A detailed review of how I chose the certification and its main benefits
If you are working with data and you are considering taking your first AWS certification, you might be wondering which is one is the right one for you.
This was a hard choice to make for me since there are 12 possible certifications one can take in AWS. I chose the AWS Developer Associate certification after some research. But it wasn’t easy.
That’s why I want to share my story. I hope this post sheds some light on how the AWS Developer certification can help to gain some new knowledge — especially if you are a Machine Learning Engineer.
I hope by the end of this post you’ll be more confident to answer the question if the AWS Developer certification is the right one for you.
As I mentioned earlier today there are 12 possible certifications you can take in AWS. They are split into four levels: Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty.
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There are two certifications in AWS that can be of interest if you are talking about data. The Data Analytics specialty and the Machine Learning specialty. But…There is always a but. Right?
AWS recommends for the Data Analytics specialty at least 5 years of experience with data analytics technologies and 2 years of hands-on experience working with AWS.
On the other hand, for the Machine Learning specialty AWS recommends 1–2 years of experience developing, architecting, or running ML/deep learning workloads on the AWS Cloud.
So, if you are someone who doesn’t meet the advised requirements, you should consider starting with another AWS certification.
Don’t get wrong, it is no that you cannot go for the specialty. I’m just saying if you want to learn a couple of things before going for the specialties you can start in some other place.
Some people recommend starting with other certifications rather than starting with the specialties. Particularly, they recommend starting at the Associate level.
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Although you can start at the Foundational level with the Cloud Practitioner certification, many people don’t recommend it because they claim it is oriented to non-technical people who want to be familiar with AWS technologies.
“Within the past year, AWS unveiled what is arguably one of the best programs they have ever offered to non-technical professionals in the AWS Partner Network (APN): the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. The program, which is especially valuable for those in sales or marketing roles, doesn’t offer any high-tech products or services for selling or marketing AWS. Instead, it offers a learning path and a certification that is intended to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively demonstrate an overall understanding of the AWS Cloud.” — Coalfire Team
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Despite, if you are starting in AWS and you want to learn things from scratch, the Cloud Practitioner certification can be helpful.
There are three possible certifications you can consider at the Associate level.
This a mini resume from a post of A Cloud Guru where they address these three possible certifications:
- Solutions Architect: This one is focused on how to build and deploy systems in the AWS cloud using architectural best practices — see resources like the AWS well-architected Framework.
- SysOps: This one is “for anyone who runs things on AWS. This exam goes rather in-depth on CloudWatch, among other things. Going through this certification gives you a much stronger grasp of what’s actually going on in your AWS architecture.”
- Developer: This one is focused on understanding at a lower-level how AWS services work. It is focused on testing you’re capable of using and connecting services in AWS by following their best practices.
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At this point, I will encourage you to consider which certification are you most drawn to. For me, it was the AWS Developer certification. This one was the best suited for me due to my role.
There was one time I was training a machine learning model and I was having some problems related to the deployment of the model. Particularly, I didn’t know how to do it or how to consume it.
The CTO of the company I used to work for told me at that point something that stuck in my mind:
“I want you to be able to deploy your own models. I don’t want you to train them and leave them in your pc because you don’t know how to put them into production…”
If you read that line and that rings a bell…The AWS Developer certification might be the first step for you.
There are some problems this certification can help you solve if you are a Machine Learning Engineer.
But first, be aware the focus of this certification is not related to machine learning engineering. But, I believe some things can be easier if you have knowledge of some AWS services and their best practices
The exam content is split into 5 domains:
- Deployment: 22% of examination
- Security: 26% of examination
- Development with AWS Services: 30% of examination
- Refactoring: 10% of examination
- Monitoring and Troubleshooting: 12%
Each of these domains can help you to gain strong knowledge about AWS. Particularly, there 3 main benefits I find in this certification that can help you as a machine learning engineer…
1. Learning about deploying and consuming machine learning models
We all know deploying and consuming a machine learning model is not easy. It has many challenges and not all people are trained to do it.
Let’s say you have to deploy a model for processing some photos. And let's say you have to classify something in the photo, e.g., if there is a dog or not.
First, you have to deploy the model. Then you have to consume it. To do so, you need to read the image, process it, make the classification, and then persist the results for further analysis.
This is where the AWS Developer certification can help you! This certification will allow you to learn more about development with AWS Services.
If you look closely, deploying and consuming a machine learning model follows the lifecycle of software development. So, learning more about it will give you some of the tools you may lack today to do it.
For example, you’ll learn how to use some AWS services like AWS Lambda, ECS, Dynamo, SNS, SQS, and so on. Also, you’ll learn a lot about the serverless approach and some best practices about development in AWS.
2. Learning about CI/CD Pipelines
There are other problems that arise once you deploy a machine learning model into production.
For example, you might want to automate its retraining process or you might want to automate its deployment once it has been retrained.
I know, you might be thinking something like “wait a moment. That’s what DevOps team does!” And you’re probably right. They can help you to do that.
But, I believe if you learn a little bit more about CI/CD the DevOps team is going to thank you. If you understand the process you can learn some of the best practices of CI/CD and that will be beneficial for the whole team!
For example, you’ll learn how to use some AWS services like AWS CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, CodePipeline, X-ray, Cloudwatch, and so on.
3. Learning AWS fundamentals
Trust me. You need to learn the fundamentals of AWS. There is so much we don’t know…
I remember one time when I was starting with AWS and I was writing a Lambda. The task was simple. The lambda would go for data to Redshift, do some processing, and it would query an endpoint. But, the lambda was getting a timeout. It took the whole afternoon to figure out that the time out was related to the VPC configuration.
Do you get the point? learning the fundamentals is important! Don’t be like the early version of me.
Some of the fundamentals you’ll learn in the certification are related to services like IAM, VPCs, Internet Gateways, NAT Gateways, Security Groups, and so on.
I passed my AWS Developer Certification after three months of studying.
I prepared for the exam by taking the AWS Certified Developer course of Linux Academy (now acquired by A Cloud Guru).
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If you don’t want to do the course of Linux Academy, I’ll encourage you to buy the practice exam tests. They are really helpful. I would dare to say without them I wouldn’t have passed the certification exam.
I know this is a long article. But I was trying to show you how I made the decision and the benefits I find in the certification.
Hope this information has helped to answer the question if the AWS Developer certification is the right one for you.
Thanks for reading until the end.
See you in the next post!
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