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AWS Certification: What is it and how do I get it?

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With an AWS certification you can confirm your knowledge of the Amazon Web Services Cloud. Learn everything you need to know and how to prepare for the exam.

Cloud computing professionals are highly sought after by companies. If you develop this expertise, you can move up in your career or even change your direction.
To take advantage of this opportunity, you can earn an AWS certification. With this title, you can show that you’ve mastered the Amazon Web Services cloud.

What is AWS Certification?

An AWS Certification is an industry-recognized title awarded by AWS. It allows professionals to validate their knowledge of Amazon Web Services and add to their resume. An AWS certification is a proof and validation of cloud skills and competencies.
This allows access to a new position or promotion. For companies, it is an easy way to identify candidates who are capable of leading AWS-based projects.

To get certified, you must pass an exam at an AWS exam center. There are hundreds of AWS certifications spread around the world. The title then remains valid for three years. To renew it, you must go through the “recertification” process.

AWS certification often leads to a high salary. In the U.S., the average salary of an AWS certificant is over $100,000 per year. This is one of the highest valued cloud certifications.

That said, an AWS certification is not a substitute for work experience. It is very important to learn how to use AWS through hands-on experience. In addition, such a title can make the difference over other applicants in an interview.

Why take an AWS certification?

There are several reasons to take an AWS certification. It may be that you want to take a job that requires this status, or that you want to respond to your employer’s request.

Many people pursue AWS certification to increase their salary, although they don’t always succeed. Remember that AWS certifications are tools that can help you achieve your goal.

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What are the different AWS certifications?

There are four levels of AWS certifications:

  1. Fundamental
  2. Associate
  3. Professional
  4. and Speciality

The easiest certification to earn is the Cloud Practitioner (AWS CCP). It is accessible to beginners, covers the basics of AWS and the cloud, and requires no technical experience. This certification generally assumes that you know the main concepts of cloud computing, but without delving into the details.

Associate-level certifications include Solution Architect, Developer, and SysOps Administrator. You need to know how an AWS-based application works, how to develop secure applications on AWS, and how to deploy hybrid systems. This level of certification is for people who will be working with AWS and need concrete skills.

The Solution Architect certification has long been the most popular because it provides a solid foundation. It focuses on key AWS services such as S3 and EC2 and provides an overview of how AWS works in the areas of security, networking, data storage, or computing.
The Associate Developer certification is not just for developers, as the name suggests. It gives you the opportunity to learn about services like DynamoDB, Elastic Beanstalk, SQS, or AMAZON SNS. You need to know how to use these services and how to integrate them using APIs and SDKs.

The SysOps Administrator certification is also not just for SysOps administrators. Anyone who uses AWS will be interested in this, especially to learn about CloudWatch. Note that this is the most difficult AWS certification at the Associate level.

AWS Certification - Professional Qualifications

Professional level certifications require mastery of all Associate level exams, but also additional, more challenging skills. These include the Professional Solution Architect and Professional DevOps Engineer certifications. These exams are aimed at already experienced AWS users. They require both general knowledge and thorough mastery.

The Professional Solution Architect certification represents the highest level of general expertise on AWS. This title demonstrates that the holder has mastered all AWS features and can adapt to future developments.

The DevOps certification combines the areas of development and operations. To pass this exam, you must be able to master systems that evolve over time. This certification requires extensive knowledge in specific areas such as deployment and lifecycle or services such as CloudFormation and OpsWork.

Specialized Certifications

The specialized AWS certifications are those for Advanced Networking, Data Analytics, Security, Machine Learning, and Databases. The exams focus on very specific topics and often require several years of experience.

For example, to pass these exams, you’ll need to know how to use AWS for data analytics, machine learning, or network deployments. You’ll also need to know how to use tools like Kinesis, Athena, Quicksight, or Recognition.

The Advanced Networking certification covers AWS and hybrid environments, aspects like multi-region configurations or cost optimization. You’ll need to master services like Direct Connect, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) or routing.

The Data Analytics certification, formerly Big Data by 2020, focuses on the various data-related AWS services such as S3, Redshift, Kinesis or Elastic MapReduce. The holder of this title masters the tools and services to develop data analytics applications and collect, store, process, and visualize data in the cloud.

Illustration of clouds

Security certification covers a variety of services and functions, such as Identity and Access Management (IAM), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), Key Management Service (KMS), CloudTrail, AWS Config, and Web Application Firewall (WAF). Specifically, you need to know how the various security services work together and can conflict with each other.

The Machine Learning certification is one of the most recent and focuses on machine learning. You need to master different aspects such as collecting and analyzing data, Machine Learning algorithms or tools like Kinesis and SageMaker for training models.
The DataBase certification states that the holder is able to design and manage AWS database solutions for the needs of the business. You must know how to deploy, manage, and monitor databases and how to resolve potential issues or address security threats.

How do you decide on the right AWS certification and preparation?

When choosing an AWS certification, you should be guided by several criteria. First of all, you should keep in mind that certification is a means to an end. So you should choose the certification that fits your goal.

If you just want to use the cloud as a tool, the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification may be enough. You’ll master the basics and key concepts you need to work with IT teams and apply this technology in your business.
On the other hand, to work in the cloud space, the Associate level Solution Architect certification is a bare minimum. This is the most popular AWS certification and one of the most prestigious titles in the IT industry. It also allows you to continue on to other exams.
If you already work with the cloud on a daily basis, the SysOps Developer and Administrator certifications will take you to the next level. After that, you can also take the Professional- or Specialty-level certifications.
If you already have a specialized role in the cloud and want to develop into an expert, specialty certifications are a good solution. You can specialize in security and networking, for example.

In general, it’s recommended that you complete the top five AWS certifications in this order: Associate Solution Architect, Associate Developer, Associate Sysops Admin, Professional DevOps, Professional Solution Architect. This order will allow you to progress gradually and more easily.

All about AWS Certifications

The format of AWS certification exams can vary, but these exams always consist of multiple-choice and multiple-response questions. A professional proctor oversees each timed exam.
Associate-level exams last 80 minutes, while Professional- and Specialist-level exams last 170 minutes. The questions cover various AWS tools, services, and concepts.

A statistical analysis method is used by AWS to determine the score for each candidate. This score varies for each test. Once the test is completed, the results are posted to the candidate’s account within 72 hours. If the test is passed, the candidate will receive a digital certificate and access to AWS-certified badges and logos for personal or professional use.
If the exam is not passed, it can be retaken two weeks later. The cost for an Associate-level exam is $150, while the cost for a Professional- or Specialist-level exam is $300.
Previously, it was necessary to visit an AWS exam center to receive certification. Now you can take the exam directly online from home.

How do I prepare for AWS certification?

Passing an AWS certification requires good preparation. To practice, Amazon offers mock exams, hands-on, and question outlines. There is a fee for these resources.
Alternatively, you can opt for the AWS certification with an official AWS partner. DataScientest is an official AWS training partner.

The training lasts four days and is conducted entirely online. The course consists of 50% self-study and 50% masterclasses.
Our course offers you the opportunity to prepare for the Associate level Solution Architect certification. In this program, you will learn how to leverage AWS services to make your infrastructure scalable, design solutions that integrate security, authentication, and access with AWS, and identify practices for migrating to the cloud.

To start our certified AWS training there are no prerequisites needed. You should have already worked with Excel as you will use this tool while learning the AWS cloud. You’ll also need a good command of English, as the AWS training is in English.

The price for this course is €2.590 and can be financed either by your company or yourself up to 12 installments. This price includes the cost of the mock exam, all the official Amazon learning materials and the final exam.
Check out our training now to get your AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification in just four days!

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