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Which AWS Certification Should You Get?

Amazon Web Services cloud technology is a continuously growing field with plenty of opportunities on offer. While the inner workings of the cloud is not knowledge that can be easily picked up and utilized, the AWS cloud is not completely esoteric either. Amazon provides several different avenues for becoming certified in how to work with AWS with study material and exams to pursue as a means of further expanding potential business opportunities.

What’s so Important About Certification?

 

There are a variety of benefits that come with being AWS certified on top of being a verified partner with Amazon.  Along with validating skills, certifications aim to further expand existing knowledge about the cloud.  Test takers have reported a significant return on investment from the new opportunities they have found following acquiring certification with AWS.  Again, this is about opening more opportunities to more people.  Additionally:

Increased Community Connectivity

There’s more to the badges than just being a ‘shiny’ trophy to celebrate your accomplishments and decorate a virtual shelf somewhere.  That badge is an indicator to the community that you have taken that exam and that you are a certified expert in that field of AWS.  It is an emblem that is equipped with email messages and social media accounts to better reflect that knowledge.  Additionally, there is an AWS community having a certification that will grant access to further discussion and AWS events where certification allows ingress and certain status placement.

Future Exam Discounts

If continued exploration of AWS specialization is the end goal, just getting a foot in the door with even a single certification is probably the best choice to make.  Upon passing an exam, test takers will receive a discount certificate for 50% off of the next exam or recertification.

Become a Subject Matter Expert (SME)

SMEs get to participate in developing future exams and maintaining current exams.  Participation in these events can either be arranged to be in-person or remote and will focus on the review of the exam content.  At each event, SMEs will cover additional training for establishing the topics the exam will cover, evaluating the questions on the exam, and determining what should be the passing score.  This is a process users will have to qualify and apply for.

These reasons are explored further in this article here.

Resources Available for Study

 

There are several options available for study.  Aside from the time you establish for yourself in regards to when you schedule your certification exam, users are allowed to study at their own pace through the use of AWS Skill Builder.  There are free options available as well as a subscription with some minor differences between the free and paid options.

Official Practice Question

For free, test takers do get sets of 20 questions developed by AWS to give a general feel of the exam.  These mini-exams also come with detailed feedback on the results and recommended resources to help better prepare.  Subscribers on the other hand will get full-fledged practice exams with matching question style and rigor as the real deal, including scores that will better reflect a passing or failing grade, as well as the aforementioned feedback from individual problems and key topics that should be covered to deepen the test taker’s knowledge.

Exam Prep Course

For free, test takers get a 2-hour digital test course to explore the topics an exam will cover.  Following each course will be some review questions that will look into what was covered in the course.  Subscribed users will alternatively get 6-8 hour courses with videos, hands-on labs, and additional practice questions to boot compared to the free users.

AWS Cloud Quest

This is a light role-playing game to help users understand what sort of problems out in the real world the AWS cloud aims to solve.  With the subscriber version, there are additional roles to play around with, including a solutions architect, serverless developer, and machine learning specialist with different sets of skills to apply to a virtual city.

 

Additional Resources

Finally, there are a variety of certified AWS exam readiness webinars for users to take for free.  These webinars are all led by accredited specialists who will help provide insight as to what is expected on the exam.  There’s a lot of information to cover surrounding the exams such as protocols for checking in, IDs that are required, breaks that are issued to maintain stamina throughout the exam, rules to follow, recertification once a certificate has expired, and pricing for getting a test reservation in the first place with prices varying wildly based on the region of purchase and exam difficulty/type.  If you are providing a team of people looking to get AWS certified, there are vouchers that can be purchased and renewed by several people.

Before considering really investing in becoming an AWS specialist, it’s important to understand AWS as a whole and what it sets out to accomplish.  For more on this matter, check out our beginner’s guide on AWS for more details and resources to inspect.

Certificates on Offer

 

Practitioner:

These certificates will only require six months’ exposure to AWS and AWS solutions.

  • Cloud Practitioner:

Price: $100 USD

Contents: 90 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

At the lowest level of intensity, practitioners have a general understanding of the AWS Cloud and industry knowledge.  Despite the low intensity, it’s still strongly recommended that test takers be at least familiar with IT concepts and AWS basics with use cases.

 

Associate:

These certificates will require a year of exposure to AWS and AWS solutions

  • Solutions Architect:

Price: $150 USD

Contents: 130 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

Test takers are expected to have experience deploying and operating workloads on AWS, know how to use AWS Management Console and AWS Command Line, understand a variety of AWS architecture including networking and security, and understand what AWS service to apply in a given situation.

 

  • Developer:

Price: $150 USD

Contents: 130 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

Test takers are expected to have in-depth knowledge of at least one high-level programming language, understanding of AWS and the application lifecycle under AWS infrastructure, experience with deploying debugging applications in a cloud environment, how to use AWS APIs/SDKs/CLIs, and an understanding of cloud-native applications.

  • SysOps Administrator:

Price: $150 USD

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

Test takers are expected to have experience deploying and operating workloads on AWS, know how to use AWS Management Console and AWS Command Line, and understand a variety of AWS architecture including networking and security.  This certificate is for system administrators with the intention of validating their technical skills.

Professional:

These certificates require two years of experience with deploying and troubleshooting AWS cloud solutions.

  • Solutions Architect:

Price: $300

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 75 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

Test takers are expected to have some degree of familiarity with AWS APIs and CLI, CloudFormation templates, the Billing Console and Management Console, scripting language, and Windows or Linux environments.  Additionally, there should be some ability to give best-practice guidance, and the ability to design hybrid architectures.

 

  • DevOps Engineer:

Price: $300

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 75 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

Test takers should have experience developing code in one high-level language, understand modern development and operations processes methodologies, be able to deploy and manage continuous delivery systems, be able to automate security controls and compliance features, and be able to define deploy monitoring, metrics, and logging systems.

 

Specialty:

Requirements will somewhat vary depending on the specific certificate.

  • Advance Networking:

Price: $300 USD

Contents: 170 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate requires five years of architecting and implementing network solutions.  Test takers are expected to be familiar with AWS concepts, know advanced networking architecture and interconnectivity options, know the development of automated scripts and tools, and understand advanced network security fundamentals.

 

  • Data Analytics:

Price: $300

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate will require five years of experience with common data analysis technologies and two years of experience with AWS services designed to handle data analytics.  Test takers are expected to know how AWS analytics services work, how they integrate with each other, and how they work within the data analysis lifecycle.

 

  • Database:

Price: $300

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate is aimed at individuals with experience working with on-site and cloud-based relational and non-relational databases.  It requires five years’ experience with common database technologies and two years of hands-on experience working with on-premises and AWS cloud-based relational and non-relational databases.  Test takers are expected to understand and differentiate key features of AWS database services, and how to properly evaluate situations to determine the requirements of a database solution.

 

  • Machine Learning:

Price: $300

Contents: 180 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate is designed for developers who fill a data-science role and requires at least over a year’s experience, but closer to two years’ experience developing machine learning workloads on the AWS Cloud.  Test takers are expected to know the intuition behind basic ML algorithms, have experience performing hyperparameter optimization and working with ML and deep learning frameworks, and know model training best practices.

  • Security:

Price: $300

Contents: 170 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate requires five years of IT security experience and two years of hands-on experience securing AWS workloads.  Test takers are expected to have knowledge of AWS’ security features, knowledge of AWS’ shared responsibility model, and the ability to weigh costs, security, and complexity with application needs.

 

  • SAP on AWS:

Price: $300

Contents: 170 minutes to finish 65 questions; either multiple choice or multiple responses

This certificate requires five or more years of experience with SAP in general and at least one or more years of experience with SAP on AWS.  Test takers are expected to have knowledge on designing AWS solutions in adherence to best practices as laid out by AWS Well-Architected framework.

Want to Hear Our Experiences?

We have had employees undergo the certification experience and can offer recounts of what preparation and testing were like.  Don’t feel afraid to reach out on this.

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Dolan Cleary
Dolan Cleary

I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and am now working with AllCode as a web technician.

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