Is the MS-100 Worth It?
| certifications | microsoft - Josh Burnett

Is the MS-100 Worth It?

Microsoft 365 is a workhorse in the business world, comprising such essential programs as Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Windows as a Service (WaaS). Administrators are needed to keep these programs running smoothly, and administrator experts are required to oversee multiple programs and coordinate across a large swathe of business services.

A handful of Associate-level certifications are available that correspond to critical features of the Microsoft 365 services. These certs include:

Earning at least one of these Associate certs is a prerequisite for the pinnacle of this pathway: Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

What is the MS-100?

The MS-100 is one of two exams a candidate needs to pass to earn the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification. Its full title is "MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured," and is coupled with the second test: "MS-101: Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security."

Passing the MS-100 exam indicates that a candidate has "a working knowledge of Microsoft 365 workloads" and "networking, server administration, and IT fundamentals such as DNS, Active Directory, and PowerShell."

In addition to this knowledge base, earning the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification demonstrates that you can hold your own in "evaluating, planning, migrating, deploying, and managing Microsoft 365 services." Employers will know that you've mastered various Microsoft 365 tenant management tasks at an enterprise level, which include "identities, security, compliance, and supporting technologies."

What Does the MS-100 Exam Test?

The MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam evaluates your capabilities across four domains with the following weighting:

  • Design and Implement Microsoft 365 Services: 25 – 30%
  • Manage User Identity and Roles: 25 – 30%
  • Manage Access and Authentication: 15 – 20%
  • Plan Office 365 Workloads and Applications: 25 – 30%

It's important to note that this material changed as of February 24th, 2021. Some of the notable adjustments include a decreased emphasis on Managing User Identity and Roles as well as Managing Access and Authentication. Simultaneously, the exam makeup doubled the significance of Planning Office 365 Workloads and Applications.

Each of the four domains has a subset of major task areas that will likely comprise a substantial portion of your regular workload as a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert. How these have changed since the previous version of the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam indicates the evolution of Microsoft 365 and how it's being used in the business world.

In the first domain, Design and Implement Microsoft 365 Services, the overall weighting remained the same from one exam version to the next. However, the major task areas changed. The previous version emphasized lower-level responsibilities, focusing primarily on managing established features. As you can see below, Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Experts now take a higher-level view with responsibilities that include:

  • Plan architecture
  • Deploy Microsoft 365 tenant
  • Configure Microsoft 365 tenancy and subscription
  • Manage Microsoft 365 subscription and tenant health
  • Plan migration of users and data

The new exam version decreased the emphasis of the second domain, Manage User Identity and Roles, from 35 – 40 percent to 25 – 30 percent. Despite this decrease, Managing User Identity and Roles still comprises a substantial portion of the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam. It's interesting to note that the major task areas comprising this domain did not change, reflecting the core nature of Managing User Identity and Roles to a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

  • Design identity strategy
  • Plan identity synchronization by using Azure AD Connect
  • Manage identity synchronization by using Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)
  • Manage Azure AD identities
  • Manage roles

The third domain of the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam, Manage Access and Authentication, also decreased. However, the adjustment was slight, dropping from 20 – 25 percent to 15 to 20 percent. This stability was mirrored in the major task area makeup. Two remained the same from one exam version to the other (managing authentication and configuring application access). The others (implementing Multi-Factor Authentication and implementing access for external users of Microsoft 365 workloads) were combined into a single task area.

  • Manage authentication
  • Plan and implement secure access
  • Configure application access

The most significant change, by far, occurred in the fourth domain: Plan Office 365 Workloads and Applications. The previous version of the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam only had two major task areas that comprised 10 – 15 percent of the exam load. The new version has five areas that comprise 25 – 30 percent of the exam makeup.

  • Plan Microsoft 365 Apps deployment
  • Plan for messaging deployments
  • Plan for Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business
  • Plan for Microsoft Teams infrastructure
  • Plan Microsoft Power Platform integration

These changes reflect the post-COVID emphasis on Microsoft 365 as a central, comprehensive business solution that is more than merely an auxiliary capability.

How Much Does the MS-100 Cost?

A voucher for the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam costs $165. When combined with the MS-101: Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security exam, earning this certification will cost $330 in exam fees.

Since obtaining an Associate-level certification is a prerequisite for the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification, you'll need to factor in exam fees at that level. The Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification requires passing two exams, while each of the other four Associate certifications only have one each. Those vouchers cost $165 apiece as well, making your all-in cost for the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification $495 to $660, depending on whether you take three or four exams total.

What Experience Do You Need for the MS-100?

Beyond earning one of the Associate-level exams in the Microsoft 365 pathway, there are no formal prerequisites to sit for the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam. However, the Windows developer highly recommends that you spend at least a year in an administrative role in at least one of Microsoft 365 programs before signing up to take the test.

As you delve into the domains and major task areas that comprise the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam, you'll notice that very few of them are unique to any particular platform. Rather, they focus on the core aspect of Microsoft 365, so being an experienced administrator in one service area is generally sufficient to give you the context necessary to pass the MS-100 exam.

Who Should Take the MS-100?

Microsoft 365 forms such a substantial core for many business applications that virtually any IT professional would benefit from earning at least one of the Associate certifications. As Microsoft continues to expand its offerings in an increasingly virtual working world, there's no doubt that 365 will take on increased emphasis, adding even more value to the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification.

MS-100 for Microsoft 365 Administrators

It isn't uncommon for Microsoft 365 Administrator to be more of an assigned role than a dedicated position. In other words, you may have any of a number of job titles, but your supervisor adds to that by asking you to act as an administrator for your office’s Microsoft 365 applications. You don’t need a certification to fulfill this role effectively, but there are two reasons you should consider using this opportunity to pursue a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification.

First, it validates your experience. It's one thing to move into another position and say that you acted as a Microsoft 365 administrator; it's quite another to show that you've mastered the Microsoft certification pathway for this role. Second, rather than learning just the bare bones necessary to complete your in-house tasks, becoming the go-to Microsoft 365 guy can only help your career by opening doors as you demonstrate your expertise.

MS-100 for Systems Administrators

Not all systems administrators will interact with Microsoft 365 in their careers, but many will. Preparing for the likely eventuality of working within the Microsoft 365 world is a wise career move, and sysadmins are uniquely positioned to benefit from becoming a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

MS-100 for Network Administrators

Regardless of whether your network is based in the cloud, an on-prem data center, or utilizes a hybrid model, the likelihood of encountering Microsoft 365 in your career is high. Since the cost of earning the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification is so low, and it aligns with what you can expect from your career, it would behoove you to pursue this certification.

Is the MS-100 Worth It?

Generally speaking, yes. If you're sufficiently far enough along in your career where there's no realistic chance that you'll be assigned a Microsoft 365 administrator role, it might not be worth it. However, for anyone else in IT, the chances of a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification being worth it are high.

Using the MS-100 to Learn Skills

You'll likely only have experience as a Microsoft 365 admin in one of the main programs. Studying for the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam will expose you to the other programs, allowing you to see both similarities and differences. You'll very likely learn new skills as you prepare to become a Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

Using the MS-100 to Validate Skills

The MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity and Services – Skills Measured exam is designed to validate a high level of skills for expert administrators. Simply looking at the exam domains and major task areas demonstrates that anyone who earns the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert cert has a broad range of capabilities.

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