AWS Certification Paths Revealed and 6 Tips to Getting Certified the Right Way

As cloud computing’s popularity continues to grow, some cloud service platforms have pulled away from the pack and become the clear favorites. The top cloud service platforms include Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud, and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Since many prospective employers favor hiring certified candidates, it stands to reason that professionals seeking employment in a cloud-based position should gain certification. While certification itself is not an ironclad guarantee that a candidate will get the job, it identifies the applicant as someone who has the skills the position requires.

This article covers Amazon Web Services certification paths, including what it entails, the different paths to certification, choosing the right path in AWS, and how to get certified correctly with minimal fuss. Therefore, we are focusing on combining one of the most popular cloud services available, and one of the wisest measures you can take to enhance your cloud-based career.

What is AWS certification?

Let’s begin with a simple fundamental: what exactly is AWS certification?

An AWS certification is a standard of Amazon Web Services proficiency and expertise that an Information Technology (IT) professional obtains after completing the requirements and passing the exams offered.

By earning an AWS certification, you show a future employer that you have the right technical skills and knowledge to work in an AWS-related position.

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What are the Different AWS Certification Paths?

Learning paths are the progressive series of courses and examinations required for you to learn and enhance your skills in AWS, preparing you for a career in cloud-based technology. There are three distinct learning paths for AWS training and certification available. If you want additional insights on the different AWS training paths and certifications, check out this explanation of AWS certification learning paths.

Role-Based Paths

This AWS certification path focuses on building up the skills needed to move your career forward. Some AWS experts often refer to the role-based path as the “career path.”

  • Architect. Designed for professionals who build and deploy highly available, distributed systems on the Amazon Web Services platform, such as solution design engineers and solutions architects. This AWS certification path has two sub-paths:
    • Associate AWS Certified Solutions Architect
    • Professional AWS Certified Solutions Architect
  • Developer. Designed for people who want to develop and maintain cloud applications on AWS. This AWS certification path has two sub-paths:
    • Associate AWS Certified Developer
    • Professional AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
  • Operations. Created for systems administrators, sysops administrators, and DevOps professionals who want to learn how to automate networks, applications, and cloud systems on the AWS platform. This AWS certification path has two sub-paths:
    • Associate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator
    • Professional AWS Certified SysOps Engineer
  • Cloud Practitioner. Meant for professionals who want to build and validate their overall understanding of the AWS cloud. The path is especially useful for people who work in the AWS cloud in financial, managerial, purchasing, sales, or technical roles.
  • Specialty. This is a collection of specialty credentials targeting selected technologies in data, networking, and security. There are five sub-paths:
    • AWS Certified Advanced Networking
    • AWS Certified Alexa Skill Building
    • AWS Certified Big Data
    • AWS Certified Machine Learning
    • AWS Certified Security

Solutions Paths

Rather than focusing on roles and positions within an organization, the solutions paths focus on how professionals can provide solutions to a business organization by deploying and using specialized AWS services. These AWS certification paths include:

  • Advanced Networking. This teaches professionals how to design and implement Amazon Web Services and IT architectures.
  • Alexa Skill Builder. This certification is designed to teach programmers how to create, test, and publish Alexa skills.
  • Data Analytics. This path is designed for people who design, construct, secure, and maintain data analysis solutions, focusing on data collection, ingestion, processing, storage, and visualization.
  • Databases. Designed for professionals who plan, build, and manage AWS services and solutions to optimize an organization’s data strategy, including how to plan and create databases using AWS tools and services.
  • Game Tech. This path teaches architects, data analysts, data engineers, and game developers, how to develop, host, and scale online multiplayer games, including how to improve game design by using collected data.
  • Machine Learning. This AWS certification path is developed to train data scientists and developers on using artificial intelligence, deep learning, and machine learning in their businesses.
  • Media Services. This is designed to teach professionals how to use AWS Elemental services to create professional-quality media experiences.
  • Security. Designed for people who oversee their organization’s security-related activities—learning best practices and processes like access control, data encryption, secure applications, and security infrastructure.
  • Storage. Developed for enterprise storage engineers who want to learn how to architect and manage highly available storage solutions, emphasizing AWS storage services.

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APN Partner Paths

The final path involves the AWS Partner Network (APN), a global partnership program for businesses in the tech and consulting fields that use AWS to provide services and solutions to their customers. The APN provides business, marketing, and technical support to its partner companies. These AWS certification paths include:

  • AWS Business Professional. This path teaches the basics of AWS services and core business value propositions.
  • AWS Technical Professional. This path is designed to teach the technical fundamentals of AWS cloud computing.
  • AWS Professional Services. Developed to help professionals in technical roles to gain, develop, and extend professional services competencies for AWS customer implementations. It is recommended for APN Premier and Advanced Consulting partners who have already achieved AWS certification in their appropriate field.

For more information, learn more about the top AWS certifications for developers.

6 Tips for Getting the Right AWS Certification

Much of what defines the “right” AWS certification boils down to the individual’s goals and ultimate career destination. But here are a set of tips that are applicable regardless of the position you want.

  1. Decide what aspect of AWS you want as a career 

    AWS is a vast cloud network loaded with potential and diversity. While it’s good to have many choices, it does beg the question: “Where do you fit career-wise in the world of AWS?” Do you want to become an AWS Solutions Architect, AWS SysOp Administrator, or AWS Certified Developer? Choose which aspect of AWS you wish to work in.
  2. Sign up for AWS certification training classes

    There are training classes available for each AWS certification, and you should take those classes as soon as you can. Also, it never hurts to add a few extra AWS classes outside of your specialty if time and resources allow. You never can tell when peripherally relevant AWS skills could come in handy.
  3. Get hands-on experience

    The best way to gain experience is by doing the work.  Most positions want you to have at least six months of AWS cloud experience, though the prerequisites vary. For instance, a Professional AWS Certified Solutions Architect should have at least two years’ experience designing and deploying AWS cloud architecture. An AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, on the other hand, should understand how to develop code with at least one of the high-level programming languages, such as C++, Python, or Java. Real-world experience not only keeps you financially solvent during your learning tenure, but it also gives you opportunities to practice.
  4. Trial run exams

    Speaking of practice, most certification course sites offer practice exams. Take them at different stages of your instruction time and see how much you’ve learned.
  5. Use internet resources 

    You will find many white papers, study guides, and exam guides online, tailored to your AWS specialty. Leverage these resources and immerse yourself in some independent study to supplement your learning skills in the certification training class.
  6. Take the certification exam

    Finally, once you’ve completed the training course and put in the requisite amount of time gaining work experience, take the certification exam, and get certified.

The Bottom Line

The road to AWS certification has many lanes, depending on where you want to go. It’s not an easy path—it involves hard work, study, skill acquisition, and practice. However, if you expend the effort and work with a reliable certification resource, your efforts will pay off, and that dream job will be yours.

But remember, first thing’s first. Decide which AWS certification path you want to take, then make your move.

Discover your strengths and weaknesses in the AWS concepts with the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exam. Try answering now!

Do You Want to Become an AWS Solutions Architect?

As more companies and organizations migrate to the cloud, there’s a corresponding increase in demand for solutions architects. If the prospect of having an AWS solutions architect career intrigues you, Simplilearn has the tools you need to get started.

The AWS Solutions Architect certification training course helps you master crucial AWS architectural principles and services such as IAM, VPC, EC2, and EBS. The course is aligned with the latest AWS exam and features Amazon designated best practices.

Whether you choose self-paced learning, the corporate training solution or Simplilearn’s unique applied learning option, you will receive 50 hours of valuable content, 16 live demos of AWS services, three real-time industry projects with integrated labs, and three simulation exams.

Speaking of exams, if you decide to take the AWS Certification Exam, keep in mind that the exam changed in 2018.

According to Payscale, cloud solutions architects can earn a yearly average of USD 124,904, with potential annual bonuses averaging around USD 12k.  So, if you want a career that offers generous compensation, job security, and a great challenge, check out Simplilearn and get started on the right path to AWS certification!

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