A very common question about Microsoft certifications is “How much does Microsoft certification cost?” It’s great to know what the exam objectives are, and where to find study materials, but the overall cost of getting certified is certainly an important piece of information to figure out. This article runs through the cost of Microsoft certification exams, and what you should expect a Microsoft certification to cost.
Microsoft Certification Exam Cost
There are a couple different types of Microsoft certification exams. Each of these different types of exams do have a slightly different cost. Not all exams are priced the same.
Associate and Expert Exam Cost
The Associate and Expert level certification exams are the Microsoft certification exams that count towards certifications like the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate or Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. These are larger certifications that may require you to pass 1, 2, or even 3 exams to earn the larger certification.
The individual Microsoft certification cost of the Associate and Expert level exams is typically $165 USD** per exam. This is the cost to take the exam; regardless if you pass or fail.
The cost to take the Microsoft certification “Associate” and “Expert” level exams is typically $165 USD** per exam.
Fundamentals Exam Cost
The Fundamentals level certification exams are the Microsoft certification exams that are targeted towards the more entry-level type certifications; like the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals. These exams are meant to be taken by those with less than 2 years of experience, or looking to change careers.
Due to the target audience of the Fundamentals exams, the price is set accordingly. The individual Microsoft certification cost of the Fundamentals level exams is typically $99 USD** per exam. This is the cost to take the exam; regardless if you pass or fail.
Overall Certification Cost
The overall cost of a Microsoft certification will depend on the number of exams required to earn the certification.
The Fundamentals certifications, like the Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals, only required you to pass a single certification exam. As a result, this certification will cost $99 USD**.
The Associate certifications, like the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator, may require you to pass either one or two exams. This will result in a certification cost of $165 to $330 USD.
The Expert certifications, like the Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert, typically require you to earn an Associate certification as a prerequisite before taking the exam for the Expert certification. As a result, these Expert level certifications will be the cost of either two or three exams at a cost of $330 USD to $495 USD.
Depending on where you are starting from, the best certification path for you may be to take and pass a Fundamentals certification before moving on to earn an Associate or Expert level certification. As a result, this path will add to the overall cost of your certification journey, but you will get the benefit of earning multiple certifications in the process.
What if I FAIL an exam?
Failing a Microsoft certification exam is common for many people. These are difficult exams to pass for the target audience of the exams. This adds further credibility to the certifications once earned. Do not be afraid of failing. In fact, sometimes people will fail the same exam multiple times before passing; it happens.
If / when you do fail a certification exam, be sure to look at the score report you receive. This score report will give you insights into how well you scored on each of the exam areas. You will be able to use this information to decide which area(s) to keep studying so you can pass on the next attempt.
When factoring in the total cost of a Microsoft certification, it’s important to be aware that failures will cost too. When you pay to take a Microsoft certification you are paying to take the exam, not just to pass. So, when you fail a Microsoft certification exam, you will need to pay to take the exam again the next time. If your certification path required 3 exams to be passed and you failed 1 of them, then your total cost will end up being the cost of 4 exams.
How much do study materials cost?
The cost of study materials can vary wildly. It all depends on what study materials / resources are used, and how much for each type utilized. There are a few different types of study materials available when studying for a Microsoft certification.
Online Guides and Articles
There are sources of online study guides and hands-on lab guides that can be used to study for certification exams. These can often provide one of the cheapest options for study.
There are many online resources available, such as article here on Build5Nines.com as well as the how-to / lab guides we’re publishing here too!
The product documentation also falls under this category, but is one of the least structured methods to follow when studying.
Study guide or other books on the technologies or focused on the exam objectives are a very common method people use to study for certifications. They provide a guided path towards certification that is vetted not just by the author, but also any technical editors that help review the books before they are published.
The typical cost of a technical book can range from $20 to $50 USD depending on the publisher.
Online Videos / On-demand Courses
There are online, on-demand video services and courses that can be purchased. These provide a great self-paced learning path to follow using audio and video rather instead of written books. These sources can be easier to consume while multi-tasking.
There is a wide range of cost for online course content. There are lots of free videos available on YouTube channels. On-demand training companies, like Pluralsight or others, charge a monthly subscription fee anywhere from $10 to $50 per month depending on the service you’re using. There are also individual training courses that can be purchased directly from authors, using services like Udemy or others, for anywhere from about $10 to $300 USD per course purchased.
Obviously, the most expensive study path to take is to attend an in-person, instructor led training. This will give you a class room full of students to attend along-side, and a dedicated trainer for the duration of the class. This may be the most affective training method if you can dedicate the time, but it will cost the most amount of money.
Instructor-led training from a training provider can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000 or more for a 5-day training class. These are intended to train a group of approximately 20 students at one time with an on-site instructor the students can interact with directly throughout the class. There are also training providers that offer virtual instructor-led training that works similarly, but at a discount using an online training solution service such as GoToTraining or others to allow students to attend the class and interact with the instructors.
I hope this added clarification on the pricing and cost of Microsoft certifications helps you plan your certification path and learning process. I know the prices may not seem very high to some, but high to others. The prices can be high especially if you live in a lower income region of the world. Keep in mind there are free study materials out there, like Build5Nines.com, as well as the product documentation itself. However, if you can make the investment in yourself, or get your employer to pay for your certification and training, then there are lots of options available.
If you have any tips or suggestions, please leave those in the comments. I’d love to hear any tips you have to offer for studying towards Microsoft certifications, and I’m sure everyone else would love to hear them as well.
** These prices are in US dollars. The price of the exams will be adjusted according to the local currency for the country you reside and take the certification exam within.
Am a student of chemical engineering in Nigeria and i have passion of becoming a good programmer through Microsoft certification courses, precisely i want to kick start my programming skills with python but i don’t have fund for such fees am seeing their. Please am only a student and i need these skills to boost my career.
If you’re looking to use Microsoft certification to help get started in your career, then I’d recommend looking into either the Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) certification or one of the Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA) certifications available. These are geared towards those with two or less years of experience and should help you get some credentials to add to your resume. There are a number of MTA certification exams available on different technologies, and you should be able to find one or more that will fit what you’re looking for. The Azure Fundamentals is a great way to get started with the Microsoft Azure Cloud; which I really do recommend doing as the cloud is the future of IT.
My biggest tip is to keep an eye on the Microsoft Learning Blog to see if there are any special deals available. There are usually ‘package deals’ for study materials, or free retake offers.
I’ve also sat many exams in beta – they used to be free, but now they’re 80% off. Since there aren’t study materials available and usually a wait of around eight weeks for the result I wouldn’t recommend it for new test takers though.
What Microsoft certification for good pay with Correction Officer with some Active Directory and PC building experience?
If you have some PC building and Active Directory experience, and you would like to use Microsoft certification to enhance your career, then I would recommend you start by looking into the MCSA: Windows Server and MCSE: Core Infrastructure certifications. These will keep you more on the on-premises side of things. If you’re looking to go straight to the cloud, then I’d recommend looking at the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals and then the AZ-103 Azure Administrator certification exams.
Thanks for the question!
I’ve been in IT for 20’ish years as a LAMP stack developer, UNIX SA, middleware engineer and most recently a load balancing SME (F5 & Netscaler). Just had the opportunity to take the fundamentals course and everything clicked. Would you suggest further certification before trying to pursue a career change into Azure administration? Or are employers willing to take on less certified candidates with broad IT experience?
If you can get hired with your current expertise, then go for it. If you’re looking to work in an Azure Administration role, then I would certainly recommend working towards the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator (exam AZ-104) certification. This will help you land that Azure focused job by gaining the expertise they will be looking for, and it should help with the interview process to set you apart from other candidates that don’t know Azure quite as well as you.
Nice summary of the costs, thanks Chris. The one thing I would add is that in addition to virtual training helping to lower the costs. there are numerous programs in place that can provide students with highly subsidized or even free training from a MSFT Managed Learning Partner like us, Directions Training. In fact, at this time, we are seeing more opportunities than ever to leverage programs like those to get clients upskilled on Azure for drastically reduced cost or free. We’ve also added Exam Cram sessions for each certification that all our students can sign up for at no cost, to help ensure they are best prepared to sit each specific exam. Hope this info helps folks seek out the training they need.
I become an accidental DBA about 6 years ago, overtime I have been learning on my own fundamentals of using MS SQL Server 2008,2008R2 and 2014 versions and I am very confident in this role. I would like to take a Microsoft Certification with a focus on the role of a Database Administrator. Recently, I read an article that some certifications were being retired soon. Would you be kind enough to assist me in identifying the right path for a Database Administrator Certification? Thank you in advanced.
The Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate certification is probably the one that you’ll want to look at.
which exam is preferred for a candidate who has CCNA certification
If you are Infrastructure focused, then the AZ-104 Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator is going to be the certification you’ll want to look into. It’s heavy on IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and will be exactly in your area of expertise with the networking background.