Without a doubt, investment in IT is increasing in response to the rising number of enterprise applications deployed to the cloud each day. And this trend is expected to continue. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Amazon Web Services is the leader for the seventh consecutive year.
Judging by the number of new services and features AWS offers, they have no intention of slowing down. This results in an even greater need for qualified, high caliber individuals to address this growing demand. Are the AWS certifications right for you? In this article, we will break down the different certificate levels granted by AWS and look at what each of them has to offer.
Before December 2016, Amazon Web Services only offered AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer, and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certificates on the Associate and Professional levels. At their biggest annual conference, re:Invent2016, AWS presented three new specialty certificates: AWS Certified Security, AWS Certified Big Data, and AWS Certified Advanced Networking, which were made available in Beta versions. By the end of May 2017, Certification Specialty Exams in Big Data and Advanced Networking became publicly available. Certified Security, which didn’t pass the beta phase, was rolled back for further improvement and enhancement. Anyone who took the Certified Security exam in the Beta phase has the option of receiving a refund or retaking the exam when it becomes available in the future.
Image source: AWS Certification website
AWS Associate certification includes three exams on the Solutions Architect, Developer, and SysOps paths, respectively. For those who are new to AWS services, the Solutions Architect certificate is a great way to start, because it contains the most services and focuses on basic knowledge about those services. Developer and SysOps certificates are intended for developers and SysOps personnel, thus they include specific services mostly used for development and operations.
The registration fee for Associate level certification is $150. You can book the exam on the AWS Training and Certification portal. Passing the Associate level certificates makes you eligible to take the Professional and Specialty certification exams.
Professional Level Certifications
Unlike the Associate level certification, which provides basic knowledge of AWS services and doesn’t strictly require hands-on experience, AWS professional certification is far more challenging, and hands-on experience is a MUST. Professional level certification includes two certificates: Solutions Architect and DevOps Engineer.
Each professional exam costs $300, and you have 170 minutes to answer 80 questions. AWS reserves the right to alter the number of questions whenever they choose to do so. AWS professional certification is a big leap ahead when compared to associate level certification.
Specialty certifications are designed to close the gap between the associate and professional level certifications, as well as to provide resources relevant to your field of expertise and preferences, with respect to AWS services. With specialty certifications, you can specialize in working with AWS services that were somewhat neglected during the associate and professional certification.
There are three specialty certificates available: AWS Advanced Networking, AWS Certified Big Data and AWS Certified Security. The AWS Certified Big Data specialty exam will validate your ability to use AWS Big Data oriented services and enable you to bring additional value to your company. The importance of data and analysis has become one of the most important factors in business.
By switching to the cloud, some basic network concepts have changed, and new possibilities and options have emerged. In order to stay up to date regarding the latest changes, AWS designed the Advanced Networking specialty certification that will validate your knowledge in cloud setup and hybrid cloud networks. This certification emphasizes the control of network security as well as AWS network services integration with your application.
Downtime is the nightmare of any modern organization and having specialized IT personnel to deal with data protection and security issues is a must. The AWS Certified Security specialty enables experienced cloud security professionals to prove and validate their knowledge of how to secure the AWS environment.
As the number of AWS services and features grows each day, we are sure to see more specialty exams focused on different groups of AWS services. As a result, you will end up having individuals on your team that have overall knowledge about all AWS services, but also specialized knowledge about the specific services that are important for your organization.
To stay competitive in the IT employment market and show that you possess a demonstrable level of skills, AWS certifications have become a necessary step in the career of an IT professional. AWS invests a lot in developing its certification program and their certificates have great value within the IT community. To further promote the professionals owning an AWS, AWS has even provided some goodies and certification benefits exclusively for them on their training and certification portal.
For companies, the motivation is even greater. Even though holding a certificate doesn’t automatically mean that the person is very experienced, it does imply that he has the ability to seamlessly adapt to working with your team and help by applying the knowledge acquired during the certification. Certification also increases the IT professional’s skill set and guarantees that he knows the basics about AWS cloud. Companies with quality and certified experts will be better able to leverage the cloud to reduce costs and enhance performance, thus improving their application itself.