Cloud certifications can help IT pros make more money and pursue new career opportunities. Among the highest paying cloud certifications are those available from AWS. Research has shown that AWS certified architects can make more than $10,000 more than peers who are not AWS certified. While it is not mandatory, many people opt for AWS certification training to help them prepare to pass the exam on the first try.
AWS will be offering in-person training labs and certification exams during its re:Invent conference next week in Las Vegas. To make the most of the education and certification opportunities at re:Invent, AWS recommends attendees reserve spots in advance, though there will on the spot training available as well.
AWS training and certification lead Shannon O’Fallon said in an introductory video that there are two different types of labs available at re:Invent: Hands On and Spotlight. The Hands On labs are available on a first come, first serve basis, and are self-directed, though there is tech support available in the room. The instructor-led Spotlight labs require pre-registration. In addition to the labs, there will also be certification exams and bootcamps running throughout the conference.
“It looks great on your resume, it’s great for your career, and then onsite it’s pretty awesome because we’ve got some really great giveaways for certified individuals as well as access to certified lounges,” O’Fallon said.
AWS certification exams range from $100 to $300 apiece. Participants must also pay $75 for re-certification every two years. The exams take between 80 and 180 minutes to complete. To prepare for the exams, there are many AWS certification training opportunities available, both in-person and online.
AWS certification launched in 2013, two years before brothers Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg founded A Cloud Guru, a cloud training firm that offers courses including one that prepares IT pros for the AWS certification exam.
The company was born out of the frustration Ryan had when trying to complete AWS certification training himself. He had a difficult time finding training that wasn’t too expensive. Sam and Ryan subsequently released online training focused on making AWS training more accessible and engaging.
“What we find with online training is continuous education is a huge piece, the cloud is just constantly evolving,” Sam said. “It’s really challenging for engineers to stay up to date with the old model of training.”
Another advantage of providing online training for AWS is its customers can provide feedback regularly and A Cloud Guru can quickly implement that feedback in comparison to in-person training modules, which have a longer feedback loop before curriculum can be altered.
He said that while most students have existing technical skills, albeit not in cloud, there is a portion of its audience that is non-technical, with roles from account managers to project managers. The folks that are technical have anywhere from five to 20 years of experience in IT, including infrastructure, data center and hardware, and typically work for organizations that are moving to the cloud.
AWS certifications are aligned to roles rather than technologies, Sam said, with the four main roles being solutions architects, DevOps engineers, SysAdmins, and developers. Beyond that, there are specialty certifications in big data, networking and security.
“I would expect to see more specialty certifications from Amazon,” he said.
Demand for training in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning remains strong, while A Cloud Guru sees serverless as another top area of demand since this is how all new apps will be developed over the next five years, Sam said.
“Serverless technologies enable engineers to build incredibly scalable systems. It lets them scale, it reduces management costs, reduces operations costs,” he said.
While the prospect of AWS certification training can feel daunting, Sam said it is “absolutely possible” and can be fun. He recommends pursuing a certification to obtain broad knowledge of AWS before choosing a specialization.
Though AWS certification training is top of mind with re:Invent just days away, Sam says that IT professionals that want to grow their cloud knowledge can pick any major cloud since all of the concepts are very translatable, and multi-cloud is a typical approach for many organizations now. A Cloud Guru offers training for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform in addition to AWS.