With the world still in the seemingly-endless grip of a pandemic, Modern Workplace transformation is taking the IT world by storm. The enforced changes to the way in which we work have forced both public and private companies to shift traditionally on-site technologies to the cloud.

Identity and access, email, file sharing, and collaboration tools are all migrating to the cloud in a bid to facilitate a remote and modern working environment. So let’s first look at little closer at the technology shifts that are underway, before delving into why certifications can help you increase your value and stay ahead of the curve.

What is Microsoft 365, and How Is It Helping to Transform the Workplace?

Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft 365 (also referred to as Modern Workplace) is a full suite of apps that bring the workplace into the 21st century. They provide better workplace productivity, security, and communication supported by Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

They include Identity, Email, SharePoint, Teams, Desktop Management, to name a few, and plenty of forward-thinking companies have already begun their transitions to a cloud-based interconnected workplace. But it’s important to note that this move isn’t just supported by private companies looking to better facilitate remote working.

Leading public organizations that work in primarily work in face-to-face settings (regardless of public health crises) such as England’s NHS, have begun the transformation to a Modern Workplace setup. In the case of the NHS, the transition will allow staff to communicate more effectively and provide access to the information, applications, and services they need, reducing the administrative burden on staff and improving patient safety.

While many enterprises are simply at the stage of utilizing Microsoft Teams for better communication, the revolution is well and truly underway. That’s why you need to acquaint yourself with the Microsoft 365 IT certifications if you want to stay relevant in tomorrow’s workplace setting. Not to mention the ability they have to increase your earnings and advance your career prospects.

Microsoft 365 Certifications: An Overview

Of course, the Modern Workplace revolution cannot occur without certified IT professionals in place to deploy and migrate critical business functions to the cloud. Those who get certified in Microsoft 365 core competencies first will have the most value as the workplace makes the permanent shift away from location dependence.

In total, there are eight certifications for Microsoft 365. Which certification you choose to pursue will largely be governed by your preexisting experience with Microsoft 365 products. Similar to other IT certification programs, there are paths or “tracks” you can follow to specialize in certain areas of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.

At the bottom rung of the pyramid is the Microsoft 365 Certified Fundamentals. There are then two further levels of certification. Associate certifications are the next step after Fundamentals, and Expert sits at the top of the certification tree. While the Fundamentals certification is optional, you must have an Associate accreditation to sit an Expert exam.

So let’s delve into each tier of the Microsoft 365 certification ecosystem in a little more detail, starting with Fundamentals.

Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals

Considered the most accessible certification of all Microsoft 365 certifications, this qualification is excellent for those who merely want to get familiarized with, and certify themselves in, the basics of Microsoft 365. Many IT professionals take this certification (which only has one exam, MS-900) to get used to the Microsoft exam format and testing experience before moving on to an Associate-level certification.

Associate Level Certifications

The certification options dramatically proliferate at the Associate level, with five out of the six qualifications opening the door for the top-level Expert exams. They are as follows:

  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate – This certification is aimed at IT professionals and system administrators who deploy and manage windows at the enterprise level. This qualification requires two exams to attain certification. They are MD-100 and MD-101, respectively.
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Messaging Administrator Associate – This is aimed at IT professionals with previous experience in handling Exchange Online, more specifically, hybrid Exchange setups. This also requires two separate exams, MS-200 and MS-201.
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Teamwork Administrator Associate – The broadest of the Associate-level certs. The exams for this qualification test IT professionals’ in-depth knowledge of SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Stream, Yammer!, and PowerApps. Unsurprisingly, there two exams for this certification, MS-300, and MS-301.
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate – As the title suggests, this certification relates to everything security, including data protection and governance. This is one of the few Associate-level qualifications that only requires one exam, which is MS-500.
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate – Again, the title gives this certification away. Released at the beginning of 2020, this certification tests IT administrators’ knowledge of Teams, including the shift over from Skype for Business and how to handle integrations from other 365 apps such as SharePoint. Again, only one exam is required, MS-700.
  • Microsoft 365 Certified: Developer Associate – Both the newest entrant and the only Associate-level cert that doesn’t qualify you to take the Expert-level exams. This one-exam cert focuses on developers who design, maintain, and test applications built on the 365 platform. The exam covers REST APIs, JSON, OpenID Connect, and Microsoft Identities, to name a few. The exam you need to pass for this one is MS-600.

Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administration Expert

Once you’ve passed any Associate-level certification (except the Developer Associate), you can move on to Microsoft’s only Expert-level cert, Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administration Expert. In particular, this qualification focuses on IT administrators who oversee the evaluating, planning, migrating, deploying, and managing Microsoft 365 services at the highest organizational level.

This certification requires two exams, MS-100 and MS-101. MS-100 focuses on Identity and Services, where MS-101 examines Mobility and Security. Both exams center on tenant management tasks for an enterprise, including its identities, security, compliance, and supporting technologies.

The World of Work is Changing: Get Certified to Increase Your Value and Enhance Your Knowledge 

With the modern workplace on the cusp of permanently moving to cloud-based technology, there’s never been a better time to become certified in the world’s most popular suite of productivity apps and associated infrastructure.

Becoming Microsoft 365 Certified not only enhances your knowledge and value within the workplace, but it will help to advance your career as increasing numbers of organizations look to utilize cloud-based enterprise infrastructure.

If you would like to brush up on your Microsoft 365 knowledge, you can head over to our Microsoft 365 how-to guides page. We are also scheduled to release our first study course (MS-100) in October of 2020, so keep your eyes peeled for a release date!

In the meantime, if you have any further questions regarding Microsoft 365 certifications, don’t hesitate to ask our expert team.

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