NOTE: This was originally written in 2015, some information has changed, but some has stayed the same. I've republished it here after a blog platform update.
My name is Nick and I'm a Senior Technical Architect at A Cloud Guru. A while ago I went down the AWS certification path and gained all 3 associate level and the 2 professional level certifications.
A lot of people wonder why I gained all of the AWS certifications (besides the encouragement from my employer), wondering if potential recruiters look at them as valuable or not. AWS services are a massively booming industry at the moment and recruiters are potentially looking for these skills, but I took them for another reason: you learn a LOT about all of the AWS services and standards by studying for them. My skill set has improved dramatically and I'm a better Support Engineer for it, and I've been given the opportunity to move to a Cloud Solutions Engineering role. Doing it for the education is worth way more than the little title you get to add to your linkedin profile.
There are currently 5 certifications available:
The suggested order of sitting these exams are:
- Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
- Certified Developer - Associate
- Certified SysOps Admin - Associate
- Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
- Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
You can register to take your exams at an authorised exam centre on Register at http://www.webassessor.com. Register an account there and book it in!
If you fail you can re-sit the exam in a months time, and you are allowed to sit the exam 3 times in a 1 year period from sitting your first exam.
Even the best of us fail some times, so don't worry too much about it if it happens. It didn't deter me:
I tried a lot of resources to study for my associate exams but the best were the acloudguru courses by Ryan Kroonenburg. Once I used these resources I didn't fail an exam. (I also started working here not long after and now make courses too!)
Webassessor has practice exams you can sit for each certification. They're a great way to find out what the general exam will be like, in exactly the same conditions you'll be sitting the real exam (just a browser window and a mouse). I'm unsure if AWS approve of it, but if you take screenshots of each question as you're going through it you can take some extra time after the exam to go back over your answers to try to figure out what you got right or wrong.
the actual exam
The professional exams provide you with paper to write on, I can't remember if the associates do (maybe developer and sysops). I draw up a little table and put an X on answers that are obviously wrong, this helps me round down the possible correct answers. I'll put a ? if I'm a little unsure, and I'll put an O if I'm sure it's a correct answer.
Reading comprehension is as important as knowing the answer. AWS can be really tricky with the questions so be sure you understand what they're asking and choose the best answer according to that. A question will usually have 2 completely wrong answers, 2 correct answers, and you have to choose the "best" correct answer according to the requirements.
Some of the questions have up to 7 possible answers and you have to pick 3 or 4. Using the elimination method you can easily find the correct answers by getting rid of any answer that is completely ridiculous, and it can even give you the correct answer even if you only know which ones are wrong and not necessarily know which ones are right!
Be sure to watch the clock, make sure you are leaving yourself a little time at the end to come back to any answers you have marked for review. Sometimes a later question will give you an idea or trigger a thought which will give you a previous answer that you couldn't remember at the time.
If you guys have any questions feel free to comment below!