Azure Certification: What It Is, Career Benefits, and How to Get Certified

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn which Azure certification is right for you, along with the benefits of becoming Azure certified at the Fundamentals, Associate, and Expert levels.

[Featured Image]:  IT engineer, wearing a white top, sitting at a desk, working on a desktop computer with two screens and a white headset, reviewing information, preparing for Azure certification.

Becoming Azure certified can help you advance your cloud computing career by showing you know the fundamentals of the cloud along with Azure's services, architecture, governance, and management. This guide will answer what the certification is, whether this certification is in demand, what the benefits of Azure certification are, and how to earn Azure certification. 

What is Azure certification?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service. Azure certifications are for information technology (IT) professionals, developers, and data and artificial intelligence (AI) professionals who work within the Microsoft cloud computing system. Through Azure Certification, you can learn how to use various cloud-based services and help secure a job in the field or advance your career. Microsoft organizes Azure certifications into three levels: Fundamentals, Associate, and Expert. Azure also includes Specialty certifications, such as Cosmos DB Developer and Virtual Desktop.

Azure Certifications are in demand

Azure certifications are in high demand as the need for cloud computing technology rises. Cloud computing is one of the fastest-growing technologies, and more companies are looking for certified Azure administrators, solution architects, developers, and security engineers.

According to the Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report, 80 percent of companies use Azure to run their workloads, surpassing the Amazon Web Services (AWS) adoption rate as a cloud provider for the first time [1].


Benefits of Azure certification

The benefits of Azure certification include the ability to grow in your career, access to flexible career options, the potential to earn a higher salary, sharper skills, and improved security offerings for your employer. Take a look at how getting Azure certification can offer these benefits.

Career growth

Whether you are already in a cloud computing position or looking to enter the field, you can often advance your career with Azure certification. Azure certifications are some of the most sought-after certifications in IT right now, and they can help you land a better job or move into a higher position within your company.

Flexible Career Options

A Microsoft azure certification can enable you to pursue a wide range of career options. You can become a cloud architect, a developer, or a solution architect. In addition, the certification enables you to work in various industries at different locations.

Companies in all industries migrate to the cloud because of the benefits they get in storage, computing, and networking. An Azure certification can get you into different roles in industries like health care, finance, and entertainment. In addition, many certified Azure professionals work in different places like Canada, the UK, France, the United States, and more.

Earning potential

According to salary data from Glassdoor, professionals with Azure certifications tend to have high earning potential. Azure software engineers, for example, make an annual base pay of $91,856 in Canada, while Azure cloud architects have an average annual salary of $112,618 [2, 3].

In some roles, knowledge of Azure can increase salary potential. For example, DevOps engineers in Canada make an average salary of $91,165, while Azure DevOps engineers make an average salary of $105,772 [4, 5].

Sharpened skill set

The more knowledge you have about cloud computing, the more competitive you will usually be in the job market. As shown in the salary figures previously mentioned, those with more advanced skill sets in Azure are compensated more for that knowledge. Azure certification can help you sharpen your skills in artificial intelligence and machine learning areas. 

Among the skills measured in the certification exams are knowledge of cloud concepts and an understanding of Azure's core architectural components. Other skills covered are Azure identity, access and security, and governance and compliance.

Improved security 

Becoming certified can help you improve cloud security for your company because you can stay on top of the latest trends and options. You must also renew your certifications, which can help you stay updated on changes and new technologies. This heightened security awareness typically makes you more attractive to companies looking to hire, especially in cloud security roles.

How to become Azure certified

You can start on your path to becoming Azure certified by beginning your training until you meet the prerequisites for each level of certification, and then sign up for and take the certification exam. Stay certified by renewing your certificate each year. 

Get training and develop the relevant skills.

You can find courses and training online, including some which are free. But to become Azure certified, you will need to complete Microsoft’s examination. 

Microsoft offers a collection of self-paced content for all certification levels and specialty exams. They contain videos and lessons that help you prepare for the certification exam. The online learning paths are free to complete, or you can enroll in instructor-led classes for a fee.

Microsoft also hosts free virtual training events called Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Days. You can choose which to attend based on skill level and topic. After completing corresponding Fundamentals training sessions, you can take the following certification exams for free: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Microsoft AI Fundamentals, and Microsoft Data Fundamentals.

Meet the prerequisites for each level

Each Azure certification lists recommended skills before attempting the exam. Microsoft's self-paced or instructor-led content and third-party courses can help you gain the necessary skills in preparation for the certification exams. 

The Fundamentals and Associate certification levels do not have prerequisites per se, but Microsoft recommends you do the following before taking an exam:

  • Have a complete understanding of the skills the exam measures.

  • For Associate-level exams, have experience in the tested skills.

  • Take a practice exam provided by Microsoft.

  • Use Microsoft Azure with a trial subscription.

  • Take advantage of Microsoft's learning resources to prepare.

Azure Expert certifications do have prerequisites. The Azure Solutions Architect Expert exam requires that you complete the Azure Administrator Associate exam first. To take the Azure DevOps Engineer Expert exam, you’ll need to complete either the Azure Administrator Associate or Azure Developer Associate exam.

Pass the certification exam

Each certification has an exam associated with it that you must pass. All technical exams receive scores graded on a scale of 1 to 1,000; any score of 700 or greater is a passing score.

Renew each year to maintain

Renewing your certification keeps you updated on the latest in Azure. You do not need to renew your Fundamentals level certifications because they do not expire. Renew your Associate and Expert certificates by passing the free online renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. Renewal exams only ask you questions about updates made in Azure or related technology in the previous year.

Azure certification paths 

If you're new to Azure, start with a Fundamentals exam related to your career. After that, you can pursue several Associate and Specialty Azure certifications. Finally, show your expertise to current or future employers with Expert-level Azure certifications. Explore the certifications in the table below:

CertificationLevelWhat it's best for
Azure AI Fundamentals (AI-900)FundamentalsDemonstrating your AI skills on the cloud and the services Azure can offer in this area
Azure Data Fundamentals (DP-900)FundamentalsDeveloping a strong foundation in the core concepts of data and data analytics
Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900)FundamentalsDemonstrating your knowledge of cloud concepts, models, and services and showing your expertise in Azure
Azure Administrator Associate (AZ-104)AssociateBuilding on subject matter expertise managing an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment
Azure AI Engineer Associate (AZ-102)AssociateLearning to build, manage, and deploy AI solutions within Azure
Azure Data Engineer Associate (DP-203)AssociateStoring and using datasets for analysis and managing data pipelines and data stores
Azure Data Fundamentals (DP-900)AssociateWorking with data in the cloud
Azure Data Scientist Associate (DP-100)AssociateExploring data science and using Azure Machine Learning and Azure Databricks
Azure Database Administrator Associate (DP-300)AssociateManaging the operational aspects of data platform solutions built with Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure Data Services
Azure Developer Associate (AZ-204)AssociateBuilding on your cloud developer experience and learning about developing Azure computing and storage
Azure Enterprise Data Analyst Associate (DP-500)AssociateBuilding expertise in data analytics solutions, including how to design, create, and deploy them
Azure Network Engineer Associate (AZ-700)AssociateValidating your knowledge and skills in Azure network solutions planning, implementation, and maintenance
Azure Security Engineer Associate (AZ-500)AssociatePlanning and implementing cloud-based management and security; building on your experience in code, security operations processes, cloud capabilities, and Azure services
Azure Stack Hub Operator Associate (AZ-600)AssociateEnhancing your skills in providing platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) using Azure Stack Hub
Azure DevOps Engineer Expert (AZ-400)ExpertBuilding on your experience as an infrastructure administrator or developer, with expertise in DevOps, Azure administration, or development
Azure Solutions Architect Expert (AZ-305)ExpertBuilding on your expertise in designing cloud and hybrid solutions that run on Microsoft Azure, as well as your advanced experience and knowledge in IT operations, Azure administration, Azure development, and DevOps processes

Azure Specialty Certifications:

• Azure Support Engineer for Connectivity Specialty (AZ-720)

• Azure Cosmos DB Developer Specialty (DP-420)

• Azure Virtual Desktop Specialty (AZ-140)

• Azure IoT Developer Specialty (AZ-220)

• Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty (AZ-120)


Next steps 

Get started on your path to your next Azure certification with a prep class. Microsoft offers prep courses for its certifications on Coursera. For example, if you’re a beginner, you can enroll in Microsoft Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 Exam Prep Specialization. The class is self-paced and contains an applied learning project. You can also take courses within that specialization, like Introduction to Azure Cloud Services. Other providers, such as LearnQuest, offer similar courses as well.

Article sources


Flexera. "Cloud Computing Trends: Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report," Accessed January 30,2023.

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