Six Hot Microsoft Certifications for 2023
We’re a bit more than halfway through the first quarter of 2023, an ideal time to look at some highly-relevant Microsoft certifications for IT candidates to consider adding to their professional portfolios. The half-dozen certifications covered in this article are top picks for IT workers looking to validate their knowledge and skills with Microsoft products and related technologies.
Microsoft continues to hold a dominant position in several IT-related markets. Its Windows operating system is still the leading PC platform. The company’s rebranded Microsoft 365 product suite includes enterprise mainstays Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Teams. The company’s Azure cloud services offering is slowly gaining on Amazon’s AWS product.
Most recently, Microsoft has been making waves with its $10 billion investment in OpenAI, and the beta release of AI-enhanced versions of its Bing search engine and Edge web browser. Microsoft has announced its intention to bring this AI-powered functionality to its Office productivity suite in the near future.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at six Microsoft certifications that could go a long way toward giving a career boost to IT pros this year. We have sorted our picks by three industry experience levels: foundation, intermediate-advanced, and expert.
Top Foundation-level Microsoft Certifications
In Microsoft’s version of Rome, all roads lead to Azure. The company’s cloud computing service has evolved considerably since it was announced in 2008. As we noted in the intro to this article, Azure has been making some modest but steady gains against its top competitor, Amazon Web Services.
That’s why we’ve chosen Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals as one of our top foundation-level certifications. This is the gateway credential to all things Azure, and is an ideal fit for technology managers, software developers, or people who work for Microsoft affiliated value-added resellers (VARs).
Azure Fundamentals covers cloud computing essentials, the core components of Azure architecture, and Azure management and governance. The Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 exam was refreshed last October, adding a frisson of up-to-date élan to its certification cachet.
We also mentioned the new Microsoft 365 branding in the intro, which dovetails nicely into our second recommendation for foundation-level Microsoft certifications, the Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals credential. This certification is a farrago of technology knowledge, combining cloud concepts, Microsoft 365 productivity solutions, and how Microsoft 365 handles security, compliance, and privacy.
There is also a section on Microsoft 365 pricing, licensing, and support. This is useful learning for anyone looking for employment with Microsoft VARs in nearly any capacity.
Top Intermediate-to-Advanced Microsoft Certifications
Microsoft is going all-in on AI technologies, as evidenced by its recent ChatGPT modifications to its Bing search engine and upcoming Edge web browser release. Azure is also a fertile garden of AI solutions powered by Azure Cognitive Services.
Which brings us to the Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate certification. This intermediate credential is an ideal fit for experienced software developers who spend their days working with solution architects and data specialists to create fully end-to-end AI solutions.
Azure AI engineers typically work on AI solutions that support these key functions:
- Conversational AI
- Knowledge mining
- Natural language processing
- Video and image processing
The Azure AI Engineer Associate exam AI-102 was updated just weeks ago at the start of February, so its content is very current.
Sticking with the Azure theme, our second choice for top intermediate-to-advanced Microsoft certification is the Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate credential. This is an ideal certification for IT cybersecurity professionals who slot in between top-level security architects and associate-level techs who help to implement security solutions and monitor threats.
This description from Microsoft captures the essence of this certification’s related job role:
"Responsibilities for an Azure Security Engineer include managing the security posture, identifying and remediating vulnerabilities, performing threat modelling, and implementing threat protection. They may also participate in responding to security incidents."
The pertinent certification exam (AZ-500) is another one that Microsoft very recently updated this February.
Top Expert-level Microsoft Certifications
In our recent Six Hot Networking Certifications for 2023 article, we had the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert credential in our top expert-level category. It was a good pick there; it’s equally as good a pick for this list.
This certification covers the full buffet table of Microsoft enterprise networking. As of this writing, candidates must pass three exams to earn this credential. First, choose one of five prerequisite certifications from the following list:
- Modern Desktop Administrator Associate
- Security Administrator Associate
- Messaging Administrator Associate
- Teams Administrator Associate
- Identity and Access Administrator Associate
After this, there are two exams required to earn the Enterprise Administrator Expert certification:
Microsoft 365 Identity and Services (MS-100)
Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security (MS-101)
It’s hard to find better overall coverage of networking than that provided by the Enterprise Administrator Expert certification. It is an expert-level credential that offers good value to Microsoft networking professionals.
Finally, for our second expert-level Microsoft certification, we are going with a credential that’s so cutting edge, it hasn’t even been launched yet.
March 2023 will mark the debut of the Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Expert certification. We are keen on this credential due to its focus on supply chain management in the manufacturing industry, a specialty that has come under intense scrutiny in recent years.
This certification is based on Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 business management solutions suite. Besides supply chain management, there are also Dynamics 365 solutions for finance, sales, and customer service. And, as you probably already guessed, the majority of these services live in Microsoft’s Azure cloud services.
To earn this certification, candidates must pass two Microsoft Dynamics 365 exams:
- Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant (exam MB-330)
- Supply Chain Management Functional Consultant Expert (exam MB-335)
This is another certification aimed at IT pros who want to work for value-added resellers providing consultancy services to businesses looking to implement Dynamics 365 solutions.
This certification also provides IT professionals with a clear path to expand their expertise into the finance, sales, and customer service platform. This option increases the total potential value of this credential, which makes it a top pick in our list of hot Microsoft certifications for 2023.