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AWS Certification Guide: Overview And Career Paths

AWS Certification Guide: Overview And Career Paths
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Amazon Web Services offers relatively few certifications, but they pack a powerful punch. Learn about these sought-after certifications and how they can boost your salary potential.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockAmazon Web Services, or AWS, is a subsidiary of Amazon. AWS offers a number of services for compute, storage and networking, with the two most prominent being Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). The company also provides database and analytics services, applications, developer tools and much more.

Just as Amazon is the go-to company for consumer goods, AWS is by far the dominant player in the on-demand cloud computing market space. Comcast, Dow Jones, Expedia, Kellogg's and Netflix are just a few companies that rely on AWS to make their businesses hum. With the public cloud market expected to reach $236 billion by 2020, AWS is positioned to retain a significant lead over its closest competitors – namely, Google, Microsoft and IBM.

Considering that AWS practically owns the cloud space, the company's portfolio of certifications is surprisingly simple, with three associate- and two professional-level certifications falling into three categories:

  • Architecting: These certifications recognize professionals who design and deploy distributed systems on the AWS platform. Candidates can start with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and move up to the Professional cert.
  • Developing: These certifications identify people who develop and maintain applications on AWS. The entry-level certification is the AWS Certified Developer – Associate, followed by the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional.
  • Operations: To support architecture and development, the AWS platform must be managed and optimized. The associate-level Operations certification aims at system operators (SysOps). Because SysOps and DevOps are so tightly bound, this category includes the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional as the upper-level certification.

Each certification requires candidates to pass a single exam, with multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions. Associate-level exams take up to 80 minutes to complete and cost $150; professional-level exams are 170 minutes and cost $300. And each professional-level certification takes the related associate certification as a prerequisite.

To ensure that professionals keep their skills sharp and up to date, AWS requires credential holders to recertify every two years. That means taking the recertification exam for the certification you currently hold. Recertification exams at both the associate and professional levels take up to 80 minutes to complete and cost $75.

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