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 Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect and developer, a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), 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.


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  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.

  15. Hi,
    I’m from datawarehouse background mostly ETL and BI. Looking forward to the role of an architect in Bigdata and BI space. So can you suggest which course will be helpful.


    1. Chris Pietschmann January 29, 2018 at 11:31 am

      You have a few different options. There are single Microsoft certification exams in BI and Big Data, as well as the Big Data track of the Microsoft Professional Program. You’ll find links to the different exams and programs here:


  16. Hi Chris,
    I want to take 70-475 exam. Does it require to complete any of the three exams 70-532,70-533,70-534.


    1. Chris Pietschmann January 26, 2018 at 7:56 am

      No, you can take any of these certification exams stand-alone, or in any order you wish.


  17. Hi Chris

    I am an Ops person and interested in learning Azure cloud technologies. My project already has implemented Azure cloud technology and i have a basic understanding of Azure.
    what is the best course/Certification for me to begin with and proceed further ?

    Thanks much.


    1. Chris Pietschmann January 26, 2018 at 7:55 am

      If you’re looking to do a certification, then the 70-333 Implementing Azure Solutions exam is the one you want to start with since you’re an Ops / Infrastructure professional.


  18. Hello,
    I have 2 years of experience in Windows System administrator 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 February 12, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Depending on your role I would recommend the 70-533 Infrastructure focused exam most likely. You will need to know Azure PowerShell commands for this one in addition to Azure services.


  19. Hi Chris,
    I am currently working as a support engineer with Microsoft Office 365 with a little bit of Azure AD. I am trying to decide if I should stay with Office 365 or move to Azure. If possible, I would like to know which one could be better for a future perspective and if it is possible to self-learn Azure? And if as a beginner I should decide between Azure or AWS?


    1. Chris Pietschmann April 3, 2018 at 8:34 am

      Being that I focus on Azure, I’d recommend Azure. 😉 Really, the deciding factor that I recommend is to get certified in the path that fits what your current expertise area is, what your company uses, and possibly look at job listings to see what companies in your area are using / looking for. Also, once you get certified in Azure or Office365, you could work on the next if you still want to. 🙂


  20. Hi Chrish,

    I am a developer by job role, I have personal ambition to get this certification, I am basically oriented towards 70–532 but company wants me to do 70-473 or 70-535 (new) as per their requirement. Which one do you think would be more suitable for me which would suit me personally and company as well? Thanks.


    1. Chris Pietschmann April 14, 2018 at 8:24 am

      If you’re more experienced and a senior dev then either 70-532 or 70-535 would be good to start with. 70-535 architecture exam is more focused on analyzing requirements and designing solution architectures, where 532 is more focused on building apps with SDKs and code. Additionally, 70-473 is more data focused. I don’t know your company, but you could really go with either of them depending on what focus area you want to emphasize. Then, you could also take and pass multiple exams too. The 70-532 and 70-535 do have a fair amount of overlap as far was what services are covered and the coverage on how they work.


  21. Hai,
    Thanks for Sharing nice information. This exam is a perfect starting point for IT Pros and System Administrators. Please go through it.


  22. Hi Chris,

    I am new to Azure. I am into project management and want to consult azure cloud with the clients.
    I believe 70-535 best suited me but I have no prior knowledge or experience in Azure. Is this a right option?



    1. Chris Pietschmann June 6, 2018 at 8:33 am

      Yes, the 70-535 Architecture exam is likely the best Azure certification exam for you to start with having a PM background. However, the amount of technical experience / knowledge you have will effect how much studying you’ll need before you’re ready to pass the exam. Good luck!


  23. I am a Embedded tester and new to AZURE. which one I have to do .which is best for me can you please guide me.


    1. Chris Pietschmann July 20, 2018 at 7:29 am

      As an “Embedded Tester” that doesn’t translate directly to a cloud role. I would have to know more about your experience to really say. However, you should choose the exam that’s matches most closely to your role. That stated, Microsoft has released a new Azure Certified Administrator that’s coming soon, and will be creating more “Role” based certifications in the coming months and year.


  24. Thanks Chris, for wonderful explanation.

    I am a SharePoint consultant, would like to leverage my SharePoint consulting and development experience with Azure certifications.
    So considering Office 365, SharePoint online and future jobsin picture which certification will be best fit for me.



    1. Chris Pietschmann August 9, 2018 at 10:09 pm

      Sachin, the MCSA: Office 365, and then upgrading to the MCSE: Productivity with exam 70-339 Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 may be worth looking into for you. There’s no MCSA for SharePoint anymore. The MCSA: Office 365 is the closest to that. Although, you could always just take the 70-339 exam alone if you don’t feel the other exams would add value to your career plan. Happy studying, and I hope this helps you. 🙂


  25. Thanks so much Chris.

    I am planning for slight drift for my career from SharePoint to Azure, will it be advisable to move into MS Azure space? If yes then which certification will be best considering my past experience?



    1. Chris Pietschmann September 17, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      Yes, the cloud is the future! Choose the certification path that best fits your expertise and goals. You’ll find information on this site about the various certification available.


  26. HI

    I have 4.5 years of experience in Windows System administrator i’m planning to move to cloud technology and go with Microsoft certification.Can you suggest me for which certification should I go and what is difference between AZ-100 and 70-533 certification


    1. Chris Pietschmann April 24, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      The Azure Administrator certification with exam AZ-103 is what you’ll want. Also you can optionally start with the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam if your new to the cloud.


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