Is the DP-201 Worth It?
| certifications | microsoft - Graeme Messina

Is the DP-201 Worth It?

Microsoft Azure certifications are very popular as the Azure platform becomes a critical part of many businesses' cloud infrastructure. Azure integrates with many on-prem solutions. Having Azure skills is important if you are looking to support modern enterprises with Microsoft software infrastructure.

The DP-201 is an important certification for professionals who use Azure services such as Cosmos DB, Azure Data Lake Storage, Azure Data Factory, Azure Stream Analytics, and Azure Blob storage. We delve a little deeper into the nuts and bolts of this cert — and determine if it is a certificate worthy of the time and effort needed to pass the exam. And of course, answer the question that brought you here: Is the DP-201 worth it?

What is the DP-201 Exam?

The DP-201 is the exam that most choose to take after successfully earning their DP-200 (Implementing an Azure Data Solution) certification. Passing the DP-201 exam (Designing an Azure Data Solution) earns successful candidates their partial Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associated certification. The exam itself tests how well you know three core principle domains. These include designing data storage solutions, designing data processing solutions as well as designing for data security and compliance. The exam teaches skills that are useful to people that work as Microsoft Azure data engineers.

What Does the DP-201 Test?

The main area of concentration for this exam is designing an Azure data solution, so all of the objectives are related to that main goal. Below we have listed the main objectives.

  • Design Azure data storage solutions: 40-45%
  • Design data processing solutions: 25-30%
  • Design for data security and compliance: 25-30%

Design Azure data storage solutions. This objective requires that you are able to choose the correct data storage solution given a specific requirement, as well as the partition distribution type. This section wants you to know about non-relational cloud data solutions — and how  they relate to both relational and non-relational design considerations for cloud data stores. You'll need to understand scale, distribution, Cosmos DB API choices, disaster recovery considerations, and high availability.

Design data processing solutions. This objective tests your understanding of how batch processing solutions are designed. Sub objectives include designing batch processing solutions using Data Factory and Azure Databricks. You will have to be able to identify what the optimal data ingestion methods are for particular batch processing solutions. You should also understand where processing needs to take place, at source, destination or in transit. You need to know how to design real-time processing solutions.

Design for data security and compliance. Security is a big part of data handling. You need to understand secure endpoints and how to choose the right authentication method for each one. You should be familiar with access keys, shared access signatures and Azure AD. You will also need to know data policies and standards like encryption, auditing and data privacy.

The DP-201 exam features anywhere from 40 to 60 questions and has a duration of 210 minutes in total, with 180 minutes dedicated to answering the questions, and 30 minutes available for reviewing questions and answers.

What Experience Do You Need for the DP-201?

Although there are no official prerequisites to write the DP-201 there are a few things that you should understand. Basic experience using Microsoft Azure services is recommended. We have already outlined these, but a brief summary of the experience and knowledge required in order to pass the exam are: Azure data storage solutions, data processing solutions, and data security and compliance.

The DP-201: Designing an Azure Data Solution exam will be much more manageable once you have covered these fundamentals. As far as practical experience goes you should have a basic knowledge of how Azure works, how to navigate it and where to find the items most commonly needed when working with Azure data items.

Who Should Take the DP-201?

We will look at a few scenarios where having a DP-201 cert would be a valuable asset for either landing a data-centric role, or working toward a more senior role with data management requirements.

DP-201 for Future Azure Data Engineers

If you are already working with Azure technologies and you want to become a data engineer with a focus on Azure technologies, then this cert is a no-brainer. As a data engineer you will be responsible for data security, storage and performance. You will have to help create solutions that make data more accessible to the rest of the organization, and work within the parameters of the project. You may also be consulted when the company has new requirements, and your input will help them to define the costs and technical specifications of the solution that they choose.

On a day-to-day basis you can expect to be called when data flow is affected, performance issues crop up, or when storage and recovery queries are raised. Data visibility like dashboards and reports are another area that you can expect to deliver value to businesses with. The website payscale.com shows that sata engineers with Azure skills earn from $60,000 USD to $133,000 USD per year, while the median salary is around $96,000 USD per year.

DP-201 for Azure and Data Admins

You don't necessarily have to be a data engineer in order to find DP-201 certification useful. If you are a data scientist or developer that also manages the data that you query, then you will find the skills that you will learn in this exam very useful. The cert can also help you to progress toward a more senior role like a senior data engineer or data engineering manager, depending on what your preferred career path looks like. Other roles where this cert is found to be useful are Big Data engineer, data architect, and senior data engineer.

Is the DP-201 Worth It?

DP-201 specific to the Azure domain of knowledge, so if you are not in an environment that uses the platform, then you might not find that it is particularly applicable to your day to day work items. If you are in an Azure environment, then it is a completely different story. You will learn a lot of the fundamental principles about how data is secured, securely accessed and preserved in the event of a disaster recovery event.

One of the great things about this cert is that it opens up many different avenues for you to further pursue your certification goals. You could continue to climb the ladder of Azure skills, making you a more well-rounded Azure engineer, or you can continue to follow the data centric side of the cert. Data is massively valuable to an organization. Having the DP-201 is definitely worth it if you want to join a modern organization with data requirements within the Azure platform.

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