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The Complete Guide to AWS Certification

Last updated: January 8, 2020
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There is no question that heavy-hitter companies have been making a shift into the world of cloud computing in the past several years. With big name companies like Airbnb, Netflix, and Pinterest all flocking to services from AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, cloud computing is starting to become a permanent staple in IT solutions — if not the complete foundation for a company’s online infrastructure.

If you’re in the workspace of cloud engineering and are looking for a way to earn that big promotion or if you’re trying to get a leg up on the competition to land your next role as an IT professional, this is the article for you.

What Is an AWS Certification?

AWS certification is a tier of expertise that IT engineers obtain to validate their knowledge of the AWS platform (Amazon Web Services). AWS provides several different options of certifications you can obtain. These credentials last for a maximum of two years but give you the option to recertify at the time of its expiration.

Obtaining a certification can be beneficial in two distinct ways. For one, it looks good to have an extra set of skills under your belt when applying for an IT position or asking for a raise. Two, AWS has become the gold standard in public cloud application. According to the 2018 RightScale Cloud Report, 84% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, which means the demand for cloud engineers will only continue to rise.

Types of AWS Certifications

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AWS lets you choose from nine different certifications. There is one general certification, three Associate certifications, three Specialty certifications, and two Professional certifications.

Find more info on the AWS Certification website.

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

This Associate certification is geared towards the individual who wants to gain a basic, well-rounded knowledge of cloud platforms. It covers the four main aspects, including security, the concepts of cloud, customer services, and technology. Here’s a breakdown of the cost and time commitment involved:

  • Cost: $100
  • Exam Time: 90 minutes

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate

This Associate-level certification is for the individual who is or wants to be an AWS solutions architect. AWS recommends having one or more years of working experience using scalable AWS systems. You will learn how to demonstrate the architecture and security of applications through AWS technologies. After obtaining this certification, a Professional certification is available for the advanced individual. The Associate-level and Professional-level certifications will have different costs.

Associate certification:

  • Cost: $150
  • Exam Time: 130 minutes

Professional certification:

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified Developer Associate

This certification validates the knowledge of anyone seeking a role as a developer. You will gain an understanding of AWS development technologies, debugging applications using AWS, and general best practices. AWS recommends one or more years of hands-on experience in maintaining application based on AWS. There is also the option to acquire a Professional certification once you have the Developer Associate Certification. Here’s the cost and time commitment for each.

Associate Certification:

  • Cost: $150
  • Exam Time: 130 minutes

Professional Certification:

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate

This certification will give you the knowledge you need to perform system administrator duties, system operations, deployment, management, scalability, and fault-tolerant systems on the AWS platform. You will learn how to estimate usage costs from AWS services and select the right AWS service based on system application requirements.

  • Cost: $150
  • Exam Time: 130 minutes

AWS Certified Security

This Specialty certification deals with the protection of AWS data, AWS security, and secure internet protocols. You will learn about the risks, costs, and system requirements for applications on the cloud.

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified Big Data

This is another Specialty certification where you learn about the functions of core AWS Big Data technologies, database services, design, and tools. AWS recommends at least five years of hands-on experience with data analytics.

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified Advanced Networking

This Specialty certification will give you the confidence to put the core concepts of development, design, and maintenance into practice as you oversee the network architecture for all AWS services. Prior knowledge and hands-on experience of advanced networking techniques, IP, VPN, MPLS/VPLS, and other networking technologies are a must have before obtaining this certification.

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified Machine Learning

This Specialty certification will give you an understanding of The AWS technologies that integrate Machine Learning. You’ll be able to identify the appropriate AWS services and understand how to implement the right solutions for any business model. Experience in ML, developing, and deep learning workloads are considered prerequisites for this Specialty certification. AWS recommends 1-5 years of experience.

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder

This certification is for anyone who works or wants to work as an Alexa Skill Builder. It will give you an understanding of design, plus knowledge of Alexa and it’s system properties, best practices for security, and techniques to manage operations and core values of Alexa and AWS. Prior use of Alexa Skills Kit and an understanding of the programming language are must-haves for this Specialty certification.

  • Cost: $300
  • Exam Time: 170 minutes

Overview of AWS Certification Exams

Once you’ve found the right certification, you need to start preparing for the exam of your choice. First and foremost, you need to have a complete understanding of the subject material and know about the core principles of the AWS platform and cloud services before taking the AWS Certification Exam.

The questions on the AWS exam are in multiple-choice or multiple answer formats. All questions are designed to tackle real-world scenarios that will challenge your thought process and may include visuals, charts, and examples.

There are numerous resources to prepare you for the exams, including:

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These resources will give you valuable insight through practice quizzes and practice exams. If you want some core fundamentals of the AWS platform as well as free digital training, Amazon gives you these resources.

How to Take the Exam

First, you will need to register your information through the AWS certification program by visiting here. Once you’re done registering you’ll then be able to schedule and manage your AWS exams.

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You will then need to sign in using your current Amazon account. You’ll be redirected to your dashboard, which gives you all the information needed to manage everything about your AWS certification.

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Choose your exam and double check your info. From there, you will be redirected to PSI Online where you can schedule your preferred time, date, and location. It’s that simple.

Frequently Asked Questions

AWS Certifications set a strong foundation for working on the Cloud through the AWS Platform. Here are some of the most common questions about the AWS Certification process.

1. Where are AWS Certification Training classes located?

Certification Training is available all around the world by Authorized Training Partners and Amazon Web Services. Check the training site for a list of locations.

2. What is the cost of AWS training?

While some courses may require a registration fee, there are featured digital courses that you can participate in for free. Fees are included in the individual course descriptions on the AWS website.

3. Will being AWS certified help me land the job?

While all facets of your individual profile are considered, extra certifications, credentials, and skill sets will definitely heighten your chances of scoring employment.

4. What happens if I fail the certification exam?

If you fail the certification exam, you have to wait 14 days to be eligible to retake the exam. For each exam attempt, you have to pay for the full registration price, so make sure you study up.

Get Your Certification Now

We covered all the fundamentals on AWS Certification and how choosing the right certification, whether it be Solutions Architect or DevOps, can help validate your skills when working on the AWS platform. Now it’s up to you to take this knowledge and get AWS certified.

Get started by visiting the AWS Certification page. And once you’re ready to apply for your dream job, check out these tips for applying to Amazon work-from-home jobs and our article on the best work-from-home job boards.

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