Is the Microsoft Data Science Certificate Worth It?

Microsoft Azure is perhaps one of the most promising cloud-based services for major corporations and businesses, allowing them to adopt a hardware-free approach toward simplified server management. And as more Fortune 500 companies are entrusting their data to Azure, understanding how to use the platform poses potential career-boosting benefits to experienced data scientists. So is the Microsoft Data Science Certificate worth it?

The Microsoft Data Science Certificate (Azure) is worth it if you have experience with Azure or cloud-based platforms. You can complete this coursework in as few as three days, and, since many big-name companies use Azure, understanding the framework can influence career opportunities.

As you may have predicted, the Microsoft Data Science Certificate centered around Azure has incredible potential for data scientists looking to grow within the field. But the certification presumably doesn’t come without its faults. Read on to learn more about whether this certificate is worth the investment.

Important Sidenote: We interviewed numerous data science professionals (data scientists, hiring managers, recruiters – you name it) and identified 6 proven steps to follow for becoming a data scientist. Read my article: ‘6 Proven Steps To Becoming a Data Scientist [Complete Guide] for in-depth findings and recommendations! – This is perhaps the most comprehensive article on the subject you will find on the internet!

What Is the Microsoft Data Science Certificate?

The Microsoft Data Science Certificate introduces entry-level data scientists to the inner workings of the most popular public cloud for Fortune 500 businesses — Microsoft Azure. Microsoft currently offers two “levels” to this certification, entirely dependent on where your knowledge and experience with data science stands presently:

  • Fundamentals (optional): This 1-day, six-module course and certification exam cover the barebones basics of Azure and data science: PaaS vs. SaaS, essential components of the Azure platform, and Azure security features (i.e., Key Vault & Firewall).
  • Associate: This 3-day, ten-module course and exam cover more advanced data science concepts for those with previous experience in the field of data science: Maintaining data stores, creating experiments and training pipelines, and logging metrics.

Prospective students have the choice between a free online pathway leading up to the exam or an instructor-led course costing $800-$2,000.

Want to learn a little bit more about what Azure is and why major businesses can’t seem to get enough of it? The video below will explain the basics of the platform.

Pros of the Microsoft Data Science Certificate

  • Data scientists with hands-on Azure skills are in high-demand, with potential earnings averaging $96,642.
  • Associate-level coursework takes only three days.
  • Ninety-five percent of Fortune 500 companies trust Microsoft Azure with their cloud-based services.
  • You can participate in hands-on labs, which enable you to practice skills like creating training pipelines and developing Azure Machine Learning workspaces.

Cons of the Microsoft Data Science Certificate

  • Earning both certificates — Microsoft Azure fundamentals and associate — will cost you more than $3,000.
  • Scoring a 70% or higher on the exams won’t necessarily mean you have a firm grasp on data science principles, especially those in Azure.
  • It’s not as entry-level as it might sound (baseline knowledge in data science and cloud-based solutions is recommended).
  • No guarantee that you’ll reap the fruits of your labor with a job offer — financially, mentally, effort-wise, and time-wise.

Should You Get This?

Truthfully, the answer to this question depends on two things:

  1. Where you currently stand in your data science career.
  2. Where you plan to go within the data science world in the future.

Each day, more and more companies are making the transition over to Azure — including 95% of Fortune 500 companies. If your employer seems set on using IBM or Amazon Web Services for the foreseeable future, spending $2,000+ on this certificate likely won’t yield a bonus or a pay raise. And if your only previous experience with cloud-based platforms are Google Drive or OneDrive, this Azure certificate will altogether bypass the essential data science concepts.

In other words, this certification won’t teach you the foundational knowledge of data science as much as it’ll prepare you to work with Azure daily. However, this certification can do wonders for your blossoming career as a data scientist. 

For one, earning this certificate demonstrates a firm grasp on the inner workings of Azure, making you far more marketable to corporations who’ve already adopted this platform — no extra training necessary. This three-day course (and later exam) also gives you adequate hands-on experience with the platform via labs and instructor-led coursework, a far better option than eight-hour note-taking lectures.

Ultimately, this certification is a bit expensive but can be worth the investment. 

However, few employers require this certificate as a prerequisite for a job offer. And not having an Azure certification won’t outshine your years of experience working with data and servers.

Why the Microsoft Data Science Certificate Is Worth It?

A Fundamental Certificate Is Available

The thing about Microsoft Azure is that, if you’ve had no prior experience with any cloud-based service whatsoever, even the simplest of concepts will go straight over your head. Fortunately, Microsoft offers an optional Fundamentals certificate, as well. Whether you’re a student, technology manager, or developer, the Fundamentals course can introduce you to data science basics like cloud service concepts and foundational Machine Learning.

You’ll Gain Marketable Skills

Since so many companies are transferring over to this cloud-based service, learning Azure-specific concepts like managing Azure Machine Learning workspace, SDK, and creating optimal models will give you a leg-up in the hiring process. Rather than having to learn a new platform during the first few weeks on a new job, you can jump in head-first. This accolade can help you to stand out among a crowd of applicants lacking hands-on experience with Azure.

And of course, certifications and a desire to expand your field knowledge can play a pivotal role in career growth and earning potential. Azure-certified data scientists are in high demand, and you might be able to secure a $96,642 salary with these skills in your toolkit.

Earning the Certificate Isn’t Too Complex

While data science certificates (like the one from IBM) may consist of dozens of separate courses and span several months of training, the Azure Associates certificate is straightforward. It’s possible to complete the instructor-led coursework in three eight-hour sessions. And though you might spend upwards of 40 hours studying to pass this 40-60-question exam, a possible pay raise or bonus might be only a few weeks away!

The Downsides of Microsoft Data Science Certificate

Passing the Exam Isn’t a Guarantee

The primary issue with this certificate is that you can’t put too much weight into what it means to pass the exam. First, you only need a 70% to ace it, meaning you can afford to get 28/40 questions correct and still add this accolade to your resume — a 70% doesn’t confirm you understand the intricate inner workings of Azure. And not surprisingly, paying the $2,000+ for this certificate typically won’t make or break a potential job offer from a reputable employer.

It’s Abnormally Expensive

It’s time to talk about the bright pink elephant in the room — the price. The exams for both certificates are relatively affordable ($99 and $165), but the instructor-led coursework costs a small fortune (about $800 and $2,000 each). Now, considering the average salary for a data scientist is in the range of $85,000-$170,000, it could take you weeks or months to finish paying these optional certificates off altogether. In total, you could be $3,000+ in the hole by the end.

It’s Not As Beginner-Friendly As Advertised

At this point, we want to redirect the attention to how far into your data science career you currently are (hopefully, you’re presently in the industry). The Fundamentals course may very well be appropriate for those with minimal experience with cloud-based business solutions, but the Associates’ class is for current or skilled data scientists. If you don’t know Python or machine learning (i.e., PyTorch), don’t expect to learn about them during this course.

Author’s Recommendations: Top Data Science Resources To Consider

Before concluding this article, I wanted to share few top data science resources that I have personally vetted for you. I am confident that you can greatly benefit in your data science journey by considering one or more of these resources.

  • DataCamp: If you are a beginner focused towards building the foundational skills in data science, there is no better platform than DataCamp. Under one membership umbrella, DataCamp gives you access to 335+ data science courses. There is absolutely no other platform that comes anywhere close to this. Hence, if building foundational data science skills is your goal: Click Here to Sign Up For DataCamp Today!
  • MITx MicroMasters Program in Data Science: If you are at a more advanced stage in your data science journey and looking to take your skills to the next level, there is no Non-Degree program better than MIT MicroMasters. Click Here To Enroll Into The MIT MicroMasters Program Today! (To learn more: Check out my full review of the MIT MicroMasters program here)
  • Roadmap To Becoming a Data Scientist: If you have decided to become a data science professional but not fully sure how to get started: read my article – 6 Proven Ways To Becoming a Data Scientist. In this article, I share my findings from interviewing 100+ data science professionals at top companies (including – Google, Meta, Amazon, etc.) and give you a full roadmap to becoming a data scientist.


This certificate is not appropriate for everyone interested in data science. However, it would be an excellent solution and possible resume-booster for data scientists with an eye on an eventual career at a Fortune 500 company? Pursue this certificate if you currently or plan to use Azure. Otherwise, look for a more marketable data science certificate.

BEFORE YOU GO: Don’t forget to check out my latest article – 6 Proven Steps To Becoming a Data Scientist [Complete Guide]. We interviewed numerous data science professionals (data scientists, hiring managers, recruiters – you name it) and created this comprehensive guide to help you land that perfect data science job.

  1. Data scientist with Microsoft Azure skills salary. (n.d.). PayScale – Salary Comparison, Salary Survey, Search Wages.
  2. How much is a data scientist’s salary? (2018, December 13). University of Wisconsin Data Science Degree.
  3. Krsanty. (n.d.). Data scientist. Developer tools, technical documentation and coding examples | Microsoft Docs.
  4. What is Azure? (2020, February 27). University of Illinois Unified Knowledgebase.
  5. What is Azure—Microsoft cloud services. (n.d.). Cloud Computing Services | Microsoft Azure.
  6. Xizhou1. (n.d.). Microsoft Certified: Azure fundamentals. Technical documentation, API, and code examples | Microsoft Docs.

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Daisy is the founder of Passionate for the field of Data Science, she shares her learnings and experiences in this domain, with the hope to help other Data Science enthusiasts in their path down this incredible discipline.

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