The question of “Where do I start?” can be confusing if you’ve never studied for or taken a Microsoft Certification exam before. It can also be a bit daunting if you don’t know anyone who has done it themselves either. Do not let this discourage you. It may be a bit confusing, but it’s actually rather simple. This post will outlines the main steps necessary as well as the main resources you’ll need to begin, study, eventually pass an exam, and finally obtain a Microsoft Azure Certification yourself!
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 Azure Certs Exist?
Microsoft currently offers a number of Certifications and Exams for just about every single one of their product offerings. Since Microsoft Azure is such a significant platform, there are a number of Certifications and Exams available just for Azure.
Below is a list of the Microsoft Azure Certifications that are currently offered:
- MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect
- MCSA: Linux on Azure
- Microsoft Specialist: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Microsoft Specialist: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- Microsoft Specialist: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
Some of the above Microsoft Azure Certifications require multiple exams. Here’s a list of all the Microsoft Azure exams currently offered:
- Exam 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- Exam 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Exam 70-487: Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services
Where are Study Materials?
There are many videos, articles, books and other resources available to use for studying for certification exams. The details page for the specific exam you are looking to take contains a full outline of the exam objectives covered. It’s best to not rely too much on any single study resource, and to additionally go over each exam objective in detail.
Before I give you a big list of study materials, first here’s a list of blog posts I’ve previously published outlining the various study materials I’ve personally used to study for Microsoft Azure Certification exams:
- How I passed the 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions certification exam
- Preparing for 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions Exam
- Preparing for 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions Exam
Here’s a list of some generally useful resources that can be used to study for certification exams and generally learn about Microsoft Azure. These resources are ALL FREE!
- MSDN Azure Technical Documentation Library
- Azure Documentation site containing MANY articles and videos
- Free e-Books on Azure from Microsoft Press
- Microsoft Virtual Academy contains many FREE training video courses
- channel9.msdn.com contains many FREE videos produced by Microsoft
- Microsoft Developer Youtube channel
Here are some Exam Reference books from Microsoft Press that specifically target objectives for individual exams:
- Exam Ref 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
- Exam Ref 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
- Exam Ref 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
In addition to videos, articles, books, etc., it can be very useful to utilize Practice Exams. There are a couple different practice exam vendors that offer these. A couple of these vendors are MeasureUp and MindHub. Personally, I’ve used MeasureUp, but I’ve seen MindHub linked to from the Microsoft Certification site as well.
Speaking of Practice Exams; here’s a link to a Free, Open Source project I created while studying for the Azure developer exam that contains many practice test questions on the exam objectives for the Microsoft Azure developer (70-532) exam:
An important study note to be aware of is to stay clear of “brain dumps.” As I’ve outlined previous, brain dumps are cheating and violate the terms you agree to in order to take a Microsoft Certification exam.
In addition to all the free resources available and the exam reference books are training courses from online course providers too. Here’s a couple of the vendors that offer paid Azure video training courses:
There are many more vendors and resources available. The above lists are hardly encompassing, but hopefully the give you plenty of places to start.
How to take an exam?
Once you’ve studied and feel you’re ready to take a certification exam, you must then register for the exam. The exam information pages on the Microsoft Certification site for each of the exams offered contains a “Schedule exam” button. Just click this button and it’ll take you through the process of picking a date and time to take the exam.
Currently, each Microsoft Certification exam costs $150 USD to take; whether you pass or not.
There are 2 options for taking Microsoft certification exams. The main on is to physically take it at a testing center. However, if you have an isolated space you can elect to take certification exams from home (or really anywhere else) as well, or Online Proctored.
The online proctored delivery method of taking Microsoft Certification exams may not be available for all exams offered. When available it can offer a much higher level of convenience; especially if you live a considerable distance from the closest testing center. The below link contains requirements and other information necessary about the online proctored exam deliver option:
Free Retake Offer
Microsoft is currently offering the “Second Shot” offer that allows for a free retake of a Microsoft Certification exam, as long as the MCP exam is taken by January 12, 2016. See the following link for more details on what exams are covered and other requirements.