If you work in the IT sector, you must have heard about Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is among the leading cloud service platforms in the world, offering over 165 fully-featured services from data centers around the world. It also provides certification to help its users learn more about the platform.
Currently, there are 12 AWS certifications that are categorized into different levels. With so many options, it is easy to get confused about which one is the best for you. To choose the right option, you must have an understanding of the different levels as well as the specialty or role-based scope of the exam.
In this article, we will be learning about the different levels of the certifications and how each of them prepares you to take on specific cloud computing roles. It will help you in understanding which certification best suits you.
AWS Certification levels
There are three main levels of AWS certifications – Foundation, Associate, and Professional. Apart from this, there are also some specialty certifications that focus on a particular job skill in depth. The following key concepts will understand what each certification entails:
- Scope – Indicates the coverage of AWS services in the certification exam.
- Depth – Indicates the depth of technical knowledge of a particular service involved in the exam.
These concepts will help you in understanding how broad and difficult the certification is.
- Foundation level
This is the first level of AWS certification and it contains only one certification – AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. It is for all the professionals who have just started working with AWS cloud and need to get familiar with the basics. It covers a lot of AWS services and is, therefore, broad in scope.
- Associate level
The associate level is a big step from the foundation level in terms of difficulty. However, it is not as difficult as professional or specialty certifications. You have three options at the associate level, each one of them targets a specific role:
- AWS Certified Developer – Associate
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
These certifications have a broad scope of AWS at a medium depth. It means that you will be able to get an understanding of several AWS services with a good technical understanding.
- Professional Level
With the professional-level certifications, you will become an expert in the area. These are aimed at the DevOps Engineer and Solutions Architect job roles. There are two certifications at this level:
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
These certifications will be covering a broader scope of services along with a deep level of technical knowledge. So, the exams will be fairly difficult.
Even though it is not a requirement, it is best that you start with the associate level and then move on to the professional level. In fact, many professionals finish all the associate-level certifications before taking a professional level or specialty exam. This way, they have a good level of technical and well-rounded knowledge. Once you have enough experience working with AWS and feel like you are ready to go for the specialty certifications, you can take one of the following on the basis of your current job role and career goals.
These specialty certifications are focused on the narrow scope of services but require a very deep level of technical expertise. Before you take the exam, you must become an expert in your specialty. Also, make sure that you complete the recommended experience to get an idea of how difficult the exam will be. Here are the specialty certifications offered by AWS:
- AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty
- AWS Certified Security – Specialty
- AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty
- AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty
- AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty
- AWS Certified Database – Specialty
Which certification should you get?
Whatever certification path you choose will depend on where you start. Here are a few options based on possible scenarios to help you in identifying the best path for you:
- New to Cloud or the IT field
If you have just started working in the IT field or with cloud services, it is best that you start with the foundation level certification – AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. Regardless of whether you have a technical or non-technical background, this certification will help you learn what AWS cloud is and what are its benefits, architectural patterns, and pricing models. Also, you will be able to get a high-level understanding of core services. After getting this certification, you can move to associate-level certification.
- Technical background in IT or basic experience of AWS
If you have a strong background in IT or have worked with AWS cloud service before, you can start from the associate level. However, you should still go for the Practitioner exam as it is easy and will help you learn benefits and pricing models better.
After that, you can get the AWS Certified Solutions Architect first. It is a popular certification that gives you a broad and strong understanding of several core AWS services. If you are a SysOps engineer, the next certification you should go for is the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator. Through this, you will learn how to optimize the infrastructure so that it can run on AWS. The training will cover a lot of details on management and operations. If you are a developer, the AWS Certified Developer is the certification for you. The training will cover several AWS services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API, Amazon DynamoDB, and AWS Developer Tools in depth. You will learn optimizing your code for optimal security and performance.
- Strong AWS knowledge along with multiple years of experience
This option is for professionals who already are an expert at AWS but don’t have any certifications yet. Most of you will be tempted to go directly for the professional or specialty certifications. This might work for you, but it is recommended that you begin with associate-level certifications. Since you already have the knowledge and experience, getting these certifications will be easy for you.
We hope this guide will help you select the certification that is best for you. To prepare for the certification, you can enroll yourself in an AWS certification training program as they will help you get familiar with the style of the exam and learn time management.