Every now and then, I hear or read the question: “Should I get certified?”. The answer is usually “it depends,” which does make sense to some extent, but that says nothing. Since you are reading this, the answer is “yes, you should get certified.”. The better question you should ask is “why”?
To make it clear, not having certification doesn’t mean that you are not qualified for a job that certification covers. There are countless experts out there who never took a single exam, and yet they are recognized as leaders in a field. They are leaders because of their knowledge and community contribution. The same applies to a college degree. A piece of paper on its own doesn’t prove anything, but it is a great foundation. It means a lot if you can justify it.
Recently I passed three AWS exams, and I am very happy about it.
My personal goal was to test my knowledge, improve my weaknesses and help the company on the road towards AWS Partnership. So yes, if you own or work for a company that aims to be an AWS partner, you will need a certificate.
“What’s in it for me?”
AWS exams are not easy, and that is a good thing. While preparing for the exam, you will learn a ton of new things. In my book, that is a great benefit. Certification expires in 3 years, and then you have to re-certify. Why is that good? Because it forces you to be up to date with the developments. With the pace of how AWS is developing, this is a maybe too long period. While reading whitepapers, you will improve your knowledge. You will learn things that you will most probably use in the real world.
If you are looking for a job related to AWS, there is a good chance that the certificate will push your CV on top of the pile and get you an interview. When I see the AWS certificate in your CV, I know that you had to study hard to earn it. That is an excellent foundation because it tells me that you most probably have the required knowledge. However, you have to be able to apply that knowledge in practice. If you can do that, then welcome on board! The job is yours.
There is a saying:
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”
It perfectly explains why the certificate on its own will not get you a job. You may know how services work, but if you don’t know how to combine them and use them to make something valuable and cost-effective, that doesn’t mean a lot.
Another question is: “how hard is it to pass the AWS exam“? The answer is: “very hard”, and again it’s a good thing. If you manage to pass the exam, that means something. Of course, there are different exam levels, but I find them all challenging. I can’t talk about specific questions, but I can tell that they are all scenario-based.
My issue with the exams, especially with the DevOps Professional, is that questions and answers are very long. You have to read and understand the question well before you start looking for the best solution. You have to find not just correct, but the best answer. And that is the crucial thing to remember. Isn’t it the same when working with a client?
If you are struggling with English as I do, then you are in trouble. There are lots of nuances and specific word ordering that change the meaning of the answer. You can easily fall into the trap. The truth is, if you can’t read or understand English, you can’t do this job. It is how it is. There is not much to complain about that.
“How to prepare?”
Have a look at the AWS Certification page. You will find exam blueprints and sample questions. The recommendation is to go through the whitepapers of the services mentioned. There is also a lot of online content which will prepare you for the exam. There are online learning platforms that are specialized in preparing you for the exam. My advice is if you plan to take the exam preparation course, don’t do it if your intention is only to pass. Take the lectures to learn, and the result will naturally come. The most important advice that I have is - Gather the experience! Maybe you can just start reading and learning, but without the actual implementation, it is pointless. Spend the time with the console and CLI. Try to solve real problems on a small scale. You will experience and resolve issues that no book can prepare you for.
“Is it worth it?”
Yes! Most of the questions come from real-world scenarios. Even if you fail the exam, you will see where you stand. It can push you in the right direction on how to improve, what to learn, and to think about the things that you haven’t take into consideration. Once you prepare better, don’t hesitate to retake the exam. Be confident, know your strengths, improve your weaknesses, and you will be fine.
Finally, don’t try to cheat. Even if you manage to pass the exam by some magic, you will not fool anyone. You can only lose credibility. I would never work with such a person neither the vast majority of the companies will.