Certifications / Cloud

Is the AWS Database Worth It?

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Published on August 18, 2021

We're living in an era of data, one in which there are hardly any companies whose production or sales don't depend on databases. Even small and medium-sized companies can have significant data needs. And as relational and non-relational databases become increasingly powerful and versatile, companies are also discovering that they need someone who can guide them through all the options. Earning the AWS Certified Database Specialty certification means you understand every last feature of the AWS database service and how to connect it with specific data workloads, making you a valuable advisor for a company that depends on them.

A more general certification might show proficiency with a broad range of the responsibilities that a database administrator might need to know. But the AWS Certified Database Specialty certification is for database professionals looking to demonstrate their expertise with planning, developing and maintaining purpose-built databases. Whether relational or non-relational, someone with their AWS Database cert can recommend, design and maintain a custom AWS database solution for any problem a business might run into.

What is the AWS Certified Database?

The AWS Certified Database – Specialty is a certification offered straight from AWS to certify specialized expertise with every feature of all their database offerings. According to AWS, the cert doesn't apply to any particular job or traditional role in an IT team. It's meant to validate a database professional's comprehensive understanding of databases. It's an advanced certification, meant for professionals who design, migrate, deploy, access, maintain, automate, monitor, secure and troubleshoot databases.

The AWS Certified Database – Specialty is a career-defining certification, one that proves you're up for designing a database solution from the ground up. Some database certifications – even some from AWS – focus on implementing certain database solutions or maintaining existing ones. But not this one – this cert validates your ability to assess a company's top-to-bottom needs and build a custom database solution using creative combinations of all of AWS' relational and non-relational offerings.

What Does the DBS-C01 Test?

The DBS-C01 is the exam you'll need to pass to earn the AWS Certified Database – Specialty certification. There are five major sections to the exam. AWS refers to the sections of the exam as "Domains".

  • Domain 1: Workload-specific Database Design – 26%

  • Domain 2: Deployment and Migration – 20%

  • Domain 3: Management and Operations – 18%

  • Domain 4: Monitoring and Troubleshooting – 18%

  • Domain 5: Database Security – 18%

The names of each domain reveal how much this certification covers: from figuring out what sort of workload the organization needs to setting it up and then monitoring it for problems, this cert means business.

How Much Does the AWS Database – Specialty Exam Cost?

Earning the AWS Database – Specialty requires passing only one exam, the DBS-C01, which costs $300 to attempt. Although the AWS Database – Specialty officially has no prerequisites, it's widely agreed it is far too challenging a certifying exam to take without practice or experience.

There are two certs that come earlier in the AWS track, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate (which costs $150) and the Solutions Architect Professional (which costs $300). You'll find the two Solutions certifications helpful in preparing for AWS Database, but there's plenty about Database that the Solutions certs don't cover.

What Experience Do You Need for the AWS Database Certification?

The AWS Certified Database – Specialty cert is one of AWS' most challenging certs, and it shouldn't be attempted lightly. Officially, the cert doesn't have any prerequisites, but trying to take the exam without getting training in all of AWS' database solutions and extensive familiarity with all stages of database implementation is a recipe for failure.

The most common gap in experience for the people who fail the AWS Certified Database – Specialty exam is in analyzing needs and recommending solutions. Many database administrators feel confident in their skills with administration and maintenance, but the ability to look at the big picture of a company's database needs is harder. It's tricky to train and practice for assessing the whole picture, choosing the right AWS database service and coordinating using it with those needs.

A database professional who wants to take the DBS-C01 should feel like they could, tomorrow, take over every part of designing, recommending and maintaining the best AWS database solution for every problem their organization might run into. Professionals who feel shaky in those skills should seek out AWS database solutions training to help prepare for the AWS Certified Database – Specialty.

Who Should Take the AWS Database Certification?

Amazon doesn't put any limitations on who would benefit from the AWS Database cert, only that any database-facing professional could. It's best suited for database professionals who are well into their careers, or who are responsible for entire database implementations.

Is AWS Certified Database – Specialty Worth It?

It entirely depends on your current experience and role, and where you want your career to go.

AWS Certified for a Database Administrator

There are probably other certifications that database administrators should consider before trying for the AWS Certified Database – Specialty. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, brand new database administrators will probably find the AWS Database cert way too hard for them to pass. But not only that, a junior database administrator's responsibilities usually don't include assessing company data workloads and making holistic database recommendations.

On the other hand, if you're a database administrator and you're trying to qualify for a promotion or move into positions with greater responsibilities, the AWS Certified Database – Specialty is an impressive cert to earn.

AWS Certified Database – Specialty for a Database Engineer

The AWS Certified Database – Specialty is definitely worth it for database engineers. It's a great way to set yourself apart from your peers, or prove your mastery of not only databases, but also all the different database solutions that AWS has.

If your job responsibilities touch on choosing different database solutions to address different workloads, the training you'll get in preparation for the AWS Database will increase your confidence and knowledge immensely. After preparing for and passing the DBS-C01, you'll know the best questions to ask and the approaches to take to evaluate a company's database needs.

AWS Certified Database – Specialty for a Solutions Engineer

The AWS Database cert is practically meant for Solutions Engineers. The exam objectives for the DBS-C01 are more or less the job description for many Solutions Engineers: analyze the needs and requirements a company has for its data workloads, then recommend and design appropriate database solutions.

The AWS Certified Database – Specialty is especially worthwhile for a Solutions Engineer if your company already depends on AWS technologies, or is considering making the plunge to spend more money on AWS. After earning your AWS Database cert, you'll understand and be able to differentiate every feature of all AWS' database services, meaning you're the shop expert in AWS databases.

Is the AWS Certified Database – Specialty Worth It?

If your company has a lot of data needs and uses any AWS databases, the AWS Certified Database – Specialty certification is well worth your time. It's especially worthwhile if any part of your job responsibilities includes making recommendations for improvements, database selection, or migrations. And if you're trying to get into a new position or land a promotion to make those part of your job, then earning the AWS Database is definitely worth it.

Using AWS Certified Database – Specialty to Learn Skills

Many IT professionals look at industry certifications as an opportunity to learn new skills and become better at their job. That's exactly what the AWS Database cert is ideal for: specializing and deepening your skills.

The DBS-C01 is a 65-question test that covers how deep your familiarity is with AWS data solutions. That means if you're already using one or two AWS services, you'll also need to learn how relational and non-relational AWS databases integrate with your existing workloads and optimize everything you already do.

If you work with databases and want to master all the skills that go along with designing, migrating, deploying, accessing, maintaining, automating, monitoring, securing and troubleshooting AWS databases, there's hardly a better way than with the AWS Certified Database – Specialty.

Using AWS Certified Database – Specialty to Validate Skills

Rather than learn new database administration skills, maybe you're trying to prove the skills you already have with databases and secure a promotion or a raise. The AWS Certified Database – Specialty is a challenging and thorough examination of your familiarity with all of AWS' database solutions. That makes it perfect for validating your abilities as a database professional.

Any remaining uncertainty you might have around database solutions or AWS offerings will get burnt away with the preparation you'll do to prepare for the AWS Database. Not only that, having it will place you pretty firmly at the top of the pile when it comes to any solutions engineers or database engineers. Especially if you work for a company that depends on AWS, the AWS Database cert is a validation of all your database skills.


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