Azure Certification Path: Levels, Qualifications, Costs

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Advance your IT career with Microsoft Azure certifications. Learn more about Microsoft certifications, the benefits of gaining certification in Microsoft Azure, and how to choose the right Azure certification path.

[Featured Image] A woman sitting at a desk earns an Azure certification online.

Businesses rely on complex digital frameworks and infrastructures to successfully store data, support processes, and protect sensitive information. Cloud professionals are the staff responsible for designing, building, maintaining, and troubleshooting these structures. These IT team members are key to a functioning cloud system, which means they are in high demand across many different industries. 

To successfully meet the expectations of these roles and stay competitive in the field, many cloud professionals opt to gain IT and cloud certifications. Learn more about Microsoft certifications, the benefits of gaining Azure certifications, and which certification path to choose for your career.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is an open cloud platform used by businesses to support their digital operations. It provides companies and organizations with the software and programs needed for processes, such as analytics, data storage, computing, networking, and security. Cloud providers like Microsoft offer an affordable option for businesses to utilize the cloud without building and maintaining their own cloud infrastructure.

What are Azure certifications?

Azure certifications provide cloud professionals with an industry-recognized certification that demonstrates a person’s expertise in a specific skill set. Microsoft offers Azure certifications that are tailored to industry-defined roles, which means that it’s easy for a professional to choose certifications that map directly onto a specific type of IT or cloud career. These certifications are available at different levels that reflect your years of experience.

Certification levels

Azure certifications are offered in four different levels: fundamentals, associate, expert, and specialty.

  • Fundamental certifications are for professionals who have just started out in IT or are looking to move into the industry for a career change.

  • Associate certifications are designed for professionals with some Azure experience.

  • Expert certifications are for professionals who have strong backgrounds in IT and cloud computing and experience with Microsoft Azure.

  • Specialty certifications are for niche cloud programming skills.

Azure certification paths

Microsoft Azure organizes its different certifications into Training Journeys, which are tailored to specific types of industries or professions. Each of these six different Training Journeys has a recommended set of certifications to take. Each exam helps to build skills and further advance your knowledge base in your chosen role. The specific certification tied to each exam is outlined in more detail in the table below, with the Azure certification paths as follows:

  • Cloud IT pros: AZ 104→AZ 500→AZ 120→AZ 700→AZ 140

  • Hybrid cloud IT pros: AZ 800 or AZ 801→AZ 104→AZ 140

  • Cloud IT pros expert level: AZ 104→AZ 400→AZ 305

  • Developers: AZ 204→AI 102→DP 420→AZ 400

  • Data & AI professionals: DP 300→DP 203→DP 100

  • Data analysts: PL 300→ DP 500

It’s recommended to start with one of the Azure Fundamentals certifications—either AI 900, AZ 900, SC 900, or DP 900, especially if you are new to the cloud computing field or want to move into cloud computing from another industry. Fundamentals certifications are also good ways to become familiar with the certification process before spending time and money on more advanced certifications. Choose an Azure Fundamentals certification that best matches your background or the field you want to move into.

Azure certifications

The current Azure certifications are as follows:

Azure AI FundamentalsN/AAI 900$99
Azure Data FundamentalsN/ADP 900$99
Azure FundamentalsN/AAZ 900$99
Security, Compliance, and Identity FundamentalsN/ASC 900$99
Azure AI Engineer AssociateBasic knowledge of AIAI 102$165
Azure Administrator AssociateBasic experience with systems adminAZ 104$165
Data Engineer AssociateExperience with data analysis toolsDP 203$165
Data Science AssociateExperience with Azure data workloadsDP 100$165
Azure Database Administrator AssociateExperience with Azure SQL servicesDP 300$165
Azure Developer Associate2 years experience with Azure development toolsAZ 204$165
Azure Enterprise Data Analyst AssociateAdvanced Power BI, Power Query, and DAX skillsDP 500$165
Azure Network Engineer AssociateExperience with Azure network toolsAZ 700$165
Azure Security Engineer AssociateExperience with AzureAZ 500$165
Identity and Access Administrator AssociateExperience with Azure ADSC 300$165
Security Operations Analyst AssociateExperience with Azure cloudSC 200$165
Windows Server Hybrid Administrator AssociateExperience with Windows operating systemsAZ 800$165
Azure Cosmos DB Developer SpecialtyExperience with developing appsDP 420$165
Azure Virtual Desktop SpecialtyExperience with Azure virtual desktopAZ 140$165
Azure for SAP Workloads SpecialityExperience with the SAP system, Azure Administrator Associate CertificateAZ 120$165
Customer Data Platform SpecialtyExperience with data toolsMB 260$165
Azure Solutions Architect ExpertAzure Administrator Associate CertificationAZ 305$165
Cybersecurity Architect ExpertEither Azure Security Engineer Associate, Identity and Administrator Access Associate, or Security Operations Analyst Associate certifiedSC 100$165
DevOps Engineer ExpertEither Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate certifiedAZ 400$165

Why is Azure certification important?

Azure certification provides you with the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to meet the expectations of the IT field you are interested in pursuing as a career. Certification is also helpful for further developing skills and advancing your knowledge as you pursue more expert or senior roles.

Azure is one of the most popular cloud platforms used by businesses across the world, so gaining certification in Azure helps to make you competitive in a high-demand job market, since you’ll have knowledge of Azure’s different components and features. Businesses look for candidates who have the expertise needed to be successful members of their IT team, and Azure certification helps to demonstrate these skills with industry-recognized certifications.

Job roles and salaries

Once you’ve gained certification, you have the opportunity to apply for different cloud computing jobs. Some of these roles and their average salaries are:

  • Cloud developer, who is responsible for building, testing, and managing cloud systems. The average annual salary for this role is $91,154, with the opportunity for additional pay [1].

  • Cloud systems engineer, who works as part of a larger team managing a company’s cloud network and systems. The average annual salary for this role is $100,787, with the opportunity for additional pay [2].

  • Cloud consultant, who evaluates cloud structures and makes recommendations for improvement. The average annual salary for this role is $92,739, with the opportunity for additional pay [3].

  • Cloud architect, who builds cloud infrastructure based on a business’s unique needs. The average annual salary for this role is $137,237, with the opportunity for additional pay [4].

Ready to get started?

Sharpen your cloud computing skills and set yourself up for success in an IT career with courses and certificates on Coursera. With options like Google’s IT Support Professional Certificate, you can develop foundational skills and learn more about cloud computing and IT in preparation for Azure certifications.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “What Does A Cloud Developer Do?,,15.htm.” Accessed September 12, 2023.

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