Certification Path to Round Out 2022

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, but I gotta keep the “at least one post a month” streak alive, so here I am with a few hours left in October doing just that!

Having started a new position as a Senior Security Engineer at an MSSP last month, my plans for certification have changed quite a bit as a result. I’ll probably write a blog in the near future around changes in career direction (the basis being “hello cloud“, reasons for going from private sector to MSSP, and how surprising quick your technical skills can become dormant in IT), but this post will focus on my certification plans for the remainder of 2022. Still plenty of time to cram some in!

Although I was hoping to round out the year with OSCP and had begun working through HTB machines for that purpose, it’s pretty clear from the projects I’ll now be involved in that I need to level up my Cloud skills, especially in terms of Azure infrastructure design and security. My experience until this point has been heavily on-premises, and it’s a knowledge gap I want to fill as quickly as possible.

During the notice period with my previous company, I completed the AZ-800: Administering Windows Server Hybrid Core Infrastructure. I thought this was a nice bridging exam; refreshing on-prem knowledge and covering advances in on-prem Windows Server, while also covering topics related to preliminary moves to Azure. With cloud transition being a common business requirement for many companies, and hybrid design likely being more common than Cloud-first for the foreseeable future, I thought it was worthwhile exam to do.

Here’s where things got a bit messy in terms of certification paths…

Building on AZ-800, my intention was to then take the ensuing AZ-801: Configuring Windows Server Hybrid Advanced Service, as combined you achieve the Microsoft Certified: Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification. However, one of the first projects I was involved with in my new job was based around Identity and Access Management. As luck would have it, I had a free exam voucher for SC-300: Microsoft Identity and Access Administrator, from the Microsoft Build Cloud Skills Challenge back in May. Studying for this exam alongside an actual IAM project was great timing and really helped sharpen my IAM knowledge. So, AZ-801 went on the backburner, and I had no problem passing SC-300.

Next came Microsoft Ignite Cloud Skills Challenge in October (still ongoing), with the “Intelligent Cloud Challenge” giving me a free exam voucher for AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions. Great, combined with previously passing AZ-104 in 2021, this would give me Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. AZ-801 on the backburner again…

…except at the same time, my new company began a time-limited, prize-incentive push around their staff having various Azure security certificates. I have mixed feelings about this, but that’s maybe a blog for another day.

Fact is, I have the time and blessing of my company to get stuck into Microsoft certifications over the next 2 months, which I feel I should take advantage of. So, without going into too much detail, I have my eye on completing 5 or 6 Azure certifications between now and Christmas, hopefully cumulating in Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert and Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. I’d be very pleased if I could achieve these by Christmas, as these certs combined with the Cloud work I’ll inevitably be doing with my new position would definitely accelerate my Cloud knowledge, round out a pretty good year, and put me in a good position career-wise for 2023.

OSCP in 2023 maybe…?

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