Amazon Web Services (AWS) has seen a lot of competition in the past few years from Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, and it will only get fierce in the future. So does that mean AWS has lost its sheen? It’s still very much in demand and operates as one of the market leaders in cloud computing services. Hence, an AWS certification is a good starting. Point for an IT professional looking for a career boost on a new career path in the IT sector.
As of April 2021, AWS offers 12 individual certifications spread across four levels. Several resources are available to help you learn about AWS training and certification, Ways to acquire these certifications – short-term courses, manuals, and books. Further, interacting with AWS communities and taking practice exams are also a good starting point. To assess your existing skill levels, interest and readiness. However, what is most suitable for you will translate to the time and skills/experience you hold, including the budget. Once you figure out the details, the path usually becomes pretty clear.
AWS Certification: Which One Should You Choose?
Foundational – AWS Entry-Level Certification:
Also called the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, this tests your overall understanding of the AWS cloud. This certification is ideal for anyone who has had minimum exposure to Cloud computing. As a result, it is one of the recommended prerequisites for taking the next-level technical examinations.
But if you have more than six months of experience in cloud computing. You could take the next level examination by skipping this certification.
This one is ideal for someone who has a year’s experience working in problem-solving using AWS cloud.
As an IT professional working with AWS, these certifications are preferred. Once you clear them, you become an AWS Associate.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam (Associate) – certifies your ability to build and deploy systems in the AWS cloud.
- SysOps Administrator exam (Associate) – certifies your ability to provide, deploy, manage, and secure systems in an AWS environment.
- Developer exam (Associate) – certifies your ability to use the AWS deployment to develop and optimize applications native to the AWS cloud.
This certification is ideal for someone who has at least two years of comprehensive experience designing, operating in the AWS cloud environment.
After one or several associate-level exams, these certifications could be your next goal. You can attempt one of the two professional-level exams based on your primary focus:
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer exam (Professional) – tests your ability to make provision, operate and manage applications using the AWS platform, focusing on the automation of processes and continuous delivery. But before taking this certification, you need to pass the developer or SysOps administrator exam at an associate level.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam (Professional. Tests your ability to develop and run applications on AWS, with a particular focus on cost optimization and best Industry practices.
AWS Specialty Certifications:
These exams are usually taken after passing associate-level certification and demonstrate expertise in a specialized field. Currently, there are six AWS speciality certifications:
- Advanced Networking – Tests knowledge of AWS networking tasks and hybrid IT networking architectures.
- Security – Key security topics like data encryption, infrastructure security, access management, monitoring, and incident responses are critical for testing the candidate during this exam.
- Database – Specific knowledge of AWS’s database services and how these can add value to businesses.
- Data Analytics – Using AWS services to design big data solutions and extract value from data is tested during this exam.
- Machine Learning – AWS services used to create and maintain machine learning (ML) solutions in a business context.
- Alexa Skill Builder – Demonstrates the ability to create and deploy Alexa skills, focusing on the value of voice, user experience, and data security.
What is the Best Learning Path for You?
You should choose a type of certification that would help you focus on skills that you are most likely to use in your job. If you take an AWS certification exam and do not have any critical use of it, you can sign up for the AWS Free Tier to practice, giving you the chance to try out the products for up to a year.
On average, you need 120 hours or thereabouts of learning and practice to pass an AWS associate-level examination, whereas specialized and professional-level exams need more time. Some AWS speciality certifications, like Advanced Networking, Security help you prepare better for a professional-level exam. In contrast, Machine Learning and Alexa Skill Builder are only practical if your job involves these specific tools.
An AWS certification is an industry-recognized credential. It can help you build credibility by validating a level of AWS cloud expertise, and in turn, it helps organizations identify skilled professionals to lead cloud initiatives using AWS.