Microsoft Technical Certifications: 3 Tiers of Expertise
There have been plenty of changes recently to the Microsoft certification structure. Primarily, these changes have been driven by the increasing emphasis on cloud technology. Azure is Microsoft’s flagship cloud computing service. Almost all of Microsoft’s certification tracts have been modified to include information about Azure integration in its products and how they will function in the cloud. Let’s take a look at the new role-based tiers of Microsoft Technical Certifications and some of the changes recently made to include Azure’s influence.
Microsoft certifications are currently split into three different tiers: fundamentals, associate, and expert.
1. Fundamentals is precisely what it sounds like it is. This usually means that the student has little to no foundational knowledge of the subject. Certs in this tier often test for historical and basic knowledge and may or may not be required to proceed to the next tier of certification. Usually, there is only one exam that needs to be passed to earn a fundamentals certification.
2. Associate is the second certification tier. Some certifications will allow the student to skip the fundamentals tier if they can demonstrate proficiency with the required subject matter or have the necessary level of experience. It also indicates that the student is keeping pace with current technology. There may be multiple role-based exams in this tier, and they are usually required to proceed to the next certification tier.
3. Expert is the final tier. At this point, the student has put in the time and hard work to learn everything about their chosen role and the technology required to be an effective professional. Most of the certifications included in the expert tier require an associate-level certification before being able to take the exam.
All the tiers above are also divided into technical roles and subject matter. These tiers correspond to different categories of technology. Currently, there are four role-based certification paths.
- Applications and Infrastructure is mainly concerned with the different roles included in computer networking and now includes subject matter pertinent to cloud technology. Some functions involved in this realm of technology are Azure Fundamentals in the fundamentals tier, Azure Administrator, Azure Developer, Azure Engineer in the associate tier, and then Azure Solution Architecture and Azure DevOps Engineer in the expert tier.
- Data and Artificial Intelligence encapsulate Data Scientist roles. These roles are what used to be referred to as Database Developers and Database Administrators. Now the roles include Azure Fundamentals, which is the same exam included in the Apps & Infrastructure tract. Azure Data Scientist, Azure AI Engineer, and Azure Data Engineer are roles in the associate tier. Passing the Azure Fundamentals exam will allow you to pursue certifications in either of the first two tracts. There is no expert certification in this tract.
- Modern Workplace encompasses the roles that used to be referred to as Desktop Support and Administration. This role is heavily influenced by Microsoft 365. To begin this cert, the M365 Fundamentals exam will need to be passed. The M365 Modern Desktop Administrator, Teamwork Administrator, Messaging Administrator, and Security Administrator exams make up the Associate tier. Finally, the M365 Enterprise Administrator exam must be passed to earn the only expert certification in this technical area of expertise.
- Business Applications is the fourth role-based certification path. The Dynamics 365 Fundamentals exam must be passed to proceed on to the associate tier certifications, which include several different certifications qualifying the student to fill the different Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant roles. Like the Data and AI path, there is no expert certification.
All these certifications will prepare an individual for higher salaries and increased job opportunities. However, they aren’t easy to obtain, or everyone would have one, and they wouldn’t be as meaningful and valuable. The best way to prepare for any certification is to enroll in training provided by a reputable training company. ONLC has multiple training delivery methods, which are cost-effective and convenient. Contact ONLC today to begin the journey down the Microsoft Technical Certification path.