Training / Certification Paths

8 Microsoft Beta, New Exams: What to Expect

by John Himes
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Published on March 17, 2020

Don't be fooled by the beta label. Microsoft offers five beta role-based certifications (and three recently released out of beta) that provide skills that line up to some of the most in-demand IT jobs.

Since Microsoft began rolling out role-based certification exams two years ago, there has been a shift from product knowledge to a skills-based approach focused on specific job roles. This bridged the knowledge gap between the previous generation of certifications and the knowledge required to perform specific job tasks.

Most of these exams cost $165 USD, the average cost for all associate- and expert-level Microsoft exams. Because certifications are a great way to elevate your IT career, this cost is well worth it for those who wish to pursue these specific job titles. Here are eight beta exams that Microsoft offers.

Current Beta Exams

Currently, Microsoft offers five role-based certification beta exams that are standalone tests that serve the needs of somewhat esoteric IT job roles. One notable exception from this list is the AZ-204 exam. That's a big one because it replaces AZ-203, so we dedicated an entire blog post to the AZ-204 beta (and subsequent retirement of AZ-203).

AZ-220: Microsoft Azure IoT Developer

With an AZ-220 certification, Azure IoT developers validate their ability to code and implement both the cloud and edge sides of IoT solutions. Besides coding on this cloud-edge continuum, IoT developers set up physical devices and are responsible for maintenance throughout their life cycles.

This exam is required to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure IoT Developer Specialty certification. It tests a candidate's ability to implement the Azure services involved in IoT solutions, including data storage, data analysis, data processing, and troubleshooting. Languages including C#, Node, C, or Python are required for specific IoT coding tasks.

As more and more businesses realize the benefits of automation via IoT devices, there's an increased reliance on professionals with know-how in this area. Becoming an IoT developer is a potentially lucrative career move.

MB-500: Microsoft Dynamics 365: Finance and Operations Apps Developer

The first of several certifications specifically tailored to Dynamics 365, Microsoft's productivity suite, the MB-500 focuses in on finance and operations applications. These developers are responsible for developing business logic with X++, creating and modifying finance and operations reports, creating technical designs and implementation details, and more.

This exam is required to earn the Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365: Finance and Operations Apps Developer Associate certification. Candidates will need experience with products including Azure DevOps, LCS tools, Visual Studio, or SQL Server Management Studio. They must develop and test code, implement reporting, integrate and manage data solutions, and implement security while optimizing performance.

Developers who work on finance and operations apps within Dynamics 365 will always provide value to businesses. Finance and operations will continue to be key components of the business landscape, so this certificate is a great option for those looking for job security.

MB-600: Microsoft Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Solution Architect

MB-600 combines Dynamics 365 with Microsoft Power Apps to lead successful implementations. Organizations can then use these solutions to address both their broader business and technical needs.

This certification is essential for Microsoft Certified: Power Apps + Dynamics 365 Solution Architect Expert. Candidates who attempt this exam need experience and knowledge of a breath of Power Platform model-driven apps in Dynamics 365, such as Dynamics 365 Customer Service, Dynamics 365 Sales, and Dynamics 365 marketing. It's crucial to understand how to facilitate design across development, configuration, integration, infrastructure, storage, security, change management, and availability.

Solution architects balance a project's business needs with technical functionality. This makes this role an interesting cross-section between two sides of an organization — and enables one to act as a bridge between them.

MB-700: Microsoft Dynamics 365: Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect

On the other side of finance and operations apps is the solution architect role. MB-700 prepares IT professionals for the job of becoming trusted advisors who consult with businesses and teams to refine business needs into cost-effective and well-defined solutions.

Passing this exam means you'll also earn the Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365: Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect Expert certification. Solutions architects require a diverse set of skills that spans business and technical products. Because they are ultimately responsible for the integrity and delivery of the solution's delivery, they need broad knowledge of functional and technical expertise.

Solutions architects for finance and operations apps serve a crucial role across a variety of industries. Organizations of all sizes rely on them to identify solution requirements, design solution components, and define solution testing and management strategies.

MB-901: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Fundamentals

This exam is more of an entry-level exam than many of the others on this list, and it's priced accordingly at $99 instead of $165. MB-901 demonstrates an administrator's competence with Dynamics 365 and cloud services in general. This makes it a great place to start before moving on to more specialized roles.

Being the one exam required for Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals certification, MB-901 goes over cloud security, the role-based security model in Dynamics 365, as well as the model-driven and finance and operations apps. Candidates are expected to have general knowledge and relevant experience in IT environments. The job role corresponding to this exam is functional consultant.

For professionals who want to go down the track of specialization within the Dynamics 365 domain, the fundamentals exam is the best place to begin the journey. It is the first step in moving from a general IT position towards specific roles in the Dynamics 365 ecosystem.

New Certifications, Now Out of Beta

In addition to the five beta exams, Microsoft also recently pulled three exams out of beta. Other vendors send a beta out into the world and then retire the exam. Microsoft almost immediately releases the exam post-beta.

That means he tests on the list above won't retire at the end of their trial phase. Instead, they'll enter the Microsoft certification catalog with the same exam number, like the ones below.

AZ-120: Planning and Administering Microsoft Azure for SAP Workloads

The AZ-120 certification is for architects and engineers who are knowledgeable in SAP solutions and workloads. SAP, or Systems Applications and Products in Data Processes, is a type of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that enterprises use to organize operations at scale.

Required for the Microsoft Certified: Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty certification to fulfill the Administrator or Solutions Architect roles, this exam tests a professional's knowledge of SAP Applications, SAP HANA, S/4HANA, SAP NetWeaver, SAP BW, OS Servers for Sap Applications and Databases, Azure Portal, and more. Candidates for this exam are recommended to have an Azure Administrator or Azure Architect certification, as well as SAP HANA and Linux certifications.

Essentially, this exam certifies an administrator's ability to effectively design, build, deploy, and manage SAP workloads on Azure cloud infrastructure. As more organizations around the globe rely on cloud solutions like Azure for their everyday operations, we expect demand to grow for certified professionals.

MS-600: Building Applications and Solutions with Microsoft 365 Core Services

MS-600 is for developers who design, build, test, and maintain applications and solutions for Microsoft 365. A prerequisite for the Microsoft 365 Certified: Developer Associate certification, developers who take this exam can expect to develop solutions for a bevy of use-cases within Microsoft Teams, Office Add-ins, and SharePoint Framework.

To this end, those who wish to pursue it need a general understanding of JSON, OpenID Connect, Rest APIs, Azure AD B2C, OAuth2, OData, Microsoft identities, and permission/consent concepts. The exam also requires proficiency in Microsoft identity and Microsoft Graph.

Because Microsoft 365 is one of the most popular productivity application suites on the market, cultivating the skills needed for customized integration at an enterprise level is as safe a bet as you can make. Such developers work with organizations in many sectors to achieve concrete business goals.

PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

The final Microsoft beta exam on our list is PL-900, another fundamentals exam. Ideal for those who want to improve productivity through automation, data analysis, and effective app deployment, it provides a foundation in Power Platform that are useful in a variety of organizational contexts. It is the second exam on the list to cost $99 USD.

Power Platform includes three components. Power BI is a business intelligence tool that helps decision-makers visualize data for powerful insights. PowerApps is a tool for easy business application development and deployment. Finally, Flow helps connect various applications for seamless business operations. Candidates will need to demonstrate the business value of these three components and understand their functionality.

Required for the Microsoft Certified Power Platform Fundamentals certification, this exam sets one down the path of becoming a business user or functional consultant. As such, this test takes a business-forward approach that focuses on using technology to provide tangible value.

The Bottom Line

These eight beta tests are a perfect example of how companies can use certifications to fill specific roles within their organization. If a company needs an expert in IoT, Dynamics 365, or Power Platform, then they can hire with confidence knowing that a candidate has the requisite certification.

These role-based certifications help candidates demonstrate a commitment to a specific area of expertise — and stand out from the rest of the field. As the IT job market becomes increasingly specialized, these beta certifications will help propel IT professionals to more lucrative positions.


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