7 Frequently Asked Questions About AWS Certifications Answered

  • AWS certifications require no tech background.
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architects are some of the highest paid in the IT industry.
  • AWS certifications are incredibly diverse. As such you are bound to find a specialization that not only tallies with your interest but that you are incredibly good at.
  • There are no shortage of jobs for AWS professionals.

There is no denying that AWS dominates the public cloud scene. In particular, according to Gartner’s 2019 report on the IaaS public cloud market, AWS owns 47% of the public cloud infrastructure market. That is almost half the total market share. AWS’s closest rival is Microsoft Azure, with 15.5%. With such impressive numbers, it is not a shock that AWS certifications are the hottest certifications in the IT field at the moment.

If you are among those who have just decided to pursue the certifications, here are answers to frequently asked questions about AWS certifications to help you jump over the first hurdle.

1. Do I Need a Background in Tech to Get AWS Certifications?

The good news is that irrespective of which certification path you choose to follow, the average salary for all AWS certificates is incredibly high.

No, you need zero background in tech to start pursuing AWS. To illustrate how true this is, take the example of Ryan Kroonenburg—one of the foremost authority on AWS and the founder of A Cloud Guru.

Before making the shift to cloud computing, Ryan was an immigration lawyer with absolutely no experience in tech. Fast forward to today, and it is difficult to talk about anything AWS without mentioning him or his company.

Similarly, it does not matter whether you have a major in dance or creative writing; AWS certifications are within your grasp.

2. Are AWS Certifications Worth Pursuing?

Yes, AWS certifications are incredibly worth it. As noted above, from the market share statistics, AWS is a cut above its competitors. That translates to a lot of businesses using the platform. In turn, a lot of job opportunities require AWS certifications.

Second, there is no limit to how much AWS can grow. When AWS released its third-quarter earnings report two months ago, in October, they noted a 35% growth in their cloud business. That trend is expected to continue, according to AWS CEO.

Such kind of growth translates to a bucket load of future opportunities for professionals who can work in the AWS cloud environment.

3. Which AWS Certification Should I Pursue First?

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate is the best place to start with AWS certifications. Why? For one, it is in great demand.

Second, compared to the other AWS certifications, the exam is a bit easier to handle, and the study material less taxing.

Third, it is one of the introductory AWS certifications, and as such, allows you to learn all there is about core AWS services. With this knowledge, you not only become proficient but it also gives you a good foundation for the other AWS certifications you might decide to pursue.

Finally, the average salary for an AWS Solutions Architect Associate is incredibly high. A recent report by Global Knowledge puts the salary at $130,883 per annum.

4. Which Is the Best Path to Follow When Getting AWS Certifications?

As of early 2019, AWS offers certifications in four distinct tiers:

  • Practitioner Tier
  • Associate Tier
  • Professional Tier
  • Specialty Tier

The Practitioner Tier is the most basic, and it offers one certification—Certified Cloud Practitioner. As a Certified Cloud Practitioner, you will get an introduction to cloud computing and, in particular, the fundamentals of how the AWS cloud environment operates.

The Associate Tier has three certifications.

  • Certified Solutions Architect Associate
  • Certified Developer Associate
  • Certified Sysops Administrator Associate

The Professional Tier has two certifications.

  • Certified Solutions Architect Professional
  • DevOps Professional

Finally, the Specialty Tier, which features the kind of specializations you can narrow down to, has four certifications.

  • Security
  • Big Data
  • Advanced Networking
  • Machine Learning

The path to take will largely depend on the role that you think suits you best. AWS certifications are role-based and can be classified into three major categories: solutions architects, developers, and system operations administrators.

For solutions architects, the path is clear, AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate followed by AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional. If you desire the developer route, then start with the AWS Certified Developer Associate, followed by the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer.

For systems operations administrators, the key certification is the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate. Once you get that certificate, you can then proceed to either the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer or the Big Data specialty.

Note that whichever path you choose, you can always go ahead and specialize in any of the four specialty certificates discussed above. For instance, a solutions architect pro can choose to specialize in security. That is incredibly smart because everyone wants to be secure in the cloud

5. What Kind of Jobs Can I Get with an AWS Certification?

There is no limit to how much AWS can grow.

While there are a myriad of jobs you can get with AWS certificates, here are five common ones to get you started.

i) AWS Solutions Architect

A Solutions Architect spends their time architecting. That is designing and configuring a system. In the cloud, that involves building and maintaining AWS environments that are scalable, highly available, and cost-efficient.

Moreover, a solutions architect keeps up with the latest in cloud computing and makes recommendations to his/her clients.

ii) AWS System Integrator

An AWS System Integrator deploys AWS applications and handles troubleshooting. To be a Systems Integrator, one needs in-depth knowledge of the AWS platform, applications, information systems, and cloud computing.

iii) AWS SysOps Administrator

An AWS SysOps Administrator installs/configures, manages, and operates systems and any other related infrastructure on the AWS platform. Moreover, a SysOps Admin will build a dashboard for reporting and maintain analytics software.

To be an AWS SysOps Administrator, you must have the Certified SysOps Administrator Associate certificate.

iv) DevOps Engineer

To be a DevOps Engineer, you need both the Certified Developer Associate and the DevOps Professional certificates.

You will be responsible for designing AWS solutions that will improve the business. Also, you will be responsible for any required debugging/patching and server maintenance.

v) Cloud Software Engineer

In addition to having good knowledge of cloud computing, A Cloud Software Engineer must also be able to program in Java, Ruby, C++, or Python. These are the four main languages used in most cloud computing platforms, including AWS.

With regards to being a Cloud Software Engineer in the AWS environment, similar to a DevOps Engineer, you will need the Certified Developer Associate Certificate and the DevOps Professional certificate.

6. What is the Average Salary of AWS Certifications?

Money, money, money. An essential factor to consider when considering a career change. Well, the good news is that irrespective of which certification path you choose to follow, the average salary for all AWS certificates is incredibly high.

Below is a list that summarizes the average salaries of various AWS certifications according to a 2019 Global Knowledge survey.

Certification: Average Salary

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional: $148,456

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer: $137,724

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: $130, 883

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate: $130,610

AWS Certified Developer Associate: $130,272

7. Can You Get a Job with Just AWS Certifications?

Yes, you can. All you need is to show proficiency. That means mastering whichever certification you choose to pursue and ensuring that you keep up with the happenings in the cloud industry to continually update your knowledge.

To underscore how much, you do not need any other certificate when you have AWS certification, consider the AWS re/Start program. The program targets unemployed, underemployed individuals and in particular military veterans and their families looking to transition to civilian life.

In the program, the individuals are prepared for a career in the cloud, and most of them end up with lucrative jobs in various companies.

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M.W. Muiru is a freelance writer specializing in IT content for B2B and B2C IT service providers. For business inquiries and to see the kind of content she enjoys writing, find her on Medium https://medium.com/@M.W.Muiru, on Twitter @M.W.Muiru and on LinkedIn @www.linkedin.com/in/martha-muiru-b4139413a

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