The Essential Guide to Microsoft’s Power BI Certification

Power BI. You’ve probably used it, or you plan to use it, to drive business intelligence in your company. That’s why you’re here.

Microsoft’s software-as-a-service helps us to find needles in haystacks. It floats to the top of the key findings from otherwise unmanageable databases. This makes Power BI an excellent solution for what we call “self-service BI”, business intelligence that we can carry out ourselves.

“62% Of Businesses Say Self-Service BI Is Essential In 2020.”

Forbes, 2020

More and more companies are getting wise to business intelligence solutions. The beauty of self-service BI tools is that you don’t have to be a data scientist in the traditional sense to get started. BI-SURVEY terms around 70% of all BI users as “casual”: You don’t need an in-depth knowledge of coding; you don’t even strictly need to have a head for numbers. Is there a certification for Power BI? Yes, there is.

Why Get Microsoft BI Certifications?

It’s always a wise move to learn how to use an in-demand technology, and a Microsoft BI certification can give you something to talk about in an interview. You’ll show initiative and expertise in the tool; you just need to make sure you know how to apply it. 

Get experience in Power BI

Some technologies are cumbersome to learn, while others need years of coding experience to really get value from them. But Power BI is seriously powerful (yes, it does live up to its name!): Once you’ve learned how the solution works, you’ll be leveraging data and generating game-changing reports for your business, whether you’re a BI expert or in the early stages of your analytics career.

We think a Microsoft business intelligence certification (Power BI certification) is essential for your professional growth because: 

  • The SaaS has one of the biggest tech companies behind it, and they’ve made it a one-stop-shop for everything BI. We might not love clunky Excel, but it’s staying with us. Power BI is compatible with Microsoft’s ‘old faithful’, so you can import Excel’s spreadsheets into a system that is a dream to use. No need to worry about the loss of data integrity during the import! Filter, gather, visualize and share data, all in Power BI’s integrated user interface. That gets a big fat ‘thumbs up’ from us!
  • Many companies want you to know how to use Microsoft. A vast majority of businesses use Microsoft applications. Hopeful data scientists should thus be comfortable with their suite of services. Power BI’s interoperability with traditional self-service BI tools like SharePoint and Excel makes it a second-to-none service for data analysts and business intelligence experts. Learn how to use Power BI, and you’ll likely increase your employability.
  • Most self-service BI tools are userfriendly, but Power BI is better at it. Analytics Insight said it: “Power BI offers a better user-friendly interface and can be employed by everyone, including Marketing, Sales, and other associated functions.” Why settle for second best?
  • You can carry Power BI around with you in your pocket. Wherever you go, help (with data analytics) is at hand! Microsoft offers Power BI in three different setups: Desktop, mobile and service.
  • Microsoft loves updates. In 2019, Power BI got a boatload of shiny, new features, from tree visuals to LinkedIn connectivity, and they’re continuing to add to the service as they roll out Exam DA-100. 

Introducing Exam DA-100

Exam DA-100 tests your knowledge of Microsoft’s Power BI. Pass the exam to get the Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate qualification.

bi certification microsoft

DA-100 was released on 2 April 2020. As this is a brand-new exam in beta, Microsoft is offering 80% off the exam’s regular price. On completion, you’ll get a 25% off coupon for taking another Microsoft exam.

Will a beta exam count towards a Microsoft qualification?

Beta exams absolutely count toward a certification! If you pass, you won’t need to retake the exam once the final version is released. Certified means certified.

So, is DA-100 a Replacement for 70-778?

Yes and no. There is some misinformation going around about Exam DA-100 and its relationship to Exam 70-778. Though it is not a replacement for 70-778, DA-100 does cover similar ground. At the very least, both require knowledge of Power BI.

The Microsoft team recommends taking DA-100 over 70-778 as the former exam will be valid for a longer period. As the latter will be phased out early next year (31 January 2021), we suggest that those already studying for 70-778 switch to DA-100.

Unlike 70-778, Exam DA-100 will count towards the prestigious Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate qualification.

What does Exam DA-100 test?

“This exam measures your ability to accomplish the following technical tasks: prepare the data; model the data; visualize the data; analyze the data; and deploy and maintain deliverables.”

The following is an unexhaustive list of skills the DA-100 exam will measure, taken from guidance on the official website. Please note that the exam is in beta, so these percentages and tested skillsets are subject to change. The percentages indicate the relative weight of each tested skill in the exam.

  • Prepare the data (20-25%)
  • Model the data (25-30%)
  • Visualize the Data (20-25%)
  • Analyze the Data (10-15%)
  • Deploy and Maintain Deliverables (10-15%)

Data modeling is the highest tested skill; analyzing data and deploying the deliverables are the lowest. For a closer look at each of these skills, download the Exam DA-100 skills outline

To succeed in any Microsoft exam, you’ll need a thorough understanding of how the solution works – and be able to put your knowledge into practice. Are you already confident in all the above skills? If ‘yes’, go ahead and schedule yourself for the exam right now, you data ninja! If ‘no’, we’ve devised a strategy to help you pass the exam with flying colors:

How to Pass Exam DA-100: Analyzing Data with Power BI

No study guides yet exist for DA-100, so preparing for the exam will be much more of a challenge than for an exam like 70-778 that has plenty of published resources.

How can you pass an exam that currently has no official training materials?

How to Prepare to Power BI Exam

Read the news: Which companies are currently using Power BI, and what do they have to say about it? Where has it improved their operations? See if you can work out how they managed it by practicing with Power BI.

List the business problems that Power BI can solve: Now that you’ve seen the ways that businesses use Power BI, think about stopping the gaps. What other business problems can we resolve with Power BI? Write up your own case studies and work on solving them. It might be helpful to think of a few different industries. Search online for the problems that companies face with their data today, and consider how Power BI could solve them.

Trawl the official Power BI resources: Microsoft has several detailed explainer videos for their SaaS, and they’re all grouped into the stages of the data science process.

Explore Microsoft’s exams database: Yes, Microsoft Official Practice Tests create sample tests for many of their certificates, but DA-100 is not one of them. (And don’t be tempted to make use of exam sample dumps, as they are usually not double-checked and many contain incorrect answers.) But just because Microsoft has no official practice exam for DA-100, it doesn’t mean that their materials are useless to your preparation. Their site offers several helpful resources, such as a catalog of exam formats and question types as well as online training and guidelines.

Write yourself a checklist: Make a list of Power BI’s capabilities. What functions does it have, and how do they specifically help business operations? Keep this list beside you, and try to carry out each one on the software. Can you do all of them? If not, why not? If yes, have you found the most efficient way to complete each task?

Get your hands dirty: The best way to prepare for an exam is always the same – practice, practice, practice. As data scientists, we like to tinker around with things, so this shouldn’t be a problem. We already have some information about the skills that Exam DA-100 measures. Test them out in Power BI. Can you exhibit knowledge of the outlined skills? If not, why not? If yes, can you go beyond your limits? Practice, and then practice some more, until you don’t run into any more snags.

Prepare your exam day setup: If you’re taking the exam at home or in your office, run a system test before the big day, to check you are properly set up.

Take a course: Our immersive DA-100 prep course teaches you everything there is to know about Power BI. First, we’ll get you set up with Power BI. Then we’ll run through all the basics, from connecting to data files, to performing advanced analyses and finally visualizing the data. Once you’re grounded, we’ll lay out all of Power BI’s capabilities. You’ll learn how to design data models, create tables, define data granularity, create hierarchies, implement row-level security roles, choose visualization types for your project, format and configure visualizations, apply filtering, and configure report pages. Check our business intelligence course to get a solid foundation before the exam.

microsoft bi certifications course

Taught by John David Ariansen, Co-Founder of Silvertone Analytics, the highly practical “Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate” doubles-down on all you need to know about Power BI in five hours of bitesize videos. Dashboard templates will help you tackle real problems you might face in business. Each section begins with a business challenge, and all subsequent videos will walk you through the steps on how to solve it.

Use these tips and there is a big chance your Microsoft Power BI certification attempt will be successful.

During the Power BI Exam

Keep calm: Pending the pandemic crisis, you should have the option to take the exam either at a local test center or in your (home) office. Whichever you select, try to make your environment as relaxing as possible. Be prepared: What materials will you need? Make sure you have them to hand so that you can focus on the exam questions.

After the exam                                               

Be patient: The exam is still in beta, so you won’t get your result before Microsoft finalizes its scoring model. You’ll have to wait two to three weeks after the final version of the exam has been released. This means waiting up to sixteen weeks in total, depending on the time you took the beta test. We recommend keeping track of beta exam progress on the Microsoft website. If you haven’t received your test score when you feel you should, Microsoft recommends contacting your exam delivery provider.

If you don’t pass Exam DA-100 the first time…

Try, try again, data warrior! Once you get your results, zone in on your weaknesses and learn how to improve them. Unfortunately, you can’t retake beta exams. You’ll have to wait to take the full version when it goes live (you can make use of that 25% discount you got when you registered for the beta exam).


How are you using our list in your preparation for the DA-100 exam? Which of our ideas have you tried before in exam preparation? Which of them are you trying out for the first time?

We love to be social! If you have taken our advice and dreamed up your own Power BI business scenario to solve, share it with us!


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