There’s been a huge increase in the need to get trained in Microsoft Azure, and as a result the interest / need to get certified in Azure has been increasing as well. The only difficulty with the certification is there are 3 primary Microsoft certification exams on Azure and it can be a little unclear which exam is right for “You.” In this article I will outline the differences between the different Azure certification exams / certifications, and hopefully I’ll help you decide which is best for you to start with.

Update 9/30/2016: This week Microsoft announced some really big and amazing changes to the Microsoft Certification program and how the Azure certification exams fit in with MCSD and MCSE certifications. As a result, you want to reference the 2016 Edition of Where to start with Azure Certification article instead.

What Exams / Certs Are Offered?

The overall Microsoft Platform is really big with a ton of features; plus, Microsoft releases additional new features every couple months. As a result the Azure landscape is ever evolving, however, the Azure certification exams help you hone in on specific feature sets that build up the core of the overall platform. These features include Web Apps, Cloud Services, Storage, Messaging, Virtual Machines, and many, many more.

Rather than create a certification exam for each specific set of Azure features, Microsoft has larger, more encompassing exams that target a specific work role. The 3 targeted roles are IT Pro, Developer and Architect. As a result, the material covered on these exams do overlap quite a bit with each one honing in on that specific work role.

For the IT Pro

Microsoft offers the Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions (70-533) exam that specifically targets IT Pros. Upon passing this exam you will earn the Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions certification.

Being targeted towards IT Pros, this exam has a greater focus on things like Virtual Machines, Networking and other Azure Infrastructure functionality than the other exams. It’s also the exam that requires the knowledge of PowerShell and the Azure PowerShell SDK, as well as the Cross-Platform Command-line Interface (X-plat CLI) for Azure.

This exam is a perfect starting point for IT Pros and System Administrators; with it’s focus on Infrastructure and PowerShell.

Here’s an overview of the materials I used to pass the 70-533 Infrastructure exam myself:

Preparing for 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions Exam

For the Developer

Targeted specifically towards developers, Microsoft offers the Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions (70-532) exam that when passed earns you the Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification.

This exam targets Developers, so naturally it focuses on the .NET Azure SDK and writing code that consumes and integrates with the different platform features available in the Microsoft Azure platform. However, this exam does cover a lot of material surrounding how to setup and manage the different Azure Infrastructure features developers will need to use. Because of the Infrastructure coverage, there is a lot of overlap between this exam and the others.

This exam is a perfect starting point for Software Developers; with it’s focus on .NET code.

Here’s an overview of the materials I used to pass the 70-532 Developer exam myself:

How I passed the 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification exam

For the Architect

The Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (70-534) exam is unique in respect to the Developer and Infrastructure exams. This exam targets Solution Architects that will be designing solutions built on top of the Microsoft Azure platform. Passing this exam earns you the Microsoft Specialist: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions certification.

The uniqueness of this exam comes from its focus towards Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. There’s not a heavy focus on .NET code or PowerShell on this exam. The primary focus on this exam is how all the Azure features work, why you would use them, and which ones you would use together when building certain solutions. Basically, the main focus of this exam is the What, How and Why while not getting into the nitty gritty of the actual implementation.

This exam has a bit of similarity to the old Analyzing Requirements and Defining .NET Solution Architectures (now deprecated) exam. As a result this exam does make a good starting point for someone in an Architecture role, who may or may not be involved with the actual implementations, but definitely interacts with customers / business owners defining solutions for their needs.

Here’s an overview of the materials I used to pass the 70-534 Architecture exam myself:

Preparing for 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions Exam

What if I take all 3 exams?

While taking each individual certification exam earns you an Azure Specialist certification, there is an incentive to taking all three. Taking all 3 Azure certification exams will not just earn you all 3 Azure Specialist certifications, but it will also earn you the much larger Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) Azure Solutions Architect.

The MCSD Azure Solutions Architect certification show that you have expertise in all areas covered by the 3 exams that range from developing software solutions, implementing infrastructure, as well as designing / architecting Azure based solutions using recommended best practices.

The new (just introduced in early 2015) Azure MCSD certification represents a big change in how MCSD certifications have traditionally been. Previously the MCSD certifications were for developers, and as such required passing exams that were very code focused. This can be seen by looking at the requirements for the MCSD Web Developer and SharePoint certifications. With the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect, Microsoft has broken away and now provides a fully encompassing Architect certification that includes all aspects of software architecture.

Azure + Linux

In addition to the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect that requires passing multiple exams to obtain, Microsoft also has the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) Linux on Azure certification available.

The MCSA Linux on Azure certification requires passing both the Azure Infrastructure (70-533) exam as well as the obtaining the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (non-Microsoft) certification.

Microsoft fully supports Linux on the Microsoft Azure platform, and the MCSA Linux on Azure certification really shows their commitment to it.

Posted by Chris Pietschmann

Chris is a Microsoft MVP and has nearly 20 years of experience building enterprise systems both in the cloud and on-premises. He is also a Certified Azure Solutions Architect (both MCSD and MCSE), a trainer, and Cloud Advocate. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.


  1. […] Which Azure Cert Exam is Best for Me? and Introducing Microsoft Azure Stack (Chris Pietschmann) […]


  2. […] If you are still figuring out which Azure certification exam is best for you, or even which would be best to start with in working towards the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification (earned by taking all 3 exams) then you’ll want to read my short guide outlining some of the major differences between the exams, available here: Which Azure Cert Exam is Best for Me? […]


  3. […] Azure ecosystem in the adoption of Puppet and Chef. Microsoft even recognizes this with their Azure certifications by having questions on the exams expecting knowledge of what Puppet and Chef are, and what they are […]


  4. which is easier 70-532 or 70-533?


    1. One isn’t really easier than the other. They are targeted towards a different audience; developer or infrastructure.


  5. […] Which Azure Cert Exam is Best for Me? […]


  6. If someone want to do all three exam, in which order should he approached?


    1. The order doesn’t really matter. They are not prerequisites for each other. I would recommend that you start with the exam that more closely matches your role; Developer, Infrastructure, or Architect.


      1. I am new in IT and i want complete certification. As you told in one of your comments that 534 then 533 and in last 532. I want to do it according to level of difficulty and exposure and knowledge required before jumping to any one. Please guide.

      2. In general the order doesn’t matter. Also they are of equal difficulty. I recommend you start with the exam that most closely matches your role and expertise.

  7. I have 10 years of .net experience, which one would suit keeping the future in mind.
    Should i really move to cloud or work on betterment on my skills in .net to get a better job


    1. It really depends on your background and expertise. As a developer you’ll likely want to look at the 70-532 Developer exams. I don’t know your expertise so I can say for certain which one would be best for you. You’ll want to pick the one that most closely aligns with your background and expertise.


  8. Harjeet Makkar May 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    Do I need to complete Exam 70-473 & Exam 70-475 before taking 70-533 & 70-534


    1. No you do not. Those exams do not have any prerequisites to taking them. You can take them in any order you want. I recommend that you start with the exam that is most closely aligned with your background and expertise. This way you’ll start with the exam that’ll likely be the easiest for you to study for, before moving into others that cover stuff you’re not as familiar with.


  9. Upasana Singh May 23, 2017 at 3:27 am

    I am from developer background but willing to move into architect side. How challenging could it be to take 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. I would like to understand whether we can grasp this course easily by not having any architect background?


    1. There really isn’t an answer that fits for all people. It really depends on your background and expertise.


  10. Hi Chris
    I saw a article that “Microsoft also announced they are killing off the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification, as it will be retired on March 31, 2017.”
    What does this actually mean?
    Can i now not take the exam?
    I am thinking of taking 70-533 this year.


    1. Chris Pietschmann August 16, 2017 at 8:22 am

      The exams are still valid. You’ll just earn the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure instead of the old MCSD if you pass all the required exams.


      1. October 5, 2017 at 2:49 am

        okay understood Chris. Thanks for the explanation 🙂

  11. Hi Chris,

    I am new to Azure but I am experienced with AWS and I can compare services from AWS with Azure. Will 533 be better for me or 534 ?


    1. Chris Pietschmann August 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      That depends on what your background is, as the article states.


  12. Hi Chris,
    I am infrastructure architect having 15+ years of experience in infrastructure technologies. Now i want to complete few Azure certification. My question to you is since i am from infrastructure background , i do not want to pass 532 but 533 and 534. If i complete both exams 533 and 534 what else is required to earn MCSE where i do not want to appear in 532 exam.


    1. Chris Pietschmann September 27, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Yes you can certainly do that. There’s a list of elective exams to choose from for the 3rd exam.


  13. Hi Chris,
    I have 4 years of experience in testing background.I would like to learn cloud technology and go with Microsoft certification.Can you suggest me for which certification should I go.


    1. Chris Pietschmann October 19, 2017 at 10:32 am

      That all depends on your testing background… Are you a Dev or an Ops person?


      1. I want to learn one more skill.So thought of Cloud Microsoft Azure and go with Microsoft certification.Can you suggest me which certification i should go for and which will be best site to learn Azure

  14. Hi, thanks for your knowledge and this article. I’m a Business Analyst and Project Manager. I want to start cloud computing, especially Azure. I am not a developer. I want to have the right amount of knowledge to provide consultation and implement. Which of the cert is suited for me? Thanks a lot


    1. Chris Pietschmann December 13, 2017 at 8:32 pm

      IMO the 70-535 Architecture exam os the most appropriate for you. It doesn’t require you to be a dev or infra pro.


      1. Does this still give me Azure knowledge to seek for job opportunities in the area? Thanks again

      2. Chris Pietschmann December 14, 2017 at 6:04 am


      3. Please point me to the best learning materials, considering this is still new from Microsoft. Also, send me a private email if you provide one-on-one training or something. I want to get into this and master it enough to gain a job. Thanks for your help.

Leave a Reply