Democratizing AI Through Microsoft Certifications in Data Science & Machine Learning

Posted by Marla Michel, Senior Program Manager for Ecosystem Development & Training at Microsoft.

This blog is the first in a series where we will discuss several new certification exams for data professionals and the resources to prepare for them.

When individuals decide which certification to take, their decision is typically based on their role and - in this particular domain - their relationship with data and analytics. Common role or titles we encounter in our domain include data scientists, data analysts, data engineers, data architects and data developers, although by no means is this list exhaustive. What's more, with the democratization of artificial intelligence, it is inevitable that almost all current and future data professionals will be using, or will need to be educated about, machine learning and artificial intelligence, and many will want to have certifications to prove their skills.

The Cortana Intelligence Suite is used today by many Microsoft customers who are building end-to-end business solutions, applying the very latest in ML and AI techniques on their big data. Indeed, this powerful set of technologies is all set to drive the next stage in our customers' digital transformation. Companies and individuals around the world are building their competencies around Cortana Intelligence and its underlying components, such as the Bot Framework, Cognitive Services, Azure ML, Azure Data Factory, Azure Data Warehouse, R Services, Azure Stream Analytics, HDInsight (Hadoop) and more. There are a plethora of training options and training partners to assist them. And now, for those wanting a badge to prove their knowledge, there are corresponding certifications.

Certifications, achieved by passing a Microsoft certification exam, are an industry-recognized way of validating Microsoft technology expertise. Individuals may take these exams to show prospective employers proof of their knowledge and skills and differentiate themselves from others. In some cases, companies require these exams to differentiate themselves from competitors or to maintain program competency requirements. Either way, certifications are a popular way to demonstrate proficiency in a valid and reliable way.

People who are planning to build and deploy machine learning solutions should consider taking the Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning exam . Although it's obvious from the title that this exam assesses in-depth skills and knowledge around Azure ML, this exam also explores proficiency in the Cognitive Services APIs, the ability to deploy HDInsight clusters (the right and secure way!), use Spark SQL, and build different ML models that use Microsoft R Server. It also requires that the person taking the exam have a good understanding of Azure cloud and data services as the exam evaluates a person's knowledge of preparing data for models (including import/export from/to Azure services), operationalizing and managing the Azure ML services, and using other services such as Cortana Intelligence Quickstart, HDInsight, and SQL Server R Services.

The Microsoft Learning and Advanced Analytics Training Portals are good places to start to prepare for the exam, as well as following the Born to Learn blog series focused on certifications. At these sites, the user will find courses to take (online and in-person), tutorials, community guides, and other resources to gain the knowledge necessary to become certified.

Since people come from a variety of backgrounds, learning paths to prepare will differ from person to person. Our certification exams go through a rigorous creation process involving scores of subject matter experts from within Microsoft and the community at large. The result is an exam that can be taken online at a test-taker's convenience or at a test center. The goal is, of course, is to further the journey into ML, AI and big data – go ahead and get started on your certification today!