FAQ: AWS Certifications for beginners

AWS offers a broad range of certifications. Because there are so many certifications to choose from, those who want to get started with AWS are often a bit overwhelmed, and wonder where to start. In this article, we answer the most frequently asked questions about AWS Certifications for those who are just beginning their journey into the AWS Cloud.

Is an AWS certification worth it?

This is maybe the most important question of all. Is obtaining an AWS certification really worth your time? The answer is yes: we strongly believe obtaining an AWS certification is worth the time and effort. These certifications are proof you have sufficient knowledge on the subject. If we look at the current job market, we see that most companies require either an AWS certification or working knowledge of AWS for a position as a (junior) AWS Cloud Engineer. Obtaining a certification will open doors to new career opportunities, certainly if you take into account that there is a global shortage of professionals with sufficient Cloud expertise.

Which AWS certification should I get?

The type of AWS certification you should strive to obtain, depends entirely on your personal and/or professional goals. Do you want to gain a general understanding of Cloud concepts because you want to be able to keep up with the IT teams in your organisation, or do you want to pursue a career in Cloud Computing?

General understanding of the Cloud

If your company provides Cloud-related services, it might be handy to have a general understanding of Cloud concepts, even if you don’t have a technical background. Think of job roles such as sales, legal, marketing, business analysts, project managers and business managers, who often need to communicate with IT teams to do their jobs. Understanding the basics of the Cloud can make this communication a lot easier. If this is your goal, you should aim for an AWS Cloud Practitioner certification, which demonstrates an overall understanding of the AWS Cloud.

Cloud Computing career

If you want to make a career out of Cloud Computing, we recommend obtaining the AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certification. This certification provides you with a solid foundation of AWS knowledge and skills, allowing you to start working on AWS. This certification is the best starting point if you want to pursue additional AWS certifications. For these reasons, it is the most popular AWS certification, and it is also widely regarded as one of the most valuable certifications in IT (15 Top Paying IT Certifications In 2020, Forbes, 2020).

Which certification is suitable for beginners? Which certification should I start with?

If you are an absolute beginner with no prior knowledge of Cloud computing in general, we recommend you to start with the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. As we said earlier, this certification focuses on foundational Cloud concepts which you need to understand before being able to start your journey into the AWS Cloud. Obtaining this certification means you know what Cloud is, what Cloud migration is, and how AWS works at a high level, but you won’t have to worry about implementation yet. If you’re not familiar with Cloud computing yet, but eager to start your journey into the AWS Cloud, this is definitely the place to start.

Even though the Cloud Practitioner certification provides a solid foundation of Cloud concepts, this certification alone is not enough to start working in the AWS Cloud. You will need to go for the associate-level certifications in order to pursue a career in AWS. There are 3 associate-level AWS certifications available. We recommend starting with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certification, because it gives you a broad overview of AWS. It focuses on the core AWS services, like Identity and Access Management (IAM), Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), S3, and EC2. This certification thus gives you a solid foundation to get started with AWS, and to start building the rest of your AWS knowledge. And as we said before, this is one of the most popular and most demanded AWS certifications. Obtaining it will most likely open doors to new career opportunities.

Don’t let your journey into the AWS Cloud stop at the Solutions Architect certification, though. The AWS Certified Developer — Associate certification can be of great value to you as well. Some people actually recommend starting with the Developer Associate certification if you’re very sure that you want to end up in a developer role, because there would be more job opportunities available for junior AWS developers. The Developer Associate certification takes you deeper into services like DynamoDB, Elastic Beanstalk, SQS, and SNS. There is some overlap with the Solutions Architect Associate certification, but you could use this to your advantage: if you take both exams close together, all the course material will still be fresh in your memory, making it easier for you to obtain both certifications.

Same goes for the Certified SysOps Administrator — Associate certification: if your career goal is to start working in a AWS systems administrator or AWS operations role, you might want to start off with this certification instead of the Solutions Architect. Even if that’s not necessarily your goal, if you wish to move on with the professional-level certifications at a certain point in your career, it’s wise to obtain all associate-level certifications first. The professional-level certifications assume you know all concepts introduced in the associate-level certifications inside out, so skipping one might be to your disadvantage.

Which AWS certification is in demand?

As we stated earlier, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certification is regarded as one of the most valuable certifications in IT. It is in high demand on the job market, since this certification proves that you have knowledge of how to architect and deploy applications on AWS. If you’re looking for a certification that will open doors to new job opportunities, the Solutions Architect Associate is a great place to start. Subsequently, the AWS Solutions Architect — Professional certification is in popular demand as well, since this certification proves even deeper knowledge of designing and deploying applications on AWS.

Secondly, the AWS Certified Developer — Associate certification can be of great value to you if you wish to start working as an AWS Developer, because there is a growing demand for AWS Developers.

Finally, the AWS Certified Security — Specialty certification could also be useful if you are working in a specialised IT security role, or intend to start working in IT security in the future. Cybersecurity is growing increasingly more important (Forbes, 2018) in times where more and more organisations are going into the Cloud, so knowing how to properly secure your applications on AWS can only be to your advantage.

How do I prepare for my certification?

That depends entirely on your personal preferences, and on the certification you want to obtain. In some cases, AWS provides digital assets which allow you to self-study the course material, and sometimes you’ll want to book a live online or classroom training course. AWS provides learning paths and ramp-up guides for every certification, which give you an overview of all the things you need to do in order to prepare for your certification exam. Since this information is sometimes rather difficult to find on AWS’ website, we’ll list links to the assets for the certifications we mentioned in this article. We’ll provide useful links to The Campus’ website and assets as well.

AWS Cloud Practitioner certification

AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate certification

AWS Solutions Architect — Professional certification

AWS Certified Security — Specialty certification

Still have questions?

If you still have any questions about AWS certifications and how to obtain them, we’re happy to help! You can contact us via our contact form or via email for tailored advice.

The Campus, Charlotte Van Rompaey 3 February, 2021
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