Is the MS-600 Worth It?
Microsoft 365 is a large set of online services available via subscription service. Many people have heard of Office 365 or O365 for the productivity suite, but Microsoft 365 is a superset of that productivity subscription that includes a bit more. This includes Teams, SharePoint, Office, OneNote and OneDrive to name a few. Those are the popular ones. Microsoft Project, Intune, Publisher are some of the others.
In its earlier days, Microsoft was not as open with its API as it is today. In some cases, the APIs seemed like afterthoughts or for internal use only. The past 10-15 years, as Microsoft wanted to be more open and allow more interoperability, they invested greatly in opening APIs up and polishing them. They spent a great deal on training and certification on them as well. Microsoft then realized there was a huge benefit to driving users with a rich ecosystem and marketplace for allowing 3rd parties to extend functionality and augment their core tools.
What is the MS-600?
The official title for this exam is MS-600: Building Applications and Solutions with Microsoft 365 Core Services. Passing this exam grants you the certification, Microsoft 365 Certified: Developer Associate. This exam and learning path covers an introductory exposure to writing applications related to the Microsoft 365 stack as mentioned above.
From the objectives below you can see much of it is related to extending existing Microsoft 365 applications. In order to access those applications, Identity management is a huge part of that and why that objective is first.
What Does the MS-600 Test?
When it comes to the MS-600, the exam is broken down into the following objectives:
Implement Microsoft Identity (20-25%)
Build Apps with Microsoft Graph (15-20%)
Extend and Customize SharePoint (15-20%)
Extend Microsoft Teams (20-25%)
Extend Office (15-20%)
How Much Does the MS-600 Exam Cost?
The MS-600 exam costs $165. The certification only requires a passing score consisting of 700 out of 1000 on this singular exam to receive it. At this time there are some COVID-19 concessions or discounts available so please check that pricing as it could be reduced to as little as $15 USD.
What Experience Do You Need for the MS-600?
Microsoft recommends 1-2 years of developer experience. This is because a wide variety of developer tools and technologies will be used. REST along with JSON is fairly commonly used and MS-600 expects some knowledge of this. Authentication and identity management is another big one using the various authentication and authorization mechanisms that Microsoft 365 implements.
Product knowledge of the Microsoft 365 stack is extremely helpful, particularly on Teams and Office as those particular tools are covered in this exam. This is one of those certifications that touches on a broad range of technologies. It can be difficult to digest the many working parts at one time if you don't have a foundation or exposure to any of them. This is because you can find yourself learning REST and then bouncing over to product knowledge of Teams and then dealing with the identity management of a session in Teams.
Who Should Take the MS-600?
This is a fairly focused exam on a specific niche. Any developer interested in writing Microsoft 365 applications would be a great candidate for this test and subsequent certification. Having the above experience is extremely helpful but studying for this exam can help increase knowledge of those technologies. It would just be very slow going if there has not been any prior exposure to much of it.
Many times, system administrators or IT pros more on the infrastructure side try to dabble a bit in coding and this type of path is likely not a good fit for someone who just writes some code occasionally on the side as a hobby. There are likely more generic or less specialized avenues for them.
MS-600 for Junior Developer
A junior developer is an entry-level position. They usually don't have an initial area of focus and help the more senior development staff with various aspects of the engineering and development process. It usually takes them a few years to be promoted to a more senior position or become a more specialized developer. This certification can aid in that promotion in an organization that has development needs for Microsoft 365 tools.
It is a great area of focus as there are a wide variety of technologies associated with this stack. Not only does a developer get to learn about the coding aspect but they have to be familiar with the products they integrate with. Sometimes the biggest issue when learning to write code and become a developer is to find fun projects to use to learn. Microsoft 365 products have the possibility to be very useful for people and fun to learn along the way so this can be a rewarding path for a junior developer.
MS-600 for Full Stack Developer
A full stack developer is a developer who deals with all aspects of the development process, including front-end development and back-end development and anywhere in between. While this track may fall somewhere in between, a full stack developer likely has the drive and depth of knowledge in various related technologies to be a quicker learner on this than some of the other types of developers since they're used to working on all aspects of a development project. This study and certification path can expose even a tenured developer to a new path or direction to focus their skills on.
Is the MS-600 Worth It?
At the standard Microsoft associate-level exam cost of $165 it is still considered economical. This is particularly so since it only requires a singular exam to pass. The worth will highly depend on whether someone seeking this certification is currently writing Microsoft 365 applications or seeking to. This is because while only an associate level certification it is highly specialized and requires a bit of related knowledge of the identity system used. If the above concerns are met, it is definitely worth it. This certification is just a bit more specialized and catered to a smaller section of people. It is not for everyone.
Using MS-600 to Learn Skills
One could argue that the MS-600 may be more valuable for those looking to learn skills than those looking to validate them. This test gives you direct exposure to Teams and Office productivity tools from the context of extending their functionality. Not only that but exposure to various identity management technologies and stack that goes along with Microsoft 365. Learning this will greatly solidify your knowledge of JSON and REST as those are a foundation for many of the API calls used.
Using MS-600 to Validate Skills
The statement above about more value being in learning the skills than to validate may have turned you off. Rest assured it was just to make a point into how valuable it could be to learn the skills. If validation was not an important part of the certification process, we wouldn't have tests, would we? With that said, it is definitely a value to validate these skills. This material is fairly focused on the context of Microsoft 365 and when organizations are looking at hiring developers to work on this stack they want to make sure the developers have the necessary skills. This test does a great job at validating those skills at an associate level.
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