AZ-204 Exam preparation Guide - How to become a Certified Microsoft Azure Developer

  • Microsoft
  • AZ-204
  • Certification Guide
  • Published by: Maria Forsberg on Sep 24, 2022
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Microsoft Azure is one of the top cloud computing platforms on the market, and it’s created a ton of job opportunities for software developers. Read on to learn whether specializing as a Microsoft Azure developer is for you and how you can do it.

What Is the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification?

The Microsoft Azure Developer Certification is for cloud developers who want to show their proficiency in Azure - Microsoft’s cloud computing service.

Holders of the certificate participate in all phases of Azure cloud development. They help define, design, develop, deploy, maintain, performance tune, and monitor Azure applications and databases.

So what exactly is Microsoft Azure? It’s an enterprise-level cloud computing platform that lets you build and host web apps, application programming interfaces (APIs), databases, and storage services or simply extend existing on-premise apps. No matter where your organization is in its digital transformation, Azure can help it scale to new heights.

Azure supports some of the most popular coding languages, including Python, JavaScript, Java, .NET, and Go. Plus, it’s accredited for security by ISO 27018, so it’s a great cloud computing service for organizations and software developers alike.

In the following sections, we’ll go over how to earn the Microsoft Azure Developer Certificate and why you should.

What Are the Prerequisites to Learning Microsoft Azure?

Before you can earn the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification, it’s a good idea to meet some prerequisites.These include the following:

  • Having 1 to 2 years of professional software development experience (in .NET, PHP, Ruby, Python, or another Azure-supported coding language)
  • Understanding basic cloud infrastructure topics like networking, databases, and active directories
  • Having experience with Microsoft Azure and its basic structure (learn the fundamentals by getting the Azure Fundamentals Certification first)
  • Being proficient in Azure CLI, SDKs, APIs, PowerShell, data storage options, and data connections
  • Having familiarity with Azure app authentication and authorization, compute and container deployment, debugging, performance tuning, and monitoring

If you meet all the above prerequisites, you’ll be well prepared for getting the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification.

What Is the Azure Developer Certification Roadmap for Beginners?

If you’re just starting on your path to becoming a Certified Azure Developer, here’s a roadmap to get you there:

  • Decide if this is the right certification for you. Before you commit to becoming certified as an Azure Developer, be sure that this is the right path for you. Azure Developers need to be comfortable participating in all phases of cloud development, including defining, designing, developing, deploying, maintaining, performance tuning, and monitoring cloud systems. A good way to dip your feet in is to take the Azure Fundamentals training.
  • Gain the required work experience. To qualify for the Azure Developer Certification, you must gain 1 to 2 years of professional development experience with Microsoft Azure. This should include working in an Azure-supported coding language and becoming proficient in using Azure CLI, PowerShell, SDKs, APIs, data storage options, data connections, and more.
  • Expand your skills. To become an Azure Developer, you must develop the right skills. These include knowing how to develop Azure compute solutions, develop for Azure storage, implement Azure security, monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions, and connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services.
  • Study for the Azure Developer exam. The Azure Developer exam (AZ-204) tests your ability to develop Azure compute solutions, develop for Azure storage, implement Azure security, monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions, and connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services. Prepare yourself for the exam by studying these subjects thoroughly. You can take a free online course or a paid in-person course, either from Microsoft directly or from a third-party vendor like Readynez.
  • Take an Azure Developer practice test. Before you take the actual Azure Developer exam, take a practice test. This will give you a better idea of what the actual exam will be like. You can get 30-day access to the official AZ-204 practice exam for $99 and 60-day access for just $109. Alternatively, you can look for other practice exams online.
  • Take and pass the Azure Developer exam. Once you feel ready, schedule to take the Azure Developer exam through Pearson VUE. It costs $165 to register and the exam lasts 120 minutes. The exam contains 40 to 60 questions that you must answer in C# or Python coding language, and you’ll need to score at least 700 out of 1,000 points to pass.
  • Renew your Azure Developer certification annually. To keep your Azure Developer certification from expiring, you must renew it yearly. You can do this for free within 6 months of the expiration date without retaking the exam (you’ll get a reminder email once you’re eligible to renew). The renewal exam goes over the latest cloud technologies, and you can retake it up to five times per year (after the first attempt, you must wait 24 hours to retake. After the second and future attempts, you’ll have to wait 14 days to retake). If you don’t renew your certification, you’ll have to re-earn the certification by taking (and paying for) the full exam again.

Follow the above steps closely and you’ll become a certified Azure Developer in no time.

What Is the Cost of an Azure Developer Certification?

Earning the Azure Developer Certification will cost you some money, but it’s more affordable than you might think. Here’s a rundown of the full cost:

The main cost of certifying as an Azure Developer comes from the exam. Exam registration fees vary by country in which the exam is proctored, but in the US, it’s only $165. If you choose to study for the exam on your own, this is all you will have to pay.

But if you want to increase your chances of passing the Azure Developer exam, there are a few investments you can make that will help. For one, you could buy an official exam replay. This is an offer by Microsoft that allows you to retake the exam once if you don’t pass the first time. It costs $230 and includes an exam voucher.

To further boost your chances of passing the exam, you can buy an exam replay with a practice test for $265 (which also includes an exam voucher). If you prefer to buy a practice exam separately, you can get 30-day access to the AZ-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure Microsoft Official Practice Test for $99, and for only $109, you can get 60-day access.

Finally, you may consider investing in an exam preparation course from a third-party vendor. Readynez offers a four-day exam prep course in both virtual and classroom formats. You can get the virtual version for 2,750 Euro or the classroom version for 3,790 Euro. Both can be completed in just four days and come with all course materials, an exam voucher, and a certification guarantee!

At the end of the day, the cost of an Azure Developer Certification will depend on how much you want to invest in your success. If you study for the exam on your own, certifying can cost as little as $165. But if you want to help ensure you pass with the best available resources, it can cost up to 3,790 Euro. How you approach the exam is up to you.

What Are the Benefits of the Azure Developer Certification?

Now that you know what it costs to get the Azure Developer Certification, here are the benefits you can expect to get out of it:

  • More career options. With an Azure Developer Certificate, you can take on various roles like cloud architect, developer, solution architect, and more. On top of that, you can work in different industries like healthcare, finance, and entertainment, as well as in different countries, including the US, India, and European countries. Overall, the Azure Developer Certification brings a lot of career opportunities to your feet.
  • Attractive salary. The average salary for Microsoft Azure developers in the US is $132,746. That’s $11,062 per month, $2,552 per week, and $64 per hour! Top earners can make as much as $172,500, while the lowest earners make $52,000. The 75th percentile makes $150,500, and the 25th percentile makes $112,000. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, you’ll make a good amount of money and have plenty of earning potential.
  • Career advancement opportunities. The demand for software developers, including Azure developers, is growing fast. According to the Bureau of Labors Statistics (BLS), software development jobs will increase by 25% from 2021 to 2031, which is much faster than the average job growth. An Azure developer certification will give you additional opportunities to advance your career as top companies continue to hire Azure developers. Overall, there’s a lot of job security and growth in this sector.
  • Global Recognition. The Microsoft Azure Developer Certification is recognized worldwide as a top credential for cloud developers. Having it shows that you are an expert in your field and that you are committed to the industry. Among other things, this will give you more opportunities to travel and work abroad.
  • Development skills growth. Even if you already work in the cloud industry, the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification will increase your development skills and make you more valuable to your organization. Grow your cloud skills and knowledge to stand out to future employers as well.
  • Quick learning curve. Getting up to speed on the Azure platform is easy. Azure uses many coding tools you may already be familiar with, including Hadoop, Xcode, and Eclipse. Besides, there are tons of online resources that can help accelerate your learning, like study guides, exam prep courses (like the one by Readynez), practice tests, and other structured learning materials. Take advantage of all that’s available to learn Azure quickly, and learn from industry experts who are at the top of their field.
  • Company savings. Earning the Azure Developer Certification can make you a valuable asset to your organization. For example, the certification teaches you how to host your company’s entire data infrastructure in the cloud to keep everything in one place, which significantly reduces IT costs over the long run. There are many other ways that this credential can help you save money for your organization.
  • Knowledge of the latest trends in the cloud industry. Part of being Azure Developer certified includes renewing your certification every year. Each time you do, you’ll learn about the latest cloud technologies and how they are impacting the industry. So you’ll always be in the know.

Ultimately, the benefits of earning the Azure Developer Certificate are many. When you add them up, the certification is well worth the investment, which leads us to our next point.

Is Microsoft Azure Worth Learning to Work With?

You may be interested in cloud computing but not sure if learning Microsoft Azure is worth it. After all, Azure is not the only cloud computing platform out there. There’s also Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example. So why Azure?

The truth is Microsoft Azure is the number one cloud computing vendor. 95% of Fortune 500 companies use Azure. So yes, Azure is definitely worth learning. Even if you choose to learn other platforms like AWS as well, knowing how to program in Azure won’t hurt. Plus, demand for Azure professionals is only going up, not down.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Azure has to offer cloud developers, check out Microsoft’s Get Started Guide for Azure Developers.

How Do I Prepare for a Microsoft Azure Developer Certification?

Preparing for the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification starts with getting familiar with the Azure Developer exam. The exam lasts 120 minutes (20 minutes of prep time and 100 minutes of exam time) and contains 40 to 60 questions, all of which you can answer in coding languages C# or Python. The questions will test your ability to do the following tasks and subtasks:

  • Develop Azure compute solutions (25-30% of exam)
    • Implement IaaS solutions
      • Provision virtual machines (VMs)
      • Configure, validate, and deploy ARM templates
      • Configure container images for solutions
      • Publish an image to Azure Container Registry
      • Run containers by using Azure Container Instance
    • Create Azure App Service Web Apps
      • Create an Azure App Service Web App
      • Enable diagnostics logging
      • Deploy code to a web app
      • Configure web app settings including SSL, API settings, and connection strings
      • Implement autoscaling rules including scheduled autoscaling and autoscaling by operational or system metrics
    • Implement Azure Functions
      • Create and deploy Azure Functions apps
      • Implement input and output bindings for a function
      • Implement function triggers by using data operations, timers, and webhooks
      • Implement Azure Durable Functions
  • Develop for Azure storage (15-20% of exam)
    • Develop solutions that use Cosmos DB storage
      • Select the appropriate API and SDK for a solution
      • Implement partitioning schemes and partition keys
      • Perform operations on data and Cosmos DB containers
      • Set the appropriate consistency level for operations
      • Manage change feed notifications
    • Develop solutions that use blob storage
      • Move items in Blob storage between storage accounts or containers
      • Set and retrieve properties and metadata
      • Perform operations on data by using the appropriate SDK
      • Implement storage policies, data archiving, and retention
  • Implement Azure security (20-25% of exam)
    • Implement user authentication and authorization
      • Authenticate and authorize users by using the Microsoft Identity platform
      • Authenticate and authorize users and apps by using Azure Active Directory
      • Create and implement shared access signatures
      • Implement solutions that interact with Microsoft Graph
    • Implement secure cloud solutions
      • Secure app configuration data by using App Configuration or Azure Key Vault
      • Develop code that uses keys, secrets, and certificates stored in Azure Key Vault
      • Implement Managed Identities for Azure resources
  • Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions (15-20% of exam)
    • Implement caching for solutions
      • Configure cache and expiration policies for Azure Cache for Redis
      • Implement secure and optimized application cache patterns including data sizing, connections, encryption, and expiration
    • Troubleshoot solutions by using metrics and log data
      • Configure an app or service to use Application Insights
      • Review and analyze metrics and log data
      • Implement Application Insights web tests and alerts
  • Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services (15-20% of exam)
    • Implement API management
      • Create an APIM instance
      • Create and document APIs
      • Configure authentication for APIs
      • Define policies for APIs
    • Develop event-based solutions
      • Implement solutions that use Azure Event Grid
      • Implement solutions that use Azure Event Hub
    • Develop message-based solutions
      • Implement solutions that use Azure Service Bus
      • Implement solutions that use Azure Queue Storage queues

Keep in mind that the English language version of the Microsoft Azure Developer exam was updated on April 19, 2022. So any exam resources older than that may contain outdated information.

During the exam, you are allowed to take a break at any time. However, you will not be able to return to questions you viewed before your break. You must also refrain from looking at any unauthorized materials during your break (including on your cell phone). Otherwise, your exam will be revoked and you won’t earn the certificate.

To pass the Microsoft Azure Developer exam, you need to score at least 700 out of 1,000 points. Keep in mind that some questions are worth more than others and some aren’t scored at all (but you won’t know which ones). In addition, there is no penalty for a wrong answer. So even if you don’t know the answer, you might as well guess.

To prepare for the Microsoft Azure Developer exam, there are a few things you can do. For one, you can take an exam prep course, either through Microsoft itself or through a third-party vendor like Readynez. Once you’ve studied all the material, you can demo the exam with Microsoft’s Exam Sandbox or take a practice test. Both help simulate the real exam. You can get 30-day access to the official Azure Developer practice exam for $99 or get 60-day access for just $109. You can also get plenty of Certification support in the Microsoft forums.

Once you feel ready for the actual Microsoft Azure Developer exam, you can register for it online and schedule a time to take it. The exam costs $165 and is available in the following languages: English, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, Chinese (Traditional), Italian, Indonesian (Indonesia), and Arabic (Saudi Arabia).

If needed, you can also request special accommodations for the Microsoft Azure Developer exam. Maybe you suffer from a disability that requires you to use assistive technology or take additional breaks. Whatever it is, Microsoft allows you to request accommodations through Pearson VUE or Certiport.

After you finish the Microsoft Azure Developer exam, you can expect to see your exam results within minutes. This will tell you whether you passed or not. A more detailed exam report with specific feedback is sent later on.

If you don’t pass the Microsoft Azure Developer exam, you can pay to retake it after 24 hours. After the second attempt, you must wait 14 days in between attempts, and you may not take the exam more than five times within a 12-month period.

If you prefer to give yourself a second chance upfront, consider investing in an exam replay beforehand. You can also reschedule or cancel the exam if you give at least 24 hours notice. Otherwise, your exam fee won’t be refunded.

With all the above in mind, you’re well on your way to earning the Microsoft Azure Developer Certification.

What Is the Day-To-Day Job of a Microsoft Azure Developer?

The day-to-day job of a Microsoft Azure developer will vary by the exact position you hold within an organization, but you can count on doing the following tasks regularly:

  • Solving problems by designing apps and databases with the Azure platform
  • Building new cloud environments and servers
  • Collaborating and working with other cloud computing experts and other company players
  • Fixing bugs in Azure applications (aka debugging)
  • Partnering with cloud database administrators (DBAs), clients, and others to implement Azure solutions
  • Consulting with clients about cloud computing goals and then designing Azure apps to meet those goals
  • Participating in all phases of Azure web development from requirements definition and design to development, deployment, and maintenance

More could be added to the list of Microsoft Azure developer tasks, but that gives you a good picture of what the average day for a Microsoft Azure Developer might look like.

How Do I Get a Job if I Have a Microsoft Azure Developer Certification?

Once you’ve earned your Microsoft Azure Developer Certification, the next step is to get a job. Fortunately, this isn’t too hard since Microsoft Azure developers are in high demand. But here’s a simple step-by-step guide to going from unemployed to employed in the Azure cloud computing world:

  • Update your résumé—The first thing you should do after completing the Azure Developer Certification is update your résumé. Add your new certification and make any needed changes to reflect your current employment status.
  • Build a portfolio—A portfolio showing Azure development projects you completed can go a long way in demonstrating your skills. Hiring teams will have more confidence in you, and you’re more likely to get the job.
  • Collect references—Another way to boost your worker profile is to gather references from trusted experts in the field. Consider asking former instructors, managers, or colleagues to write a reference letter for you to show to employers.
  • Network—Networking helps you meet people in the industry who may know about job openings and good places to work. Try to meet and interact with as many cloud computing professionals as you can to increase your chances of landing a job at a good company.
  • Apply to job listings—Nothing beats being proactive. Search online job sites like LinkedIn and Indeed for open Azure developer positions and apply to them. The more jobs you apply to, the higher your chances of getting asked to do an interview.
  • Practice job interviews—Practice makes perfect. Before you head into your first job interview, go over common job questions and decide how you would answer them. Then ask a trusted friend to roleplay the interview with you. If you walk into the interview prepared, you’ll make a much better first impression.
  • Don’t give up—At the end of the day, applying for Microsoft Azure developer jobs is a numbers game. The more you apply, the better your chances of getting hired. So don’t give up! Before you know it, you’ll find the right job for you.

If you follow the steps above with a Microsoft Azure Developer Certificate in hand, you’re bound to get an Azure developer job in no time.

Futureproof Microsoft Azure Jobs—and How Much They Pay

Before you begin to think that Microsoft Azure jobs may not always be around, here are some Azure jobs in high demand that aren’t going away anytime soon:

  • Azure Cloud Architect—This person is responsible for designing cloud architectures and leading the implementation. The role is highly technical but also requires good communication skills as you must take specifications from end users and communicate architecture solutions to developers. The average salary for Azure cloud architects is $152,673 per year. That’s $12,722 per month, $2,936 per week, and $73 per hour.
  • Azure Administrator—This person installs and looks after the Azure platform. They keep a pulse on the company’s Azure system and make sure it’s always running smoothly. They also help train and provide access to new users. The average salary for Azure administrators is $104,658 per year. That’s $8,721 per month, $2,012 per week, and $50 per hour.
  • Azure Developer—This person builds and deploys apps and databases on the Azure platform. To be successful, they must have some coding experience and familiarity with the Microsoft app suite. The average salary for Azure developers is $132,746 per year. That’s $11,062 per month, $2,552 per week, and $64 per hour.
  • Azure Consultant—This person consults businesses on available Azure cloud solutions. They first assess a company’s needs and then offer them a custom solution. They also help create a migration plan, so the organization has a smooth transition to the new cloud platform. Obviously, Azure consultants need to have a good understanding of Azure as a whole. The average salary for Azure consultants is $138,073 per year. That’s $11,506 per month, $2,655 per week, and $66 per hour.
  • Azure DevOps Engineer—This person works to continually improve Azure apps with data and coding. It’s the perfect role for someone interested in development and IT. As an Azure DevOps engineer, you get to work hand in hand with other Azure admins, architects, and developers. The average salary for Azure DevOps engineers is $132,434 per year. That’s $11,036 per month, $2,546 per week, and $64 per hour.
  • Azure Data Scientist—This person designs and implements big data services with the Azure platform. They also prepare data for modeling and consult leaders about data insights. To be a successful Azure data scientist, you need to have a lot of experience in data analytics. The salary for Azure data scientists is $123,972 per year. That’s $10,331 per month, $2,384 per week, and $60 per hour.
  • Azure Security Engineer—This person implements and configures an organization’s Azure security controls and policies. They ensure the platform remains secure by constantly monitoring and managing access to it. The average salary of an Azure security engineer is $124,015 per year. That’s $10,334 per month, $2,384 per week, and $60 per hour.
  • Azure AI engineer—This person helps develop automated processes in Azure that rely on machine learning. Their work can include developing language processing, computer vision, bots, and more. The average salary of an Azure AI engineer is $138,828 per year. That’s $11,569 per month, $2,669 per week, and $67 per hour.
  • Azure Data Engineer—This person organizes, manages, and oversees an organization's Azure data. They also help ensure that all the data infrastructure on Azure is secure. The average salary of an Azure data engineer is $130,514 per year. That’s $10,876 per month, $2,509 per week, and $63 per hour.

As you can see, there are plenty of Azure positions that you can fill, and many pay quite well. If you want to take your career to the next level, getting the Azure Developer Certification is a great way to do it. To get started, enroll in an exam prep course like the one by Readynez. It’s only four days long and it comes with an exam voucher and certification guarantee! Contact us today to learn more.

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