From Iaas and PaaS solutions to digital marketing, cloud computing reshapes the world of technology. As the influence of this technology grows, so does investment. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on cloud computing-related services each year. This influx is continuing to increase the requirement for cloud certified professionals — such as AWS certifications.
While this means big profits for the start-up founders and corporations, it means lucrative career opportunities for you as well. A median salary of a Cloud DevOps Engineer is $140k per year, with Software Engineer positions lagging behind only slightly at $122k per year.
If you’re already in the industry and want to move up the ladder, or want to switch careers, a certificate from the biggest cloud computing company is exactly what you need to improve your career. Follow this article to learn more about AWS certifications. When you’re ready to take the leap into getting certified, check out Cloud Academy’s AWS Certification Learning Paths.
What are AWS certifications?
Amazon Web Services was one of the companies that started the cloud computing craze. Both Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure followed suit. This makes AWS one of the oldest successful cloud computing companies on the market, and that can’t but earn the company respect.
In 2013, AWS decided to capitalize on that credibility it enjoyed and started a certification business. The company issues 11 types of certificates in Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty tiers.
Why take an AWS certificate over Azure or Google Cloud? The answer is simple, over 40% of cloud-based platforms work on Amazon’s servers.
This means whether you’re going to be working on legacy projects or developing new ones, the odds are you will need in-depth knowledge of AWS. Almost no companies work with Azure or Google Cloud exclusively, but some do mainly work with AWS.
This makes getting a certificate from the company a good start.
Which AWS certification is right for me?
Out of the rival top-ranking cloud computing services, AWS offers the biggest number of certificates. They’re all quite a niche, but not as narrow as to make it hard to make a choice.
In fact, choosing which AWS certificate to obtain is very easy. If you’re a junior specialist with less than a year of experience, you can get a Cloud Practitioner certificate. If you have worked in the field for over a year, you can get a Solution Architect, SysOps Administrator, or a Cloud Developer certificates. These all belong to the Associate tier.
Specialists with over two years of experience with cloud computing can qualify for Professional-tier certificates, Solutions Architect and DevOps Engineer. The Specialty tier certifies more rare skills. AWS offers certificates in Big Data, Security, Alexa Skill Building, Advanced Networking, and Machine Learning.
Choose a certificate to pursue based on your area of interest, and it’ll be a great addition to other skills in your portfolio. Andy Larkin provides great insight into all 12 certifications in his article, The 12 AWS Certifications: Which is Right for You and Your Team?
How to advance a career with AWS certifications
Getting certified will certainly increase your value in the eyes of the employers. However, without having a plan, you will struggle with getting a job for much longer. We’ve created a simple roadmap to follow when you’re trying to take another step on your career path.
Know where you’re going
You know that question that you get asked on the interview all the time, where do you want to be in five years? Well, you have to answer that question for yourself.
Before you can start preparing for AWS certification exams, you need to have a firm understanding of why do you to get one. If you know what position you want to fill in the future and many companies that have these positions open treat AWS certification as a bonus or work with AWS closely, you know you’re on the right track.
Know your cloud technology
Once you know what your goals are, you can start learning. If you’re an experienced software engineer who’ve led several cloud-based projects, you may give AWS exams a try without much preparation. But even veterans of IT should at least freshen up their memory on some aspects of cloud computing they haven’t used in a while, or it will be $300 lost on you.
If you’re someone who’s only starting to get a grasp on cloud computing or trying to advance their knowledge, you need to learn a lot before taking an exam.
Cloud Academy courses offer you dozens upon dozens of hours’ worth of materials to study from the very basics to machine learning on AWS. It’s all neatly organized in learning paths, so you won’t have to stop learning one thing because you realize you don’t know something important that leads up to it.
It’s also a good idea to study AWS documentation closely and read about AWS solutions that already exist.
Get hands-on experience
Theoretical knowledge can only get you so far. You need to get practical with AWS to have a fighting chance at the exam.
How do you do that? Amazon gives you free access to a limited set of features for a whole year, so you should be able to have a free private sandbox for a long enough time. You can also join an open-source project and work as a part of a team.
If you want to build up an understanding of the platform before you make your own project, try Cloud Academy labs. You’ll be able to try your newly acquired skills in a more controlled type of sandbox and learn from your mistakes instead of just falling short of understanding what you did wrong.
Prepare for the exam
When you feel like you know enough about AWS, it’s time to prepare for the exam. You can check whether you fit every step of the learning path on the AWS website, and do preparation exams here at Cloud Academy.
Once you feel confident in passing the training tests, register on the AWS website and schedule an exam. The most important thing here is to make sure you pick the time where you can perform best. If you choose the time and place where you’ll arrive sleepy or tired, you’re just going to waste your investment.
Showcase your credentials the right way
AWS certificates open doors, but it’s not the only thing you need to have if you want to go up the career ladder. You need to present them the right way and accompany the certificate with a decent resume.
Jennifer Caballo, head of HR at Pro Editor, a cloud-based PaaS solution, says it’s amazing how many junior cloud developers that have successfully passed AWS certifications fail to highlight their other strong sides.
If you include an AWS certificate but forget to mention soft skills, you may have less priority to the HRs than somebody who has both. If you forget to work your way around ATS, your resume may not even make it to the HRs.
This is why it’s important to write a great resume and make it stand out. An AWS certificate is only one of the tools that help you do stand out, even though it’s a major one.
Show real knowledge on the interview
A certificate is just a piece of paper that assures an employer you’re worthy of their attention. The real value is in the practical and theoretical knowledge you get along the way.
If you studied hard with Cloud Academy, you will be able to make a lasting first impression on the interview due to the knowledge you now have.
The path to improving your career with AWS certifications is pretty straightforward: decide on your goals, learn a lot, get a certificate, and use it to make an impression on the employer. While the path itself is straightforward, few people can complete it from the first try.
There are pitfalls on every step. You need to get on the right learning path, receive quality guidance, acquire hands-on skills, and work on your resume to get a better position at work. Cloud Academy provides all of that and helps you pass the AWS exam on your first try.
If later in your career you think AWS is not enough, give Azure and Google Cloud certification programs a try.