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Microsoft Certifications in the Cloud Era

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Thomas Stensitzki
Business seated thinking of cloud

You cannot compare today's IT workplace with that of the past. Even without the changes in recent months, which have led to an increase in remote work, daily work for IT personnel has changed considerably.

In the past, there were IT generalists who knew a lot about various topics, and IT specialists who were subject matter experts. When operating an on-premises IT infrastructure only, this was entirely sufficient.

Over the past fifteen years, with the introduction and increased use of cloud workloads, the requirements for generalists and specialists changed drastically. These changes often result in personal insecurity and fear of losing one's job.

Today, a modern IT infrastructure consists of on-premises and cloud components, often connected using a hybrid configuration. Users access company resources from anywhere with any device. The broad field of technologies and the different access methods used result in the requirement for a comprehensive knowledge of all components. In the responsibility, accountability, and management of these components, the boundaries are blurred and have dedicated needs concerning professional certification.

Two years ago, Microsoft Learning introduced a new certification approach to meet role-based needs in a modern workplace. A current job role in IT is no longer focused solely on a single Microsoft product but requires knowledge about a specific workload and related products and services.

Learning and Certification Paths

Microsoft Learn, the new combined learning platform, provides a variety of ways to explore new topics and to learn new skills. Whether you use these materials to prepare for a certification exam or learn something new is up to you. The advantage is that you set the learning pace yourself. With the Microsoft Docs platform, you find all learning resources and the product documentation in one place.

The names of Microsoft certifications have always changed. But regardless of which certification you earn, from the first exam you pass, you are an MCP, a Microsoft Certified Professional. The passed exams define if you made a base or higher qualification and the associated certification title.

In recent years, there has been the certification as Microsoft Certified Solutions Administrator (MCSA) and the enhanced certification as Microsoft Certified Solutions Engineer (MCSE). Those are now legacy certifications.

The current role-based certifications use a two-level certification as well. At the first level, you receive an Associate-level certification. This certification shows that you are very familiar with a selected topic such as Microsoft 365 Messaging. It is similar to the MCSA certification if you like.

The following diagram shows the related topics you have to prove your knowledge in the MS-203 exam. If you pass this exam, you earn the Microsoft 365 Certified Messaging Administrator Associate certification.

image 1-2

You will find self-study material on Microsoft Learn for several different exams. If you do not like to self-study, you can also book a course with a Microsoft Certified Learning Partner.

If you feel unsure about taking an exam, you can also start with a Fundamental certification, which does not entitle you to obtain an Associate or Expert Certification. Such an exam helps you to gain confidence in taking a full exam.

After passing an Associate exam, you can gain Expert certification by taking further exams. The Expert certifications always require passing multiple exams.

The following diagram illustrates the requirements for the Microsoft 365 Certified Enterprise Administrator Expert certification.

image 2-2

To achieve this certification, you must pass both the MS-100 and MS-101 Expert exams, as well as at least one of the Microsoft 365 Associate exams. Whether you want to certify yourself for other Associate topics because of your job role requirements is up to you. The Microsoft 365 Certified Teams Administrator Associate (MS-700) certification is an excellent addition.

Currently, the following Expert certifications are available:
Microsoft Azure Apps and Infrastructure
- Azure Solutions Architect
- DevOps Engineer

Microsoft Azure Data and AI
- Azure Solutions Architect
- DevOps Engineer

Microsoft 365
- Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator

Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Dynamics 365 + Power Platform Solution Architect
- Dynamics 365: Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect

Microsoft Power Platform
- Dynamics 365 + Power Platform Solution Architect

The Certification Handbook always provides you with an up-to-date overview of the available Fundamentals, Associate, Expert, and Speciality certifications.

In addition to the Expert certifications already mentioned, there are also so-called Speciality certifications. With these certifications, you prove that you are an absolute specialist in the respective subject area. There are currently Speciality certifications available for Azure for SAP Workloads and Azure IoT Developer.

Whether you want to get a Microsoft certification is up to you. The importance of such certifications depends very much on the region in which you live and work. In some countries, a Microsoft certification is mandatory as an addition to general IT vocational training when applying for a job, while in others, it is optional.

In addition to the professional requirements, a Microsoft certification also helps to verify your knowledge. Each exam passed strengthens self-confidence and thus automatically helps for every personnel interview in your professional future.

Certification Recommendations

I want to give you recommendations for Microsoft certifications that will help you to prepare for your professional future.

If you're primarily working in IT backend services and are interested in Microsoft 365, I recommend you get certified as a Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Expert. Choose the appropriate Associate Certification as a base certification for you. You can choose from Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 Security, Messaging (Exchange), or Modern Desktop (Windows 10). If you have an active MCSE Productivity legacy certification, you can use this as an Associate certification equivalent.

If you're responsible for IT Infrastructure, and you want to extend the infrastructure to Microsoft Azure, I recommend you get certified as an Azure Solutions Architect Expert. This Expert Certification does not require additional Azure Associate Certification.

As a third recommendation, I recommend achieving certification in Business Applications. The Power Platform is the future for individual business applications, workflows, and reports. Get certified as a Dynamics 365 + Power Platform Solution Architect.

This certification requires one of the Dynamics 365 Associate certifications and the additional Expert certification.

With Microsoft Learn, Microsoft provides a unified platform that helps you learn at your own pace. Use the Microsoft Learn Platform and the Microsoft Docs documentation resources to keep your knowledge about Microsoft products and services up-to-date.
Use the Certification Poster for a quick overview of available certifications.
Whether you want to take a certification exam is up to you. My recommendation to you is, get certified.

Certification Handbook
Microsoft Learn
Learning Paths
Certification Poster


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