Increase your skills, not your bills.
If you know me, you’ll know primarily I work with AWS. In fact, I’m an AWS Certified SysOps Administrator. So why am I here, telling you to get Azure certified?
Well, if you really know me, you’ll also know I believe that blind adherence to one vendor is foolish. In terms of your cloud skills, this has never been truer. In a survey of public cloud users carried out by Gartner, 81% of them said they are working with two or more cloud providers.
“By 2023, half of the total public cloud market will be dominated by the 10 biggest public cloud providers.”
If you really know me, you’ll also know I absolute love freebies and would skin a turd for a penny.
So as you can imagine, I was overjoyed when I found out how to get an Azure cert for free. On a serious note, with the pandemic affecting so many people’s careers right now, diversifying your skills is a smart move.
Azure Fundamentals is an entry level Azure exam. It is ideal for people with some cloud experience already, or someone with IT skills who wants to break into the cloud professionally.
Get the free exam voucher
The most important part of this is earning the free exam voucher. This is dependent on Microsoft. They offer Virtual Training Days, which are free webinars on various topics. The event you want will be under “Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Days” and is called “Fundamentals.”
The dates on these will vary so you will need to check the website regularly. As of writing, the next event is 19th May 2021.
Look for this text in the course description:
After completing this free training, you’ll be eligible to take the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification exam at no cost.
You must register for the training day with the same email address you will use to register for the exam with, otherwise your voucher will not be redeemable.
What this training will not teach you, is if it’s pronounced A-zure or Ay-zure. You work it out, I’m done with that debate.
Get the free practise tests
The official Microsoft practise tests for AZ-900 cost around $99-$109. You’d actually save money just doing the real test and chancing your luck!
There are unofficial practise exams available on third party training sites, like Udemy, Whizlabs and Tutorials Dojo. A set of 5–6 practise tests should set you back £15-£20. Don’t ask me what that is in dollars, thanks to Brexit I can’t keep track any more.
However, this is an article about doing this for free! So, with that in mind, both Whizlabs and Tutorials Dojo offer free sample practise exams. These are not complete practise tests and are no substitute for a full practise test. They are a good barometer of your skills though.
I would say if you’re going to spend any money during this endeavour, spend it on some full practise tests.
Get the free training materials
Microsoft provide all the training material you need for AZ-900, for free, on their Microsoft Learn platform.
There are 6 modules in the AZ-900 learning path, and you should complete them all before attempting the exam.
Each lesson contains a knowledge check at the end, and scenario based examples. Some lessons even include a free Azure sandbox for you to create resources in real time.
In addition, Azure also offer a 12 month free trial which includes £150/$200 of credit, and 25 “always free” products.
There are some legitimately cool things in the Always Free tier. I can see myself actually using Azure for these, even after I have zero obligation to do so.
Adam Marczak is a Microsoft MVP and Senior Cloud Architect who hosts the “Azure 4 Everyone” YouTube channel. He also runs this excellent resource on AZ-900. It includes links to his videos, cheat sheets, study guides and more. These are probably the most comprehensive study notes you’ll find for free.
Book the free exam at home
One benefit of the pandemic is that it’s finally brought online exam proctoring into the mainstream. You have the option to take the AZ-900 exam at home, so you totally should. This may depend on your location and provider. I’m in the UK and booked with Pearson Vue. Just be warned, you will very likely need your webcam on so the invigilator can monitor you, and they may ask to see your work area. So tidy up and dress nice!
As for saving money, this one is a bit of a stretch. You do save on bus fare/parking/cycle wear and tear, so there is that.
Also, when I sat my AWS exam in a test centre in Bath, I bought a £7 burrito for lunch and spent £40 on beer in the pub after celebrating passing the exam.
Stay home, have a sandwich and a can of beer/fanta, and save yourself some money.
I hope you found this helpful, and if you did, drop me a comment or something like that. I live for external validation.
A̵l̵s̵o̵ ̵m̵y̵ ̵A̵Z̵-̵9̵0̵0̵ ̵e̵x̵a̵m̵ ̵i̵s̵ ̵t̵o̵m̵o̵r̵r̵o̵w̵,̵ ̵s̵o̵ ̵s̵e̵n̵d̵ ̵m̵e̵ ̵g̵o̵o̵d̵ ̵v̵i̵b̵e̵s̵ ̵p̵l̵e̵a̵s̵e̵!̵ I passed my AZ-900 today! Thanks for the good vibes, they were obviously very powerful.
If you book an exam off the back of this, do let me know! Go smash it, I believe in you.