Six Hot Microsoft Certifications for 2021
Microsoft reported its fiscal Q2 earnings in late January, and the results confirmed the company's impressive growth in revenue across its various businesses in recent months. The company reported $43 billion in revenue for the quarter, with $14.6 billion of it coming from its "Intelligent Cloud" business which includes Azure, Windows Server, GitHub, and paid-for enterprise services.
Microsoft stated that Azure revenue alone rose 50 percent over the previous year's number, evidence that its cloud services offering has maintained its climb in popularity. This information lends itself to help identify which Microsoft certifications will be most relevant in 2021.
While there is a job market segment for every role represented in Microsoft's training and certification program, the current explosive growth in the cloud services marketplace should be given consideration when choosing what training to pursue.
Of course, information systems security, data administration, and machine learning technologies haven't lessened in importance in the last twelve months. These fields will continue to require trained IT professionals skilled at the related implementation and management activities.
Here are the top six Microsoft certifications for 2021 based on both current and enduring trends in the IT industry. These credentials are listed in order of their associated industry experience and knowledge recommendations, starting at the bottom and working up.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
The Azure Fundamentals certification is aimed at IT industry workers who have just started to work with cloud technologies and have minimal experience with Azure. This credential is an excellent starting point for anyone who expects to have Azure somehow involved in their job role: techs, sales reps, developers, and others.
Azure Fundamentals is a single-exam certification, making it an economically viable credential for cloud service professionals to pursue. Here are the skills covered by the exam:
? Describe cloud concepts
? Describe core Azure services
? Describe core solutions and management tools on Azure
? Describe general security and network security features
? Describe identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features
? Describe Azure cost management and Service Level Agreements
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
A logical step up from the Azure Fundamentals credential, the Azure Administrator Associate certification is recommended for IT professionals with at least six months of work experience managing an Azure environment. This is an intermediate-level, single-exam certification based on the following knowledge domains:
? Manage Azure identities and governance
? Implement and manage storage solutions
? Deploy and manage Azure computing resources
? Configure and manage virtual networking
? Monitor and backup Azure resources
Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate
Data administration remains an industry standard job role found in business, education, and government payrolls. The Azure Database Administrator Associate certification covers data platform solutions based on Microsoft's SQL Server and Azure Data Services.
This is another intermediate-level, single-exam certification — candidates must pass Exam DP-300: Administering Relational Databases on Microsoft Azure to earn this credential. Microsoft recommends that candidates should possess the knowledge covered by the Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals exam before attempting the DP-300 exam.
Here are the skills candidates are tested on by the Azure Database Administrator Associate exam:
? Plan and implement data platform resources
? Implement a secure environment
? Monitor and optimize operational resources
? Optimize query performance
? Perform automation of tasks
? Plan and implement a High Availability and Disaster Recovery (HADR) environment
? Perform administration by using T-SQL
Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
Microsoft Certified: Security Operations Analyst Associate
You had to know at least one security-based certification would feature on this list. In this case, we're listing a two-for-one pair of certifications as both are highly relevant to information security job roles.
The Azure Security Engineer Associate credential is for IT security specialists who are also savvy with Azure products and services. Microsoft recommends that candidates have well-developed skills with automation and scripting, networks and virtualization, and cloud N-tier architecture.
Unlike the above credential, which is more associated with implementing and managing information security systems, the Security Operations Analyst Associate certification is aimed at the threat responder job role. This certification has a heavy basis in three key products: Azure Defender, Azure Sentinel, and Microsoft 365 Defender.
The Security Operations Analyst Associate certification exam is in beta development as of this writing, and will likely get a full launch later this year. Microsoft is offering special beta exam pricing to the first 300 people who register for this exam before March 8.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
As its title suggests, the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is an advanced credential that encompasses Azure administration, solutions development, and DevOps processes. The job role associated with this certification is an IT veteran who can collaborate with every level of IT operations when designing and implementing new solutions that run on the Azure platform.
There are two exams candidates must pass to earn this certification:
? AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies
? AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design
The body of knowledge associated with the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is extensive — candidates should carefully review the exam objectives to ensure their skill sets match up with the requirements.
Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate
Azure and AI are linked at the hip in terms of Microsoft's strategy for commercially-available AI systems. The Azure AI Engineer Associate certification is for AI specialists with advanced experience in the areas of cognitive services and machine learning.
The key technologies covered by this certification are Azure Bot Service, Azure Cognitive Search, and Azure Cognitive Services. The relevant job role is that of an AI Engineer who designs and implements AI solutions based on a set of submitted requirements.
This is a one-exam certification with three deceptively simple exam objectives:
? Analyze solution requirements
? Design AI solutions
? Implement and monitor AI solutions
Easy as pie! Obviously, this is a high-level certification that requires extensive knowledge of not only AI solution design and implementation, but of the entire Azure platform and its evolving capabilities.
The exam for this certification (AI-100) was replaced by a new exam (AI-102) on Feb. 23. The old exam will still be available until its official retirement in June 2021, but candidates should carefully look at both exams before choosing the one to take.