As a global leader of the cloud computing industry, Amazon Web Services (also known as AWS) now offers a selection of world-renowned certifications for those looking to pursue the field using their platform.

AWS is currently one of the largest international cloud providers, having brought in $10.8 billion USD in revenue for Q2 of 2020 – up by nearly 30% from Q2 of 2019. By the end of Q4 in 2018, the company had owned more of the entire $70 billion market than its rivalling businesses combined.

Needless to say, plenty opt for an AWS certification to not only train in globally-recognised skills, but to acquire them for one of the most dominant platforms in the field. The certifications cover a comprehensive range of AWS services, ensuring that certified individuals possess the expertise needed to excel in various aspects of cloud computing.

Below, we explore the different kinds of AWS certifications, what they entail, and how to successfully prepare for examination.

What AWS Certifications are Available?

AWS’ current certification program is divided into four levels: foundational, associate, professional, and specialty. The first three build upon one another, advancing one’s skills between each level of certification. Those seeking more focused, technical skills areas can opt for the specialty certifications – allowing one to “niche down” or a pursue a more concentrated aspect of cloud computing (within an AWS environment).

Foundational Certifications

Before anything else, aspiring cloud professionals must complete AWS’ foundational certification, gaining them the title of “AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner”. The certification requires at least six months of experience working with AWS Cloud (acquired from any role, including sales, managerial, financial, or technical).

Students will be assessed by their basic knowledge of the AWS platform, including cloud infrastructure, architectural principles, security and compliance processes, pricing models, and the fundamentals of deploying and operating within the AWS cloud.

Associate Certifications

Once you’ve graduated from the basics, AWS offers three certifications under their “Associate” level. These include the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect”, the “AWS Certified Developer”, and the “AWS Certified SysOps Administrator”. Professionals are recommended to build at least one year of experience in implementing AWS cloud solutions before pursuing these qualifications.

Unlike their Foundational certification, an Associate certification is not necessary to pursue those on a Professional level. However, getting certified at an Associate level can increase one’s chances of acquiring a Professional certification.

Professional Certifications

Two AWS certifications are available at a Professional level: the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect” and the “AWS Certified DevOps Engineer”. Professionals are recommended to have at least two years of experience in working with and implementing AWS Cloud solutions – including design, implementation, operation, and maintenance – before pursuing a Professional certification.

Specialty Certifications

Finally, should one decide to pursue more technical areas in cloud computing, Specialty certifications are also available.

Professionals can choose from specialty certifications in advanced networking, data analytics, machine learning, security, Alexa “skill building”, and databases – all AWS-certified.

AWS recommends building lengthy experience in each of these areas (as they relate to AWS technologies) before pursuing certification. Students typically gain between two and five years of focused technological experience before sitting their exam.  

The Benefits of Getting an AWS Certification

Upon earning an AWS certification, individuals not only achieve a world-renowned qualification under their belt – but multiple AWS perks, to boot.

These include acquiring a digital badge, which allows you to showcase your AWS certification across digital media, websites, and e-mail signatures. This also provides you with immediate access to certification events sponsored by AWS. (Digital badges are only active as long as your certification is valid).

Certification holders additionally earn a 50% discount voucher – applicable for other exams or certification renewal. You’re also granted a practice exam voucher, helping boost your preparation for the next certification.

Lastly, you’re given access to AWS’ “Certified Global Community” on LinkedIn – providing the opportunity of networking with lead figures and other like-minded peers in the industry. You’ll additionally receive invites to “Appreciation Receptions”; and with your digital badge, can gain exclusive access to Certification Lounges and AWS Summit events.

AWS Certification Exams, Explained

Once you’ve built your experience and are ready to pursue certification, AWS offers a wide variety of resources to help prepare you for your AWS Certification exam.

These include exam guides, sample questions, and mock exams. Exam guides outline all one can expect on the final exam – including question types (multiple choice or multiple response), the knowledge areas assessed, and the percentage they comprise of the final score. Through these guides, examinees should have a full overview of the concepts and principles to focus on.

Sample questions can also aid in your preparation, providing you a glimpse of the what the actual exam questions and format will look like. For further self-assessment, practice exams are also available – where students can test their skills and knowledge in a timed online environment.

Alongside practice tests, AWS also provides official white papers and exam preparation webinars to help further enhance your studies.

Once you're ready to take your exam, select from one of two options: online proctoring or attending a testing centre. The former allows you to take your exam from the comfort of any private space (whether from your home or personal office), as a proctor remotely supervises the session through a screen-sharing application and your webcam. The latter requires you to attend a physical testing centre, where you’ll be provided the technical equipment to complete your exam – including a computer that meets AWS’ system and security standards – alongside in-person proctoring.

Exam appointment availabilities will vary among testing centres, though are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for online proctoring.

Renewing Your Certification

All AWS Certifications have a validity of up to three years – after which individuals are required to re-certify to maintain their AWS credibility. Recertification also assures employers and industry peers that your skills are up to date on the latest AWS technologies, practices, and knowledge.

To recertify at a Foundational level, individuals must retake their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, or pass an Associate or Professional-level certification.

Certification holders at an Associate level can retake the same exam for the certification they currently hold. (For example, “AWS Certified Developers” can simply retake the same exam for that title.) Individuals can also earn a Professional-level certification within their path (Architect/Developer or Operations) to gain recertification.

Like those at an Associate level, Professional-level certification holders can simply retake the same exam for their certification. The same applies to those who hold Specialty certifications.

Additionally, one can use their 50% discount voucher to recertify at any level.

Ready to Get AWS-Certified?

As Australia’s cloud computing industry further expands, the right talents will be increasingly needed to fill our growing professional skills gap. For those seeking opportunities in the field, gaining certification under a global leader will not only build your credibility – but can help you leverage one of the most popular cloud platforms for greater business success.

Lumify Work (previously known as DDLS) currently offers a wide selection of AWS courses – many of which provide a learning pathway towards certification. Programs are currently available under all certification levels (including Specialty).

Best of all, through the Lumify Anywhere platform, individuals have the option of completing their AWS training and certification from the comfort of their own home. Using the latest in telepresence technology, Lumify students can now attend instructor-led virtual classrooms and web conferences for a robust online learning experience.

Get certified under the global name in cloud computing today – and enquire with us on an AWS course.

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