Microsoft Learning posted an article that announced some upcoming changes to the Microsoft Azure and Data & AI certifications. These certification exam changes are slated to be released by March of 2020, and affect the Azure Administrator, Azure Developer, Azure Solutions Architect, and Azure AI certifications. Most notably, these changes include new certification exams that will be replacing existing exams.

New Azure Certification Exam Changes

The Azure Administrator, Azure Developer, Azure Solutions Architect, and Azure AI certifications have been announced to be affected by this new change to releasing new replacement exams. These new exams will completely replace the existing exams (after a transition period once released) and will include their own exam objectives to be studied.

The certifications earned are not changing, but the exams required to earn the certifications will be changing. Currently, nothing as been released, outside of the announcement from Microsoft Learning stating what they are planning.

Here are the certification exam changes that are being planned:

Certification Old Exam New Exam Expected Release
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate AZ-103 AZ-104 March, 2020
Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate AZ-203 AZ-204 February 24, 2020
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect AZ-300 & AZ-301 AZ-303 & AZ-304 March, 2020
Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate AI-100 AI-102 March 2020

Keep in mind the certification earned will not change. Only the exams that you will be required to pass when earning the certification will change.

The announcement mentioned that there may be additional certifications that will undergo similar changes. These are the only certification changes announced so far, and in the coming months we may see more announced.

Note: As of the time of writing this, the exam objectives for these new exams have not been announced or released yet. I’ll update this article with links and information when announcements are made.

Exam Transition Period

If you’re currently studying for a certification exam, you do not need to worry. Microsoft has laid out a plan to phase out the old and phase in the new exams over a 90 day window. During this time period you will be able to choose between both exams when sitting for your certification process.

This will enable you to keep studying and working towards earning certifications by passing the old exams, even after the new exams are available. Or, you can choose to study and pass the new exams. Then after the 90 day period, the old exam will be retired and the replacement by the new exam will be completed.

After the 90 day transition period has ended, the old exam will be retired and no longer available. Essentially, this means that you can keep on your progress for the old exams if you’re already started studying. If you are just starting your certification journey once the new exam is released for your certification of choice, you should start studying the exam objectives for the new exam.

“We will leave the old exam in market for 90 days after the new version becomes available.”

Libery Munson, Principal Psychometrician, Microsoft

Overall, this transition period should help ease the process of studying for a certification exam that’s planned to be retired soon. Also, don’t worry, a certification earned now will remain active, and you don’t need to worry about new exams until it comes time to renew your certification at a later date.

Video Explaining Azure Exam Changes

Here’s a short video from Scott Duffy explaining what the coming changes to the Microsoft Azure certifications mean. He combed through the exam syllabus changes for each of the certification exam updates, and gives us some great insights from his first impressions of these changes. Thanks Scott!

If you’re interested in reading about the reasons for these changes, then I encourage you to read the official announcement article from Microsoft Learning.

Microsoft MVP

Chris Pietschmann is a Microsoft MVP, HashiCorp Ambassador, and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with 20+ years of experience designing and building Cloud & Enterprise systems. He has worked with companies of all sizes from startups to large enterprises. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.
HashiCorp Ambassador Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect