Power Apps allows you to build custom business applications (for web or mobile) using a no-code toolset. In the past 3 years we have seen massive growth in the uptake of this technology, as the demand for business applications grows beyond the number of traditional developers able to create them. Business users and subject matter experts who typically run to Excel to solve every business problem (also known as “Citizen Developers”) are now able to build real applications rather than trying to make spreadsheets do everything, and their organisations can have full visibility and governance over the app making process.
With new opportunities and careers opening up all over the place in citizen developer app making, and with another surge in the use of this technology as we move to remote and hybrid working, the question “How can I get certified in Power Apps?” comes up a lot.
Getting certified can be a pathway to a new career. It gives you a standard, recognised credential that you can use to help with your job search or career development. If you’re already building apps, working towards certification is also a great way to put some structure around your learning, and to stretch your skills to the next level. Even for those more experienced with this technology, going back and gaining a certification can help with re-learning or picking up on skills you might have missed or not used as often.
Whether you’re brand new to Power Apps and looking to get started, someone who has dabbled and wants to learn more, or someone looking to formalise their knowledge with a lovely badge, here’s my guide to the certification pathways for Power Apps (actually, Power Platform) and some advice and resources for reaching your goal.
A couple of important points to note before we get started:
- The information here is correct at the time of writing (August 2020), but skills measured in exams are updated regularly as products are updated and changed. Always download and read the latest exam guide. If you book your exam a couple of months in advance, always go in and check whether new content has been added to the exam close to the date you sit it. Changes are normally minor, but if a new component has been added that’s worth 5% of the exam, it’s well worth knowing about and being prepared for!
- Exam dumps are in breach of exam rules. Don’t ask for them, don’t pay anyone for them, don’t use them. I can’t be more clear about this. You will not find anything here which gives you cheats or answers or breaches the NDA that goes with the exam. This post is for people genuinely interested in learning to further their careers or skills.
So with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff!
The two exams covered in this post are part of the Microsoft Global Skills Initiative, launched to help people acquire the digital skills needed in a COVID-19 economy. If you’re looking to re-skill or change career, this program offers substantially reduced exam fees, and no matter what your situation there are free online learning resources for exam preparation (linked throughout this post).
Although not directly related to certification training, the free “App in a Day” program runs around the world, and gives you a full day of hands on learning and experience with Power Platform, and is a great introductory starting point for learning.
Passing exam PL-900 will earn you the certification Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals. This is a great place to get started if you are a complete beginner, or have been to an App in a Day training event and want to take the first step towards certification.
The Fundamentals level certifications are about being able to understand and describe the capability of the platform. They are not highly technical certifications, in the sense that they are about business value and capability, rather than “hands on” how to configure things. This also means they don’t carry as much weight if you are looking to use them for entry into a technical role. Typically this level of certification is ideal for a business development or sales role in this field, but it is also a great place to start if you are doing your first certification and you want to work up, or if you are in a business role and want to get an overview of what’s what before diving in deeper. Note that this is not a pre-requisite for any other exams; it stands alone as its own certification.
This exam essentially covers – do you understand what all the parts of the platform are, what they do, how they relate to each other? Can you describe the capabilities, use cases, and when to select one part of the platform over another? You’ll need to be across Power Apps (Canvas and Model Driven), the Common Data Service, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Power BI and AI Builder.
The questions will test your understanding, rather than your ability to memorise. They are typically phrased as a sentence or two describing a real world scenario, and then a question which involves multiple choice, selecting from a list, yes/no, or matching answers to statements in a list. They are along these lines (obviously these are not actual questions, but this should give you a sense of it).
- A customer wants to achieve outcome XYZ. Which product / capability will achieve that?
- A customer wants to achieve ABC. Which functionality will do that? Will this functionality do that?
- Which of the following are capabilities of (insert platform component here)!
The learning materials for this certification are available for free here on Microsoft Learn. If you have attended App in a Day, Flow in a Day, Dashboard in a Day, Power Virtual Agents in a Day, and worked through some introductory content on AI Builder, you’ll also have a fair chunk of this exam content covered.
First Level Technical Certification
This is the exam we have long been waiting for – a first level technical certification in Power Apps / Power Platform.
Passing exam PL-100 will earn you the certification Microsoft Certified: Power Platform App Maker Associate. If you’re looking for a guided learning path to become an app maker, or to establish your credentials as an app maker, this is the one for you.
There are a number of modules in the learning path for this certification, all linked at the bottom of the exam description page – but this exam requires more than just the Microsoft Learn content – you’ll need to have some “hands on” technical experience. The good news is – you can start from scratch as a beginner and learn this stuff. You don’t need prior experience in coding.
To get started, if you don’t already have access to Power Apps, follow the instructions here to sign up for a free developer environment, and get hands on building alongside the learning materials – it’s the best way to learn. This developer environment is free (it only allows one user) and doesn’t expire. If you really want to become an app maker, just start building apps (that’s how most of us have done it!). Think about how you learned Excel. You didn’t wait til you knew all the formulas before you started using it. In fact, the majority of people using it probably know less than 20% of what Excel can do. You start with a problem in mind, and then ask people or search for the way to do it. Then you know that thing. Rinse and repeat. That’s the way to learn Power Platform as well.
This exam tests your ability to create apps – in the broadest sense of the word – not just Power Apps Canvas Apps (although that does make up a decent proportion of the content of this exam). You’ll need to know how to understand a business problem and create a solution with the Power Platform. You’ll need to be well across Canvas Apps, Model Driven Apps, data models and relationships in Microsoft Dataflex Pro (formerly known as Common Data Service) and Power Automate. You should have some hands on experience with all these components before sitting this exam. You will also need to be across the core parts of security, solutions and testing.
The format and type of questions in this exam goes up a level from PL-900. This certification is also testing your ability to identify requirements and design solutions. This is done via the style of questions (case studies and scenarios) rather than overt questions on those skills. The types of questions you can expect include:
- Case studies. You will be provided with a scenario including personas, their current technical landscape, their requirements, and issues they have encountered. You will be given a series of questions to answer in relation to that case study.
- Multiple choice / match the right answer questions. These are similar in style to what I have described above for PL-900 – you are given a short scenario of what the user / customer wants to achieve, and then need to answer the question with the appropriate solution. In this exam this can include selecting the correct Power Apps formulas. There are also some questions which provide screen shots from platform components which you need to be able to interpret to answer the question.
- “Does this solution solve the problem” questions. You will be presented with a scenario and a proposed Power Platform solution, and you will have to choose – yes or no – does this solution solve the problem. You’ll get the same scenario presented multiple times with different solutions – there may be one correct solution presented, multiple correct solutions presented, or it might be that none of them are correct. The catch here is you can’t go back after you’ve answered each one, so take your time and read and think carefully!
Intermediate and Advanced Certifications
If you want to go beyond these certifications to more advanced levels, or become a consultant, here are the other exams in the certification path you can follow:
Learning, Sharing and the Power Platform Community
With Power Platform, you can develop a career in tech without having a coding or IT background. If you’re someone who uses Excel to solve business problems, you’re well on your way with the right skill set. There is a huge opportunity out there with massive growth in demand for business applications, and not enough developers to build them. This low code technology opens the doors to new kinds of tech careers, and more people who can become app makers.
If you’re looking to establish a career in this area, I’d encourage you to engage with the Power Platform community – there are people all over the world from diverse backgrounds learning together (following #PowerAddicts on Twitter is a great way to get connected). Please learn, share, ask questions, experiment, fail fast, try new things, and most of all – have fun.
Wherever you are at in your Power Apps or Power Platform journey, I wish you the best of luck. Given that this platform has only been around for about 3 years, there is plenty of opportunity to get in and become an expert. Nobody has been doing this for 20 years! If you have the energy and desire to learn (and keep learning fast) that’s the superpower skill that you really need to succeed.
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About the Author
I always welcome Power Platform enthusiasts and newbies alike to connect with me. Just don’t ask me for an exam dump!
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Listen to The UP Podcast on your favourite podcasting platform / app. I chat to my friend and fellow Business Applications MVP Megan V Walker every week about all things Business Applications and beyond. Learning, careers and skills development is a regular topic.
Crosbie, L. (2020). How do I get certified in Power Apps? Available at: https://lisacrosbie.com/power-apps-certification/ [Accessed: 2nd March 2021].
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