What is AWS certification?

IT professionals looking to advance their careers have more options available to them than ever before. With countless online courses and certificate programs, it can be hard deciding what’s worth pursuing and what is not. In this post, we’ll take a look at one of the best-regarded certifications for cloud specialists: AWS certification.

Is AWS certification worth it for you? What does it involve and how do you get started? Let’s take a closer look.

What is AWS certification?

AWS certification stands for “Amazon Web Services” certification. This is a professional IT qualification showing cloud expertise using these specific tools.

IT pros can attain one of several certifications offered by Amazon by taking the relevant exam. Exams are held at testing centers located around the world.

AWS is the most widely used cloud platform across the net, and one of the most comprehensive. It provides over 175 services to startups, big businesses, and government agencies. These services relate to storage, database management, IoT, security, and more. You can find the full list of services here.

With such a wide range of services offered, and with a huge number of high-profile clients, AWS is an in-demand qualification across several IT roles and one of the best choices for those working in the field.

The details

Should you decide AWS certification is for you, you will need to choose the specific certificate you want to apply for. There are several different certifications, which are organized into four different “paths.” These paths are:

  • Cloud Practitioner
  • Architect
  • Developer
  • Operations

The “Cloud practitioner path” is aimed at those looking to develop a broad understanding of cloud technologies and the AWS cloud specifically. This is useful for managers and others looking to get a broad perspective. The cloud practitioner certification is foundational and can act as a prerequisite for some other exams.

The “Architect path” is aimed at solutions architects and application design engineers. The “Developer path” is, of course, aimed at software developers. The “Operations Path”, on the other hand, is for systems administrators. These exams offer both associate level certificates (one year of experience) and professional level certificates (two years).

There are also several additional “specialty” certifications that don’t fall into these categories.

Exam format

The exams are a combination of multiple-choice, multiple-response, and sample direction questions. They last between 80-170 minutes.

AWS certification is valid for two years. After this point, it is possible to recertify. Those that have no direct experience with Amazon Web Services can expect to spend 90+ hours studying.

Cloud practitioner exams cost $100, associate-level exams cost $150, and specialty exams cost $300. This means that you will pay between $50-$150 per year to remain certified.

Is AWS Certification worth it?

The big question is if AWS certification is worth it for you?

AWS certificates are highly regarded and globally recognized. With a large number of organizations relying on these services (AWS Services own roughly a 3rd of the market share), this is a sought after qualification for many employers.

However, this is also a specialist qualification and one that will appeal specifically to organizations that rely on these services. Even then, it’s unlikely that AWS certification alone is going to seal the deal; it is more likely to be a differentiating factor. If you know that this is something the company you’re interviewing for is looking for, that gives you an extra reason to consider this certification. Otherwise, it can be a useful demonstration of your commitment to the industry and knowledge of the technologies that underpin it.

In short, AWS Certification is a great “add-on” that will make you that extra bit competitive. However, it should be supplemental to your previous experience and qualifications.

But what do you think? Is AWS Certification useful for you? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check out our guide to the best online certificate programs for enhancing your career.