Thoughts after completing all 7 AWS Certifications

Overall I had a great experience preparing for these, I enjoyed the journey and learned quite a bit.

Solutions Architect - Associate
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SysOps Administrator - Associate
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Developer - Associate
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Big Data - Specialty
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Advanced Networking - Specialty
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DevOps Engineer - Professional
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Solutions Architect - Professional
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This is the order I took the exams:

  1. Solutions Architect Associate
  2. Developer Associate
  3. SysOps Associate
  4. BigData Specialty
  5. Advanced Networking Specialty
  6. Solutions Architect Professional
  7. DevOps Professional

This is how I would rank them by difficulty, from easy to hard:

  1. Developer Associate (easy)
  2. Solutions Architect Associate
  3. SysOps Associate
  4. DevOps Professional
  5. BigData Specialty
  6. Advanced Networking Specialty
  7. Solutions Architect Professional (difficult)

There is a huge difference in difficulty between the associate and professional level exams.

I felt that Solutions Architect Professional was the most difficult, primarily due to the time constraint and the amount of information that you need to consider per question.

Determining readiness for taking an exam:

I spent approximately this amount of time preparing for each exam to cover the material outlined in the AWS exam guide:

  • Developer Associate – 20 hours
  • Solutions Architect Associate – 20 hours
  • SysOps Associate – 20 hours
  • BigData Speciality – 80 hours
  • Advanced Networking – 80 hours
  • DevOps Professional – 40 hours
  • Solutions Architect Professional – 160 hours

There is some content overlap and I found preparing for the specialty exams prior to SA PRO very beneficial because of this. That is also why I didn’t spend nearly as much time preparing for DevOps relatively speaking.

Once I felt like I had a grasp of the required material for each exam, I did the following to assess gaps in my knowledge:

Associate level:
  • mock exam and quizzes
Specialty level:
  • mock exam and quizzes
  • Linux Academy mock exam and quizzes
  • The official sample test questions from AWS
Professional Level:
  • mock exam and quizzes
  • Linux Academy mock exam and quizzes
  • The official sample test questions from AWS
  • The official online practice test from AWS

Learning content and strategy:

Associate Level:
  • course for certification
  • Reviewed high level documentation for most AWS services
  • Reviewed the core services more in depth
  • Definitely spend time preparing for these exams, however, don’t go overboard as they are a mile wide and an inch deep. If you can comfortably handle the LA or ACG mock exams (take both if your unsure), you will probably do well on the real thing.
Speciality and Professional Level:
  • YouTube – AWS Re:Invent Talks
    • Most of these are very high quality, especially at the 300/400 level.
    • Search YouTube for AWS Re:invent deep dive or 300/400 level for any aspect of AWS that you are interested in.
    • I treated these as audio content that I would listen to during my commutes, walks, runs, etc
  • For any video/audio content:
    • Rather than skip something entirely, use 1.5x – 2.5x playback speed when you encounter material you feel partially comfortable with.
  • Build some mini-projects of your own creation
    • Rather than systematically reading through reams and reams of AWS documentation, I would recommend building some mini/toy projects on AWS to drive your research. Not only is this way more fun and potentially useful, but I also find it a far better method of internalizing details.
  • Pick a few course labs, and instead of following along, build a CloudFormation template that achieves the same outcome.
    • For aspects of AWS that you don’t have much experience with, I found this really helpful because it requires you to understand more detail about the individual resource properties and their relationships. I think it’s easier to gloss over these subtleties when your doing everything from within the AWS console.
  • AWS Whitepapers, Guides, and External Reading
    • In general try to focus on content that cover topics you cannot easily get meaningful hands on experience with, such as:
      • BGP route propagation and VPC route priority
      • Direct Connect and VPN
      • Redshift
      • EMR, Hadoop, Spark
      • Active Directory integrations in hybrid cloud/onprem networks
      • DNS in hybrid cloud/onprem networks
      • VPC peering strategies
      • Multi-account access strategies
      • Deployment strategies
      • Disaster recovery strategies
      • Migration strategies
      • Patterns for high availability

Highlighted free content from my notes:

Certification YouTube Playlists Good Reads
 DevOps Pro
 SA Pro
Worth sharing?
  • Zugdud

    First post!