After passing the DP-900 exam to earn the Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals certification, I decided that it was time to get a better handle on what developers experience when working in Azure using the various tools and service available to them.
Disclaimer: Microsoft reviews certifications regularly to help ensure that they remain relevant, technically accurate and that they assess the skills needed to thrive in a cloud-based world. Exams evolve over time and may change without notice. This post represents my best knowledge of the AZ-204 exam as of Q2 2021, but you should always consult Microsoft’s Official AZ-204 Exam Page for the contents of the exam.
What is an Azure Developer Associate?
The Azure Developer Associate Exam is an opportunity to demonstrate subject matter expertise in designing, building, testing, and maintaining cloud applications and services on Microsoft Azure.
If you plan to take this exam you should have 1-2 years professional development experience and experience with Microsoft Azure. You should have the ability to program in a language supported by Azure. You should be proficient in Azure SDKs, Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, data storage options, data connections, APIs, app authentication and authorization, compute and container deployment, debugging, performance tuning, and monitoring.
Azure Developer Associate can also be used to prepare for other Azure role-based certifications, and it can be used as a prerequisite for the Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification.
How Did I Prepare?
I graduated with my Computer Science degree in December of 2020, and I haven’t written a real piece of code since. I’ve written all types of scripts over the past 20 years, but coding is not something I have had to do based on my infrastructure background.
I’m not a developer and I honestly don’t want to be one, but I did have to spend most of my time learning a programming language for this exam. I decided to go with Python as it seemed to be the most versatile language based on what I might use it for in the future. I spent about a month studying an hour or two a night for the exam (including getting as base understanding of Python) which worked out well.
What Resources Did I Use to Prepare?
I used the following resources to get ready:
- Microsoft Learn: Create serverless applications
- Microsoft Learn: Connect your services together
- Microsoft Learn: Store data in Azure
- Microsoft Learn: Deploy a website with Azure virtual machines
- Microsoft Learn: Manage resources in Azure
- Microsoft Learn: Deploy a website to Azure with Azure App Service
- Microsoft Learn: Secure your cloud data
- Microsoft Learn: Take your first steps with Python
Unlike most of my past usage of MS Learn resources, I completed all the modules above due to my limited knowledge of development topics.
I also took the Azure Certified Developer (AZ-204) Accelerated Exam Prep course from CloudSkills.io. This course is no longer available for individual purchase due to some changes with the company.
My Challenge Area
While I cannot talk about exam specifics for obvious reasons, I do want to point out the area that I struggled with the most:
Connecting services related questions were the most challenging for me on this exam (especially those related to messaging solutions).
Being new to Python, I also found myself struggling with the code related questions.
This was my seventh exam taken remotely through PearsonVue due to COVID-19. I gave myself a month to prepare and study when I scheduled the exam continuing to follow my pattern of giving myself a deadline to force the work needed to pass.
This experience was a bit different than my previous six experiences. This was my first exam taken since leaving Mars and joining Microsoft. I couldn’t take the exam in my home office as I no longer had a home office (or home for that matter). We had sold our home in New Jersey at the end of May and were currently living in a short-term apartment while waiting for our builder to finish our new home in North Carolina.
I took the exam on a card table in the apartment’s garage. This made for a quick minimal setup as there was nothing in the garage except the card table, chair and laptop that I used to take the exam (in retrospect this was a bad idea as there was no air conditioning and I was quite hot by the time I finished the exam). I set up my laptop on the card table, provided pictures of the setup, driver’s license, and face, then sat in front of my computer while the proctor verified that everything was good to go. I never had to talk with them at all, the exam launched, and I spent the next 140 minutes working through questions and stressing every step of the way. I finished with 10 minutes to spare.
Immediately after the test, I received my detailed score breakdown in various areas and was told that I passed (just barely). An e-mail showed up no more than an hour later with details on getting my certificate, claiming it on Acclaim, sharing it on LinkedIn, etc.
The Azure Developer Associate exam is hard. If you are not a developer in your day job – study, get hands on experience, and make sure you know your stuff if you want to pass. I was surprised by how many fill in the blank code questions made up the exam so be sure you have more than just limited familiarity with the programming language you plan to work with.
If you’ve passed AZ-204, consider the following exam to continue your developer and DevOps journey:
For my next exam, I’ll be taking the AZ-400 myself. I’ve been looking to expand my CI/CD knowledge which I know will be a huge benefit in my new role.