Amazon Web Services

How To Get Certified On AWS

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In this post, I’d like to share my experience in passing my first AWS exam and start chronicling the journey to the next.

I’m happy to report that I recently just passed my first AWS Exam on Dec 21, 2019 – The Cloud Practitioner Exam in the Foundational category.  I received a score of 890 out of 1000.  For reference a 700 is required to pass.  I’ll talk more about the score and the process in the next article but for now, I wanted to focus on why I chose this particular exam first.

Originally my plan was to jump straight into the Developer or Architect Associate Exam but I was running out of study time and I really wanted to get a ‘win’ under my belt.  I did a couple of practice exams that I found online and determined the study tools I had been using didn’t cover all the material.  This was based on the assumption that the practice exams were correct.  In the end, I didn’t want to waste the $150 and feel the possible embarrassment that comes from failing an exam.

It’s been a while since I’ve taken any certification exams.  In fact, it’s been over ten years.  My last set of certifications were on the Microsoft Certification Path for the MCSD (Microsoft certified solutions developer) and the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer).  So I know how tough the exams can be.  They can also be a bit ‘word tricky’, meaning that based on the way the question is phrased, there could seem to be more than one correct response.

I weighed the pros and cons of starting with the ‘beginner’ of AWS Certifications and decided it was worth and boy and I glad that I did… and after reading this maybe you will too.

Why you should start with the Cloud Practitioner.

If you’re not sure which exam to start with, let me suggest taking the same route I did and take the Cloud Practitioner Exam first.  While it’s not a highly coveted exam (compared to the Associate, Professional, or Speciality exams), I would suggest taking it if you are beginning to dive into the AWS certification process, especially if you are in the role of a consultant or architect.

To me, the Cloud Practitioner exam feels like it leans towards that ‘overall / 50,000-foot view’ of the AWS Platform and Services, which is typically something you need to articulate to clients. By prepping for the exam you learn a lot about the billing side of the AWS Services as well as using Organizations with multiple accounts… something the other levels pay little attention to or completely skipp all together.

Don’t get me wrong it also wants to make sure you understand some basic functionality of the AWS Services. However, it doesn’t require such in-depth knowledge of them.

If you’re still on the fence, let me break down all the reasons I think it’s a good idea.  From there you can decide for yourself.

 # 1 The Exam Fee

 The exam fee for the Cloud Practitioner is $100.00 vs. the $150.00 for the Associate and $300.00 for the Profession & Specialty Exams. Right off the bat, you’re saving a bit of money getting your first exam.

The next items are available, assuming you pass your exam. NOTE that you can obtain these once you pass any exam, but with the Cloud Practitioner, you get them at a cheaper ‘entry’ fee.

#2  50% Off Your Next Exam

After passing, you’ll get a 50% voucher for your next exam, which means you can take an Associate exam for $75.00 instead of $150.00, so if you do some quick math, that means you can get two certifications for the price of $175.00 vs. $250.00

 #3 A Free Practice Voucher

 You’ll get a free practice exam voucher, which will come in handy to test your skillset for your next exam. Ok, so practice exams are only $20.00, but it still saves you a bit of coin by showing you which areas you may need more preparation.

 #4 Private Linked In Group

 Once certified, you are invited to a private Linked-In group where you’ll have access to other like-minded individuals you can connect with.

 #5 Notoriety

 You’ll have access to your digital certificate that you can link to a resume, a linked in profile, etc. You also have access to AWS certification logos you can add to your resume, business cards, online profiles, email signature, etc. Hey, you earned it, you might as well let people know you have it.

 #6 Official Swag

 After passing, you will have access to an official swag portal. You’ll get an access code for branded merchandise account, which will give you access to merchandise specific to your certifications.

 #7 Subject Matter Expert Program

 Lend your voice to the AWS Exam Program and volunteer to the Subject Matter Expert (SME) Program. Opt-ing in allows you to be an AWS resource to help shape the future of AWS exams. You’ll have the ability to attend multi-day workshops in your area of expertise to help create, review, and validate questions for the AWS Certification Exams.

 #8 Last But Not Least Confidence Booster

 If the previous seven reasons aren’t enough, then let me say that the Cloud Practitioner will be the most straightforward exam of all the AWS exams. That being said, you can’t go in unprepared, but assuming you do prepare and pass, you will have built up the confidence and momentum to keep going. And if you do happen to fail, the blow to the wallet won’t be that bad.


Next Steps :

  • The Process and Tools: Studying for the Cloud Practitioner Exam
    • Stay tuned I’ll have this article out in the next couple of days.