As a seasoned Microsoft Certified Trainer and consultant, I’ve conquered more than 40 Microsoft Certification exams over the past three decades and amassed an impressive collection of Microsoft Certifications. They’ve been the keys to unlocking countless doors to new opportunities, along with substantial financial rewards. They’ve also been game-changers for my career, and I can personally attest to their value.

Earning Microsoft Certifications has been a journey for me—one that has required dedication, comprehensive study, and plenty of practical experience. But it’s not all about the grind. There’s also reward! Microsoft Learn is now expanding the horizons of its credentials, adding streamlined and focused task-based scenarios. This new offering is designed to equip professionals with practical knowledge by honing in on specific, in-demand skills that can be immediately applied within your organization to tackle critical business challenges. And the best part? You can earn Microsoft Applied Skills credentials in the process.

What are Applied Skills credentials?

These are timely credentials, especially as the industry shifts toward skills-based hiring, valuing practical skills over theoretical knowledge. Applied Skills are a new breed of Microsoft Credentials that complement certifications. They focus on scenario-based skills and validate your ability to implement critical projects aligned to business goals and objectives, perform specific tasks, and solve real-world problems by using Microsoft technologies.

Currently available Applied Skills credentials.

Here are some of my favorites:

What’s in it for you?

Earning an Applied Skills credential can result in numerous benefits, including:

  • Practical knowledge. Experience with Microsoft technologies can prepare you for real-world challenges.
  • Industry recognition. Microsoft Credentials are globally recognized and can highlight your skills for current or potential employers.
  • Career advancement. Professionals who have earned credentials often have an edge in job promotions and salary negotiations.

Are Applied Skills right for you?

Take into account these additional considerations:

  • Career goals. If you’re aiming for a career that involves practical application of Microsoft technologies, Applied Skills can be a great fit.
  • Learning style. If you prefer interactive, task-based learning and enjoy solving real-world problems, you might find these credentials particularly rewarding.
  • Industry demand. If you’re in an industry or role in which Microsoft technologies are widely used, Applied Skills can enhance your credibility, confidence, and employability.
  • Skill level. These credentials are designed for individuals who already have some experience with the relevant Microsoft technologies. If you’re a beginner, you might want to start with Microsoft Fundamentals certifications.

How do Applied Skills credentials compare with Microsoft Certifications?
To compare these complementary offerings, check out Choose your Microsoft Credential and review the specifics in this table.


Applied Skills credentials

  Microsoft Certifications


One specific skill set that can be directly applied in your organization to solve a scenario-based critical business challenge

Four to six skill sets designed to address the needs of a specific job role that makes the most of Microsoft solutions and technologies




Preparation time

Varies depending on the specific scenario and your familiarity with the subject matter

Varies depending on the specific certification and your familiarity with the subject matter

or exam

Take the online lab-based assessment over a total of two hours

Take the proctored certification exam (multiple choice, case studies, and other question types), with Microsoft Learn resources, over a total of two hours or more

How should you prepare?

If you’d like to earn Applied Skills credentials, consider these high-level steps as you prepare:

  1. Explore the Microsoft Applied Skills poster to find one you would like to pursue.
  2. Review the tasks performed. After you select an Applied Skills credential, review the credential details page to understand the tasks performed in the assessment lab.
  3. Use Microsoft Learn resources. Find free, self-paced learning paths on each credential details page to help you prepare. Work through them, and do any lab exercises.
  4. Take the assessment. Earn your credential by passing a free, interactive, lab-based assessment online, which takes you through a series of scenario-based tasks.

Ready to earn a credential?
If you still have questions, read Announcing Microsoft Applied Skills, the new credentials to verify in-demand technical skills and the recent Microsoft Credentials roundup: In-demand news for in-demand skills. Plus, watch Explore Microsoft Applied Skills. For help, go to Credentials support.

If you’re considering earning a Microsoft Applied Skills credential, my advice is to go for it. There’s really nothing to lose! You can gain and validate critical skills to help open career doors. Remember, your learning journey is continuous. Embrace the process, and watch as the rewards unfold.

Meet Barbara Andrews, Microsoft Learn expert 

Barbara Andrews began her professional career as an accountant but soon discovered that she loves technology and has a passion for learning and teaching. She has worked with almost every on-premises Microsoft server technology (except Exchange Server) and has worked her way through many Azure services. As a Microsoft Technical Trainer, Barbara specializes in Azure infrastructure, data, and AI. She has a passion for helping working professionals and career changers build skills and pursue their dream careers, and she has upskilled more than 20,000 students, both online and in person.

Learn more about Barbara Andrews.