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Succeeding with Microsoft Azure certification exams: Planning and prioritizing your efforts

by Eamon McCarthy Earls
Assistant Editor,

IT professionals working with Microsoft Azure today have plenty of demand for their skills around cloud services, either within their organizations or across a client base. But succeeding in a cloud career often means developing—and proving—advanced skills. Microsoft Azure certification exams provide structured opportunities to develop skills and a way to share those skills with employers and customers.

We reached out to Azure professionals to find out their advice about achieving the right certifications.

Different strategies for different levels of career experience

Planning for Azure exams differs based on a user's level of career experience. IT training provider David Turnbull, owner of TX Training, advised that a good place to start is with the Azure Administrator Associate course. The Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate program which involves two exams, Exam MD-100: Windows 10 and Exam MD-101: Managing Modern Desktops, is a good place to start for those just starting out with IT.

Users with IT experience may want to opt for the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert exam with its AZ-300 Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and AZ-301 Microsoft Azure Architect Design components. This option is for more senior users who can build more complicated solutions. Turnbull explained that any of these exams require real dedication:

When I started taking my Microsoft certifications seriously, I found I had more job offers at a higher salary and eventually ended up being able to pick my employer or change jobs much more easily. When preparing for the exams, different people have different learning styles, so an instructor-led course might work for one person and for another it might suit them to simply purchase the textbook and get hands on experience with Azure in their spare time. The exams are tough so anyone looking to take them should have read the associated textbook from cover to cover and spent at least 10 hours doing background reading and another 10 or more hours doing practical labs.

Are certain skillsets growing in demand? According to Reuben Yonatan, CEO of cloud communication advising provider GetVoIP, the answer is yes.

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About Eamon McCarthy Earls

As the assistant editor at, Eamon helps to oversee editorial content on the site and supports site management and strategy. He can be reached at

Before joining, Eamon was editor for at TechTarget, where he covered networking technology, IoT, and cybersecurity. He is also the author of multiple books and previously contributed to publications such as the Boston Globe, Milford Daily News, and DefenceWeb.