Types of AWS Certifications - AWS Career Path [ Complete Guide ]

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Building a Career with AWS Certifications

aws certifications

Nick Reddin

Published June 24, 2021

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The AWS Career Path—A Quick Guide

In the last few years, technology has evolved at a fast pace, resulting in faster processes and changes in every industry. Everything is becoming digitized with cloud and computing platforms being the leading forces behind this growth. 

New technologies are not only offering businesses zettabytes of data but are also changing the way companies manage and store the same. Businesses of all sizes use the power of the cloud for their operations, leading to a massive demand for cloud professionals. 

The last two years have been exciting for those who like to keep abreast of technology trends and gain new skills. 

This playbook is a complete overview on the skills that are required in the market, career opportunities, and the paths that can propel you towards a lucrative career in AWS. Read on to find out more about the trending technologies and how you can jump-start your career. 

The Signs are in the Data

Today, more and more businesses are adopting cloud and cloud computing. Current forecasts show that it will be a $300-billion business by the end of 2021. Faster adoption of cloud technology means a tremendous increase in career opportunities. 

Cloud computing and its related technologies are changing how businesses transact across all industries. The technology has garnered immense traction over the past few years, fostering transformation changes and faster processes. 

AWS is the preferred cloud computing choice for millions of businesses in over 190 countries, serving a total of 100,000 active users. By 2022, AWS will have a bigger stake in the cloud computing world. As more businesses choose to move to AWS, career opportunities are expected to increase dramatically for these professionals. 

Some sectors to watch include the following: 

●     Education

●     Healthcare

●     Transportation

●     Banking

●     Retail

●     Manufacturing

Gartner and other analysts consider AWS as a critical thought leader and a reference point for competitors. Today, AWS is the leader in public cloud adoption and currently offers 12 certifications covering foundational and specialty topics in cloud computing. What are the AWS certifications?

Types of AWS Certifications

Source: Google

AWS offers certifications in various levels: 

●     Foundational certification

●     Three associate-level certifications

●     Two professional-level certifications

●     Six specialty certifications

Foundational Certification | AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

This is an entry-level certification that validates your overall understanding of AWS cloud. The prerequisites include at least six months of managerial, technical, sales, or other experience with the cloud. 

The exam format is multiple-choice questions which takes 90 minutes to complete. 

Areas covered in the exam include the following: 

●     A general understanding of AWS architectural principle basics;

●     Important AWS services and their most common uses;

●     Deployment of the core and operating principles;

●     The AWS cloud value proposition;

●     Basics in compliance and security as well as the shared responsibility security model.

Prepare for this certification by looking at these AWS training & certification courses.

Associate-Level Certification | AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate

The exam is suitable for candidates with experience in designing distributed applications. You must have experience in designing, managing, and implementing applications using AWS platform services and tools. In February 2018, the AWS updated this exam to include best practices and more services. 

The format is multiple-choice and multiple-answers, and the new exam takes 130 minutes to complete. 

Areas you should have proficiency in include the following: 

●     Networking technologies and how they gel with AWS;

●     Skills in building reliable and secure application; 

●     Understanding how AWS applications function and how the client interfaces connect with the platform;

●     How to deploy hybrid systems for candidates working with on-premises data centers and AWS components;

●     Familiarity with AWS concepts and infrastructure, skills to implement and deploy applications in AWS, disaster recovery techniques, data security practices, and troubleshooting. 

For more details, check out these courses. 

Associate-Level Certification | AWS Certified Developer—Associate

This exam evaluates your prowess in developing and maintaining AWS applications. Part of it also requires an understanding in how to code using AWS software to access AWS-based applications via custom applications. 

The format is in multiple-choice questions with multiple answers which need to be answered in 80 minutes. 

This exam covers three major areas:

●     Basic AWS architecture and core services;

●     Practical experience on how to design, develop, deploy, and maintain applications;

●     Working knowledge of AWS services such as workflow services, notifications, change management services, storage services, and AWS databases.

Prepare for the certification by checking out this online AWS training course. 

Associate-Level Certification | AWS Certified SysOps Administrator—Associate

This is the only certification especially catering to system administrators. You need conceptual knowledge and technical expertise in the AWS platform’s operational aspects. Experience as a Windows or Linux administrator is a plus. 

The exam format includes both multiple-answers and multiple-choice questions and it takes 80 minutes to complete. 

The exam includes the following topics: 

●     How to transmit data between a data center and AWS;

●     How to provision, manage, and secure systems using the AWS environment;

●     How to deploy applications via the AWS platform;

●     How to choose the right AWS services for organization requirements.

Check out this page for more details. 

Professional-Level Certification | AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Professional

The aim of this certification is to become a professional AWS architect capable of evaluating organizational requirements and making architectural recommendations to implement and deploy applications via AWS. The exam requires you to have experience and technical skills with AWS applications. 

The prerequisite is a “pass” in the AWS-Certified Solutions Architect (Associate) exam and over two years designing and deploying AWS cloud architecture. Plus, you need to have a good understanding of best practices for multi-application architecture design. 

Questions require multiple-choices and answers, and it takes 170 minutes to complete the exam. 

Areas of focus for the exam include the following: 

●     Architecting best practices for designing AWS applications;

●     Migrating complex applications to AWS;

●     How to select the right service in AWS depending on application requirements;

●     How to cost-optimize.

Get more details about the certification by checking out these courses. 

Professional-Level Certification | AWS Certified DevOps Engineer—Professional 

The certification focuses on the provisioning, operation, and management of applications on AWS. There is a heavy reliance on Continuous Delivery (CD) and automating process and critical DevOps movement concepts. 

The prerequisites include AWS-Certified Developer—Associate or certification as an AWS-Certified SysOps Administrator—Associate. [1] Technical experience in providing and managing AWS-based applications and a familiarity with development concepts such as agile methodology is recommended. 

This is a multiple-choice questions exam that takes 170 minutes, covering the following: 

●     Basic modern CD methods;

●     How to implement CD systems;

●     How to set up, monitor, and log systems via AWS;

●     How to implement highly available and scalable AWS systems;

●     How to design and manage automation tools for production operations;

●     Specialty certification.

Specialty certifications validate your networking and big data skills. The prerequisites consist of current associate-level certification and at least five years of experience. 

Specialty certification exams employ a multiple-choice format, taking about three hours to complete. 

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Data Analytics—Specialty

The certification is suitable for candidates with a background in data analytics and experience in architecting and designing big data solutions using AWS services. The exam evaluates your experience to extract value from data coming from AWS services. 

The areas that are covered are as follows: 

●     Best practices for architecting core AWS big data services;

●     Tools in AWS for data analysis automation;

●     Specifics in AWS services such as Quicksight and Kinesis;

●     How to design and maintain big data;

●     Big data security best practices.

Look through this course to find out how to prepare for this exam. 

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Advanced Networking—Specialty

A certification for validating candidate experience and skills while performing complex networking tasks on hybrid IT and AWS networking environments at scale. The ideal candidate must have a background in implementing and architecting network solutions as well as advanced networking AWS knowledge. 

Areas to cover during preparation for the exam include the following: 

●     Automating AWS tasks for network deployments;

●     Optimizing and troubleshooting networks;

●     Implementing core service following architectural best practices.

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Security—Specialty

This certification course covers subjects that interest security teams and professionals who want to master the fundamentals, enhance their knowledge in critical AWS platform services, and follow best practices. The exam validates AWS knowledge across different topics such as incident response, data encryption and protection, access management, and infrastructure security. 

Major areas covered by this certification include the following: 

●     How to use various AWS services to set the appropriate security level based on deployments and data sensitivity;

●     How to select the ideal data protection techniques and encryption mechanisms;

●     How to implement log and monitor solutions that can help in the detection and analysis of infrastructure security weaknesses and vulnerabilities.

Some AWS services covered in this course are AWS CloudTrail, Amazon Inspector, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS Config, and AWS Trusted Advisor. 

Click here to find the right online AWS training course to prepare you for this exam.

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder—Specialty

This certification validates technical skills to create, test, and deploy Amazon Alexa. The exam is ideal for anyone working as an Alexa skill builder. You should have a minimum of six months of experience in handling Alexa and proficiency in a programming language.

Areas tested by the certification include the following:

●     The value of voice;

●     Designing the user experience;

●     Ensuring security by following the Alexa and AWS best practices;

●     Skills to create, test, and validate;

●     Technical expertise handling Alexa Developer Console.

You can find an AWS certification training course by clicking here.

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Machine Learning—Specialty

This is a certification to validate the candidates’ ability in creating, implementing, and maintaining machine learning (ML) solutions for various business issues. We recommend this exam to individuals who want to improve in data or development science roles. At least two years of experience in deep learning and/or ML learning using the AWS Cloud is required.

Topics covered during the certification include the following:

●     How to choose and defend the most appropriate ML approach for a specific business problem;

●     How to identify applicable AWS solutions to create and deploy ML solutions;

●     How to design and implement scalable, secure, cost-optimized, and reliable ML solutions.

Specialty Certifications | AWS Certified Database—Specialty

This is an important specialty certification to show that you have an overall understanding of AWS database services and the know-how to bring value to business by integrating and architecting optimized databases. This course is suitable for individuals working closely with DB solutions’ implementation and databases. A minimum of two years of experience in on-premises and AWS cloud-based NoSQL and relational databases is required. 

Some areas covered include the following: 

●     The management of databases;

●     Database security;

●     Designing, deploying, and migrating databases.

Stay Up-to-Date with Re-certification

AWS continuously releases new services and features each year. Taking a re-certification course every two years can help you display your knowledge and expertise in the recent AWS services. 

This can be done by taking a professional-level exam for your certification or by passing a re-certification for an existing certification. These exams take 80 minutes to complete. 

Certifications represent your broad knowledge at a given point in time. Real AWS gurus do not wait until certification expiry; instead, they take a proactive approach to getting the latest certification.

Here are a few ways to keep your skills current: 

●     Subscribe to the AWS Release Notes newsletter; 

●     Learn through experimenting with ML and AI services;

●     Attend AWS training & certification courses;

●     Test your skills using AWS practice exams;

●     Surround yourself with experts in AWS services.

Which AWS Certification is Right for You?

The ideal path you take to a career in AWS depends on your unique starting point. To get you started on the best path, we provide a few options based on the most common scenarios.

When you are new to Cloud or IT in general

If this is you, you’ll be better off taking the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. The certification is advisable for anyone from a non-technical or technical background who wants to learn about cloud, benefits, different pricing models, and architectural patterns and has in-depth understanding of core AWS services. After completion, you can move on to other associate-level certifications.

When you have a technical IT background or AWS basic experience

You can begin with associate-level certifications. The cloud practitioner course is also important, as it adds knowledge to the pricing models and benefits of the cloud.

Associate-level certifications you should aim for include the following:

●     AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associate) for a strong understanding of various AWS core services;

●     AWS Certified Developer (Associate) for developers to learn more about services such as Amazon API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and AWS Developer Tools;

●     AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Associate) for the SysOps Engineer.

When you have good knowledge of and several years of experience in AWS

If you are already familiar with AWS and are on your way to becoming a guru, consider taking certifications to validate your skills. Note that it is tempting to start at the specialty or professional-level certifications which may work for you, but it’s advisable you do the associate-level certifications first. 

This can help you learn and navigate the AWS certification exams by teaching you their structure and about the knowledge they test. Plus, you also get a good idea of the exam question formats and the time required for each test which can help as you take on harder specialty or professional certifications. 

Getting Started with AWS Training

There are many training resources available that can help you achieve AWS certification and fulfill your career goals. These resources vary from free to classroom-based training. 

Free AWS resources include the following: 

●     Documentation on the AWS website, so you are up-to-date with the facts. The materials include user guides, developer guides, and each AWS service’s FAQs. 

●     Sign up with the AWS.Training website for free access to training videos on AWS services. While the depth is relatively simple, it is a good starting point. 

●     Browse websites for value-packed training resources for different certifications.

You can also sign up for high-quality video-based online AWS training and exam difficulty practice tests that are available at our website. This way, you’ll have everything required to pass several AWS certifications at affordable rates. 

If you prefer instructor-led and classroom-based training, we have several options available for that as well. 

So, Are AWS Certifications Worth It?

Having AWS certification on your resume significantly boosts your potential for a higher salary. Plus, the certifications are a critical component in advancing your cloud career.

According to a Forbes article by Louis Columbus, on an average, AWS certifications can provide a $12,000-salary bump to IT professionals. While certifications are not always an indicator of competence, the training you get during certification is an invaluable addition to your resume. You are learning new skills, increasing your understanding of the platform from within, and discovering the best practices. 

Find Out More…and How We Can Help

As a busy, forward-thinking professional, you are committed to lifelong learning and building of your professional skill sets. To assist our clients in the same, we have a number of online courses available in the subjects of SAFe, AWS, and many more technical fields. Whether you are a Scrummaster, Program or Product Manager, Agilist, Enterprise, or System or Solution Architect, you will find a course that meets your needs.

We offer live, instructor-led training programs for AWS. Enroll today and propel your career to the next level.

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