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I’m happy to announce that we’re reimagining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.
In today’s digital world, the cloud has changed everything about how we work, including how applications are designed, implemented, and secured. This change is definitely for the better, but it brings new challenges to organizations. Deployments must be automated and predictable, architecture has to handle spikes in traffic, applications have to be resilient when failures occur, data must be secure and not vulnerable to malicious actors—and these are just some of the challenges.
The Azure solutions architect is key to all of this and more, and the updated certification better aligns to the skills of real-world solutions architects and the tasks they perform.
What you need to know about the coming update
A successful Azure solutions architect has multifaceted skills and experience, including the ability to both implement and design for the cloud—from start to finish. The updated certification delineates and supports both of these capabilities and validates what’s required for each. Additionally, given the expert level of the certification and the critical demands of the role, it’s important to have the foundation of an associate certification, as is required for our other expert certifications.
We’ll release the beta version of the new Exam AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions on November 16, 2021. It will be required to earn the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. The new exam is focused on the skills required to design cloud and hybrid solutions that run on Azure, including compute, network, storage, monitoring, and security. The exam also includes key skills related to design best practices and patterns, like the ones included in the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework. For a deeper look at the skills measured by the new exam, explore the Exam AZ-305 skills outline.
Candidates for this certification will also be required to earn the Azure Administrator Associate certification, which proves subject matter expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring Azure solutions. By pairing the Azure Administrator Associate certification with the new exam, we’re not only helping to ensure that solutions architects have the skills to implement and design end-to-end infrastructure solutions on Azure, but also we’re streamlining the journey from administrator to architect.
With the introduction of Exam AZ-305, we’re also announcing the retirement of Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design, effective March 31, 2022.
Your paths to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification
Whether you’re well along on your certification journey or you’re just starting out, to become a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, choose one of the following options:
- Earn or have a current Azure Administrator Associate certification and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
- Pass Exam AZ-303 before it retires and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
- Pass both Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 before they retire.
How to prepare for the upcoming beta exam
Even though the new exam won’t be released until November 2021, you can start preparing for it now:
- Review the Exam AZ-305 (beta) page for details. The Exam AZ-305 skills outline details the key topics covered on the exam.
- Gear up with the AZ-305 Study Guide created by Microsoft Cloud Advocate @thomasmaurer.
- Refresh your architecture design skills with the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework learning path.
Have questions? We’ve got answers
I’m preparing for Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304. What should I do?
If you’ve been preparing for Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304 and you feel ready to take them, you still have time to do it before they retire on March 31, 2022.
If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-303, you can complete your journey by passing the new Exam AZ-305 after it’s available or by passing Exam AZ-304 before it retires on March 31, 2022.
If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-304, be sure to complete your journey by passing Exam AZ-303 before it retires on March 31, 2022.
If you’re just beginning your preparation for either Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304, consider earning your Azure Administrator Associate certification and taking the new AZ-305 exam instead.
How can I prepare for the Azure Administrator Associate certification?
We have plenty of resources to help you prepare for this certification, including content on Microsoft Learn, instructor-led training with Microsoft Learning Partners, and Microsoft Official Practice Tests. Check out the blog post Level up with Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate for more information.
I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification. What should I do?
The great news is that you’re already halfway to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. Your next step is to pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
I’ve already earned an Azure Administrator Associate certification, and it’s expiring soon. What’s the best way to keep it up to date?
Be sure to renew your current certification by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. The renewal assessment can be completed online on your own time, anytime within six months before your certification expires. Is your certification expiring soon? Renew it for free today!
Can I renew my current Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification by passing Exam AZ-305 (beta) before my certification expires?
No. To renew your certification, you need to pass the renewal assessment before your certification expires.
I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification, but I don’t have an Azure Administrator Associate certification. Will I lose my certification?
No. The prerequisite will be for candidates who take Exam AZ-305 after it’s available. Currently, Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 prove the skills for implementation and design, so you don’t need to earn the Azure Solutions Administrator Associate certification.
Why is Microsoft making this change now?
We regularly review our portfolio to ensure that our certifications remain technically relevant. Certifications can open career opportunities, so we’re committed to keeping them current for you. To understand our process, check out Updating Microsoft Certifications: How we keep them relevant.
How can I get more involved in the certification and exam creation process?
During our portfolio review, we listen carefully to feedback on the skills that need to be measured for specific roles—like we did for the Azure Solutions Architect Expert. If you want to share your voice and insight, read Help Us Create Exams and Learning Content! Join Our SME Database Today!
On November 16, 2021, watch for our blog post announcing the beta version of Exam AZ-305, and start preparing now with the skills outlines and the content on Microsoft Learn. Your Microsoft Certification can help validate that you have the skills to stay ahead with today’s technology—for your career, your team, and your organization. It’s time to spotlight your architecture design and implementation skills and strengths with the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.