Roadmap to Success: MCSA: Linux on Azure

Roadmap to Success is a series of posts designed to help learners better understand certification pathways, career opportunities associated with those certifications, and next steps beyond certification.

As Microsoft fully embraces the open source world, it is now capitalizing on Linux to leverage its popular Azure cloud solution. And as more organizations are turning to the cloud, Microsoft is seeing a surge in adoption of Azure, making the skills and knowledge necessary to administer it highly desirable. The MCSA: Linux on Azure certification qualifies learners for roles such as systems administrators, cloud services administrator or architect, cloud developer, IT manager, and more.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: Linux on Azure (MCSA: Linux on Azure)

Released in late 2015, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): Linux on Azure certification demonstrates your ability to design, architect, implement, and maintain complex, cloud-enabled Linux solutions using the Microsoft Azure. The certification represents a partnership between Microsoft and the Linux Foundation and embodies Microsoft’s recent embrace of open source.

The MCSA: Linux on Azure certification is made up of two exams, one of which is covered by CBT Nuggets training:

Typically, learners pursuing this certification path should have some familiarity with Windows Server and experience working in an enterprise environment. The MCSA is considered an intermediate-level certification but has no prerequisite training or certifications.

Exam Details

The MCSA: Linux on Azure certification is a partnership between Microsoft and the Linux Foundation.

Microsoft Exam 70-533
Time allotted for exam: 120 minutes
Number of questions: 40-60*
Passing score: 700**
Question types: Multiple choice; multiple choice/multiple answer; scenario
Exam registration: Microsoft Learning or Pearson Vue
Exam cost: $165 (USD)
Skills Measured: Each exam registration page on the Microsoft website provides a list of Skills Measured (which is a free resource) to guide your study and preparation.

*Microsoft does not publish the exact number of questions associated with its exams. Therefore, the number of questions a learner will see varies.
**Because the number of questions varies, it is not necessarily true that learners must earn a simple 70% to pass the exam.

Microsoft exams have a reputation for being challenging. Many learners find they have to take an exam more than once to achieve a successful outcome. Fortunately, Microsoft is aware of the level of challenge associated with their exams, and often provides an Exam Replay, allowing learners to retake exams at a fraction of the cost. Please note that the Exam Replay may not always be available. As of this post’s publication date, the Microsoft exam associated with the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification offers the option to include Exam Replay, but that may change. Learners should research Exam Replay availability to avoid missing out on the opportunity.

Linux Foundation Exam LFCS
Time allotted for exam: 120 minutes
Number of questions: N/A*
Passing score: 74%
Question types: Performance-based (candidates are asked to perform tasks or solve problems using the command line interface)
System requirements: The Linux Foundation requires candidates to provide their own front-end hardware (laptop or workstation) with Chrome or Chromium browser, reliable internet access, and a webcam and microphone in order to take exams.
Exam registration: The Linux Foundation**
Exam cost: $300 (USD)
Domains and Competencies: The Linux Foundation provides an overview of the domains and competencies required for certification on their website.

*The number of questions each learner sees in the exam varies widely. The Linux Foundation uses performance-based exams which means that learners are expected to solve problems and/or complete tasks at the command line.
**Exam registration includes one free retake attempt.

Recertification

Microsoft’s MCSA certifications do not expire, meaning no recertification or continuing education is necessary to keep your MCSA certification valid. MCSA certifications are, effectively, lifetime certifications that are valid as long as the technology exists. However, it is useful to understand that under Microsoft’s new certification structure, earning an expert-level certification (MCSE) can be accomplished by taking just one additional exam, of your choosing, from a pool of exam options.

The Next Step

Many learners who complete the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification will often choose to continue within the Microsoft and/or Linux universes.

Next Microsoft Steps
Most learners who successfully earn the MCSA: Linux on Azure will continue on the same track, advancing their certification to the expert level with the MCSE. Under Microsoft’s new certification structure, earning the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification requires that learners pass just one additional exam from a pool of 10 exam options. CBT Nuggets offers training for seven of the 10 course options: 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions, 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions, 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions, 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure, 70-414: Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure, 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud, and 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud.

Next Linux Steps
Learners who choose to continue their paths within the Linux universe have a variety of options available to them. The Linux Foundation offers a follow-up certification to the LFCS, the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE). Other Linux-based certification options include:

Career Considerations

Payscale.com provides a helpful salary guide to help learners determine appropriate pay scales for job opportunities associated with the MCSA: Linux on Azure certification. Depending on professional experience, Payscale.com reports a range of salaries for employees holding any MCSA certification between $42,793 and $136,630. Roles that are common for those holding an MCSA certification include systems administrator, systems engineer, network administrator, Windows system administrator, IT manager, IT director, and more.

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft certifications are laid out as a pyramid, with each level of certification leading learners to higher, more specialized, complex certifications. At the base of the Microsoft pyramid, IT professionals develop the foundation of knowledge with the MTA (Microsoft Technology Associate). The next level is the MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) and MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer), which include many of the most popular certifications among IT professionals that are offered by Microsoft, including Server 2012, Office 365, and Azure. Finally, the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solution Expert) represents the highest level of certification offered by Microsoft and provides learners the opportunity to develop specializations related to MCSA-level content.

As Microsoft describes it, the new MCSE and MCSD certifications (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSE: Mobility, MCSE: Data Management and Analytics, MCSE: Productivity, and MCSD: AppBuilder) are aligned to Centers of Excellence, used by the Microsoft Partner Network to identify technical competencies that are widely recognizable by both Microsoft partners and customers. These credentials do not have a recertification requirement. Instead, the achievement date signifies how you keep up with changes to the technology.

Each year, you have the opportunity to renew the certification by passing an exam from the list of electives, demonstrating your investment in broadening or deepening your skills in a given Center of Excellence. Each time you earn the certification, a new certification entry is added to your transcript. This process replaces the existing recertification requirement of taking a specific recertification exam every two years (MCSD) or every three years (MCSE) to prevent your certification from going inactive. Learn more about the new Microsoft certification structure.

Begin exploring other Microsoft training and certification options to open up even more professional development opportunities.

Concluding Thoughts

Microsoft is diving head first into open source and making a splash! IT pros who are Microsoft masters now have a new set of skills they can learn to take their careers in new directions levels. IT pros who are open source gurus now have a new vendor to get to know, opening career opportunities that were previously unavailable. With the MCSA: Linux on Azure, you are prepared for a wave of exciting career options!

Watch. Learn. Conquer the MCSA: Linux on Azure!

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