Certifications / Microsoft

How to Kickstart Your Career with the AZ-900

by Team Nuggets
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Published on March 24, 2022

For anyone looking to begin a career in the IT industry, knowing where to start, how to gain experience, or what certifications to work towards can be a daunting task. There is certainly no shortage of options and career paths to consider, as any amount of research into IT-related career fields will reveal. However, the Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 exam is an easily attainable Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification that will start anyone with little to no experience on the path to a career in the fastest-growing segment in IT: cloud-based services.

Cloud-based services are a competitive and rapidly growing sector within the industry that continually expands into different business markets. Customers have a few recognizable choices for providers, with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Microsoft Azure being the dominant companies.

Pursuing cloud-based certifications is a smart way to gain industry knowledge and open additional job opportunities. For those looking to change their career course, especially coming from a non-IT field, the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification, by taking the AZ-900 exam, is an excellent option to consider.

RELATED: Preparing for the AZ-900? Here’s How Long You’ll Need to Study

Why Choose the Microsoft Azure Platform

Microsoft Azure is the fastest-growing cloud-based service provider in the market and distinguishes itself from other major cloud competitors in the space in several ways. Microsoft Azure has invested greatly in providing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), as compared to platform-as-a-service (PaaS) or software-as-a-service (SaaS) – although these choices are also available with Microsoft Azure.

While all three types provide standard services such as servers, operating systems, and storage, IaaS offers more flexibility and customization to customers. IaaS on the Microsoft Azure platform offers its cloud servers through virtualization and allows for greater control, flexibility, and scalability to customers.

Key features of Microsoft Azure:

  • Affordability - pricing plans offer flexibility to all customers, allowing for the ability to only pay for what is used.

  • Disaster Recovery – offers one of the best in the industry for data backup and recovery.

  • Flexibility - allows customers to schedule backup frequency and is compatible across many programming languages and operating systems.

  • Seamless Integration - Microsoft products, such as Microsoft 365 and Active Directory, allow for centralized management and global distribution.

A notable aspect of Microsoft Azure is the ability to integrate with the Linux operating system. Because Microsoft Azure is predominantly an IaaS, it is easier for customers to configure and operate on the platform. Storage choices (small or large scale), a scalable data warehouse, and several different SQL options support various customers and their business requirements.

Who Should Consider the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification?

One of the strongest aspects of the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification (also known as the AZ-900, although technically this is the exam) is that part of the certification provides foundational knowledge of cloud-based services that are not Microsoft-specific. The AZ-900 course, and exam, was designed from an introductory approach to support the growing number of working professionals entering the IT field. This certification fills an industry need and lowers the barrier for entry to the non-technical professionals switching to a career in IT.

The broad approach allows non-IT professionals an achievable pathway to certification and prepares them for a career in the cloud. The focus on basic principles, including cloud concepts and security, allows anyone from a non-IT background to achieve this certification with little prior experience.

The other half of the certification exam does focus on Microsoft Azure; however, the benefit is that passing the AZ-900 exam and completing the certification does not necessarily limit you to a Microsoft-only career path. Anyone interested in getting a cloud-based certification applicable across the industry should pursue the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification.

Since the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification is foundational by design, it is ideal for those new to cloud-based computing and services. Anyone who decides to study for and take the AZ-900 exam will gain a foundational level of knowledge that Microsoft divides into six different learning paths if taken from the Azure Fundamentals website.

  1. Core Azure Concepts – three modules that cover cloud concepts, cloud computing benefits, and Azure architecture

  2. Core Azure Services – four modules that explore the services available to customers, virtualization services, and the different storage services

  3. Core Azure Tools – six modules that delve into Azure Artificial Intelligence, cloud monitoring, and Azure Internet of Things

  4. Security – two modules that focus on general security and network security

  5. Identity and Governance – three modules that examine cloud applications, mobile applications, remote device connection, and the shift from firewalls to identity

  6. Cost – two modules that detail factors that impact overall costs, service level agreements (SLAs), and IT expenses

What Should I Expect When Preparing for or Taking the Exam?

The course runs somewhere around 10 hours, not a significant time commitment for an investment in a cloud computing career, and there are many options available depending on an individual's learning and studying preferences. Some of these options are either free or paid courses.

Many of the free courses offer excellent study options without a significant financial commitment. While the exam is $99 and proctored (Microsoft currently offers three choices: Pearson, Certiport, and USD15), there are few limitations on studying for the exam.

There is a free online course on the Microsoft Azure fundamentals site, or there is the option to pay for an instructor-led course. The free option allows anyone interested in studying for the exam the ability to start immediately. The paid choices consist of two options.

The first is a 1-day course that provides foundational knowledge on Azure concepts. The second option is a two-day course that provides the same information as the 1-day, but also offers a hands-on lab for students on the second day. Currently, both options appear to be virtual-only. However, there is a location-based search option for both courses.

There is also a study option right here on CBT Nuggets. Packed with 11 Skills, 66 Videos, 10 hours of training and one practice exam – it's our belief that training courses for IT certifications should be straightforward and give students all of the necessary information needed to prepare for this exam. Give our courses a look if you're interested in getting prepared to take the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification exam.

What's Next after the Microsoft Fundamentals Certification?

Achieving the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification is a significant accomplishment, especially for anyone entering the IT world for the first time. Newly certified IT professionals may ask what's next after the AZ-900 exam. Continuing along the Microsoft Azure Certification path, branching off to another certification with a different cloud-based service provider, or both for the genuinely enterprising, are all viable options.

Many long-time professionals in the IT world suggest that the AZ-900 is not enough to secure a job on its own. This perception is not necessarily accurate for everyone. However, because the certification is foundational, a job applicant may need to supplement the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification with additional certifications and relevant job experience.

Gaining experience can take some time, and in truth, this topic should have its own article. However, finding an open-source cloud-based service or platform and getting involved with a project is an excellent avenue to explore for relevant industry experience.

Moving Forward

There has never been a better time to jump into the rapidly growing cloud-based services career, especially for those with little to no IT-related experience or certifications. Pursuing the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification and passing the AZ-900 exam provides the foundational gateway into the world of the cloud, Microsoft Azure, and additional certification opportunities.

Be sure to check out all of the Azure resources we've made available to our community. With over 32 courses, 193 skills, 1,688 videos, 189 hours of training 2 virtual labs, and 7 practice exams, we are confident you'll have access to all of the needed training resources to kick-start your Azure career!


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