Microsoft Proficiency Anchored by Cloud Certifications

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has been rolling out new training and cloud certifications that center around specific IT roles rather than broad job descriptions. This work has reached the stage where 15 traditional certifications and nearly 45 associated exams will be retired in June.

Richard Hay, Senior Content Producer

March 4, 2020

3 Min Read
Microsoft Proficiency Anchored by Cloud Certifications
Getty Images

Digital transformation has been in the lexicon of enterprise companies for a few years now. Some have made that move without hesitation, others might be held back due to regulation or cost. The move to the cloud has been coming for quite a few years and now major tech companies are shifting their qualification programs in this direction. Cloud certifications will become more critical for IT pros and system administrators as the cloud becomes the default base for a business’s operations.

Microsoft began a move towards changing their certification programs to a role-based approach in September 2018. This change, announced at Microsoft Ignite 2018, has been ongoing for 18 months and a recent announcement confirms the shift to these role-based certifications will leave behind 15 traditional certifications and nearly 45 qualification exams for those certifications.

The move to role-based qualifications will allow IT pros and system administrators to continue a steady path of expertise growth through a series of fundamental, associate and expert qualifications. Not surprisingly, the move to more cloud-based services dominates these new levels with Microsoft cloud certifications covering many of the new skills.

microsoft role-based certification options


Currently, there are more than 30 role-based certifications and training opportunities under the new program across the fundamental, associate and expert levels.

Role-based cloud certifications begin in these fundamental areas:

  • Power Platform

  • Dynamics 365

  • Microsoft 365

  • Azure

From these fundamental role-based entry points, individuals can advance their qualifications into associate, expert and specialty areas. The entire listing and roadmap for each certification is available at the Microsoft Learn website. In addition, by using what Microsoft calls Learning Paths, it is a very straight forward, step-by-step process to learn the material necessary to eventually prepare for and take a final certification exam to earn credentials in that role.

Microsoft’s current three-level certification program – i.e. the one that’s being phased out – covers a broad range of skills and expertise at each level:

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

    • App Builder

  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

    • Business Applications

    • Core Infrastructure

    • Data Management and Analytics

    • Mobility

    • Productivity

These certifications are also hierarchical, and the initial levels are usually required to earn the higher-level qualifications.

Microsoft is not the only big tech company shifting their qualification and learning programs to focus on cloud certifications.

Google recently announced that partners had achieved more than 70 specializations in the last quarter of 2019 across the company’s cloud certifications. Amazon continues to provide an extensive list of Amazon Web Services certifications for their customers.

Just like Microsoft, these are role-based certification programs, confirming the industry trend towards specializing by IT pros and system administrators across different companies. In a multi-cloud environment this can be very useful compared to obtaining a broad portfolio of skills under one company’s architecture.

Update (March 27, 2020): Due to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation, Microsoft has delayed the retirement of these certifications until January 31, 2021.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.

Sign up for the ITPro Today newsletter
Stay on top of the IT universe with commentary, news analysis, how-to's, and tips delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like