Certifications / Microsoft

Is the MD-100 Worth It?

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Published on December 22, 2021

When your check engine light goes on, you bring your car to a mechanic. When you have a weird rash on only two of your toes, you go see a doctor. But when people's computers don't work right or when a network isn't responding, it's not always obvious who you turn to. That problem is especially true for medium or large businesses, where a problem with a device or an enterprise network can affect dozens or hundreds of users. With a little Windows 10 training, you can be the one people turn to.

When it comes to Windows 10 environments, there is a person who can identify and fix common issues and problems with devices and networks: a desktop administrator certified by Microsoft. Administrators with their Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate are valued members of IT teams because they're the front lines for a business and its network. The MD-100 is one of the two necessary exams to earn the MDAA, but is it worth it for your career? Read on to find out more about the MD-100 and decide if it's worth it for you.

What Is the MD-100?

The MD-100 is the first of two necessary exams to earn the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate (MDAA) certification. On the way to earning the MDAA, MD-100 is the Windows 10 portion of the certification, MD-101 is the desktop administration portion. MD-100 tests an administrator's familiarity with deploying Windows and managing its services.

The MD-100 exam is designed to test an administrator's familiarity with deploying, installing and managing Windows, but at a beginner's level. That's because the MDAA is an associate-level certification and focuses on the job responsibilities and knowledge expected of junior administrators or administrators in their first job.

Someone who's passed the MD-100 is comfortable with the tools and interfaces for administering Windows and will understand the broad concepts involved with maintaining a large number of Windows devices. The MD-100 is a perfect exam for brand-new administrators because it targets a narrow and limited set of knowledge but makes sure you're thoroughly comfortable with the tools that make administering a Windows 10 enterprise network possible.

What Does the MD-100 Exam Test?

The MD-100 is a 120-minute exam with around 40-60 questions about deploying, configuring, securing, managing and monitoring devices and apps in an enterprise environment. The MD-100 has four exam objectives:

  • Deploy Windows

  • Manage devices and data

  • Configure storage and connectivity

  • Maintain Windows

MD-100 is only one half of the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification. The MD-101 is the other half, and its objectives are somewhat related: deploy and upgrade operating systems; manage policies and profiles; manage and protect devices; manage apps and data.

How Much Does the MD-100 Exam Cost?

The MD-100 costs $165 to attempt. The MD-100 has no prerequisites, so you can pay $165 and take the test any time. If you're looking to earn the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification, remember there are two exams; each costs $165. So the MD-100 exam might only cost $165, but the total cost for earning the MDAA is $330.

What Experience Do You Need for the MD-100?

The MD-100 is an associate-level certificate meant for administrators who are just starting out in their career, so not much experience is needed before you attempt the MD-100. That doesn't mean the exam is easy, though – only that you won't need to rely on on-the-job experience to pass it.

The MD-100 doesn't depend on job knowledge quite as much as it does "by the book" knowledge. Before starting someone on their career as a desktop administrator, Windows wants to make sure they begin with the right ways (according to Windows) to deploy and manage Windows. In other words, if you've been figuring Windows out on your own for years, you might be at a disadvantage with the MD-100. Especially if you never, for example, actually learned the "right" methods for configuring mobility settings or managing users in Azure Active Directory.

All that said, you should have experience managing and configuring the Windows operating system before attempting the MD-100. But the best experience you could get before attempting the MD-100 is to spend a bit of time with one of the many courses available to help you pass it. An MD-100 course will illuminate what sorts of answers Microsoft is looking for and the knowledge they expect you to have.

Who Should Take the MD-100?

Junior administrators, technicians and help desk analysts should take the MD-100. If your job calls for managing Windows in any way, taking the MD-100 can help you prove your comfort and familiarity. Even non-technical professionals can benefit from learning how to navigate the configuration settings of a Windows environment.

MD-100 for a Systems Administrator

In many workplaces, the difference between a systems administrator and a desktop administrator is a small one. If you work as a systems administrator in a company that relies on Windows devices, the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate is a certificate you'll want to eventually earn, and the MD-100 is definitely worth it for you.

If your job responsibilities include installing or configuring the Windows operating system, the MD-100 is the test that confirms you're qualified to do that and more. If you have to make sure that users are in their right groups and groups are given the right permissions, the MD-100 makes sure you know how to navigate those systems in Windows 10.

MD-100 for a Network Administrator

Some network administrators might see the "desktop administrator" part of the certification title and think it's not worth it for them, but the MDAA is worth it for anyone who maintains Windows devices in an enterprise environment. The MD-100 is good for network administrators who might come to the career from a unique angle.

If you exclusively work with cabling and switches, maybe the MD-100 isn't worth it. But if your job responsibilities include troubleshooting user accounts, security at the device level, configuring network connectivity on end user devices, or managing data access and protection, the MD-100 could be worth it for you.

Is MD-100 Worth It for a Non-technical Professional?

The MD-100 is probably isn't worth it for most non-technical professionals. But depending on your job responsibilities, it could save you a lot of time and effort figuring things out on your own. Even if you don't take the exam itself, studying for the MD-100 is a good way to learn the steps Microsoft recommends for managing Windows.

Do you find yourself needing to manage and configure technical parts of your Windows machine even though it's not your official job? If so, learning the tools, resources and apps that make it possible to configure a device, manage users, or configure networking could make your job a lot easier. The MD-100 is worth it for non-technical professionals who need more comfort than most with their Windows environment.

Is the MD-100 Worth It?

The MD-100 is worth it for most technical professionals starting their careers, as long as that career is related to Windows administration on some level. Even network or security administrators could benefit from understanding what it looks like to configure Windows security and Active Directory on endpoints. For desktop administrators or systems administrators, the MDAA is an essential early certification and the MD-100 is definitely worth it.

Using MD-100 to Learn Skills

Using the MD-100 to learn skills is a good way to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of many different aspects of managing a Windows environment. Since the MD-100 is a challenging exam, if you can get your hands on previous exams or the exam outline from Microsoft, it's like having a roadmap that takes you to each skill an administrator should have.

Preparing to take the MD-100 will walk you through how to analyze your device's readiness for Windows 10 if you're migrating to it. You'll learn how to analyze your directory and network's readiness for Microsoft 365 as you prepare for the MD-100. You can use the MD-100 to learn skills in delivering business apps with Microsoft 365. Or if you ever need to migrate user files and settings while refreshing or replacing PCs, MD-100 courses will teach you that.

If you expect to ever deploy, upgrade or migrate to Windows 10 for your job, you can use MD-100 to learn all the skills an official Microsoft desktop administrator knows.

Using MD-100 to Validate Skills

There's one last reason to study for and pass the MD-100, and that's to prove yourself and your abilities to your employer or manager. The Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate is one of the most popular and common administrator certificates in the IT world. For many employers, it's a necessary prerequisite for many promotions or even to be hired in the first place. If you've worked to earn your skills as an administrator, using the MD-100 to validate your skills can lead to better jobs and pay.


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