systems using Azure AD. They are responsible for granting authorization access and secure authentication to enterprise applications. SC-300 is required.
  • Information Protection Associate: Candidates will plan and implement controls to meet organizational compliance requirements, translate compliance controls and requirements into technical implementation, and help organizational control owners become and keep compliant. SC-400 is the required exam.
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2. AI engineer certification path

Artificial intelligence engineers employ cognitive services, machine learning, and knowledge mining to design and implement Microsoft AI solutions. There are three levels of certification: expert, associate, and fundamental. An employer may seek certification in the following areas:

  • Azure AI Engineer Associate: Candidates must have expertise in building, managing, and deploying AI solutions that leverage Azure Cognitive Services and Azure Cognitive Search. AI-102 is the new exam, replacing AI-100.

3. Data engineer certification path

Data engineers are mainly responsible for designing and implementing data services that manage, monitor, secure, and protect data privacy. There are three levels of certification for path: expert, associate, and fundamental. An employer may seek certification in the following areas:

  • Azure Data Engineer Associate: Candidates must have expertise in integrating, transforming, and consolidating data from different structured and unstructured systems into structures suitable for building analytics solutions. Required exam: DP203, which replaces DP-220 and DP-321 on June 30, 2021.

4. Path to Data Scientist Certification

Data scientists use machine-learning techniques to develop, evaluate, and deploy models that solve business problems. There are three levels of this certification: expert, associate, and fundamental. An employer may seek certification in the following areas:

  • Azure Data Scientist Associate: Candidates must have expertise in data science and machine learning to run Azure machine learning workloads. Required exam: DP100.
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5. Developer certification path

Developers create, test, and maintain solutions. There are three levels of certification available: expert, associate, and fundamental. Employers are looking for the following certifications:

  • Azure Developer Associate: Candidates must have expertise in building, testing, maintaining, and designing cloud applications and services for Microsoft Azure. The exam required: AZ-204.
  • Dynamics 365: Finance & Operations Apps Developer Associate: Candidates must have experience in fully realizing solutions using standardized app coding patterns, extensible features, and external integrations. The exam required: MB-300 or MB 500.
  • Developer Associate: Candidates must be proficient in Microsoft Identity and Microsoft Graph. They should also have a general understanding of user interface elements, integration points, and determining workload platform targets. MS-600 is required.
  • Power Platform Developer Associate: Candidates develop, secure, and troubleshoot Power Platform solutions. Required exam: PL-405.
  • Azure Internet of Things (IoT) Developer Speciality: Candidates should have a general understanding of devices, types, and Azure services, including data storage options, data analysis, data processing, AI, and other Platform-as-a-Service options. They should be able to program in at least one Azure SDK-supported language. Exam: AZ-220.

6. DevOps engineer certification path

DevOps engineers use people, processes, and technology to create products and services that meet business goals and end-user requirements. There are three levels of certification available: expert, associate, and fundamental. An employer may seek certification in the following areas:

  • DevOps Engineer Expert – Candidates must have expertise in working with people, processes, and technologies to continually deliver business value. Prerequisites: Azure Administrator Associate and Azure Developer Associate. The exam required: AZ-400.
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7. Path to becoming a functional consultant

Functional consultants use Microsoft Dynamics 365 to plan and anticipate customer needs. There are three levels of certification: expert, associate, and fundamental. Employers are looking for the following certifications:

  • Dynamics 365 Customer Services Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates will implement omnichannel solutions that are focused on customer service, quality, and reliability. Prerequisite: A minimum of one to three years experience as a functional advisor implementing Dynamics 365. Exams required: MB-230 and PL-200.
  • Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Associate: Candidates implement solutions to manage resources in order to complete the field service cycle. Prerequisite: At least one to three years experience in the field of functional consulting for Dynamics 365. Exams required: PL-200, MB-240.
  • Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Associate: Candidates will analyze and translate business requirements into solutions and processes that are consistent with industry best practices. Prerequisite: Knowledge in implementing Dynamics 365 Finance and configuration to meet business needs. Exams: MB-302 and MB-310.
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Associate, Manufacturing Functional Consultant: These candidates are key resources that work with solution architects, project managers, developers, and functional consultants in finance and commerce. Exams required: MB-302 and MB-331.
  • Dynamics 365 Marketing Associate: Candidates must be familiar with Dynamics 365 model-driven apps, data modeling principles, and Microsoft Power Platform configurations. Exams required: PL-200, MB-220.
  • Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates must have experience with Microsoft Power Platform configuration and should be familiar with data-modeling principles and Dynamics 365 model-driven apps. Exams required: PL-200M, B-210.
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Associate: These candidates are key resources that work with solution architects, project managers, and developers. Exams required: MB-307 and MB-330.
  • As a Dynamics 365 Power Platform Functional consultant Associate, candidates work with stakeholders and subject matter specialists such as developers, testers, and solution architects to collect requirements and implement Microsoft Power Platform solutions. Requirement exam: PL 200.
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Associate: Candidates must have experience configuring Dynamics 365 Business Central role centers, including adapting insight, cues, and action tiles and creating charts. They can also extend Business Central using Microsoft Power Platform components. The exam required: MB-800.
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8. Path to security engineer certification

Security engineers are responsible for security control and threat protection. They manage identity and access, as well as protect data, applications, and networks. There are three levels of certification for this: expert, associate, and fundamental. Employers are looking for the following certifications:

  • Azure Security Engineer Associate: Candidates must have expertise in implementing security controls, threat protection, managing identity and access, and protecting data and applications in hybrid and cloud environments. This is part of an end-to-end infrastructure. Exam: AZ-500.
  • Security Operations Analyst Associate: Candidates must have experience in threat management, monitoring, and responding to threats using a variety of security solutions. SC-200 is the required exam.
  • Associate Identity and Access Administrator: Candidates must have worked with other positions in the company to lead strategic identity projects. This includes modernizing identity solutions, implementing hybrid identity solutions, and managing identity governance. SC-300 is required.
  • Information Protection Associate: Candidates must have experience in planning and implementing controls to meet organizational compliance requirements, translating compliance controls into technical implementation, and helping organizational control owners become and remain compliant. SC-400 is the required exam.

9. Path to Solutions architect certification

Solutions architects are specialists in network, storage, security, and computing. There are three levels of certification for path: expert, associate, and fundamental. Employers are looking for the following certifications:

  • Azure Solutions Architect Expert: Candidates must have expertise in the design and implementation of solutions for Microsoft Azure. This includes aspects such as storage, computing, security, and network. Exams required: AZ303 and AZ304. Joining Azure training can make you a solution architect expert in a few weeks.
  • Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Apps Solution Architect Expert: Candidates must be able to advise stakeholders and translate business needs into reliable, secure, and scalable solutions. Four certificates are required: Dynamics 365 Finance Functional consultant Associate; Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Associate; Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Advisor Associate; Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consul Associate; Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations Apps Developer Associate. The exam required: MB-700.
  • Azure for SAP Workloads: Candidates should have extensive experience in the SAP system and be able to apply that knowledge to the ongoing operation of an SAP solution on Microsoft Azure. The exam required: AZ-120.
  • -Power Platform Solution Architect Expert – Candidates work closely with stakeholders to identify solutions that will impact the company’s overall business and technical goals. Prerequisites: Power Platform Functional Associate Associate and Power Platform Designer Associate. Exams required: PL-606
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How to obtain a Microsoft certification

Below are the few steps you must follow in order to get a Microsoft certification.

1. Find the certification that you require.

There are many certifications that come in different degrees. You will need to decide which one is best for you. Ask your manager first if they have a preferred certification. To find out which certifications employers are looking for when you are searching for work, look at job postings.

2. Complete training courses or study

Although training is not necessary, it may be worth looking for a trainer to help prepare. You can also use an at-home lab if a trainer is out of your reach. You can practice in the labs using the books that you purchased from your trainer. These labs will require you to create your own solution.

3. Practice exam

It is okay to score low on the practice exam. This will encourage you to continue studying. Low scores are normal, especially when the material is new.

4. Renewal your certification

Your certification may need to be renewed every year. You may need to renew your certification every year. This will allow you to continue listing it on your resume.