Microsoft Certification Changes 2021 and Beyond

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Published on | Updated on January 25, 2021

5 Min. Read

In this article, I want to share with you the recent announcement made by Microsoft about the new certification changes for 2021 and beyond.

Introduction

In the past, when we want to get a new Microsoft specialty or Role-based certification such as (AZ-104, AZ-303, AZ-304, AZ-500, etc.), there is a long upfront study process that we want to go through to get prepare, register for the exam and pay the fees based on which country you live, and then go and take the exam. Once you pass the exam, you celebrate, and then you are good to go for two years duration.

At the end of those two years, well, you have to do everything again. You do a whole bunch of studying to get prepare. You register, pay the fees again, sit for the exam, pass it, and it’s good for another two years. Then we continue repeating that process again and again.

Please note that the fundamentals certifications such as (AZ-900, MS-900, DP-900, AI-900, etc.) don’t get expire.

Microsoft Certification changes

All the renewing certification process is changing now. So what has been announced is that starting of June 2021, when you do the initial study and pass the exam, it will actually now be good for one year instead of two years for newly earned certifications. However, for renewing existing certifications, please check the next section.

As you know that technology is changing so fast, the idea of having these certifications last for two years doesn’t apply so much with this rapid cloud cadence development. So instead of now, you pass the exam and it’s good for two years. It’s good for one year ONLY. 

So before you start thinking that I have to go and redo this huge amount of studying, and the stress of taking the exam and paying money. That’s actually not the case. When you pass the exam after June 2021 it’s good for a year, but six months after you passed that certification, you will get an email. This email will let you know that your certification is going to expire. You should renew it. So now what we can actually do to renew the certifications, we can go to Microsoft learn. Well, there’s going to be free online learning modules that we can just go through to learn the updates. And then there is an online assessment that we just take in the Microsoft learn again, so this is FREE. The learning modules and the assessment is free as well (more on this in a bit). So when you pass that assessment it will actually extend out your certification for another one year to your current expiry time, not from the time you take the assessment, it is adding one year to your current expiry time. 

And this continues forever, so once again, six months into that, you’ll go for the learning module, you retake the assessment, and it will be good for another year. So essentially, the point is now that it’s a one year cycle, but you only have to take that kind of big exam once. And you just go through these learning modules that they’re going to remind you. You’ll get 4 emails before your certification expires, so it’s around six months, you’ll get a reminder that your cert is going to expire. You can now go and do this assessment to extend it out again, but you’ll get four of these emails before you actually get your certification expired, so plenty of opportunities to go through the learning modules, take the assessment and it’s just going to be this continual one year cycle. Again a kind of six months through each one. You’ll start to get these emails saying, hey, you should go and do these assessments to renew it another year.

What you can actually do is to look at your Microsoft training dashboard as shown in the figure below. You can actually see a list of kinds of your portfolio. All of your assessments, and will show you the achievement date of your certification, and the time it’s going to expire, so you’re going to get approximately six months before it expires.

Microsoft Certification Changes 2021 and Beyond 1 If you let it expire, then you want to go back to the start! You have to go and take the full exam and pay the money again, so the key point here is don’t let it expire.

This one year is not retroactive. If you have taken the exam before June 2021, and it’s currently a two-year validity, so if you took it in April 2021, it’s two years validity, they’re not going to shorten it to one year. If you take the exam after June 2021 and beyond, then it’s one year. So they are NOT shortening your existing certification times, it is for ones taken after June 2021.

This is part one of the upcoming changes, and there’s an official announcement from Microsoft about it here.

Please note that you can take the assessment as many times as you want. You can take it back to back the first and second-time, subsequent tries, so if you fail it twice in that first attempt, you can take the assessment once every 24 hours until you pass. They will be freely available online, you don’t go anywhere to take these assessments. You can just keep taking them. 

Renew existing Microsoft certification

The second change is that starting early February 2021, you’ll be able to start renewing your role-based and specialty certifications below by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn:

Starting in early March 2021, you’ll be able to start renewing your role-based and specialty certifications below by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn as well:

  • Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Database Administrator Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Marketing Functional Consultant Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing Functional Consultant Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Developer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations Apps Solution Architect Expert

For more information about renewing your Microsoft certifications, please check the official Microsoft frequently asked questions.

Become Microsoft Certified

To become Microsoft certified and grow your options for a career in IT by increasing credibility with a Microsoft Certification, validating your skills and ability to perform in a role using Microsoft technologies. As digital transformation evolves how we do business, getting trained and certified can help you accelerate your ability to land a technical role that is in-demand.

If you are a job seeker who has completed training for one of the Microsoft-specific technical roles mentioned here, and you can attest that you are been unemployed or furloughed due to COVID-19 can secure an industry-recognized Microsoft Certification at a discounted fee of USD15. You will have the ability to schedule an exam before December 30, 2021, and will have until December 31, 2021, to appear for and complete the exam. For more details, please check the terms and conditions published by Microsoft.

Summary

As clarified in this article, this is a kind of big change for Microsoft certifications going forward, especially now we don’t have every two years to take these big exams anymore. We’re going to go through it once, and now they’re always going to last for a year. Six months in, we are going to start to get notifications. We go through an online learning module. We take an online assessment, all of it free, and it just extends it out here so it helps keep our knowledge current. And it really makes the certification a bit more meaningful.

I think this is a good thing overall since we only have to pay once now. And just that helps us to keep our knowledge up-to-date.

Do you want to become Microsoft Certified? Check the official Microsoft certifications portfolio here and choose your preferred learning path.

Hope this was useful… Stay Safe!

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Thank you for reading my blog.

If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment.

-Charbel Nemnom-

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