Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become the dominant cloud player with a 33% share of the market, with an anticipated growth rate of 43%. It’s no wonder that its ability to provide a scalable, highly reliable and relatively low-cost cloud platform that includes more than 200 cloud services (with more to come) has made it a popular choice for over 100,000 customers in 190 countries worldwide. Thus, it stands to reason that obtaining an AWS certification can provide you with a wealth of opportunities toward meeting your goals.
Having an AWS certification is a validation of cloud skills acquired on-the-job. It also opens new job opportunities in cloud computing.
What Is an AWS Certification?
AWS certifications are globally recognized, industry-leading cloud certifications that validate a candidate’s AWS skills to current and prospective employers. Having an AWS certification means you have some of the most sought-after cloud computing skills and the required level of expertise to work efficiently on cloud-based projects.
There are 12 different AWS certification exams, all of which emphasize best practices and hands-on experience in a cloud computing area or specialty. These include:
- AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- AWS Certified Developer Associate
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional
- AWS Certified Database-Specialty
- AWS Certified Data Analytics-Specialty
- AWS Certified Advanced Networking-Specialty
- AWS Certified Security-Specialty
- AWS Certified Alexa SkillBuilder-Specialty
- AWS Certified Machine Learning- Specialty
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Five Ways AWS Certifications Can Come in Handy for Cloud Professionals
1.Certification Opens Up Higher-Paying Job Opportunities
Candidates with AWS professional certifications are currently in demand. Average salaries for AWS certified professionals range from U.S. $130,000 to $149,000. In contrast, the average salary of non-certified professionals is at least U.S. $20,000 less.
While certification alone can’t guarantee that you will qualify for a higher-paying job, it can help you demonstrate your value to your current or future employer. If you are a freelancer, an AWS certification can help you obtain more jobs as certification assures your clients of your ability to work with AWS technology.
2.Certification Demonstrates Your Technical Know-How and Core Capability in AWS
While you learn through experience, having an AWS certification gives a competitive advantage over similarly experienced job applicants who do not have a certification. Thus, even with a minimum amount of experience with AWS, having a certification is a plus.
If you are a professional already working with AWS cloud infrastructure, getting an AWS certification can help increase your knowledge of AWS services. You will be able to explore how different aspects of the platform work, such as costing, security, and scalability, to help you with the skills required to use AWS within your organization better. The certifications authenticate AWS-related skills for newer cloud professionals, which can appeal more to firms than your previous job experiences alone.
3. Certification Increases Your Chances of Obtaining Positions With AWS Partner Organizations
AWS Premier and Advanced partners are expected to keep on board a certain number of certified professionals at multiple levels. They especially seek to add more staff members with Professional and Speciality certifications. The more certified members they have on staff, the more Partner benefits they receive. An employer’s need to keep partner and competency status with AWS opens up several opportunities you would not have without certification.
4. Certification Makes You Eligible To Join the AWS Certified Global Community
When you obtain AWS certification, you become eligible to join the AWS Certified Network and LinkedIn Community, where AWS certification achievers can view and connect with other AWS certified professionals worldwide. This will open access to worldwide events and AWS conference invitations, free study materials, practice exams, live coding technical demos, and launch announcements that can help you prepare for future AWS projects or additional certification exams. When you become a member of the AWS community, you will also be entitled to the use of the “Amazon certified logo” and a digital badge to brand your expertise. Your badge can serve as a marketing element on digital signatures and social media. These badges can also get you invites to exclusive AWS certification events, AWS Summit and AWS Certification Lounges at the annual AWS re:Invent conference.
5. Certification Allows You To Become a Subject Matter Expert
AWS certified professionals automatically qualify for the AWS Subject Matter Expert Program. The SME program boosts a candidate’s knowledge of AWS services and their features. Also, you can join exam development programs, workshops and conferences as an SME.
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Which Certification Should You Aim For?
Of the 12 AWS certifications, which ones are right for you? First, you will need to determine what job role you want to work toward and what experience you have already acquired. Getting the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification should be the first step. This certification is required before you can achieve a Specialty or Associate certification. Additionally, the AWS Developer Associate certification requires one or more year’s first-hand experience developing and maintaining applications on AWS.
For the SysOps Administrator Certification, you need to have at least 1-2 years of work experience in a systems admins role which involves deploying, managing, and operating in AWS. Those seeking to achieve certification in Solutions Architect Associate should have over 1 year of experience as a solutions architect and of creating cost-efficient, resilient systems on AWS that are highly available and scalable.
Those seeking the Solutions Architect Professional certification should have over one year’s practical experience in AWS system management and operations. Suppose you want to acquire the AWS DevOps Engineer Professional certification. In that case, you must first have attained an associate-level certification as well as over two years’ DevOps engineering experience provisioning, operating, and handling AWS environments.
All specialty certifications will require at least 1 to 2 years of experience working in the particular specialty area. AWS Certified Database Specialty involves a minimum of 5 years of experience in managing common database technologies, two years of working with AWS, and AWS Cloud-based NoSQL and relational databases.
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How To Prepare For an AWS Certification Exam?
The only way to earn certification is through preparation. AWS training courses and certifications exams are rigorous and evaluate skills relevant to the platform before offering candidates a validation through certificates. Certification preparation requires obtaining a clear understanding of AWS key concepts and foundational skills and knowledge. Hence, you will need to dedicate considerable time and effort to learn and understand everything offered by AWS.
As part of your preparation for the certification exams, you can take practice exams online, read AWS blogs, and take free online video courses. Online AWS training allows cloud professionals to learn all about AWS’ 200 services in a streamlined and in-depth manner. Whether you take advantage of the free training materials on the AWS website, free third-party online guides, or paid instructor-led courses, preparing for an AWS certification will require a time investment of approximately 80 study hours. For someone new to AWS, it will take around 120 hours of study time.
AWS certifications expire after two years. After two years, you can renew your certification by passing a shorter, less expensive version of the original exam or upgrading to higher-level professional certification. So, in addition to the time and money spent obtaining your initial AWS Certifications, you must continually keep up with all AWS updates and trends to meet re-certification requirements.
Does Certification Make or Break a Job Offer?
When it comes to seeking a position with an AWS Partner organization, the answer is yes. To keep their AWS benefits, the more certifications their staff members have, the better. Otherwise, as Chris Coleman, President of Woz U says: “If you don’t have a certification, it doesn’t make you unqualified. Similarly, if you do have a certification, it doesn’t make you the best candidate. A certification, however, expresses to the hiring manager that your studies and interests are aligned with their desired skills.”