Getting started with your preparation for Azure Certifications

Since last week when I completed my Azure certifications at Microsoft Ignite, many people have reached out to me to provide guidance on preparing for Microsoft certifications for Azure. In this multi-blog series, I am going to cover what different Azure certifications are available and what are the different resources to prepare for them. I’ll also share how I prepared for the certifications.

Microsoft offers many certifications across their product line up including Azure and Microsoft 365. Each of these certifications can be earned by clearing one or more exams. Each exam could be from 90 minutes to 210 minutes. I have earned over 15 certifications in my career so far and each one of it had a minimum passing score of 700. Minimum score of 700 is a weighted score and cannot be translated into 70%. What that means is that each of the exams can have 30-80 questions and each question is scored differently based on their weights (or their difficulty level).

Coming to question types, there could be a combination of multiple-choice questions (with one or more correct answers), drag-and-drop code snippets, live labs, questions based on case studies and plain Yes/No questions. Not all exams have all the types of questions but, most of them have a combination of these question types.

It is very important to understand that Microsoft offers Role-Based certifications now. For example – for Microsoft Azure, the roles include an Administrator, Developer, Solutions Architect, DevOps Engineer and Security Engineer. Based on the roles, each of these certifications addresses a specific aspect of a product/technology. For example – “AZ-203 – Azure Developer Associate” certification focuses on the skills needed for developing solutions in Azure.

Check out the complete updated list of Microsoft Certifications here. For a complete list of exams, click here.

Here is the list of all the Azure certifications –

  1. Azure Solutions Architect Expert – This includes two exams – AZ-300 and AZ-301.
  2. Azure DevOps Engineer – AZ-400
  3. Azure Security Engineer – AZ-500
  4. Azure Developer Associate – AZ-203
  5. Azure Administrator Associate – AZ-103
  6. Azure Fundamentals – AZ-900

If you are a beginner in Azure, I would recommend to start with AZ-900.

There are few other Azure certifications related to Data Solutions and AI solutions built in Azure. I will cover those certifications in a different post.

Before you jump into preparations for any certification, please follow the below guidelines –

  1. Identify an appropriate role based on your past work experience before opting for a certification exam. For example – if you have been an IT administrator, you should look at Azure Administrator Associate certification which covers AZ-103 exam.
  2. Most of the subscriptions require some experience in Azure. To get started, get yourself an Azure subscription where you can practice hands-on labs. For a free account (having a benefit of $200), register here. If you are a Visual Studio subscriber, you might be getting Azure credits as well.
  3. It would be handy to have a terminal where you can try Azure Powershell or Azure CLI command-lets. If you cannot have it setup locally, you can use cloud shell which is integrated with Azure portal.
  4. Most of the certifications cover lots of different Azure services. Hence, it will be helpful to have a journal to take notes during your preparation. You can revisit your notes before your certification exam. I have used my iPad’s notes app. You can use OneNote, EverNote or any other app of your choice.
  5. If you are looking for a free resource for preparation, check out Microsoft Learn. For each certification, Microsoft has done a great job in creating learning paths which cover most of the areas (if not all).
  6. Microsoft has partnered with Pluralsight to give some free learning resources to Azure learners. There are some good free courses on edx as well.
  7. It would be also helpful to have a Pluralsight or OpsGility or LinkedIn Learning subscriptions. They have some awesome content on Azure. I’ve used Pluralsight and OpsGility for my preparations.
  8. There are some courses available on udemy as well. I’ve heard of some good feedback on their couses.
  9. If you need more, there are some other great resources too – MS – Ignite’s on-demand sessions, Channel-9, YouTube, etc.
  10. There are study guides available for some of the exams which can be bought at Amazon or any other bookstore.
  11. Check out Microsoft’s exam policies & FAQs here.
  12. Please don’t get tempted to buy and use braindumps. If you are looking for practice tests authorized by Microsoft, check out – MeasureUp.

In my later posts in next few days, I will cover each certification in more detail. Stay tuned!