Individuals who work in information technology can earn various certifications, including ones that Microsoft offers. Earning one or more of these certifications may help you get a new job, develop your professional skills, or advance your career. Understanding Microsoft's certifications can also help you determine which ones are right for your needs.
This article discusses Microsoft certifications, shares reasons to get one, lists nine categories of role-based certificates and explains how to obtain one that aligns with your career goals.
What is a Microsoft certification?
A Microsoft certification is a credential that can demonstrate your technical skills, especially those abilities related to positions that use Microsoft technologies. Microsoft offers over 250 certifications for different levels of expertise based on associated exams.
Some of these credentials you can receive independently of one another, while others you might need to earn them in sequential order. Microsoft typically requires professionals to renew their certifications yearly to maintain current knowledge of the product and its associated trends.
Why get a certification?
Proof of knowledge or expertise with Microsoft products can help you advance your career by taking on more complex responsibilities, earning a higher salary, or moving to a more senior role.
Listing certifications on your resume can help distinguish you from other candidates when you apply for jobs or other opportunities, like professional associations or graduate schools. In addition, these certification programs often teach you about the latest technology features or updates about your chosen field.
9 categories of Microsoft certifications
In early 2021, Microsoft shifted its product-based certifications to role-based certification models. It also retired these certifications:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
Role-based certifications validate the technical skills defined by Microsoft that employees acquire within a particular role. Microsoft defines beginners within a field as those with up to two years of experience, intermediate professionals as those with three to five years of experience, and individuals with five to seven years as experts.
The following are the nine primary categories of Microsoft's role-based certifications:
1. Administrator certification path
Administrators implement, monitor, and maintain Microsoft solutions. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels. Popular certifications sought by employers include:
- Azure Administrator Associate: Candidates possess subject expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring an organization's Microsoft Azure environment. To earn this credential, candidates must take the AZ-104 exam.
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- Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty: Candidates for this credential are architects or engineers with extensive experience and knowledge of the SAP system landscape, industry standards specific to its initial migration or integration, and the long-term operation of an SAP solution on Microsoft Azure. You must first pass the AZ-120 exam to earn this credential.
- Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty: Candidates are Microsoft Azure administrators with subject expertise in planning, delivering, and managing virtual desktop experiences and remote apps, for any device, on Azure. Candidates take the AZ-140 exam to earn this credential.
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- Azure Stack Hub Operator Associate: Candidates are Azure administrators or Azure Stack Hub operators who provide cloud services to end-users or customers from within their own data center using Azure Stack Hub. Those interested in earning this credential first take the AZ-600 exam.
- Messaging Administrator Associate: Candidates deploy, configure, manage, troubleshoot, and monitor recipients, permissions, mail protection, mail flow, and public folders in hybrid and cloud enterprise environments. The required exam is the MS-203.
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- Modern Desktop Administrator Associate: Candidates deploy, configure, secure, manage and monitor devices and client applications in an enterprise environment. Microsoft requires the MD-100 and MD-101 exams for this credential.
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- Security Administrator Associate: Candidates proactively secure Microsoft 365 enterprise and hybrid environments, implement and manage security and compliance solutions, respond to threats and enforce data governance. You must first take the MS-500 exam to qualify for this credential.
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- Enterprise Administrator Expert: Candidates evaluate, plan, migrate, deploy and manage Microsoft 365 services. The required exams are the MS-100 and MS-101.
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- Teams Administrator Associate: Candidates configure, deploy and manage Office 365 workloads for Microsoft Teams that focus on efficient and effective collaboration and communication in an enterprise environment. Microsoft requires the MS-700 for this credential.
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- Identity and Access Administrator Associate: Candidates design, implement and operate an organization's identity and access management systems using Azure AD. The SC-300 exam is required.
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- Information Protection Administrator Associate: Candidates plan and implement controls that meet organizational compliance needs, translate requirements and compliance controls into technical implementation and assist corporate control owners in becoming and staying compliant. Microsoft requires passing the SC-400 exam if you want this credential.
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2. AI engineer certification path
Artificial intelligence engineers use cognitive services, machine learning, and knowledge mining to architect and implement Microsoft AI solutions. There are two certification options for this path:
- Azure AI Fundamentals: Through this certification program, candidates learn how to evaluate AI workloads, explain machine learning principles on Azure and use the platform's features related to Natural Language Processing (NLP). Candidates must first pass the AI-900 exam.
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- Azure AI Engineer Associate: Candidates possess subject matter expertise in building, managing, and deploying AI solutions that leverage Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Cognitive Search, and Microsoft Bot Framework. Microsoft requires the AI-102 exam for this credential, which replaced AI-100 on June 30, 2021.
3. Data engineer certification path
Data engineers design and implement management, security, and data privacy using data services. This certification path has fundamental and associate levels. You can also choose to specialize in one of two data platforms. Here are the four certification options for Microsoft's data engineer path:
- Azure Data Fundamentals: Participants of this certification program learn how to explore core data concepts, identify considerations for relational data, maintain analytics workloads and evaluate working with non-relational data on Azure. Microsoft requires passing the DP-900 exam before earning this credential.
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- Azure Data Engineer Associate: Candidates have subject expertise in integrating, transforming, and consolidating data from various structured and unstructured data systems into formats suitable for building analytics solutions. Microsoft requires the DP-203 exam, which replaced the DP-200 and DP-201 exams on June 30, 2021.
- Customer Data Platform Specialty: This certification option targets individuals who excel at implementing solutions that offer information about customer profiles and tracking engagement activities that optimize customer experiences and retention. To get this certificate, it's necessary to take the MB-260 exam first.
- Azure Cosmos DB Developer Specialty: This credential demonstrates a professional's skills in designing and implementing data models, distributing data, loading data, and optimizing solutions using the Azure Cosmos database. Candidates first take the DP-420 exam before receiving this certificate.
4. Data scientist certification path
Data scientists apply machine-learning techniques to train, evaluate and deploy models that solve business problems. Currently, the only certification option for the data scientist career path is the Azure Data Scientist Associate credential.
Candidates possess subject expertise in applying data science and machine learning to implement and run machine learning workloads on Azure. Microsoft requires the DP-100 exam for this credential.
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Individuals interested in earning further certifications from Microsoft related to data science may want to pursue the Customer Data Platform Specialty or Azure AI Fundamentals credentials.
5. Developer certification path
Developers design, build, test, and maintain solutions. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels. Popular certifications sought by employers include:
- Azure Developer Associate: Candidates have subject expertise in designing, building, testing, and maintaining cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure. Microsoft requires candidates to pass the AZ-204 exam.
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- Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Developer Associate: Candidates possess experience providing fully realized solutions using standardized application coding patterns, extensible features, and external integrations. To get this certificate, it's required to take the MB-300 and MB-500 exams first.
- Teams Application Developer Associate: This certification is for those proficient in Microsoft identity and Microsoft Graph and have general knowledge of user interface elements, integration points, and determining workload platform targets. Microsoft demands the MS-600 exam for this credential.
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- Power Platform Developer Associate: Candidates for this certification know how to design, develop, secure, and troubleshoot Power Platform solutions. Microsoft asks candidates first to take the PL-400 exam.
- Azure Internet of Things (IoT) Developer Specialty: Candidates have a general understanding of Azure services, including data storage options, data analysis, data processing, AI, and other Platform-as-a-Service options. Candidates first take the AZ-220 exam to earn this credential.
6. DevOps engineer certification path
DevOps engineers combine people, processes, and technologies to deliver products and services that meet end-user needs and business objectives. Microsoft offers two certifications under this pathway:
- Power Platform App Maker Associate: This certification is a good option for individuals proficient at designing apps, automating workflows, and evaluating data in the context of an app or automated workflow. Interested candidates first take the PL-100 exam.
- DevOps Engineer Expert: Candidates have subject expertise working with people, processes, and technologies to deliver business value continuously. To gain this credential, candidates first earn the Azure Administrator Associate and Azure Developer Associate certifications and take the AZ-400 exam.
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7. Functional consultant certification path
Functional consultants leverage Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to anticipate and plan for customer needs. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels. Popular certifications sought by employers include:
- Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates implement omnichannel solutions focusing on service, quality, reliability, efficiency, and customer satisfaction. As of July 28, 2022, only the MB-230 exam is required for this certification, as Microsoft has removed the previous requirement also to pass the PL-200.
- Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates implement solutions that manage resources to complete the field service life cycle. As of July 28, 2022, candidates no longer need to pass the PL-200 exam, but Microsoft still requires a passing score on the MB-240 exam to earn this credential.
- Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant Associate: This certification demonstrates your ability to analyze business requirements and translate them into business processes and solutions based on industry best practices. To earn this credential, candidates first take the MB-300 and MB-310 exams.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates work with developers, solution architects, project managers, and functional consultants in finance, commerce, and supply chain. While candidates previously took both the MB-300 and MB-320 exams, the MB-320 exam expired at the end of 2022.
- Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates possess in-depth knowledge of Dynamics 365 model-driven applications, data modeling principles, and Microsoft Power Platform configurations. As of July 28, 2022, candidates need only pass the MB-220 exam and can skip the PL-200 exam.
- Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate: This credential is a good option for candidates with experience configuring Microsoft Power Platform and familiarity with Dynamics 365 model-driven applications and data-modeling principles. Beginning July 28, 2022, Microsoft no longer requires candidates to take the PL-200 exam but still requires the MB-210 exam.
- Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates work with developers, solution architects, project managers, and functional consultants in finance, commerce, and manufacturing. To earn this credential, candidates first take the MB-300 and MB-330 exams.
- Dynamics 365 Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate: Candidates work with an organization's stakeholders and subject matter experts, such as solution architects, developers, and testers, to gather requirements and implement Microsoft Power Platform solutions. Candidates first pass the PL-200 exam to earn this credential.
- Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant Associate: Individuals who opt for this credential have experience configuring Dynamics 365 Business Central role centers, including adapting insights, cues, action tiles, reports, and charts and extending Business Central by using Microsoft Power Platform components. Microsoft requires the MB-800 exam for this credential.
8. Security engineer certification path
Security engineers implement security measures, manage access controls and protect data, applications, and networks. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels. Popular certifications sought by employers include:
- Azure Security Engineer Associate: Candidates have subject expertise in implementing threat protections, managing access profiles, and protecting data in both cloud and hybrid environments as part of an end-to-end infrastructure. Microsoft requires the AZ-500 exam for this credential.
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- Security Operations Analyst Associate: Candidates possess experience with threat management, monitoring, and response by using a variety of security solutions across their environment. To achieve this certification, it's necessary to pass the SC-200 exam.
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- Identity and Access Administrator Associate: This credential is a good option for those with experience collaborating with others to drive strategic identity projects, modernize identity solutions, and implement hybrid identity solutions. Candidates first take the SC-300 exam.
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- Information Protection Administrator Associate: Candidates have experience planning and implementing controls that meet organizational compliance needs, translating requirements and compliance controls into technical implementation, and assisting corporate control owners to become and stay compliant. Microsoft asks candidates first to complete the SC-400 exam.
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9. Solutions architect certification path
Solutions architects are experts in computing, network, storage, and security. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels. Popular certifications sought by employers include:
- Azure Solutions Architect Expert: Candidates have subject expertise in designing and implementing solutions that run on Microsoft Azure, including aspects like a computer, network, storage, and security. Microsoft requires passing the AZ-305 exam to get this credential.
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- Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect Expert: This is a good credential for advising stakeholders and translating business requirements into secure, scalable, and reliable solutions. While Microsoft previously required exams MB-320 and MB-700 for this credential, exam MB-320 expired at the end of 2022 and can only count as a prerequisite option for this certificate until the end of 2023.
- Power Platform Solution Architect Expert: Candidates work with stakeholders and focus on solutions that affect the organization's broad business and technical needs. To earn this credential, candidates first earn the Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate and Power Platform Developer Associate certificates and take the PL-600 exam.
How to get a Microsoft certification
Getting the desired IT certification will demonstrate your knowledge of IT and open doors to many IT employees worldwide. Looking for a Microsoft certification? You are in the right place! In this case, CertWizard is your best friend.
Follow these basic steps to earn a Microsoft certification:
1. Determine Microsoft certification you need
There are many certifications available in varying degrees. Determine which one is most beneficial for your career. Ask your manager if there's a specific certification they prefer you obtain. Suppose you're searching for a job. Review job postings to determine which certification most employers seek.
2. Contact us and send us your desired Microsoft certification request.
- Desired Microsoft certification and test which you want to pass
- First name
- Last name
- WhatsApp mobile phone No (complete with the country code)
- Question (if any)
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4. Renew your certification
It's often necessary to renew certifications regularly. Some require yearly renewal. Make sure you know if you're required to renew your certification and how to do so. This way, you can continue to list the credential on your resume.
These jobs either require or prefer those who have earned Microsoft certifications:
- IT specialist
- Technical support specialist
- Software developer
- Web developer
- Software tester
- Software engineer
- System administrator
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