Adrian Chia
About

My Journey towards AWS Certifications

August 28, 2020 ·

Introduction

I briefly learned about AWS in 2009 as one of my university presentation papers, but not until recently that I made it as one of my resolutions to get AWS certified. Every year for the past few years I have added AWS certification in my todo list but ended up postponing to the following year due to other commitments.

Why Get AWS Certified

In the past few years, the cloud adoption rate has been exploding across different sectors, including but not limited to businesses, educational institutions, and even government agencies. According to Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report, about 76% of the enterprise respondents use AWS as their public cloud provider, with 12% still experimenting and 5% plan to use, compared to 69% and 34% adoption rates for the next two major public cloud providers. As a self-proclaimed lifelong learner myself, I wanted to improve my knowledge and skills for my professional growth, and the COVID-19 pandemic situation provides a great opportunity for me to accomplish my goal.

The Path(s)

There are 12 AWS certifications in total with four different levels, see https://aws.amazon.com/certification/ to learn more about each of them:

  • Foundational
    • Cloud Practitioner
  • Associate
    • Solutions Architect
    • SysOps Administrator
    • Developer
  • Professional
    • Solutions Architect
    • DevOps Engineer
  • Specialty
    • Advanced Networking
    • Security
    • Machine Learning
    • Alexa Skill Builder
    • Data Analytics
    • Database

Depending on your career path or interest, you can select the best certifications that fit your needs. I started doing my first certification with AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner some time in mid-May 2020. I then spend the next 2 months completing all the associate levels certification and acquired the Solution Architect Professional just recently at this point of time. With each certification, you get 50% of next exam, so other than the first certification exams, I’ve spent 50% of the total cost on each of the remaining exams.

Preparation

Other than prior work experience, I’ve used the following resources to prepare for my exam:

  1. Official AWS Documentations and product description pages [https://docs.aws.amazon.com/index.html?nc2=h_ql_doc_do]. For product description pages, the Features and FAQ sections were especially helpful, especially for Cloud Practitioner and Solutions Architect Associate exam.
  2. Qwiklabs for hands-on practice, this was a few years before I started getting my first exam though, due to personal learning.
  3. Udemy for practice exams. I find the practice exams by Jon Bonso very helpful

Actual Exam

All of my previous exams were taken at home as AWS offers online proctoring through PearsonVue. After registered the exam, you need to download and install the OnVue application, which is used to monitor your exam by an actual proctor. You will get a link to perform a system check a few days prior to the actual exam to test if your computers have a functional microphone, speaker, and webcam. You will use either a driver’s license or a passport as your identification document, and use your mobile phone to take the surrounding area of your desk.

There will be no notes, papers, and books allowed, and you can’t leave your desk once the exam is started until it is over, and you are expected to be visible from your webcam at all time. You are also expected to show your wrists that there is no watch or smartwatch with you. Depending on the day and time of your actual exam, you might find it is hard to log into the PearsonVue system, so it is better to log into the system at least 30 minutes early.

After the exam

You will be notified whether you are pass or fail right after the exam. The actual certificate will be provided within 1 to 5 business days. I hope this article could help you pass the certification exam. Good luck!


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Written by @adrianchia who lives and works in Texas building silly things. You should follow him on Twitter

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