Updates to Several Azure and Data & AI Certifications are Coming Soon

Posted 29 Jan 2020 by Liberty Munson (Microsoft)

Microsoft is committed to reviewing the job task analysis (JTA; the process the defines the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are critical success in a job role) that is the basis of each of our role-based certifications every year. This review, along with our bimonthly reviews of the exam content domains and items, ensures that our certifications remain relevant, are technically accurate, and are assessing the right skills.

One of the luxuries we didn’t have during the initial launch of the new program was the ability to see across the certifications within a portfolio to understand how the skills being measured aligned with each other—to see if we were telling a cohesive certification story and providing a streamlined certification journey. Because we didn’t have this holistic view, we had to make some educated guesses about where and how to cover certain skills. While we got some of this right, in some cases, we inadvertently duplicated skills across exams and certifications, and we added unneeded complexity into assessment process than was really necessary.

So, we are taking advantage of now knowing what we didn’t know then to improve our exams and certifications as we revisit and refresh the JTAs. We are taking the time to look at all of the certifications within a portfolio to ensure that not only are we assessing the right skills for a given job role but that we are assessing only what really needs to be assessed for that job role. At the end of this, we will have designed a coherent portfolio of certifications with less duplication of skills and an increased emphasis on what is truly important for that job role.

While this will certainly improve the overall assessment and certification experience, it also means that we are making significant changes to the exams associated with several certifications, especially in Azure and Data & AI. Because of the significant nature of these changes, we will be launching these exams with new exam numbers and as beta exams. By doing this, we are giving you the choice to continue preparing for and taking the exam as it exists today or taking the new exam that aligns to the job role as we see it today. The choice is yours, but the old exam will only remain in market for 90 days after the new exam is launched.

As an incentive to encourage you take the new exam, we are following our beta process, and as a result, you will be able to take it at an 80% discount. Further, when you take this exam, your badge will reflect that you have demonstrated competence on the updated skill set… and, if you already have the certification, passing the new exam will automatically update your expiry date on your certification by two years!

We are currently finalizing the updates related to Azure Administrator, Developer, Architect, and AI Engineer. We will be publishing the updated exams in the next few months, but we will leave the old exam in market for 90 days after the new version becomes available. We are doing this to give you time to transition to the new exam. If you have been preparing for the current version of the exam, you can still take it during this transition period if you want; however, these versions of the exam will retire at the end of that 90 day window—no extensions and no exceptions. Here’s what we know right now:

  • AZ-103 becomes AZ-104 (this update will be published in March)
  • AZ-203 becomes AZ-204 (this update will be published in late February)
  • AZ-300 becomes AZ-303 (this update will be published in April)
  • AZ-301 becomes AZ-304 (this update will be published in April)

UPDATE 2/20/2020: Please note AI-100 has been removed from the list of scheduled updates.

[NOTE that there will be a few more, but these are the only ones that I know of currently.]

We’ll update the exam details pages to let you know when they will be available as soon as we know. In the meantime, stay tuned to this blog for more information as I have it.

Some of your questions answered

Based on previous experiences with exam number changes, I have an idea of some of the questions you’re likely to have… here are the answers to those most commonly asked questions.

Does the name of the certification change?

A. No. The name of the associated certification does not change. Regardless if you earned it with the old or new exam, you have the same certification, but the skills that appear on your badge will reflect those that were part of the exam(s) that you took to earn it.

I’ve been studying for the current version of the exam. What should I do? Continue on this path or start on the new one?

A. Truly, this is up to you. You need to do what makes sense for your certification journey. You will be tested on the new skills as part of our recertification requirements eventually, even if you choose to take the old version now instead of the new version. The key consideration is whether you want to be validated on skills that Microsoft believes are more closely aligned to the job role today or if you want to continue as you have been planning and update your skills through our recertification process and your own ongoing continuous learning journey after you earn the certification with version of the exam in market today. We are providing you with sufficient notice of these changes so you can make the decision that makes the most sense for you.

Will the Microsoft Learn content and instructor led training be updated at the same time?

A. Yes. We are committed to having the Learn content updated within 7 days of the release of the updated exam and the instructor led training will be updated within 30 days. If you are planning to take an instructor led training course, please make sure that they are providing the learning for the version of the exam that you want to take. Some partners will continue to offer the training associated with the old version of the exam as they have planned until the exam retires; some learning partners will provide both versions, and some will transition immediately to the new version. Be sure to confirm with the partner delivering the training, so you get the training you want and are expecting.

Over the past few weeks, we have received additional questions related to this change and have captured the answers here: Updates to Azure certification exams announced in January 2020.