|In this blog post you will find some personal suggestions about how to study for exam AZ-104 and get Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator.
Get certified at no (or little charge) with free online training, free sandboxes for the labs, free books, exam vouchers, practice tests, and more.
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We already referenced Project Embrace in a previous post (see Azure Fundamentals) and pointed out the learning opportunities it brings at little or no charge. This is a great time if you want to invest in your career without a big budget.
Although at first sight, Azure administration is not an obvious extension of the skill set of the SAP professional, it does provide you with the basics and ease to work with the Azure platform. Particularly for SAP BASIS administrators who would like to obtain the Azure for SAP Workloads Specialty certification, passing the Azure Administrator Associate first is highly recommended.
For a more general argument about why you might want to get certified, see
Regardless of whether it brings any rewards, personally I find that studying for a certification provides an effective way to learn, focus, and stay motivated.
Upskill with Azure Certifications
For general information about the Microsoft certification program, see
For the poster of the program, go to
Note that Microsoft certification structure is flat. You do not have to take Fundamentals first before taking on Associate or Expert level certifications.
How Hard Can It Be?
If you are new to cloud administration, you might find the exam to be quite challenging. Make sure to accrue sufficient flight hours working with the platform before attempting the exam and anticipate a fair amount of study time.
The exam preparation guide describes in detail the topics of the exam and what to expect. This is also where you can book your exam.
Microsoft has been in the certification business for a long time and it shows, as the exam experience is very smooth. You get the opportunity to provide feedback to each question once you are done with the exam (but before you get the results), to comment upon the language used, technical accuracy, or other observations.
|Starting June 2021, certifications are valid for one year, but can be renewed online for free.|
Microsoft Azure exams are updated regularly. Previous editions of the AZ-104 exam are AZ-103, and AZ-102.
To book your exam, select Schedule Now to be redirected to your Microsoft Learning Dashboard.
From the Microsoft Learning Dashboard you can schedule (and re-schedule) your appointments, start the online exam, collect your badge, or print the certificate or a transcript of past achievements.
|Make sure to check for discounts before check out as this may cover up to 100% of the cost.|
Like SAP, IBM, Oracle, and other vendors, Microsoft uses Credly (f.k.a Acclaim) for cross-vendor overview, record keeping, and social media sharing. This requires your agreement, of course.
Microsoft is very clear about what you need to know for the exam. The certification skill outline (PDF) lists them all. This is updated from time to time, so make sure you are looking at the latest version (accessible from the exam page).
How To Prepare
Self-Study with Sandbox
According to the roadmap there are two ways to prepare: self-study (free) or instructor-led (paid).
For self-study, 6 learning paths are listed containing 65 (!) modules, about 50 hours of study.
Most modules include exercises and for this a free sandbox environment (Concierge Subscription) is made available.
|Make sure to go through the exercises attentively as many questions reference the Azure portal and assume you are familiar with navigation.|
If you have the time and budget, you can also take the instructor-led course either (4 days)
|See below under Microsoft Enterprise Skills Initiative for how you can attend at no charge.|
The lab instructions of the instructor-led course can be found on the Microsoft Learning repository on GitHub, for those that prefer a yourself-led course.
- MicrosoftLearning / AZ-104-MicrosoftAzureAdministrator
Even when skipping the class, make sure to go through the labs as many questions are sourced from this material.
You can sign up for a free account valid for 12 months.
DIY with Microsoft Docs
A very effective approach is to look up all the topics listed on Skill Measured in the Microsoft documentation.
The ESI Study Guide for Exam AZ-104 lists all the documentation you need to review.
In case you have trouble accessing ESI, these unofficial resources are also excellent
- AZ-104 Study Guide: Azure Administrator | Thomas Maurer
- AZ-104 Study Guide: Microsoft Azure Administrator | Vlad Catrinescu
|Read the docs! Studying the materials from the source is the best way to prepare for the exam.|
From the Bookstore
Microsoft Press Exam Guides
Microsoft Press by Pearson publishes the Exam Ref Series which includes books, videos, and practice tests (see below for how to access the test at no charge).
- Exam Ref AZ-104 Microsoft Azure Administrator (June 2021)
Packt et al.
Exam and study guides are also available from other publishers. These books are generally reasonably priced and you can get a sneak peak when signing up for a trial of the online library.
- Learn Azure Administration (Sep 2020)
|The challenge for publishers is to keep up with the rate of change. Although you might prefer a book and marker for some oldskool studying, for the documentation references and additional reading you would still need to go online. Note that just reading the book might not suffice to pass the exam.|
Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning, Cloud Academy, Udemy, …
For those with a subscription to an online learning platform, you can also decide to watch your these courses as an alternative to the instructor-led course mentioned above.
- Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104) | Pluralsight (39 h)
- Prepare for the Microsoft Azure Administrator Exam (AZ-104) | LinkedIn Learning (16 h)
- AZ-104 Exam Preparation: Microsoft Azure Administrator | Cloud Academy (34 h)
Note that just watching the videos may not suffice for the exam. Easy come, easy go. As it takes less effort to watch videos compared to reading the docs, you may also have more trouble retaining the information.
Make sure to do some labs and reading as well to properly digest the material.
For those without a subscription to an online learning platform, you can also decide to go for some binge watching on YouTube. Although there is a risk to loose focus and waste precious time, some of the material is quite good given it comes at no charge.
- Azure Administrator Certification (AZ-104) | freeCodeCamp
Microsoft Enterprise Skills Initiative
In case you work for a company that has embraced Microsoft Azure, you might be able to sign up for Microsoft’s Enterprise Skills Initiative (ESI)
This provides free (or cost-center charged) access to instructor-led training and free access to the Microsoft official practice test for the exam.
MeasureUp is the official supplier of Microsoft practice tests. For each question, explanations are provided with references to the documentation.
|Although the MeasureUp tests are not cheap they do reflect the real exam experience and provide excellent study material with references to the documentation. If you are short on time or want results fast, a practice test might be worth the investment.|
Non-official Practice Tests
The Google search engine returns a few million results when searching for “AZ-104 sample questions”. Many website offer dubious material at a charge (old exam questions from the AZ-102 or AZ-103 exams with incorrect answers) with little to no educational value.
The more serious efforts can be found on platforms like Udemy (Über for online learning), usually reasonably priced and with clear explanations. You might want to check the reviews and look up the course instructor on YouTube or LinkedIn before purchase.
Also make sure there these tests do not infringe on the conditions of the program:
If Microsoft believes you violated the Exam Agreement, or engaged in any fraudulent behavior or misconduct that could diminish or compromise the security or integrity of the Program in any way, you may be decertified and terminated from the Program and permanently ineligible to participate in the Program.
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