How Earning the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification Can Help You Land Your First Cloud Engineer Role
6 min read
If you're looking to break into the cloud engineering field, you know it's not easy to land your first role. Building a portfolio of side projects can help, but it may not be enough. Fortunately, there's another option: earning the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification.
What is the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification
The AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification is the most general of the three mid-level (Associate) AWS certifications. In theory it's designed for individuals who have experience designing distributed systems and applications on the AWS platform. The certification covers so many services that it can be overwhelming at first sight. But in reality only the core services are covered in depth. You'll need to understand multiple types of architectures and how to build them with VPC, EC2, ECS, ELB, Lambda, and other services. Other services such as SSM or OpsWorks are also covered, but you won't need to get down to the fine details.
How can the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification help beginners?
Demonstrates skills and knowledge: It shows that you know what you're doing and can actually build a lot of different things.
Shows a commitment to learning: It takes around 100 hours to study and get the certification. It's not as hard as it sounds, but it's not a walk in the park either.
Often leads to higher salaries: According to a survey conducted by Global Knowledge, AWS-certified individuals earn an average of 18% more than their non-certified counterparts. While 18% may not seem like a lot, finding somewhere else to put 100 hours that will increase your salary by an average of 18% may not be easy.
Helps you stand out in a crowded job market: There's a lot of competition for intermediate and senior roles. For beginner roles, there's a lot of people and a much smaller number of jobs. By getting the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification, you are setting yourself apart from all the other job seekers. It's not easy, and only a few junior cloud engineers will have it, if any.
Tips to Pass the AWS Solutions Architect Associate Certification Exam
Find a great course: Finding a great course can make a huge difference in your ability to pass the exam. I highly recommend Adrian Cantrill's course for this. It covers everything you need to know and even provides guided practical exercises you can do. The best thing is that no previous AWS experience is needed. You can jump right into this course, and it'll teach you everything you need to know to pass the exam confidently. You can purchase the course from Adrian's website.
Review the Exam Objectives and Study Materials: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam covers a wide range of topics. Therefore, it is important to understand what is included on the exam. You can find the exam objectives on the AWS Training and Certification website. Use the exam objectives as a guide for your study plan, focusing on the heavily tested areas. The AWS Training and Certification website provides a variety of study materials, including whitepapers, FAQs, and practice exams.
Familiarize yourself with AWS: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam covers a wide range of services and features. It's important that you know your way around. I recommend exploring the AWS documentation and getting hands-on experience with the AWS platform by building and deploying applications on it. Logging into the AWS console, choosing a random service, and exploring it is a great first step.
Understand key concepts and design principles: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam tests your ability to design and implement scalable, fault-tolerant, and secure systems on AWS. To do this effectively, you need to understand key concepts such as elasticity, scalability, high availability, and security. I recommend reviewing the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which gives best practices for designing and operating reliable, secure, efficient, and cost-effective systems in the cloud. You should also familiarize yourself with design patterns and principles such as the 12-Factor App, which outlines best practices for building cloud-native applications.
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Practice, practice, practice: Getting hands-on experience is one of the most effective methods to prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. Adrian Cantrill's course includes many practical exercises. Additionally, you can do online workshops (which are highly recommended) or create some projects on your own. A list of recommended workshops will be provided at the end.
Understand the Exam Format and Time Management: The AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam consists of 65 multiple-choice and multiple-response questions, and you have 130 minutes to complete it. It is critical to understand the exam format and manage your time effectively during the exam. You should practice with sample questions and practice exams to get a sense of the pacing and difficulty of the exam. Another tip is to practice with a complete set of questions so that you're prepared for the actual exam experience. It's not the same to answer ten questions, take a break, and repeat as it is to sit for two hours of intense concentration.
Take care of yourself: Taking care of yourself is crucial during this time. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and take breaks to rest and relax. Taking care of yourself will help you stay focused and perform at your best on the exam.
Seek Help if Needed: If you're struggling to prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam, don't hesitate to seek help. There are plenty of online resources and study groups available to help you prepare for the exam. You can also consider hiring a tutor or mentor who can provide personalized coaching and guidance. If you need a hand, don't hesitate to reach out to me. I offer my help entirely for free, no strings attached.
I hope these tips are helpful as you prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam. Good luck on the exam, and good luck in your career as a cloud engineer. Remember to always keep learning, and most importantly, take care of yourself.
AWS Workshops to Check Out
To further improve your cloud engineering skills and prepare for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification, you might want to check out the following AWS workshops:
Thanks for reading!
Cloud solutions are often much more complicated than they need to be. The Simple AWS newsletter is about removing that complexity. Join hundreds of software experts learning how to solve complex problems in AWS with simple solutions, and how to scale and secure them with best practices.
Every issue starts with a real scenario, presents the simplest solution possible, and discusses best practices, always considering the context and tradeoffs.
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