Passing the Azure Administrator Certification: How I prepared and other useful tips
5 min read
Table of contents
- Brief intro about me
- What is the Azure Administrator Certification
- What is covered in the exam
- Related certifications
- How to prepare:
Brief intro about me
I am a software developer mostly focused on backend development. I’m part of the cloud team at work where we majorly use Microsoft Azure. I love software architectures and their implementations in cloud environments such as Azure. I have also done the Azure Fundamentals exam before doing the AZ 104 exam.
What is the Azure Administrator Certification
The Azure Administrator Associate also known by its exam code AZ 104 certification is an associate-level certification offered by Microsoft. It’s targeted to IT professionals working with the Microsoft Azure environment in their environments or transitioning to Azure. It’s also recommended as a good entry point to Azure for software architects, developers or anyone with an interest in Azure and who wants a deeper understanding of the platform.
From the exam page in Microsoft Learn, they state that “Candidates for the Azure Administrator Associate certification should have subject matter expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring an organization’s Microsoft Azure environment, including virtual networks, storage, compute, identity, security, and governance.”
What is covered in the exam
There are 5 main focus areas in the certification, which include:
Manage Azure identities and governance (15–20%)
Implement and manage storage (15–20%)
Deploy and manage Azure compute resources (20–25%)
Configure and manage virtual networking (25–30%)
Monitor and maintain Azure resources (10–15%)
The percentages indicate the frequency of questions from a given module that will be in the exam. As you can see, there’s a lot of emphasis on the networking module which you should be well prepared for. That made me sweat the most.
Other equivalent certifications to the Azure Administrator cert include the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate (AWS) and GCP Associate Cloud Engineer (Google).
How to prepare:
Use Microsoft Learn Documentation
This is what I will emphasize most because it's where the Microsoft team will put the most up-to-date info and updates regarding the exam. I know using the word documentation will put off a few people who prefer video content, but bear with me, you can’t go wrong on this one.
There’s a lot of valuable content that is very relevant to the exam, such as curated learning modules for each exam focus area e.g., Compute and Networking. There are also knowledge checks at the end of each topic in a module which is great to gauge yourself. They also have an element of gamification by using points and badges to help you track your progress which I liked.
Follow the modules in the Microsoft Learn
I feel like I’ve already touched on this but just to add, the modules also have simulated labs and practice sandboxes which are useful to complement the learning. I did not do all but in topics that did not click the first time, the labs and sandbox environments came in handy.
Go through the exam prep videos
I also watched the AZ 104 Exam prep videos in Learn and I would recommend this before sitting for the exam. They highlight some of the important topics and subject areas you should focus on and should have a good understanding of for the exam.
Go through the sample questions
For practice, they also have a sample question and answer section for the type of questions you should expect. I didn’t know how the case study question would be phrased or asked and this surely helped me. It’s also good to use it to gauge yourself.
I also used some courses to complement Microsoft Learn, which I would also recommend. I used the freeCodeCamp’s Azure Administrator course on YouTube by Andrew Brown of ExamPro, which is quite long but worth the time.
I also used the Azure Administrator course on YouTube by Susanth Sutheesh of A Guide to Cloud, which was also very specific to the exam.
Practice practice practice
As the old cliche saying goes, practice makes perfect and it’s no different here. I would recommend doing the labs while doing the courses I highlighted above or the ones you choose to take and also the ones on the Microsoft Learn website.
While learning something new in development, I always prefer coding along during the course or tutorial, which is very effective, and I recommend doing the same here.
Do AZ 104 labs provided by Microsoft
Microsoft has curated AZ 104 labs for all the modules coved in the AZ 104 exam and they are a great addition to use to practice. They will come in handy during the exam in the scenario-based questions where you’re asked how to perform a given task in the correct order, or which task you perform first from a set of options.
Use practice exam questions
Practising for the exam using an actual practice exam has been one of my most effective approaches. There are several sites offering practice exam questions and answers and the one I used was Whizzlabs, where I only used the free test for this exam.
If possible, study with someone
This is probably the hardest tip to do from what I’ve shared so far, but if possible, discussing and doing the study with someone can be very helpful. I did not prepare with someone, but I had people I would consult and help me out along the way, though I believe it would have helped if there was someone I would study along with.
What’s next from here
As far as certifications are concerned, my focus now shifts to the Azure Developer Associate certification. I’ve been meaning to do it, but I thought it was wise to do the Azure Administrator cert first, to get the whole broad view of Azure before specializing in the developer route.
If you’re preparing for the AZ 104 certification or a similar one, all the best, I hope this guide was helpful.