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Where To Start For AWS Certifications

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By: Shelby Welty
December 1, 2020

Conquering the Cloud: Where to Start for AWS Certifications

Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the undisputed leader of public cloud offerings. AWS holds the lead in the hotly-contested cloud market that includes top-tier challengers such as Google, from robust service infrastructure to speedy service deployment and a myriad of cloud-based applications designed to streamline enterprise operations Microsoft, and IBM.

But as the cloud services landscape diversifies, enterprises now recognize the need for agile and interconnected multi-cloud deployments capable of meeting specific business needs and delivering actionable outcomes. As a result, organizations are looking for AWS experts to help manage existing Amazon deployments and ensure that current cloud landscapes are prepared to meet emerging IT expectations.

For IT professionals looking to conquer the AWS cloud; however, the sheer number and type of certifications can be daunting — what’s their best bet to open new doors and improve career options? Let’s dive in with a look at where to start for AWS certifications.

Start With: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is Amazon’s entry-level cloud certification. Candidates don’t require any previous AWS experience, and the course provides a mostly non-technical overview of Amazon cloud services, operations, and management.

Key concepts covered by the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam include:

  • Understanding core AWS architectural principles
  • The AWS cloud value proposition
  • Deployment and use of fundamental AWS cloud services
  • Functional aspects of the AWS security and compliance model
  • Core implementation and operational principles

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is 90 minutes long and contains 65-68 questions. Candidates must score 65-75% or better to earn this qualification.



Then Choose: Your Preferred Cloud Role

Amazon then breaks its qualification pathway into three broad tracks: Architect, Operations, and Developer. Each of these role-based options comes with an intermediate-level qualification, followed by a more advanced certification.

For example, if you’re interested in designing and implementing Amazon cloud architecture, start with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate qualification, followed by the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional certification.

If Operations is your area of expertise, complete the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate Exam; if you’re looking to expand your cloud development knowledge, opt for the AWS Certified Developer Associate designation. In both cases — Operations and Developer — the next qualification step is completing the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional exam.

Worth nothing? None of these role-based tracks require the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. While Amazon recommends the training offered by its entry-level course to improve IT pros’ general knowledge and their chances of completing more in-depth certification exams, candidates can choose to tackle Architect, Operations, or Development immediately if they’re confident in their existing skills and expertise.

Next Step: Dig Deeper with Specializations

Amazon also offers five specialty certifications for IT professionals looking to expand their knowledge and expand their career horizons:

  • AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialtytext in italic This advanced qualification focuses on managing and securing the complex infrastructures that underpin key AWS projects. Again, no specific prerequisites are required, but Amazon recommends any of its Associate designations along with at least five years of networking experience.
  • AWS Certified Big Data Specialtytext in italic Big data now drives business success, but the sheer volume and variety of data available can overwhelm even experienced IT teams. This AWS specialty certification focuses on analyzing big data in the cloud and the automation of key tasks related to this automation, making this a sought-after designation for cloud professionals.
  • AWS Certified Security Specialtytext in italic Security is the main priority for organizations as threats evolve and cloud attack surfaces expand. The AWS Certified Security Specialty is designed for experienced infosec experts who have knowledge of both advanced security techniques and AWS systems and are looking to expand their skills in securing cloud networks at scale.
  • AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialtytext in italic The AWS Machine Learning certification highlights IT pros’ ability to design and deploy machine learning applications capable of improving essential business functions and enhancing line-of-business outcomes. As one of two “beta” certifications, this designation is still being refined, but AWS recommends that prospective candidates have at least two years working with AWS-based machine learning tools.
  • AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder Specialtytext in italic As smart speakers become a ubiquitous part of modern digital lifestyles, companies are looking for experts to build corporate and consumer-facing Alexa skills. This second beta certification focuses on topics including voice recognition, security controls, and skill validation.

Climbing the Cloud Ladder

AWS certifications are a great addition to any IT expert’s resume. From entry-level Certified Cloud Practitioner qualifications to intermediate Architect designations and specialty Big Data or Security endorsements, AWS training empowers IT pros to climb the cloud career ladder and access a host of great IT opportunities.

Not sure where to start for AWS certifications? Opt for Certified Cloud Practitioner to develop critical abilities and knowledge, then branch out into role-based training paths to combine personal interest with sought-after management, design, and security skills.

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