Microsoft’s Azure is one of the most popular cloud platforms available today. In 2021, Azure came in second in popularity, posting 21 percent of the market share, behind first-place Amazon Web Services (32 percent share), and ahead of third-place Google Cloud (8 percent).

Since Azure is such a popular cloud provider, learning about the Azure cloud makes sense and checking out different Microsoft Azure certification paths. This article helps professionals who want to learn more about Azure to determine the best certifications to round out their Azure training.

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What’s a Microsoft Azure Certification?

Microsoft Azure certifications are a series of over a dozen certifications that help professionals working in cloud computing or want to begin a career in the field. Azure certifications fall in one of several certification levels, and several certifications have no group classification.

And speaking of Microsoft Azure certification paths and levels, that’s our next topic!

About Azure Certification Levels

There are four levels of Microsoft Azure certification. They are:

  • Fundamentals-level certifications: Perfect for non-technical people who want to get started in cloud computing and cloud professionals who are just beginning.
  • Associate-level certifications: Best suited for candidates who have a solid understanding of Azure’s basics.
  • Expert-level certifications: Ideal for people who have a strong background in the cloud, including associate-level certification and hands-on experience working with the cloud.
  • Specialty certifications: These specialties focus on Azure IOT Developer Specialty and Azure for SAP Workloads.

There are a pair of Azure certification paths outside the classification system. They are:

Why Pursue an Azure Certification?

Cloud usage in both the private and public sectors is steadily rising. Additionally, there’s a constant stream of new procedures, innovations, technology, and methodologies, all designed to keep cloud technology on the cutting edge. Consequently, professionals who want to work in cloud-related IT positions need to keep up with the never-ending series of changes and upgrades.

Certifications boost your skill set and provide potential employers with accurate verification of your suitability for their vacant positions. A Microsoft Azure certification on your resume is a point in your favor and maybe the difference-maker between yourself and another competing candidate.

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The Top Azure Certification Paths

Here are the best Microsoft Azure certification paths for you to follow today.

1. AZ-104: Azure Administrator Associate

  • Prerequisites: Experience in Azure Portal, Power Shell, ARM Templates, and Azure CLI.
  • Skills Covered: Managing Azure identities and governance; implementing and managing storage; configuring and managing virtual networking; deploying and managing Azure compute resources; monitoring and backing up Azure resources.
  • Who Is This For?: Any professional with a technical background must validate their administrator-level knowledge in Cloud services. People who buy or sell, or who are involved in, cloud-based services and solutions
  • Why This Is Needed: Companies want candidates with a strong background in various cloud platforms.

2. AZ-204: Azure Developer Associate

  • Prerequisites: 1-2 years of Microsoft Azure professional development experience and experience and programming expertise in an Azure-supported high-level language.
  • Skills Covered: Developing Azure storage and compute solutions; implementing Azure security; monitoring, optimizing and troubleshooting Azure solutions; connecting and consuming Azure and third-party services.
  • Who Is This For?: Professionals whose responsibilities cover all phases of cloud development.
  • Why This Is Needed: It’s a prerequisite for the DevOps exam and offers better job security.

3. AI-102: Azure AI Engineer Associate

  • Prerequisites: Proficiency in Python or C#, able to use REST-based APIs and SDKs for developing computer visions, conversational AI, knowledge mining, and natural language processing solutions on Azure. Possess an understanding of and the ability to use responsible AI principles and the components that make up the Azure AI portfolio.
  • Skills Covered: Implementing a secure environment; monitoring and optimizing operational resources; planning and implementing data platform resources; performing administration using T-SQL; performing task automation; optimizing query performance; planning and implementing a High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) environment.
  • Who Is This For?: AI Engineers.
  • Why This Is Needed: This course rounds out AI skill sets for engineers who want to work with Azure.

4. DP-100: Azure Data Scientist Associate

  • Prerequisites: Knowledge and experience in data science, including using Azure Machine Learning and Azure Databricks.
  • Skills Covered: Mastering Azure-oriented machine learning resources; running experiments and training models; implementing responsible machine learning; deploying and operationalizing machine learning solutions.
  • Who Is This For?: Data Scientists using Azure.
  • Why This Is Needed: Machine learning is on the rise, and it factors in heavily in today’s data analysis.

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5. AZ-500: Azure Security Engineer Associate

  • Prerequisites: Practical experience in administering Azure and hybrid environments. Candidates also need experience with cloud capabilities, infrastructure as code, security operations processes, and Azure services.
  • Skills Covered: Implementing platform protection; managing access and identity; managing security operations; securing data and applications.
  • Who Is This For?: Security engineers expected to work with Azure.
  • Why This Is Needed: Security is a serious topic today, with security breaches growing increasingly common coupled with a broader gap in cybersecurity skills vs. demand.

6. DP-203: Azure Data Engineer Associate

  • Prerequisites: Requires a solid knowledge of data processing languages like SQL, Python, or Scala. Candidates also need to understand architecture patterns and parallel processing.
  • Skills Covered: Designing and developing data processing; designing and implementing data storage; designing and implementing data security; optimizing data storage and data processing.
  • Who Is This For?: Professionals working with data pipelines, data processing, and dealing with stakeholders. This certification is essential for data engineers.
  • Why This Is Needed: This position is crucial for data pipeline development and helping stakeholders understand data.

7. DP-300: Azure Database Administrator Associate

  • Prerequisites: Have an understanding of every concept covered in the Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals certification exam (DP-900).
  • Skills Covered: Task automation; performing administration using T-SQL; planning and implementing data platform resources; High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR); implementing a secure environment; optimizing operational resources and query performance.
  • Who Is This For?: This is perfect for data management specialists and database administrators who work with relational databases cooked up with Azure Data Services and SQL Server.
  • Why This Is Needed: It addresses the need for optimized relational database solutions and tighter security.

8. AZ-120: Azure Architect for SAP Workloads

  • Prerequisites: Candidates are strongly encouraged to have either Azure Architect or Azure Administrator certification, plus Linux and SAP HANA certifications.
  • Skills Covered: Migrating SAP workloads to Azure; building and deploying Azure for SAP workloads; validating infrastructure for SAP workloads; designing Azure solutions that support SAP Workloads; optimizing Azure SAP architecture performance.
  • Who Is This For?: This course is for architects, administrators, and engineers migrating SAP solutions to the cloud.
  • Why This Is Needed: SAP applications are commonly found in Fortune 500 companies, which provides you with great opportunities for a career in a solid, well-respected company.

9. AZ-220: Azure IoT Developer

  • Prerequisites: Though there are no ironclad prerequisites, you should be proficient in an Azure-supported programming language such as Python, C, C#, or Node. In addition, it would be best to have a firm grasp of Internet of Things solutions.
  • Skills Covered: Implementing IoT solutions in security and infrastructure; setting up, deploying, and configuring an IoT Edge device; provisioning and managing devices; processing and managing data; optimizing and troubleshooting IoT solutions.
  • Who Is This For?: This is for anyone who wants to get into Azure-related IoT solutions.
  • Why This Is Needed: The Internet of Things is rapidly growing, thanks increased network-capable devices.

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10. AZ-303 and AZ-304: Azure Solution Architect Expert

  • Prerequisites: The only recommendation (but still not mandatory) is first to get your Microsoft Azure Administrator certification.
  • Skills Covered: Managing Azure Active Directory; configuring serverless computing with Azure; cloud migration to Azure strategies; integrating on-premises infrastructure; configuring Azure Kubernetes Services.
  • Who Is This For?: This certification is tailored to experienced DevOps and IT professionals.
  • Why This Is Needed: You can contribute a vital tech element to your company’s strategy. This certification could smooth your road to a strategic leadership position.

11. AZ-400: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

  • Prerequisites: You must have the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate or the Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate.
  • Skills Covered: Mobile DevOps strategy using Azure; forming instrumentation and SRE strategies; managing source control; creating a security and compliance plan; capturing Azure cloud feedback; managing cloud hosting infrastructure.
  • Who Is This For?: This certification is perfect for engineers with great coding skills, good people skills, and familiarity with Agile development practices and Azure administration.
  • Why This Is Needed: This certification can be instrumental in getting you a DevOps position that emphasizes strategy and pays very well.

12. DA-100: Azure Data Analyst Associate

  • Prerequisites: Although there are no prerequisites, but you should be familiar with data-related skills like handling incoming, visualizing, and cleaning data.
  • Skills Covered: Preparing, modeling, visualizing, and analyzing data; deploying and maintaining deliverables.
  • Who Is This For?: Anyone interested in analyzing data and learning how to perform data operations for their company.
  • Why This Is Needed: Data is the lifeblood of today's commercial world. If you know how to work with enormous amounts of data, you will be much in demand.

13. AZ-500: Azure Security Engineer Associate

  • Prerequisites: There aren’t any official prerequisites, but you will need good skills in automation and scripting, plus a working knowledge of virtualization, networking, and the cloud.
  • Skills Covered: Configuring Azure log analytics; managing Azure security alerts; Azure privileged identity management; securing cloud-based infrastructure.
  • Who Is This For?: This certification is geared toward security engineers who design, configure, and implement Azure security controls and tools.
  • Why This Is Needed: Cloud security is a hot commodity today, as more people and organizations are increasingly relying on cloud computing.

How Do You Prepare for New Microsoft Azure Certifications?

There are as many ways to prepare for new certifications as there are certifications! Here are some different strategies you can take. You should choose the methods that work best for you.

  • Check out different Microsoft Learning Paths
  • Get trained by instructors, which you can get through online courses like Simplilearn
  • Find an online learning partner
  • Check out forums that offer support for exams and Azure certification paths
Get established as an expert Azure Solutions Architect with the Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies Training course. Enroll now!

Do You Want to Be a Cloud Architect?

If you’re looking for a solid career in cloud computing, check out Simplilearn’s Azure Cloud Architect Master’s program. The course helps you master the Azure infrastructure by understanding Azure Cloud Architect Technology Solutions, such as implementing workloads and security, creating and deploying apps, and securing data.

Ziprecruiter reports that Cloud Architects in the United States earn an average of $153,318 per year. And according to Payscale, Cloud Architects in India may make a yearly average of ₹1,849,007.

Visit Simplilearn today, and get that cloud-based career off the ground and into the stratosphere!

About the Author

Karin KelleyKarin Kelley

Karin has spent more than a decade writing about emerging enterprise and cloud technologies. A passionate and lifelong researcher, learner, and writer, Karin is also a big fan of the outdoors, music, literature, and environmental and social sustainability.

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