Certifications / Cloud

Is the AWS Machine Learning Worth It?

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Published on November 10, 2021

If you think machine learning is a niche industry that only affects highly technical companies, consider Barbie. The newest innovation in the doll's life is Hello Barbie which records a child's conversation, transmits it to a server that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence processing to select one of over 8,000 lines of dialogue, and even remembers the child's responses for deeper future conversations.

For machine learning and artificial intelligence enthusiasts, the news of toys and dolls incorporating progressive learning features should be exciting – the bigger the market, the further the technology can go. If machine learning is a world you want to be a part of, there are a few options to get your foot in the door. The AWS Machine Learning certification is one of those ways, read on to learn if it's worth it for you.

What is the AWS Machine Learning?

The AWS Machine Learning certification is a specialty-level credential from AWS that covers implementing machine learning solutions through AWS to solve business problems. The specialty-level designation means it falls outside of the three-tier structure AWS uses to categorize most of its certifications: Foundational, Associate, and Professional. It's a highly specialized and challenging certification exam with no formal prerequisite.

The AWS Machine Learning certification is both about machine learning generally and AWS specifically. The content is about implementing machine learning approaches and solutions through the AWS cloud and services. Earning the AWS Machine Learning certification means a person has a solid grasp not only on the foundations of machine learning, but how to turn those foundations into usable solutions through the AWS cloud. In other words, being an expert in AWS cloud services won't be enough to earn the AWS Machine Learning, but neither will being an expert in machine learning solutions with no AWS experience.

Earning the AWS Machine Learning certification requires passing one exam: the MLS-C01, which can be taken online.

What Does the AWS Machine Learning Test?

The MLS-C01 is the only necessary exam for earning the AWS Machine Learning certification. It's a 180-minute, 65-question exam. The questions are multiple choice and multiple response. Multiple choice questions have only one right answer, while multiple response questions have two or more correct responses out of five or more options. There are four major sections, or "domains" of the exam:

  • Domain 1: Data Engineering

  • Domain 2: Exploratory Data Analysis

  • Domain 3: Modeling

  • Domain 4: Machine Learning Implementation and Operations

Although it's highly technical and focused on machine learning algorithms and processes, AWS stresses that someone with a AWS Machine Learning cert knows how to choose the right machine learning approach for a business problem and the right AWS service to implement it with.

How Much Does the AWS Machine Learning Exam Cost?

The AWS Machine Learning's certifying exam, the MLS-C01, costs $300 to attempt. Because it is such a specialized and challenging exam, you'll definitely want to take supplemental training and courses. So, although the test will only cost $300, you shouldn't think of that as the total cost of earning the AWS Machine Learning cert. Adding the price of whatever courses you take – as well as the several months of time it'll probably take to prepare – will give you a better sense of the overall cost.

What Experience Do You Need for the AWS Machine Learning?

AWS recommends 1-2 years of experience with machine learning and deep learning before attempting the AWS Machine Learning exam. You'd be best served if that experience was intense and hands-on, rather than limited to one or two repetitive tasks related to ML. If you plan to attempt the AWS Machine Learning, you'll need experience with developing and running workloads for machine learning and deep learning solutions. And specifically, you'll want experience running those workloads on AWS.

As we mentioned before, the AWS Machine Learning exam is equal parts specific to AWS and generally about machine learning – to that end, in addition to knowing how AWS cloud services manage machine learning workloads, you'll want comfort and familiarity with machine learning algorithms broadly.

The more familiar you are with the intuition behind the decisions machine learning services make and methods for basic hyperparameter optimization, the better prepared you'll be for the MLS-C01. You'll want experience with machine learning frameworks, you should be able to follow along with model-training solutions, and you should know deployment and operational best practices in machine learning.

Who Should Take the AWS Machine Learning?

The AWS Machine Learning certification is ideal for experienced data analysts and developers in machine learning. If, during your daily job, you come into contact with business problems that could be solved with the right application of uniquely designed, implemented and deployed machine learning solutions, the AWS Machine Learning is the certification made for matching those problems with the best solutions.

Is AWS Machine Learning Worth It for Data Scientists?

Yes, if you work in data science, the AWS Machine Learning certification is definitely worth it. Maybe data science isn't your current career, but it's an aspiration for you. If that's the case, you should also definitely consider this cert.

Data science isn't about capturing and filing data, data science is the art of extracting meaningful insights from huge pools of data. Machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence hold technical solutions for sifting through raw data, finding the most interesting information, and turning it into useful results. For data scientists, earning a credential that certifies you as an expert in implementing machine learning workloads looks great on a resume. The machine learning skills and AWS familiarity you'll gain will also speed up every part of your job.

Is AWS Machine Learning Worth It for Developers?

Yes! If you develop for any technology or language that draws from Big Data sets, the AWS Machine Learning certification is worth it. Especially if you work directly with developing software and applications that need access to huge amounts of data before coming up with a customer-facing solution, or leverage machine learning algorithms to produce your results, the AWS Machine Learning cert is a great investment.

A central pillar of the AWS Machine Learning certification is its emphasis on selecting the right models for given machine learning problems, or building solutions that match business problems. Employers and managers respect the critical thinking aspect of the certifying exam because they mean you're able to think with the AI and ML tools you have on hand to provide solutions that save time and effort while producing high-quality results.

Is AWS Machine Learning Worth It for a Data Analyst?

The AWS Machine Learning might be worth it for a data analyst, but only if you plan to advance your career into some of the more technical aspects of the work, or if you have the time and energy to master all elements of machine learning algorithms.

For some data analysts, the information in certain parts of the exam might be more worth it than the cert itself. For them, taking a course that prepares people for the exam and skipping over parts that are too technical or unrelated to your work might be a better use of your time than trying to pass a test that's as specialized as the AWS Machine Learning.

Is the AWS Machine Learning Worth It?

The AWS Machine Learning is definitely worth it. It's a challenging and specialized credential that proves a technical expert's knowledge with some of the most advanced aspects of designing machine learning solutions and implementing them with AWS. If you're absolutely certain you'll never use AWS in your machine learning career, you should maybe consider a different machine learning certification. Otherwise, if you know you'll be doing deep work with big data, AI and machine learning, the AWS Machine Learning will be a worthwhile investment.

Using AWS Machine Learning to Learn Skills

The AWS Machine Learning certifying exam is a tough one. Even among highly experienced data scientists and machine learning developers, few people could take the exam without any preparation. On top of that, it's a young field that's constantly evolving. That's why just preparing for the AWS Machine Learning exam is a great way to learn machine learning and artificial intelligence skills.

For some people, taking courses meant to help pass the AWS Machine Learning exam will be as far as they go. The exam itself is challenging and just going through the exam objectives and choosing what elements of data engineering, exploratory analysis, modeling and implementation you want to use in your own career could be a path for learning the machine learning skills you need.

Using AWS Machine Learning to Validate Skills

If you're able to pass the AWS Machine Learning, earning it and displaying it on your resume represents deep technical knowledge and critical thinking aptitude. Employers and managers understand that it stands for a deep familiarity with machine learning algorithms, frameworks, best practices and the ability to turn all that knowledge into real-world solutions on AWS.


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