Studying for the Azure data engineer cert exam (DP-203)
Last week, I completed the certification exam for "Azure data engineer associate" (DP-203). Since I put in quite some effort and successfully completed the exam in one go, I wanted to share how I studied and which materials I studied .
First of al, my background is not in the data world. This means that I was missing a lot of the "foundational knowledge" that a typical "student" would have. Having said this, I really like what I have been learning. It really is as if a door opens to a world that I didn't knew that existed (and neither did I know about the door)...
- Microsoft Learn has a very elaborate learning path
dedicated to this certification
- The learning path contains 10 modules which are focussing together on the different services that are covered in the exam
- Each of the modules covers a lot of ground and touches a lot of (technical) details that are important to understand!
- What I missed here was the "big picture" (and how to put everything together), but also why you would chose one service over another. This doesn't mean that this content is bad! No, it really helped me to get started with each service individually!
- Microsoft (Azure) docs : Each of the Azure data services has its own (dedicated) section in azure docs where you'll be able to find everything you need (in detail)!
- If you are looking for the docs of a specific service, then take a look at this link , which gives you a great overview of the documentation of all services!
- Book: Azure Data Engineer Associate Certification Guide
- I wrote a dedicated post about it here
- This book really helped me to get to the birds eye view and put everything together (what I was missing in the Microsoft learn modules)
Very important: practice, practice, practice! The Azure services that are part of the learning content, are very powerful. You can do a lot with them... if you know how to!
And for that, it is important to practice a lot during your studying. To give an example. The Microsoft learn modules on Azure Synapse and Azure Databricks cover a number "hand's on labs". These labs guide you by showing step by step what these services can (and cannot) do. It is thus essential to have access to an Azure subscription and to create (and work with) these services.
I talked earlier about the missing foundational knowledge. You might wonder how I dealt with this? Well, here it is: each time I came across something that I didn't know/understand, I looked it up. A lot of the concepts are easy enough to get started fast, but you have to understand them. (some examples: indexes partitioning, star/snowflake schema's, etc) If you don't look at these before/when you need them, then a lot of the materials will be very difficult to grasp. Also, in these very detailed situations, the Microsoft Learn Modules were very valuable!
To sum it all up, If I had known this all before, I would probably go for step 3, then 1 and 2 combined. This would have given me the most value. (But that is just me 😃)
What's in it for me?
Well, that is easy: I learned a lot and I can now look at this domain from a different (and broader) angle which will help me a lot in the future!
To be absolutely clear: if you are (or want to be) working in the data (engineering) world and want to explore what Azure can offer you, then I really encourage you to go and study for this exam. It will give you a boost of productivity as you will be able to come up with solutions at a faster pace! Data is going to play an even more important role in the future. Being able to work in this domain, with these great services will help you (and your career) a lot!
To me, a certification is not the end-goal! It is "just" a step in a journey that never ends. It does help me in being/getting better at what I do, by providing me with the tools that I need! (moving away from: if all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail 😉)
So, what is next?: I'll use what I have learned in my day-to-day work and on top of that I'll set a new goal to explore other areas in this vast world of data. I am new in this domain, but I can already tell you that I like it a lot and that a lot is going to happen here in the future... So it is better to be prepared 😉