Microsoft was one of the first vendors to introduce IT certifications. Back in the day, there was MCP – Microsoft Certified Professional. You only had to pass one exam to get a certificate, and it was even mailed to you in a nice envelope!
Then people turned their attention to Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) paths. Depending on the version of the exam, you were asked to pass up to 7 tests to get a certificate. Microsoft has retired most of these certificates, focusing instead on role-based training and cloud certificates.
Why the Cloud?
It is almost certain that in the coming years more and more businesses will move their assets and services to the cloud. Gartner, a leading research and advisory company, predicts that end users will spend $304.9 billion in 2021 on cloud services, 15% more than in 2020! We will need a lot of highly qualified engineers to design, implement, and maintain all these solutions.
Microsoft is one of the leaders in cloud solutions, with hundreds of products based around Azure and Office, and the average revenue growth of Azure services is 50% per quarter.
For almost all paths to certification, Microsoft recommends starting with the AZ-900 exam: Azure Fundamentals. With this exam, you will prove you know all the basics around cloud services, management tools, and cloud network security features.
If you want to become an Azure Administrator, you should take the AZ-104 exam: Azure Administrator Associate. It is a more hands-on path focusing on configuring, managing, and monitoring cloud resources.
If you spend more time coding applications, Microsoft has a lot to offer you too. You can become an Azure Developer Associate by taking one exam: AZ-204. You can continue this path and become a DevOps Expert by passing the following exam: AZ-400: Designing and Implementing Microsoft DevOps Solutions.
Here is a video introducing the Microsoft certifications for Azure:
Let’s talk about Microsoft 365
One of the most popular paths is Modern Desktop Administrator Associate. This is a highly valued certificate proving you know how to deploy Windows 10, manage policies, and implement basic security principles. Do not be fooled by the name: Desktop Administrator! Quite a few chapters talk about Microsoft Azure as well. You are expected to understand, for instance, Azure Active Directory. You need to pass two exams here: MD-100 and MD-101.
If you are more interested in the security side of IT, you should consider earning the Microsoft 365: Security Administrator Associate certificate by passing the MS-500 exam. Once again, the focus is on Microsoft Azure: Azure Active Directory with emphasis on identity management and compliance. You are expected to have a very good understanding of cloud services, security concepts, and support tools before attempting this exam. You should have at least a couple of years of real-world experience around IT services as well.
OK, but… how can I prepare?
The good news is that Microsoft offers a lot of Azure tools for free and even some credits to try out more advanced features and services. It is not enough to read a book or watch an online course. All these exams require you to have some hands-on experience. And do not forget about practice exams: well-designed questions with detailed explanations allow you to check on your progress, assess your level, and make sure you are ready to take the actual exam.
A lot of people ask: what if my certificate is retired? It does not matter. You take an exam to improve your CV and to gain some experience at the same time. You are going to spend many hours getting ready for a Microsoft exam, and any company will appreciate your effort and the knowledge that certificate represents, even if it expires or is replaced with another one.
The best example of this is the MCSA and MCSE – even though these paths are being retired now, the value behind these badges will last for years to come. Of course, though, it makes sense to update your certificates and focus on new paths. The cloud is the future. Join in now by passing one or more Microsoft exams and see how your LinkedIn profile improves!
6 tips for passing Microsoft certification exams
1. Establish a study routine.
Give yourself some structure when it comes to studying, and prioritize your study time. If you don’t, it’ll be way too easy to procrastinate or ignore what you need to do.
2. Review the topics covered on the exam.
Microsoft publishes the exam descriptions for all their exams and lists their objectives. Each sub-objective will also have a set of skills that you’re going to be tested on, so review this page as much as possible until you’re comfortable with all the topics.
3. Take notes while studying.
"If in doubt, write it out.” Write down every technical detail you see while studying for any Microsoft Certification exam.
4. Practice using the technology.
Hands-on experience will be invaluable as you take the exam. Instead of trying to answer questions about a theoretical practice you’ve only read about, you’ll have real-life knowledge of what a task does.
5. Take practice exams.
One of the most valuable things you can do to prepare for your final exam is take practice exams first. Treat the practice exams like real exams so that you understand what your approach should be when the big day comes. Expect to fail your first practice exam. Afterwards, go through each wrong answer to determine your areas of weakness. Find Microsoft’s official practice exams here.
6. Relax on exam day.
When it’s time for the exam, the best thing you can do is relax, knowing that you’ve prepared to the best of your ability. While you need to take every question seriously, going into the exam stressed and overwhelmed will increase your chance of failure. Perfection is not the goal; completion is. Let yourself off the hook by understanding that it’s okay to miss a question, or occasionally guess or get confused by a question’s wording. You can always retake the exam if necessary.
What if I don’t pass? Never give up! These are not easy exams. If they were, they would not be so valuable to have. Try again, go through some practice questions, and book another slot. Passing an IT exam is a learning path, so every time you take it, it will be a little easier. Good luck with your studies!
Prepare for Microsoft Certification with MeasureUp training
A Microsoft certification could be a strong factor in advancing in your current job or getting a new job elsewhere. But remember: to earn a Microsoft certification you will have to put in the work. Preparing yourself for the exam will give you the greatest chance of success.
MeasureUp is here to help. Microsoft Official Practice Tests are powered by MeasureUp. This signifies that MeasureUp Practice Tests are recognized by Microsoft as meeting the highest quality standards to ensure certification success.