This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.
If you’re a functional consultant or data analyst, or even a developer or solution architect, this is a very useful certification to have on your résumé and to help you earn the recognition that you deserve. In this post in our series on discovering your career path with Microsoft Power Platform certifications, we explore the benefits of achieving a Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate certification. Use this Microsoft Certification to validate the applicable skills you’ve worked so hard to hone—whether you’re just starting out, looking to advance, or wanting to change to a new, in-demand career. And we point out other certifications you can earn, depending on your career path.
If you’re hoping that certification can help you advance your career, you’re not alone. In fact, 61 percent of respondents in the Nigel Frank Microsoft Dynamics Salary Survey believe that certifications give you an edge in the job market. In addition, a functional consultant certification from Microsoft is recognized worldwide, so you can let employers everywhere know that you have the skills they need.
The functional consultant role and certification
What does your workday look like? A typical day for a functional consultant might include gathering requirements for a Power Apps project and collaborating with solution architects, designers, and business stakeholders to understand and flesh out those requirements. As the project moves forward, functional consultants could be analyzing data, automating processes, creating and configuring application enhancements, building custom user experiences, creating virtual agents, or designing seamless integrations with third-party applications. Functional consultants iterate and incorporate feedback from the team to improve the product and add extensions as needed.
Does this sound like you? To qualify for this certification, you’re likely to be a functional consultant, a data analyst, a developer looking to hone your consulting and configuration skills, a solution architect, or an IT professional with knowledge and experience configuring Microsoft Power Platform. You can leverage your Dynamics 365 model-driven applications skills and data modeling principles. This certification lets the world know that you’re considered qualified to build and implement solutions that use Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Virtual Agents.
As a functional consultant, you can use this certification to market yourself more effectively for projects and other engagements. This certification lets organizations know that you can build solutions requiring no code or low code, which would normally require developer expertise.
Benefits of certification
In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, certifications can demonstrate that you’re technically agile. It’s important to have a holistic understanding of several domains. In Benefits of Role-Based Certifications, IDC reports that skilled IT professionals typically have multiple roles and that certifications based on their roles better prepare them for real-world responsibilities. The research demonstrates that professionals with a role-based certification perform on average 26 percent better than their colleagues without certifications.
The Global Knowledge 2020 IT Skills and Salary Report notes that 87 percent of IT professionals have at least one certification, and nearly 40 percent are pursuing another one. To remain competitive and prove to employers that your skills are up to date, certification makes a lot of sense.
In addition to highlighting your specific technical skills, certification also indicates that you’re willing to put forth effort to learn new technologies to get ahead and stay ahead. Employers are building tech-intensive organizations where people have not only the necessary skills but also a willingness to embrace a culture of learning.
Other certifications for you
As you can see, there are many paths to the functional consultant certification. Depending on your path, you might consider several different Microsoft Certifications. Many IT professionals hold multiple certifications—they indicate a breadth of knowledge and skills.
If you haven’t gotten the fundamentals certification yet, consider adding it to your portfolio. The Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Fundamentals certification proves your basic skills across Microsoft Power Platform. It highlights your familiarity with computer technology, data analytics, cloud computing, and the internet.
If you come to the functional consultant role via the traditional development path, take a look at the new Microsoft Power Platform Developer Associate certification. To learn more, read New certification: Microsoft Power Platform Developer Associate.
Those who come to the functional consultant role as data analysts with Power BI expertise might want to explore earning the Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate certification. Or, if you have a lot of functional consultant experience, your logical next step would be to earn the Microsoft Certified: Power Platform Solution Architect Expert certification.
How do I get started?
People who become functional consultants are flexible technical experts who love creating, building, and extending applications, and they understand the value of collaborative work between business and technology. As you’ve seen, there is more than one path to this role. However, if you aren’t far enough along to be ready for certification, there are several things you can do to prepare. Here are some suggestions:
- Work on a Microsoft Power Platform or Dynamics 365 model-driven app implementation project.
- Shadow a functional consultant or a solution architect who works with Power Apps.
- Build a basic productivity app using Power Apps.
- Create a basic productivity flow using Power Automate.
- Put together a basic dashboard using Power BI.
- Take available learning paths on Microsoft Learn.
- Sign up for an instructor-led training course.
If you’re ready to get started on your path to certification, check out our Microsoft Power Platform Associate Functional Consultant certification journey map. You can also find it in the resources section on the associated certification and exam pages.
To plan out your path, follow the sequence on the Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate journey map. Start by deciding whether this certification is a good fit for you.
Next, choose the training you’ll need to be prepared. To understand what you’ll be measured on when taking the exam, review the Exam PL-200 skills outline guide on the exam page. Then sign up for the training that fits your learning style and experience:
- On the certification page, choose curated learning paths and modules for Microsoft Power Platform on Microsoft Learn. Explore hours of free, self-paced online learning to help you get ready.
- If you prefer to learn from an instructor, review the instructor-led training from Microsoft Learning Partners. To learn more, check out Microsoft Learning Partners: Teaching the skills of tomorrow, today.
A practice exam is available for this certification. Take a trial run with Microsoft Official Practice Test PL-200 Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant. All the exam objectives are covered in depth, so you’ll find what you need to be ready for any question.
After you pass the exam and earn your certification, you can continue to broaden your technical expertise by taking one of the other certifications described in this blog post or by exploring other certification offerings. Consider our intermediate and advanced certifications when you achieve the next milestones on your career journey. Map out the possibilities with Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 certification paths.
Where’s my community?
Join a community to network with other functional consultants, share ideas, and ask questions. You can also find news about Microsoft events and learning opportunities.
- Microsoft Learn Community
- Business Applications Community
- Microsoft Power Apps Community
- Microsoft Power Automate Community
- Microsoft Power BI Community
- Microsoft Power Virtual Agents Community
- LinkedIn: Microsoft Power Platform job board
- Microsoft Power Platform Community: Forums, blogs, videos, support
Related blogs and other resources
- Blog: Microsoft Power Platform
- April Dunnam’s Power Apps blog
- Microsoft Learn resources: Microsoft Power Platform
- Udacity: Training from Cloud Advocates for Microsoft Power Platform
- “Introducing Microsoft’s Power Platform Solution Architect Certification” | The Launch Space | Channel 9
- Microsoft Learn TV for Developers
- Discover your career path: Get started with fundamentals
- Video (April Dunnam): How to get started with Power Apps
- Video (April Dunnam): Microsoft Power Platform videos
- Video (April Dunnam): Power Platform Certification Guide
Celebrate with the world: Post your badge on LinkedIn
When you earn a certification or learn a new skill, it’s an accomplishment worth celebrating with your network. It often takes less than a minute to update your LinkedIn profile and share your achievements, highlight your skills, and help boost your career potential. Here’s how:
- If you’ve earned a certification already, follow the instructions in the congratulations email you received. Or find your badge on your Certification Dashboard, and follow the instructions there to share it. (You’ll be transferred to the Acclaim website.)
- To add specific skills, visit your LinkedIn profile and update the Skills and endorsements section. Tip: We recommend that you choose skills listed in the skills outline guide for your certification.
It’s easy to renew your certification
When your Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant Associate certification expires, you can renew your certification by passing a free renewal assessment on Microsoft Learn—anytime within six months before your certification expires. For more details, read our blog post, Stay current with in-demand skills through free certification renewals.
Plus, effective June 2021, a certification is valid for one year from the date you earned it. This shift aligns with the rapid evolution of cloud technology and skills. Get more information in our blog post Is your certification expiring soon? Renew it for free today!
Ready to discover your career path?
You’re a skilled technical professional. Are you ready to explore where Microsoft Certification can take you? See how a functional consultant certification can highlight your skills, as you innovate, turn good ideas into great solutions, and take the next steps on your Microsoft Power Platform career path.
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.