Unlocking Career Growth: A Complete Guide to Microsoft Certifications in 2023

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Microsoft certifications are credentials that demonstrate your technical skills and prove your expertise in positions that use Microsoft technologies. Earning one or more of these certifications can help you get a new job, develop your professional skills, or advance your career. In this article, we will discuss Microsoft certifications and share reasons to get one. We will also list categories of role-based certifications and explain how to obtain one that aligns with your career goals.

Introduction to Microsoft Certifications

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 each year to ensure they maintain current knowledge of the product and its associated trends.

Reasons to get a Microsoft Certification

Proof of knowledge or expertise with Microsoft products can help you advance in your career, such as by taking on more complex responsibilities, earning a higher salary, or advancing 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 pertaining to your chosen field.

Microsoft Certifications Categories

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), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE). Role-based certifications validate the technical skills, as defined by Microsoft, that employees acquire within a particular role. Here are some primary categories of Microsoft's role-based certifications:

1. Administrator certification path

The role of an administrator in Microsoft solutions involves implementation, monitoring, and maintenance. This certification path offers fundamental, associate, and expert levels, with popular certifications being sought after by employers.

  • Azure Administrator Associate (requires passing AZ-104 exam)
  • Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty (requires passing AZ-120 exam)
  • Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty (requires passing AZ-140 exam)
  • Azure Stack Hub Operator Associate (requires passing AZ-600 exam, will be retired on July 31, 2023)
  • Messaging Administrator Associate (requires passing MS-203 exam)
  • Modern Desktop Administrator Associate (requires passing MD-100 and MD-101 exams, the two exams will retire on July 31, 2023, and the new replacement test is MD-102, and the certification will be renamed to Endpoint Administrator Associate)
  • Security Administrator Associate (requires passing MS-500 exam, will retire on June 30, 2023)
  • Enterprise Administrator Expert (requires passing MS-100 and MS-101 exams, the two exams will retire on July 31, 2023 and the new replacement test is MS-102, and the certification will be renamed to Administrator Expert)
  • Teams Administrator Associate (requires passing MS-700 exam)
  • Identity and Access Administrator Associate (requires passing SC-300 exam)
  • Information Protection Administrator Associate (requires passing SC-400 exam)

2. AI engineer certification path

Artificial intelligence engineers leverage cognitive services, machine learning, and knowledge mining to design and implement AI solutions using Microsoft technology. There are two certification options for this career path.

  • Azure AI Fundamentals (requires passing AI-900 exam)
  • Azure AI Engineer Associate (requires passing AI-102 exam)

3. Data engineer certification path

Microsoft offers a certification path for data engineers, who are responsible for designing and implementing data management, security, and privacy using data services. The certification path has fundamental and associate levels, and you can choose to specialize in one of two data platforms. There are four certification options available for Microsoft's data engineer path.

  • Azure Data Fundamentals (requires passing DP-900 exam)
  • Azure Data Engineer Associate (requires passing DP-203 exam)
  • Customer Data Platform Specialty (requires passing MB-260 exam)
  • Azure Cosmos DB Developer Specialty (requires passing DP-420 exam)

4. Data scientist certification path

The Azure Data Scientist Associate credential is the only certification option tailored specifically to the data scientist career path. It validates skills in applying machine-learning techniques to train, evaluate, and deploy models that solve business problems. (requires passing DP-100 exam)

5. Developer certification path

The certification path for developers involves designing, building, testing, and maintaining solutions. This path offers fundamental, associate, and expert levels, with popular certifications sought by employers at each level.

  • Azure Developer Associate (requires passing AZ-204 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Developer Associate (requires passing MB-300 and MB-500 exams)
  • Teams Application Developer Associate (requires passing MS-600 exam, will retire on December 31, 2023)
  • Power Platform Developer Associate (requires passing PL-400 exam)
  • Azure Internet of Things (IoT) Developer Specialty (requires passing AZ-220 exam, will retire on July 31, 2023)

6. DevOps engineer certification path

Microsoft offers two certifications for DevOps engineers, who are responsible for combining people, processes, and technologies to deliver products and services that meet end-user needs and business objectives.

  • Power Platform App Maker Associate (requires passing PL-100 exam)
  • DevOps Engineer Expert (requires passing AZ-400 exam)

7. Functional consultant certification path

Functional consultants use Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform to forecast and prepare for customer needs. This certification path has fundamental, associate, and expert levels, with popular certifications that employers often seek.

  • Dynamics 365 Customer Service Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-230 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Field Service Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-240 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-300 and MB-310 exams)
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-300 and MB-320, and MB-320 will retire on June 30, 2023)
  • Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-220 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Sales Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-210 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-300 and MB-330 exams)
  • Dynamics 365 Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing PL-200 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central Functional Consultant Associate (requires passing MB-800 exam)

8. Security engineer certification path

Employers often look for security engineers who possess fundamental, associate, or expert-level certifications. These engineers are responsible for implementing security measures, managing access controls, and protecting data, applications, and networks.

  • Azure Security Engineer Associate (requires passing AZ-500 exam)
  • Security Operations Analyst Associate (requires passing SC-200 exam)
  • Identity and Access Administrator Associate (requires passing SC-300 exam)
  • Information Protection Administrator Associate (requires passing SC-400 exam)

9. Solutions architect certification path

Solutions architects specialize in computing, network, storage, and security. This path offers certifications at three levels: fundamental, associate, and expert. Employers often seek candidates with certifications in this field.

  • Azure Solutions Architect Expert (requires passing AZ-305 exam)
  • Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect Expert (requires passing MB-700 exam, note: Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Functional Consultant Associate will retire on June 30, 2023. It will continue to qualify as a prerequisite option for this certification for one year after retirement.)
  • Power Platform Solution Architect Expert (requires passing PL-600 exam)

How to get a Microsoft Certification

Follow these basic steps to earn a Microsoft certification:

  1. Determine the certification you need
  2. Study and/or complete training courses
  3. Take and pass the associated exam(s)

Conclusion

Earning a Microsoft certification can help you demonstrate your technical skills and advance your career. With over 250 certifications available, there is likely a certification that aligns with your career goals. Consider the certification path that best suits your interests and career aspirations and start studying today!

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