Certifications / Cloud

Is the AWS Data Analytics Worth It?

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Published on March 2, 2022

There's no shortage of managers and bosses on the look-out for opportunities to "leverage the potentials big data has for our business". But sometimes what that actually means isn't understood very well. Too often, the same people who advocate for using big data and harnessing advanced data analytics think it's as easy as taking data and turning it, alchemy-like, into wisdom.

But there's no alchemy in data analytics. Advanced data analytics is specialized and specific, and the men and women who take the time to learn how to capture the data, analyze it, and process the results are highly valuable. Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers dozens of tools and services to make data analytics more responsive and more powerful. They also offer a specialty certification, AWS Data Analytics, that identifies someone as an expert in AWS big data tools. Read on and learn about the AWS Data Analytics and whether or not it's worth it for your career.

What is the AWS Data Analytics?

The AWS Data Analytics is a specialized certification owned by AWS that was formerly known as AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty. The AWS Data Analytics covers designing, building, securing and maintaining analytics solutions. While some of the certification applies to broad data analytics skills, the primary emphasis is testing specific knowledge of AWS services that enable, enhance and extend data analytics capabilities.

An analyst with their AWS Data Analytics not only has a strong sense of data analysis methods and approaches, but also knows which AWS tool or service should be brought to bear on each problem. The AWS Data Analytics is an advanced, challenging certification exam and requires extensive knowledge of data analytics technologies and solutions.

The AWS Data Analytics cert covers five major sections of advanced big data handling and analysis. At each step of the way, the exam validates your familiarity with the dozens of AWS tools that are custom-built for each purpose. The exam presents you with multiple situations and environments and tests which AWS tools and services you select and how choose to implement them in accomplishing unique objectives.

What Does the AWS Data Analytics Exam Test?

The AWS Data Analytics exam is a 180-minute, 65-question exam that covers building, deploying and tuning data models while leveraging AWS services to streamline and scale up the entire process. The AWS Data Analytics exam has five objectives or domains:

  • Domain 1 – Data Collection Systems

  • Domain 2 – Storage and Data Management Concerns

  • Domain 3 – Data Processing Solutions

  • Domain 4 – Analysis and Visualization of Analytical Data

  • Domain 5 – Security of the Data Analysis System

The questions on the AWS Data Analytics exam are either multiple choice or multiple response. Multiple choice will have only one correct response, while multiple response can have several correct options. For each domain, you'll be faced with hypothetical situations and challenged to come up with the right data model or approach and then implement the appropriate AWS tools.

How Much Does the AWS Data Analytics Exam Cost?

The AWS Data Analytics exam costs $300 USD to attempt. There are no prerequisites for it, so you can attempt the exam at any time and $300 should be all you'll end up paying. It's reportedly a highly challenging exam that covers a lot of material, so you may want to prepare with an online course or training. If you do, you should include that price with the overall cost of the exam.

What Experience Do You Need for the AWS Data Analytics?

According to AWS, you should have at least five years of experience with data analytics technologies and two years of hands-on experience working with AWS before attempting the AWS Data Analytics exam. In addition to that, AWS recommends that you have extensive experience working with AWS services to design, build, secure and maintain analytics solutions. This speaks to the dual nature of the exam mentioned earlier – it doesn't just test your abilities with data analysis, but also your knowledge of choosing, implementing and using the right AWS services for the job.

The AWS Data Analytics exam likely won't have many questions about foundational knowledge in data analytics, but it will build upon that knowledge. So before you attempt the exam, you should have rock-solid familiarity with the basics.

You should understand the similarities and differences between structured, semi-structured and unstructured data types and how they're handled. You should already understand different data storage types like data lakes, warehouses and S3 buckets as well as how to manipulate them. You should understand batch and stream processing and the characteristics of OLTP and OLAP systems. You should know ACID compliance and BASE compliance, plus what an ETL process can do to ensure compliance. And on top of all that, you need to know the AWS services and pipelines that interact with those concepts.

Who Should Take the AWS Data Analytics?

Data analysts and data scientists should take the AWS Data Analytics – they're the most obvious candidates. But solutions architects, data architects and even data platform engineers should take it, too. The AWS Data Analytics is ideal for experienced data practitioners.

AWS Data Analytics for Data Analysts

Yes, the AWS Data Analytics is worth it for data analysts. Actually, it's sort of hard to imagine what data analyst wouldn't benefit from it. If you work with data collection, storage, processing or visualization, with this certification, you can prove your comfort with building the data models your company depends on and augmenting them with the right AWS tools.

If you already work with AWS in your data analysis, working toward this cert will round out all the knowledge you've already gained. On the other hand, if you don't work with AWS but do data analysis nonetheless, preparing for this cert will show you just how many extensions, applications and tools AWS provides that will make your work much easier.

AWS Data Analytics for Database Administrators

The AWS Data Analytics certification might be worth it for database administrators, but it depends on how much work you actually do processing, analyzing and visualizing the data you work with. If you work mostly with maintaining data storage options and solutions, the AWS Data Analytics might not be worth it. For most DBAs, there are more specialized certifications that you'd find more worth it.

However, if you work alongside database administrators, studying for and earning the AWS Data Analytics can help enormously. After earning it, conversations will be clearer and more useful because you'll understand data concepts and infrastructure concepts much better. You'll be able to lead much more meaningful conversations and reach much more beneficial decisions after earning the AWS Data Analytics.

AWS Data Analytics for a Solutions Architect

The AWS Data Analytics is worth it for solutions architects who want to specialize their work experience toward data architecture. For solutions architects who want to be subject-matter experts in analytics solutions and modeling approaches, the AWS Data Analytics is worth it. Or maybe you know your employer is very interested in using AWS to improve your data environment – in that case, you'll also find the AWS Data Analytics well worth it.

Is the AWS Data Analytics Worth It?

For most data-focused IT professionals, the AWS Data Analytics is worth it. Obviously, if you don't work with data models, or if you don't have to design or implement AWS services around big data, it's not worth the investment of time and energy. But for advanced professionals who need to know more about planning data analysis solutions and the various data analytic processes involved, it's a worthwhile certification.

Using AWS Data Analytics to Learn Skills

For IT professionals who are just getting started in the data field, the AWS Data Analytics is an ideal framework for learning the hierarchy of data needs and what AWS services exist for each tier. Courses designed to help you pass the AWS Data Analytics can accelerate your career and your familiarity with data modeling and analysis significantly.

Alternatively, maybe you've already been working with data analysis and just haven't worked with AWS at all – in that case, using the AWS Data Analytics to learn skills will be faster and easier since you already know the fundamentals. At that point, you'd just be learning the specific tools and resources for extending what you already understand.

Using AWS Data Analytics to Validate Skills

As a tool for advancing your career and defining abilities, the AWS Data Analytics is an excellent way to validate your skills. If you've already been working in data analysis and need a way to document everything you know how to do or demonstrate the value you bring to your team, consider the AWS Data Analytics. It's a challenging certification, but earning it proves that you understand the breadth of data analysis and the depth of AWS tools and services. Any industry certification tends to be worth it in the long run, but one signed by Amazon carries a lot of weight in particular.


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