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Michael Taschler

Cloud Certifications: Azure Administrator Associate

Michael Taschler

  • Jun 11, 2020
  • 10 Min read
  • Jun 11, 2020
  • 10 Min read
Cloud infrastructure
Operations and Management
Microsoft Azure Administrator AZ-104


Knowing how to properly and efficiently administer your cloud infrastructure is essential to both your and your users' experiences. In this guide you will learn about the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate certification and what exams you can take to achieve it.

Azure Administrator Associate Badge Image

The Azure Administrator Associate certification follows Microsoft's departure from more broad certifications like the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) or its older sibling, the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE). Nowadays the focus is on specific roles.

Target Audience

As the name suggests, this certification has "administrator" written all over it. You should have at least six months of hands-on experience administering Azure, along with a strong understanding of core Azure services, Azure workloads, security, and governance. In addition, people in this role should have experience using PowerShell, Azure CLI, Azure portal, and Azure Resource Manager templates. Having a traditional IT background does help as well but isn't a must have.

Applicable Exams

It is important to understand that Microsoft has taken up the practice of retiring and replacing exams at a much faster pace than in the past. To illustrate this, the Azure Administrator Associate certification is in its third version of the exam (fourth if you include the brief existence of the AZ-102 transition exam for candidates who have taken Exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions). Currently, to achieve this certification you must pass either the AZ-104 exam (currently in beta and the primary focus of this guide) or AZ-103 (which is scheduled to be retired later this year on August 31, 2020). The price is exactly the same but the newer exam should be your choice.


While there are no specific prerequisites to this certification beyond one of the applicable exams, it is worth noting that experience with the required skills is key to a successful experience with the exam. Please make sure that you possess sufficient experience and invest the time to go through the relevant Pluralsight courses and other resources.

Skills Measured

Your skills will be measured in the following five categories:

  • Manage Azure identities and governance
  • Implement and manage storage
  • Deploy and manage Azure compute resources
  • Configure and manage virtual networking
  • Monitor and back up Azure resources

These categories are broken down as follows:

Manage Azure identities and governance

Manage Azure AD objects

  • Create users and groups
  • Manage user and group properties
  • Manage device settings
  • Perform bulk user updates
  • Manage guest accounts
  • Configure Azure AD Join
  • Configure self-service password reset
  • NOT: Azure AD Connect; PIM

Manage role-based access control (RBAC)

  • Create a custom role
  • Provide access to Azure resources by assigning roles subscriptions, resource groups, and resources (VM, disk, etc.)
  • Interpret access assignments
  • Manage multiple directories

Manage subscriptions and governance

  • Configure Azure policies
  • Configure resource locks
  • Apply tags
  • Create and manage resource groups
    • Move resources
    • Remove RGs
  • Manage subscriptions
  • Configure Cost Management
  • Configure management groups

Implement and manage storage

Manage storage accounts

  • Configure network access to storage accounts
  • Create and configure storage accounts
  • Generate shared access signature
  • Manage access keys
  • Implement Azure storage replication
  • Configure Azure AD Authentication for a storage account

Manage data in Azure Storage

  • Export from Azure job
  • Import into Azure job
  • Install and use Azure Storage Explorer
  • Copy data by using AZCopy

Configure Azure files and Azure blob storage

  • Create an Azure file share
  • Create and configure Azure File Sync service
  • Configure Azure blob storage
  • Configure storage tiers for Azure blobs

Deploy and Manage Azure Compute Resources

Configure VMs for high availability and scalability

  • Configure high availability
  • Deploy and configure scale sets

Automate deployment and configuration of VMs

  • Modify Azure Resource Manager (ARM) template
  • Configure VHD template
  • Deploy from template
  • Save a deployment as an ARM template
  • Automate configuration management by using custom script extensions

Create and configure VMs

  • Configure Azure Disk Encryption
  • Move VMs from one resource group to another
  • Manage VM sizes
  • Add data discs
  • Configure networking
  • Redeploy VMs

Create and configure containers

  • Create and configure Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
  • Create and configure Azure Container Instances (ACI)
  • NOT: selecting a container solution architecture or product; container registry settings

Create and configure web apps

  • Create and configure App Service
  • Create and configure App Service Plans
  • NOT: Azure Functions; Logic Apps; Event Grid

Configure and Manage Virtual Networking

Implement and manage virtual networking

  • Create and configure VNET peering
  • Configure private and public IP addresses, network routes, network interface, subnets, and virtual network

Configure name resolution

  • Configure Azure DNS
  • Configure custom DNS settings
  • Configure a private or public DNS zone

Secure access to virtual networks

  • Create security rules
  • Associate an NSG to a subnet or network interface
  • Evaluate effective security rules
  • Deploy and configure Azure Firewall
  • Deploy and configure Azure Bastion Service
  • NOT: Implement Application Security Groups; DDoS

Configure load balancing

  • Configure Application Gateway
  • Configure an internal load balancer
  • Configure load balancing rules
  • Configure a public load balancer
  • Troubleshoot load balancing
  • NOT: Traffic Manager, FrontDoor, and PrivateLink

Monitor and troubleshoot virtual networking

  • Monitor on-premises connectivity
  • Use Network Performance Monitor
  • Use Network Watcher
  • Troubleshoot external networking
  • Troubleshoot virtual network connectivity

Integrate an on-premises network with an Azure virtual network

  • Create and configure Azure VPN Gateway
  • Create and configure VPNs
  • Configure ExpressRoute
  • Configure Azure Virtual WAN

Monitor and Back Up Azure Resources

Monitor resources by using Azure Monitor

  • Configure and interpret metrics
    • Analyze metrics across subscriptions
  • Configure Log Analytics
    • Implement a Log Analytics workspace
    • Configure diagnostic settings
  • Query and analyze logs
    • Create a query
    • Save a query to the dashboard
    • Interpret graphs
  • Set up alerts and actions
    • Create and test alerts
    • Create action groups
    • View alerts in Azure Monitor
    • Analyze alerts across subscriptions
  • Configure app Insights
  • NOT: Network monitoring

Implement backup and recovery

  • Configure and review backup reports
  • Perform backup and restore operations by using Azure Backup Service
  • Create a Recovery Services Vault
    • Use soft delete to recover Azure VMs
  • Create and configure backup policy
  • Perform site-to-site recovery by using Azure Site Recovery
  • NOT: SQL or HANA

Pluralsight Courses

Make sure you check out Pluralsight's Microsoft Azure Administrator learning path, which currently contains 24 different courses split into beginners, intermediate, and advanced sections.

As always, the newer the course the more relevant the material will be to your learning journey.

Compensation and Employment Outlook

The cloud business has been booming in the last several years. Microsoft has closed the gap with its main competitor and keeps growing. While COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way, it certainly doesn't seem to have had a negative impact on Microsoft's cloud growth.

Gaining an up-to-date certification like the Azure Administrator Associate certification from a household name like Microsoft should make you much more attractive to both your current and future employers. Your current employer might not raise your salary, but the next time you go looking for a job make sure you check trusted Internet sources for up-to-date information on salaries in your region.

It's difficult to provide absolute figures because they will depend on numerous factors like your experience, company type and size, industry, and region. Expect salaries to range from $80,000 to $125,000 in the US, £45,000 to £65,000 in the UK and €50,000 to €70,000 in Germany.


As an entry level certification, gaining the Azure Administrator Associate credentials should not prove to be very difficult for you. All it takes is a single exam, and you have dozens of excellent courses available to gain the required knowledge and earn that badge. Sign up to Microsoft Azure, utilize the free cloud credits and services and book the exam, which you can take right in your home or in one of many testing centers.

I hope that this guide is useful and wish you good luck with gaining your certification.