A guide to understanding and getting started with AWS Certifications
AWS and the Cloud can be a tough subject when you’re starting out.
The variety and different types of certifications can all seem a bit much, but cutting through it all with some training you can come out with a better developer with a broader skillset. Not to mention some in-depth knowledge about one of the widest used cloud platforms, here’s how to get started.
Why Get Certified?
It’s a choice to make and not always a cheap one, but if you can afford it or your company are willing to sponsor you, it’s a great way to highlight your technical skills and can help show off what you can do, plus AWS themselves list a load of benefits including communities and stores!
But if you’ve not worked in the space much the education working towards a cert can really develop your knowledge and skillset. The journey to getting exam ready will teach you a lot about the underlying concepts, the services and standards when building solutions on AWS.
Personally, my first cert was to address a skill gap in my team, we were building on top of AWS but no one had taken the time to learn the best practice and its starting to really help the team having more people understand the base concepts. I didn’t know how little I knew, it was the difference between thinking I knew how to build things on AWS and knowing how to build.
What Cert Is Best For Me?
It really comes down to what you want to learn and what you find interesting, the certs are broken down into three levels and a set of specialities;
Cloud Practitioner for those just starting out, teaching basic concepts of AWS and cloud best practice
Associate Level (SysOps, Architecture and Developer) which are fairly broad and focus mostly on ‘core’ AWS services
Professional Level (DevOps and Architecture) built on the Associate skills area but far more in-depth focus into the specifics of AWS
Speciality (5 and growing!) in-depth focus in a set of services focusing on one area
If you’re not sure but are keen to learn, you can check out the AWS guide to help scope out your learning path but I’d recommend starting with one of the general certs in the first two tiers.
I got my first cert recently and decided Solution Architect best met my interests and needs. Going out and reading the descriptions of what each cert covers will roughly help you scope out which will line up directly with what you want. Looking at the learning paths I think I might look at going towards the ML Speciality.
It’s worth mentioning, the certs are constantly being developed and it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s coming up before committing to a learning path!
How Do I Get Started?
Unless you’re already an expert and are just out for the recognition, you’ll need to do some training to get exam ready.
AWS offers some solid advice in preparing for their exams, it breaks down into, exam outlines, sample questions and links to relevant whitepapers and FAQs for each different certification. The prep guides will also cover any of the online AWS training they recommend.
But sometimes it’s best to leave this to someone who knows what they’re talking about, there’s a bunch of training providers who will cover everything you need, covering theory, resources and labs.
There’s a variety of providers, here’s some crowd favourites to start looking at:
- ACloudGuru (Actually used them myself in the end)
- Linux Academy (They were recently acquired by ACG and will be merging eventually)
- Cloud Academy
They all have benefits and drawbacks, check out some reviews and decide which best lines up with your learning style. I’d recommend picking a practical heavy course and one that goes beyond just the exam, teaching you the topics with optional courses for topics you’re interested in, this makes it go so much further even if it seems tough.
The best advice I can give is to practice what you’re learning, AWS has free tier accounts available that are great for testing out the services and working through labs that come with a lot of the training providers.
After coving of some training and some practice there’s a few more things for getting ready - it’s worth taking some time and reading;
After all this, you should be ready to sit an exam and come out the other side with a certification!
What Did I Get From It?
Besides a sheet of paper that says I can AWS, the training has changed how I build out services and gives me loads more confidence when I open up the AWS console.
Not to mention, it’s got me reading more and more about AWS and gotten me more interested in the changes and future of what they’re building!
Good luck if you decide to start your journey,
If you’ve any strong feelings pro or anti-cert, I’d love to hear or let me know what you’ve got from certs over the years;
If you want to read more about AWS check out the tag on Dev.to
Original cover by David Riaño Cortés, Edits by Me