Every IT Pro Should Start with AWS Cloud Practitioner
If you work in IT, you need a fundamental understanding of cloud concepts — even if you don't participate in implementations. Because you have to start somewhere, AWS is a great choice in terms of marketability. AWS revenue grew by 41% in the first quarter of 2019. That beats the 25% revenue growth for the Google Cloud Platform and ties reported growth rates for Microsoft's commercial cloud business that includes Azure.
AWS Cloud Practitioner is at the first level of AWS certifications and is the sole credential at the company's Foundational level. It's a natural starting point for IT professionals who want a better handle on cloud-computing tools, including SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.
First, we'll discuss what AWS is and how AWS Cloud Practitioner fits into the AWS certifications path. Then, we'll look at why you should take the Practitioner Certification and who it would most benefit. To underscore the opportunities open to AWS Practitioners, it's important to identify the demand for this certification, the type of jobs that become available and the starting salaries you can expect.
What is AWS?
A certification is only as valuable as the platform it supports.
AWS is a cloud service that includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). This comprehensive toolkit helps companies move away from on-premise dependencies that require substantial capital expenditures. If your organization hasn't already moved to a cloud-computing model, chances are there's been plenty of talk around doing so.
The main draw of cloud computing services is the ability to run your IT environment from the cloud with limited on-site hardware to buy and maintain. The top vendors — AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform — all have recognizable logos to recommend them, but they differ in support, pricing and ease-of-use.
Here are a few of the features that make AWS so popular and increase the value of an AWS certification:
- Over 100 configurable, feature-rich services
- Regular updates to services and applications
- Pay-as-you-go, pay-as-you-use pricing
- Partner Network (APN) assists in an infrastructure transition process
- AWS has 60 regions and an advanced ecosystem — more than any other provider (and 12 more are coming)
How AWS Practitioner Fits into the AWS Certification Schema
AWS Cloud Practitioner was announced in 2017 and is the gateway certification to higher-level and specialty certifications. There are no prerequisites for the material that prepares you for the exam. It's not required for other AWS certifications, but makes the transition much smoother for candidates coming from other IT specializations. Especially if you aren't currently working in a cloud-based environment. You can see the full AWS certification program in the AWS Certification Guide.
Why Earn the Cloud Practitioner?
Earning this certification is the best way to validate a high-level understanding of AWS. It helps you bridge the communication gap between nontechnical coworkers and cloud experts. Whether you're a cloud expert or transitioning from on-premise solutions, this certification gives you a firm base to build your cloud computing knowledge and prepare you to delve into more technical aspects of AWS.
For IT professionals, the three main benefits of earning AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification are:
- Validate or obtain understanding of cloud computing
- Fast track to a better paying job
- Save money without sacrificing value
Validate or obtain understanding of cloud computing. Earning this cert l validates your familiarity of the AWS platform. This goes beyond key concepts to an in-depth mastery of AWS's value proposition and use cases. An AWS Cloud Practitioner certification verifies that you have achieved the following:
- Understanding of AWS cloud concepts and services
- Knowledge of the AWS cloud architectural principles
- Familiarity of shared security concepts
- Appreciation of the essential documentation, such as requirements, white papers and change management
- Mastery of billing, pricing models and account management
- Familiarity with deployment and operations within the AWS Cloud
Fast track to a better paying job. This is an ideal certification for transitioning IT professionals and nontechnical support staff, including sales, purchasing, financial and managerial associates. Preparing for and taking the Practitioner exam is equivalent to six months of working in the AWS cloud environment. It's a great way to fast track your career with an immediately relevant credential.
The price is right. It costs $100-$150 to take the Practitioner exam. Even if you spend a few hundred dollars on the online preparation courses, this is a real bargain. Think of it this way: If your end goal is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate designation, taking the Practitioner exam is a great primer before delving into the more technical Architect material. Both exams total around $300 or less.
Cloud Practitioner isn’t going to earn you a six-figure salary out the gate. It’s only the first certification in the robust AWS certification program. It opens doors. It teaches skills. It’s a good stepping stone for anyone either working with AWS, or thinking about it.
Who Should Earn Cloud Practitioner?
This credential is essential for IT professionals already working in an AWS cloud environment. If you want to grow in your current role or change positions, becoming a certified Practitioner gives you a leg up over competitors with the same work experience.
Are you currently supporting on-premise legacy solutions? Becoming AWS Cloud Practitioner-certified can help you transition into a technical or non-technical role in a relevant technology. It also can be the difference between watching your career options dwindle and becoming a hot commodity.
Project managers, financial analysts and HR specialists who interact with AWS professionals greatly benefit from an AWS Practitioner credential. It can inform your conversations with technical IT staff and help you direct projects or budgets for these teams.
Anyone planning to take an associate or professional Developer, SysOps, Architect or Specialty certification would benefit from starting with the Practitioner certification.
If you're working in a technical role using Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, IBM Watson or any other cloud platform and want to learn AWS, this is an ideal certification to broaden your employment prospects.
AWS Cloud Practitioner: Jobs and Salaries
Most of the salary postings are for AWS associate, professional or specialty certifications. However, the certification exams are universally described as difficult. Taking the AWS Practitioner Certification can still land you a lucrative position as a project manager and pave the way for gaining the experience you need to tackle the more technical roles.
Here's a glimpse of the starting salaries that lie at the end of your certification quest. The average salary for AWS certified professionals is $113,932, with the following breakdown by certification type:
- Developer – Associate: $112,984
- Solutions Architect – Associate: $117,773
- Solutions Architect – Professional: $136,259
- SysOps Administrator – Associate: $125,149
- DevOps Engineer – Professional: $125,743
Cross-certifying with AWS can increase your salary by about $12,000, according to Forbes.
Every IT professional should earn AWS Cloud Practitioner certification to lay a foundation for working with the AWS platform. It's ideal for technical and nontechnical candidates looking to break into cloud computing or gain an edge.
Validating your AWS cloud skills with this certification enables you to establish credibility with your existing organization. It also shows potential employers that you understand the platform — and are worth the high salaries AWS jobs command.