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Exam prep: Getting started with Azure certifications and beyond

by Jeff Christman
SSCP, Senior Cloud Security Consultant, Avanade
July 08 2021

As an Azure professional, one way I have built expertise in my career has been through Microsoft certifications. These Microsoft exams—and various third-party exams—are a great way to demonstrate your knowledge.

The 900 series exams are usually the fundamentals. Typically these are pretty easy to pass. You have an hour and a half for 40-50 questions on basic concepts. In general, I estimate you can spend anywhere from 16 to 20 hours studying if you are familiar with the materials.

By contrast, when you start getting into the AZ-301, 304 and 302 exams, these are more detailed and specific. AZ-301 is Azure Architecture, whereas AZ-303 is focused on administration. AZ-500 is a very detailed exam on Azure security, with a lot of questions on how to secure Azure across all of its services. These higher-level exams are typically between 55 to 60 questions, and about an hour and a half to two hours. Keep in mind, they may have lab and scenario questions.

Some of these exams are pretty difficult. AZ-500 particularly is one of the hardest. I started off in a Pluralsight online training course, supplemented with Microsoft documentation. At the same time, I relied heavily on a free subscription. You can watch YouTube video demos, but you need to get in and do some of the tasks yourself. There is also really good training material on GitHub, where Microsoft Learn hosts all of its labs.

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About Jeff Christman

Jeff Christman is a Navy Veteran with over 20 years of experience in the IT field. Specializing in cloud migrations, he has worked for companies such as Raytheon, AT&T, and NASA. Currently, he is a Sr. Cloud Security Consultant at a large consulting firm. In addition to his daytime job, he also has published content and courses for,, and 

In his off time, he loves fantasy football, everything tech, and embarrassing his teenage daughters.

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