Reimagining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification

Published Oct 07 2021 08:47 AM 96.5K Views

I’m happy to announce that we’re reimagining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.


In today’s digital world, the cloud has changed everything about how we work, including how applications are designed, implemented, and secured. This change is definitely for the better, but it brings new challenges to organizations. Deployments must be automated and predictable, architecture has to handle spikes in traffic, applications have to be resilient when failures occur, data must be secure and not vulnerable to malicious actors—and these are just some of the challenges.


The Azure solutions architect is key to all of this and more, and the updated certification better aligns to the skills of real-world solutions architects and the tasks they perform.


What you need to know about the coming update

A successful Azure solutions architect has multifaceted skills and experience, including the ability to both implement and design for the cloud—from start to finish. The updated certification delineates and supports both of these capabilities and validates what’s required for each. Additionally, given the expert level of the certification and the critical demands of the role, it’s important to have the foundation of an associate certification, as is required for our other expert certifications.


We’ll release the beta version of the new Exam AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions on November 16, 2021. It will be required to earn the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. The new exam is focused on the skills required to design cloud and hybrid solutions that run on Azure, including compute, network, storage, monitoring, and security. The exam also includes key skills related to design best practices and patterns, like the ones included in the Microsoft Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Microsoft Azure Well-Architected Framework. For a deeper look at the skills measured by the new exam, explore the Exam AZ-305 skills outline.


Candidates for this certification will also be required to earn the Azure Administrator Associate certification, which proves subject matter expertise in implementing, managing, and monitoring Azure solutions. By pairing the Azure Administrator Associate certification with the new exam, we’re not only helping to ensure that solutions architects have the skills to implement and design end-to-end infrastructure solutions on Azure, but also we’re streamlining the journey from administrator to architect.


With the introduction of Exam AZ-305, we’re also announcing the retirement of Exam AZ-303: Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies and Exam AZ-304: Microsoft Azure Architect Design, effective March 31, 2022.


Your paths to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification

Whether you’re well along on your certification journey or you’re just starting out, to become a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, choose one of the following options:

  • Earn or have a current Azure Administrator Associate certification and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
  • Pass Exam AZ-303 before it retires and pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.
  • Pass both Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 before they retire.




How to prepare for the upcoming beta exam

Even though the new exam won’t be released until November 2021, you can start preparing for it now:

  • Review the Exam AZ-305 (beta) page for details. The Exam AZ-305 skills outline details the key topics covered on the exam.
  • Gear up with the AZ-305 Study Guide created by Microsoft Cloud Advocate @thomasmaurer.
  • Refresh your architecture design skills with the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework learning path.
  • Stay tuned for brand-new instructor-led training and self-paced content designed to support your preparation for the upcoming Exam AZ-305, that will be released around beta time (mid-November, 2021).  


Have questions? We’ve got answers

I’m preparing for Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304. What should I do?

If you’ve been preparing for Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304 and you feel ready to take them, you still have time to do it before they retire on March 31, 2022.


If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-303, you can complete your journey by passing the new Exam AZ-305 after it’s available or by passing Exam AZ-304 before it retires on March 31, 2022.


If you’ve already passed Exam AZ-304, be sure to complete your journey by passing Exam AZ-303 before it retires on March 31, 2022.


If you’re just beginning your preparation for either Exam AZ-303 or Exam AZ-304, consider earning your Azure Administrator Associate certification and taking the new AZ-305 exam instead.


How can I prepare for the Azure Administrator Associate certification?

We have plenty of resources to help you prepare for this certification, including content on Microsoft Learn, instructor-led training with Microsoft Learning Partners, and Microsoft Official Practice Tests. Check out the blog post Level up with Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate for more information.


I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification. What should I do?

The great news is that you’re already halfway to earning the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. Your next step is to pass Exam AZ-305 after it’s available.


I’ve already earned an Azure Administrator Associate certification, and it’s expiring soon. What’s the best way to keep it up to date?

Be sure to renew your current certification by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn. The renewal assessment can be completed online on your own time, anytime within six months before your certification expires. Is your certification expiring soon? Renew it for free today!


Can I renew my current Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification by passing Exam AZ-305 (beta) before my certification expires?

No. To renew your certification, you need to pass the renewal assessment before your certification expires.


I’ve already earned a Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification, but I don’t have an Azure Administrator Associate certification. Will I lose my certification?

No. The prerequisite will be for candidates who take Exam AZ-305 after it’s available. Currently, Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304 prove the skills for implementation and design, so you don’t need to earn the Azure Solutions Administrator Associate certification.


Why is Microsoft making this change now?

We regularly review our portfolio to ensure that our certifications remain technically relevant. Certifications can open career opportunities, so we’re committed to keeping them current for you. To understand our process, check out Updating Microsoft Certifications: How we keep them relevant.


How can I get more involved in the certification and exam creation process?

During our portfolio review, we listen carefully to feedback on the skills that need to be measured for specific roles—like we did for the Azure Solutions Architect Expert. If you want to share your voice and insight, read Help Us Create Exams and Learning Content! Join Our SME Database Today!


Stay tuned

On November 16, 2021, watch for our blog post announcing the beta version of Exam AZ-305, and start preparing now with the skills outlines and the content on Microsoft Learn. Your Microsoft Certification can help validate that you have the skills to stay ahead with today’s technology—for your career, your team, and your organization. It’s time to spotlight your architecture design and implementation skills and strengths with the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.


Related announcements

Finding the right Microsoft Azure certification for you

New Contributor

The link to the AZ-305 Guide by @thomasmaurer is broken. It does not appear to be available yet on his website. Thanks!
Resolved. Thanks!

Senior Member

I was in doubt, I already have the two exams 303 and 304, will I need to take the 305? Or does it automatically switch to 305?

New Contributor

I love that the data component is having more weight than the 10-15% which was before. Already earned AZ 400, AZ 204, AZ 104 and hoping this AZ 305 will complete my path. Unfortunately I am almost done preparing for AZ 303/304 and will have take them before March 2022. I must applaud that having one exam for the expert certification over and above the associate ones makes perfect sense.

Established Member

I wonder why Azure Administrator Associate is the pre-requisite? why not Azure Developer Associate instead? or they could have made either one of these 2, plus AZ-305 ...


@Michel_Jatoba, If you already passed Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304, you are already Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.

Congratulations! You don't need to take the new Exam AZ-305. But you need to stay tuned when your current certification is ready for renewal, to take the free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn.

Senior Member

Will AZ-305 have a beta version exam discount? 


I have an exam voucher that's applicable to AZ-303 and AZ-304, will that work for AZ-305?

Occasional Visitor

Correct me if I'm wrong, but looking at the skills outlines of AZ-303, AZ-304, and AZ-305, I believe that AZ-304 and AZ-305 are pretty similar as far as what exactly will be covered, except for how each domain will be weighted. If so, since the news of AZ-305 is pretty much hot off the press, if we already have the Azure Admin cert, should we essentially study and prepare for AZ-304 and then just take AZ-305 instead?

Regular Visitor

The current format has two 300 level exams. The new one, you can choose to take AZ-104 + AZ-305 which is a 100 level and a 300 level exam.  Is this a downgrade in the exam value?

I already gotten my AZ-303 and I look at both AZ-304/5 are very similar in content and the later AZ-305 won't be available until November. Should I just take AZ-304 to complete the track or wait wait for AZ-305 in November?

Will there be free exam voucher available for AZ-305 since it is a beta exam or the AZ-304 since it will be retired in a few months?

Regular Visitor

Any Beta Exam Code for MCT?


@Fred_Legaspi, Yes, when we announce the beta availability for Exam AZ-305, we will offer the usual beta discount code. 

I am not sure the discount voucher you already have will work. Some times discount vouchers are set up for specific exams only.


Stay tuned on November 16, 2021 for the beta exam blog post, so you are among the first 300 people to use the code. Be sure to subscribe to "Beta exams" or to "Liberty Munson's" blog posts (tip: we usually posts Azure beta exam between 8 am and 10 am US Pacific Time).


@pedramadili, you are on the right direction. the new Exam AZ-305 is an enhancement of the Exam AZ-304. I've been told it will have more use case type of questions, and it will include topics that you will find in the the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework. :smile:


If you already have earned the Azure Administrator Associate certification, your choice to become Azure Solutions Architect Expert is to take the new AZ-305.


So yes, prepare for Exam AZ-304, adding the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework, and take Exam AZ-305 once it is available.



@hykok, our exam numbers don't reflect the level of expertise you require to earn a certification. All our fundamentals certification exams are XX-900 :smile:.


What indicates the level of expertise is the "Fundamentals", "Associate", "Expert", or "Specialty" word that qualify each one of the certifications:

Azure Fundamentals

Azure Administrator Associate

Azure Solutions Architect Expert


Since you already have passed Exam AZ-303, you have choices, depending on how far are you on your preparation for Exam AZ-304, or when you want to earn your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification:

  • If you are ready to take Exam AZ-304, I'd go for it.
  • If you need/want to earn your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification before November 16, 2021, you should take and pass Exam AZ-304 now.
  • If you can/want wait until November, I'd take the Exam AZ-305. As I mention in another answer, you can start preparing for Exam AZ-304, adding the Cloud Adoption Framework for Azure and the Azure Well-Architected Framework, and take Exam AZ-305 once it is available.

When we release Exam AZ-305 on November 16, 2021, we will have the usual beta discount (for a limited number of people, a limited time period, and available in certain countries).



@cyrus822, yes, the Microsoft Certified Trainer program will have the usual access to beta exams.

Occasional Visitor


I already have an Associate certification for AZ-500.

Can it be used to satisfy prerequisite for AZ-305?

Occasional Visitor

Is there any impacts on cloud skills challenge. Currently I am working that solution architect challenge. After completing my challenge, for which exam(s) I got 50% discount.

Occasional Visitor

hi there,


I know Microsoft has been changing their certs more frequently than any other providers, but other top two providers such as AWS and Google Cloud doesn't have an administration cert as a pre-requisite for their professional architect cert.


I am not keen on hands on and I already have AZ-304, the same way I did AWS architect pro cert, as I am not keen or have time to do hands on labs.


Am I reading now that Microsoft is mandating that everyone should have hands on experience even for an architect who provide solutions but not necessarily do day to day hands on work? To be honest introducing an admin type exam as a pre-requisites for an professional architect cert for me doesn't make sense.




Best regards,




Senior Member

I honestly don’t welcome this change. This started with associate and now architect. The difficulty to earn these titles in the past was more challenging and comprehensive in my opinion. There are new certs announced, such as AZ800 and 801, and I bet they will merge eventually as well. 


@S0L0M0N, Exam AZ-500 is requirement for Azure Security Engineer Associate; this certification is not in the path for Azure Solutions Architect Expert.


If you are planning on pursuing the Azure Solutions Architect by taking Exam AZ-305, then you will have to earn also the Azure Administrator Associate cert by passing Exam AZ-104.


@unbuiltboat, Are you talking about the 30 Days to Learn it! challenge? If so, the Azure Solutions Architect challenge is designed to help you start prepare for Exam AZ-303 and Exam AZ-304.


Remember, those exams will retire on March, 2022, so you still have time to finish the challenge, earn your discount, and take the exam of your choice.

Occasional Visitor

Hi Sandra a question:

I have passed the exams Az-303 and Az-304, but if I go in my Dashboard I don't have the Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert BADGE.

What am I doing wrong?



Regular Visitor

I already Passed AZ300 and planning to take AZ304. Will my AZ300 be credited to get the Azure Solutions Architect Expert Certification? 

Regular Visitor

Early this year I passed my AZ-104 and then passed the two Architect exams AZ-303 and AZ-304. I must say both were tough and I learned a lot preparing for these two given my background is Unified Communications. Having a look at the current 305 I think it is basically 304 which means 303 has been taken off the shelf completely which is a bit surprising because it replaced 300 only last year this time around.  While I understand that 303 was an advanced 104 so it makes sense to make it AZ104+AZ305 but I think candidates who earned Architect level  by getting 104, 303, 304 may have gone through a more indepth path then people who will be doing 104, 305. Is Microsoft trying to do a aws here simplifying their Architect Exam?

New Contributor

I've taken and passed the 300, currently I will be taking the 304 this fall, will this still be acceptable to receive the Azure Solutions Architect "expert" Badge?


@Humprey Cogay , @rjmarino ,

If you already passed Exam AZ-300, all you need to do is to pass Exam AZ-304 before it retires on March 31, 2021.

Occasional Visitor

Hello Sir/Madam, I have passed exams AZ300 on 31 Dec 2019 and AZ 301 on May2020  which gave me azure sol arch expert certificate with valid dates may 2020 to may 2022.  My question is 1=how to Pass the renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn to renew  certification( aka AZ303 now ), it did not have expiration date and i did not got renewal notification.  2= as per this announcement looks like there will be new exam 305 for Azure Sol Arch Expert ( 303 and 304 will be retired). Can i take just assessment on AZ 305 to renew my current Azure Sol Arch Expert without need for taking assessment exam for AZ 303, 304. if yes, when will i be eligible.  Thank you. With Regards.


Hello @sbonaili,

According to the dates you are sharing, you should have earned your Azure Solutions Architect Expert on May 2020 (date when you passed the second exam). That means your certification will expire on May 2022.


To renew your certification you don't need to take a particular exam. You will be able to renew it with the free online assessment on Microsoft Learn. Read the Is your certification expiring soon? Renew it for free today! article for more information.


Your renewal period will be from November 2021 (six months before the certification expires) through May 2022. You will receive a notification on your registered mail account with all the information (November 2021). Within the renewal period you can go to your Certification Dashboard in November to find instructions on how to renew.


Hope this helps. Happy renewal, let me know how it goes.

Occasional Visitor

Why we are taking Azure solution Architect course as an expert in Administrator path. What will be the path for developer people who expects Architecture path after completion of Azure Developer associate or Azure IoT developer certificate?

Kindly assist.

Senior Member

So what should be the official guidance (missing in the list of options what to do) for folks, who did achieve the architect expert cert based on exams 300/301 in the past. Do we need to sit for the exams again? (so then .. why the annual assessments, if we have to fully recertify?)


As always those who were the first ones to get some cert are left behind?

My Expert cert will expire on Feb2021, however unlike with other certs expiring, there's no option to renew this one.


Hi @Marek Chmel, if you already earned your certification, regardless of which exams you passed you don't need to recertify by taking the new exam.


All role-based (associate and expert) and specialty certifications can be renewed, as long as you do it before they expire.


If your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is expiring February 2022, you are already in the eligibility window to renew it. Check your Certification Dashboard for instructions--you should also have received a notification email about the renewal.

If your certification expired February 2021 and you didn't renew it back then, you'll need to start from the beginning.


Hope this helps.


Hi @sagarpatil678,

For developers, there are several options when it comes to Azure certifications:

  • Azure Developer Associate
  • Azure IoT Developer Specialty
  • Azure AI Engineer Associate
  • DevOps Engineer Expert

And the coming soon Azure Cosmos DB Developer Specialty.


Check out the Azure Training Journey to explore these and more training and certification options.


Hope this helps.


Senior Member

Hi @SandraMarin

thanks for the answers, however in my case that's actually not true. The certification is displayed as 

Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert (Legacy)

and does not offer any option for renewal. So there must be some combination of older exams, which does not provide the renewal. Neither it does display in the certification dashboard.







Hi @Marek Chmel,

Got it. I think I heard about a similar case before. Please, be sure to contact the Certifications Support team and they will be able to guide you better.

Senior Member

Today is day. I hope that the AZ-305 beta exam discount code gets released today. I cannot wait to schedule my exam. Have a great day everyone!




I have completed Az-900 (Azure Fundamental), AZ-104 (Azure Admin) and was preparing Az-304. If I appear for Az-304 only, will that be correct architect path or do I need to go for Az-305 preparation and exam now and leave Az-304. Please confirm.





Hi @Ashish-1 ,

If you already passed Exam AZ-104 and earned your Azure Administrator Associate, I'd recommend you to prepare for and take the new Exam AZ-305.


You can still take and pass Exam AZ-304 before it retires on March 31, 2022, but then you'll have to take and pass also Exam AZ-303.


Hope this helps.





Hi SandraMarin,


I have a unique question to you on this front of certification.


I am AZ 900 (Azure Fundamentals) certified, I am appearing for AZ 204 on Dec'21 and i have scheduled AZ 303 and AZ 304 in Jan and Feb of 2022. Now as per this new certification AZ 305, i will get all my other certificates invalid. Is this how Microsoft works on certifying a Azure Expert Professional?


I always believed Microsoft is the best platform in acquiring cloud knowledge from its Product and Services, than how their new releases work in this kind of scenarios


Appreciate your input 


Thanks and Regards

Kasturi Das

United States



Occasional Visitor



Will there be a Chinese version of this exam?


Best Regards.



Hi @Kasturi_Das,

If you are already preparing for the path you described, please go ahead. If you pass both AZ-303 and AZ-304 you will earn your Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert.


The new Exam AZ-305 does not invalidated previous exams you have taken and passed, or the certifications you have earned.


Another alternative for you would be to pass Exam AZ-303 in February, as you are planning, and pass Exam AZ-305 instead of Exam AZ-304. I would recommend this option only if you haven't started to prepare for Exam AZ-304.


hope this helps.


@GaryZhang ,

I am almost positive there will be a Chinese version of the exam. However, beta exams are not translated. We provide localized versions only after an exam goes live, so it will be a few months from now.


Hope this helps.


Hi @SandraMarin,


Thanks for your response.


As per your suggestion, AZ 305 can be appeared in lieu of AZ 304, but i have already purchased AZ 304 exam and scheduled for Feb'22. Kindly let me know, if Microsoft can replace these exams, then it would be of great help.


Thanks and Regards

Kasturi Das

United States 


@Kasturi_Das, If you already have scheduled and paid AZ-304 in February, go ahead with it. By passing AZ-304 and AZ-303 will you will earn your certification.



Occasional Visitor

This doesn't make any sense anymore. Please call it infrastructure architect. Not a Solutions Architect. The topics here are mostly around infrastructure, vms, network, security , identity etc. It has nothing to do with designing a solution for an architecture. 


How about software? end to end solution?


This is just wrong and I'm tired of these changes. I always hoped for better but it keeps getting worse. 


You people are confused and this has become just bad. I see people passing these exams like they are nothing yet the have no idea about architecture or designing a solution. 

Occasional Visitor


I have passed AZ-303 and AZ-304 , but still not received AZ-305 certificate. Generally how much time needed to generate the Certificate?




Hi @harshitgoyal_IN,

If you already passed Exams AZ-303 and AZ-304, then you are already Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. There is no need for you to take Exam AZ-305. Be sure to review when your certification expires, so you can renew it for free with the Microsoft Learn online assessment. Visit your Certification Dashboard to find more information about renewing your certification.


You only get an exam badge or the exam in your transcript when you take and pass that exam.

Occasional Visitor

I have passed my AZ-104 exam and was preparing for AZ-303 and AZ-304 - Registered for AZ-304 a couple of months back and now AZ-305 is released and apparently, I can appear in AZ-305 instead of appearing in 2 exams and get the desired certification level.


Question: is there a way to cancel AZ-304 and register for AZ-305 so I don't loose my money paid :(


@pkamnani ,

You can cancel or reschedule your Microsoft Certification exams. Refer to your original appointment confirmation email to see whether there are any fees or deadlines for rescheduling or canceling your exam.

Occasional Visitor

Hi @SandraMarin ,

I have already completed AZ-204: Microsoft Azure Developer Associate. Can it be considered as pre-requisite to take the AZ-305 exam straightaway? Why do we need to take AZ-104 which is for administrator?


hi @sivapunnaivanam ,

The Azure Developer Associate certification is not prerequisite for the Azure Solutions Architect Expert. You will need to earn the Azure Administrator Associate certification and pass the Exam AZ-305.





This is ridiculous and assinine.  Microsoft needs to get a better framework in place for certs.  I just got my AZ300 last year and due to covid and work changes I have to take 2 more tests instead of one?  Tell me this isnt a scam to keep taking your money.  And whats with the numbering scheme?  You cant just update the content?  Is it really that hard?  You are over complicating it and its not impressive makes me want to switch to AWS or something else.  Absurd and everyone just nods in agreement like good little puppets.  


Hi @EF D,

If you already passed your Exam AZ-300, you just need to take and pass the new Exam AZ-305 and you'll earn your Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.


Hope this helps.


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