DISCLAIMER: This is not official guidance or professional endorsed by Microsoft or any other company. This information is purely a guide based on my own advice and opinion.

If you’ve come from a Skype for Business, or indeed any other background for that matter, you’re probably investigating your current options with regards to official certification in Microsoft Teams. Personally, I have been weighing up the different certifications and paths Microsoft offer that provide the most value to my career, or least how I perceive my career to evolve in the coming years. The following are my findings and advice, if you want to operate in the future of Intelligent Communications.

The first rock to turn over was understanding the exam paths. Microsoft are releasing new “role-based” certifications which are targeted to compliment the role you’re playing in your day-to-day work life. We also have the more common MCSE certification path.

I will say this immediately, it’s probably a waste of time, effort and money to concern yourself with an MCSE certification if you’re entering Microsoft certification today. MCSE’s in the UC space particularly are based on on-premises applications such as Skype for Business Server, which hold very little if anything towards Microsoft Teams. OK, knowing the heritage platform that could help you pick up Teams voice quicker, but is it worth the cert? In my opinion, no, just pick up a textbook, or do some online reading should suffice.

Microsoft appear to be pushing the role-based certifications, and the only “Expert” level certification that incorporates Microsoft Teams is the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Expert (EAE from now on) certification. I am not sure I like the certification name, because typically sysadmins do not deploy, but that could just be my insecurities. Anyway, not to distract.

To attain EAE you have a few journey options. I won’t go through them all, instead I will call out the ones I feel provide real benefit to Microsoft Teams.

MCSE: Productivity to EAE

If you have attained an MCSE in Productivity and it is still valid then you can attain EAE by taking the MS-100 and MS-101 exams

  • MS-100 – Microsoft 365 Identity & Services
  • MS-101 – Microsoft 365 Mobility & Security

This is the quickest route to achieving Microsoft 365 EAE if that is your ultimate goal. The 100 and 101 exams and learning material will help you understand the fundamental building blocks of which Microsoft Teams ins built on and how to securely manage deployments across BYOD and Company Devices. You’d Probably have enough background experience to deploy Teams effectively (Chat and Collaboration).

For those who want to deploy Teams Enterprise Voice, this requires some significant voice skills and knowledge. It’s not so much “how to connect teams to a SIP trunk” but how to integrate this into the workplace that is full of interesting and often out-dated voice technology. This is where many “have a go heroes will fail”.

Teams voice stack comes from Skype for Business. There is a standalone exam you can take (70-333) that will give you all the technical knowledge you’ll need to fully understand Teams voice. It is highly recommended you sit this exam because it will (and is) a fundamental requirement for any Microsoft Teams role that involves an Enterprise Voice deployment. Don’t take my word for it, see the job boards…

No Cert to EAE

This situation is a bit more interesting. People here will not have a legacy MCSE certification, so will need to start the new path from the beginning. From my perspective, there are two routes

  1. Microsoft 365 Teamwork Administrator
  2. Microsoft 365 Security Administrator Associate

Logically, you may think that taking option 1 is the best one, after all it is labelled Teamwork, so that must mean Teams right? To a degree you are correct and offers clear certification in deploying Teams.

MS-300 – Deploying Microsoft Teams exam fits the bill perfectly. However, you must attain two linked exam certifications to achieve the Microsoft 365 Teamwork Administrator, which is one of the per-requisite options to the EAE certification.

Microsoft 365 Teamwork Track

The companion exam / certification to make up the Teamwork Administrator, MS-301 is deploying SharePoint Server Hybrid. For many people coming from a UC background this certification is pretty useless and so alien to the heritage skill set, you’d sooner want to cheat your way through it in order to get to EAE. In order to achieve EAE in this track you need to complete the following exams:

  • MS-300 – Deploying Microsoft Teams
  • MS-301 – Deploying SharePoint Server Hybrid
  • MS-100 – Microsoft 365 Identity & Services
  • MS-101 – Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security

There is another, better and even shorter way.

Microsoft 365 Security Administrator Track

You could look at the Microsoft 365 Security Administrator Associate learning path. To attain the associate level, which is another feeder requirement option to enter the EAE exams requires you to site only one exam, MS-500. This certification is focused on Microsoft 365 security, which will inevitably help you understand and mitigate risks in deploying Microsoft Teams. In order to achieve EAE in this track you only need to sit the following:

  • MS-500 – Microsoft 365 Security Administrator
  • MS-100 – Microsoft 365 Identity & Services
  • MS-101 – Microsoft 365 Mobility and Security

For those of you choosing this track, I would highly recommend also sitting MS-300 – Deploying Teams as a standalone exam. You won’t earn a certification credit, but you will demonstrate capability and proficiency in Microsoft Teams, as well as being more security focused, which can open doors to opportunities away from Teams specifically.

With any exam track, if you’re considering Teams Voice, please look into 70-333 Deploying Skype for Business Server 2015 Enterprise Voice for the deep voice knowledge you’re going to need to cope with diverse voice ecosystems.

Going Beyond

For those wanting to focus on voice and video elements in Teams, you’ll need to expand your horizons away from Microsoft and consider partner certifications. Here are some that may be of interest to you:

  • Audiocodes Certified Associate – SBC Essential Configuration
  • Ribbon Certified Professional – SBC Implementation & Troubleshooting
  • Pexip Certified Expert – Cloud Video Interop
  • Polycom (Poly) Video Conferencing Certified Expert
  • The SIP School Certified Associate (SSCA)

What will I be doing?

I will take advantage of my MCSE productivity and pursue EAE with the required exams. However, I plan to sit the Microsoft 365 Security Administrator exam to give me that breadth across the M365 stack.

I hope this helps you in your decision making. Its a free choice, it’s your career and I encourage you to follow your own path.

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