Last night I sat for the AWS Solutions Architect Associate exam, and thankfully passed. I wanted to write a little about this as I think these certifications have a unique value during the pandemic - you can go through the entire process online.
Back in November, udemy.com ran a Cyber Monday sale that featured a ton of courses with huge discounts. The AWS Solutions Architect course from A Cloud Guru was only $15. A few friends were talking about taking the course and certification, it is the most popular certification for AWS. I’ve been using AWS for a while but only for small projects and mostly I would just plow through the documentation for whatever service I was interested in. At Rabbu we had a use case for putting together something using Lambda and where we had trouble was integrating the various AWS services together. I figured the Solutions Architect course would at least be a good formal education on AWS and maybe could help with our project.
In hindsight I should have done a little more research. While I’m definitely happy I went through with the course, and I know a lot more about AWS, the Solutions Architect is geared towards… someone architecting business solutions on AWS (surprise!). This involves understanding the various AWS services that help a business migrate to the cloud as well as keeping applications running, highly available, and performant. Beyond the Lambda project I really wanted to understand AWS more from a developer’s perspective (services like Elastic Beanstalk and DynamoDB).
If I were starting now, I would have gone with AWS Certified Developer. Which I have bought from A Cloud Guru on udemy.com as its on sale at the moment. I have to admit I actually enjoying learning about and getting these certifications. I think its seen as a chore for a lot of folks.
The A Cloud Guru course is pretty decent with about 12 hours of videos, quizzes, and a few practice exams. I didn’t realize that right around the time I was finishing the course, AWS updated the exam. I could have taken the older version of the test but after some digging around to figure out what was updated (the acloud.guru site shows which content was changed recently) I decided to take the new exam. I was a little disappointed that while the ACG course definitely covered all the bases, it was a little too high level. In order to actually pass it was necessary to spend a lot of time reading the various service FAQs from AWS as well as purchase some additional practice tests. The ACG instructor mentions using additional study material a few times during the course but its really sold (in my opinion) as a one stop shop for exam prep. I opted for this set of additional practice tests from Digital Cloud Training, which includes cheat sheets that were really useful for some of the trivia type questions like whats the default timeout for x service option y.
Finally - the reason I think this is more relevant right now. I was surprised that the exam itself had an option to be taken online. Normally you would go to a testing center where you will be monitored during the exam. Pearson Vue has an app you download to take the exam at home. I’m a little afraid of going into the details as I don’t want to violate any policies around the test but it was a pretty easy process.
I’d highly recommend anyone with an interest in AWS, or any certification, check and see if you have the option for online proctoring. We unfortunately may have a lot of free time to occupy. 😷