Azure Data Engineer Certification Tips

Recently I passed exams related to such certification and since then there is a flow of related but often-repeated questions. Over time, they are crystallized into a post in QA format, which hopefully can be helpful for someone who wants to pass this Microsoft certification. So, the questions are:

What kind of questions can I expect in the exams?

The Azure Data Engineer certification, in a contrast to SQL Server related exams, is less technical and more about understanding concepts of various services, their weak and strong sides and at what circumstances and for what requirements those services can be applied.

Obviously, because of the signed NDA, I cannot disclose real questions. However, as was being said, the main subject of exams is to ensure that the candidate understands not just services, but how they must be used, so he has a clear idea what is the difference in:

  • Various Databricks node types and tiers
  • Five different Cosmos DB APIs
  • Azure Streaming Analytics windowing functions
  • etc etc

I suggest to watch two related MS Ignite sessions:

These sessions are led by Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCT), experienced in delivering content on these topics. The videos will not give the knowledge to pass exams, however, they will give a clear explanation about exams, the format, the expectations and strategies to prepare.

What training materials have you used?

Unfortunately, there is no self-training guide in the form of the book available yet for any of the exams.

As an alternative, Microsoft offers a set of free online courses on their new learning platform: Microsoft Learn which consists of modules:

  • Azure for the Data Engineer
  • Store data in Azure
  • Work with relational data in Azure
  • Work with NoSQL data in Azure Cosmos DB
  • Large-Scale Data Processing with Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2
  • Implement a Data Streaming Solution with Azure Streaming Analytics
  • Implement a Data Warehouse with Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Perform data engineering with Azure Databricks
  • Extract knowledge and insights from your data with Azure Databricks

The learning roadmap has another visual appearance: Learning path for Azure Data Engineer

An example of a fraction of the free online content, available at a learning portal:

the roadmap

The completion of the roadmap takes around 40-60 hours. It pays off because the set of modules covers nearly all topics touched by exams. These free online courses were also my main training material.

Worth to mention a free to join Microsoft program: Visual Studio Dev Essentials. It unlocks temporary access to free azure services and training resources like a Pluralsight and LinkedIn Learning, which can also be helpful during the training phase.

And of course, there is also an option of paid instructor-led courses via the network of learning partners:

  • Course DP-200T01-A: Implementing an Azure Data Solution
  • Course DP-201T01-A: Designing an Azure Data Solution

Was it “easy to get” certification?

This answer is going to be very subjective, but I have to say – “No, the two required exams are not something that you can go and pass blindly, without a preparation”. Even if you work with all involved technologies and Azure services during the last couple of years there is still a chance that some annoying questions will appear about services that are not yet in your toolbox.

Just to recall, 700 is a passing score. After months of training, I was attending exams full of confidence. To my surprise, I received 712 points on one of the exams. Of course, I was glad to receive a congratulations message on a Prometric screen, but my failure was a very close call.

Final words

I hope that answers on those three questions and the referenced content gives an understanding of the certification and will help to prepare for exams and pass them from a first try.

Many thanks for reading.