Certifications / Cloud

What is the Best AWS Certification for New IT Pros?

by Dalton Hirst
What is the Best AWS Certification for New IT Pros? picture: A
Published on July 26, 2022

Starting a career in IT is an exciting prospect. The potential feels like a boundless opportunity in a vast field still growing and maturing. Indeed, the job growth rate for IT professions projects at 12% per year through 2028. Jobs in cloud computing continue to rise, accounting for a 42% increase last year. The path you choose in IT won’t be wrong. However, focusing your training and experience on cloud-based services is truly one of the best opportunities in IT.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) are the industry leader in providing cloud-based services, controlling a 30% market share. While AWS has competitors in Microsoft and Google, deciding to pursue an AWS cloud certification is an excellent step forward for your career. It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to IT or have some experience. Achieving an AWS certification can open tremendous opportunities.

A quick internet search will reveal a contingent of AWS certifications and the different training paths to achieve them. It can quickly feel overwhelming, which leads to the question of which one to pursue? This article will explore AWS certifications, how they benefit a career, and help determine the best AWS certification for those new to IT.

Ready to Get AWS-Trained?

As previously mentioned, learning how to leverage AWS or earning AWS certification is a safe bet for your career. If you’re ready to get a jumpstart on AWS, CBT Nuggets has got you covered. You can choose from a variety of AWS-related training no matter your level of familiarity with the cloud and AWS. You’ll find foundational-level courses for non-technical professionals and for seasoned cloud architects.

What are AWS Certifications?

Getting a certification displays a level of professional competence in any profession, IT-related or not. An AWS certification shows credibility on a person’s level of expertise working within the AWS ecosystem. Additionally, the IT cloud industry recognizes and accepts an AWS certification. Getting certified helps validate your technical skills for any AWS certification path you choose.

Amazon offers three different levels of certification based on your current experience working in the cloud. The Foundational level focuses on newer professionals or those seeking a career change with six months of fundamental AWS and cloud industry knowledge.

The Associate level focuses on one year of experience working with and troubleshooting solutions in the AWS cloud. The Professional level targets two years or more of comprehensive experience designing, implementing, and operating AWS solutions.

AWS also has specialty certifications for different areas like Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Security. Each of the specialty certifications is separate from the three primary levels. Even if you are interested in the specialty certification, these are more advanced, and most require several years of experience already working with AWS cloud solutions.

Why are AWS Certifications Important?

Without a doubt, completing the training and passing the exam for an AWS certification can significantly boost a career. Holding an AWS certification is an industry-recognized proof of knowledge. An AWS certification also demonstrates your willingness to continue learning and developing cloud-based skills. In some cases, you might need a certification to compete for a new position or promotion within the company. A certification could be the difference between getting hired or not.

It is important to properly shape the expectations of what an AWS certification (or any other) does and does not do. Foremost, certifications will not replace experience or knowledge, nor do they guarantee your dream job. Any certification is not a golden ticket and guarantees nothing more than your professional competence in a skill.

An AWS certification provides opportunities, and they have the potential to increase your earnings. They are one part of your total professional IT resumé and can help progress your career quicker than not having one.

Gaining a certification must be put in the proper context. Many people, especially those newer to the IT field, may have unrealistic expectations. However, an AWS certification can provide a significant career boost. And by all accounts, certifications are worth pursuing.

Best Options For New IT Professionals

If developing, implementing, and problem-solving in an AWS cloud solution is new to you, then the best option for your first certification is at the Foundational level. There is only one AWS Certification within this level, the AWS Cloud Practitioner.

The AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification recommends six months of familiarity with AWS and a basic understanding of IT services provided by a cloud platform. If you just read that sentence and think, ‘I have no experience at all,’ don’t worry. Beginners or IT professionals with little cloud experience are the intended audiences for The Cloud Practitioner Certification. The course covers the basics of the AWS cloud ecosystem and provides a baseline of foundational knowledge. The certification does not carry a prerequisite, and you do not need any prior knowledge or experience. Just be prepared to study intensely to pass the exam.

To become certified as an AWS cloud practitioner, applicants must pass the Cloud Practitioner Exam. The 65 questions exam must be completed in ninety minutes and does come with a $100 fee. You will answer a combination of multiple choice and multiple response questions.

How to Prepare for Certification

The path to any AWS certification can be long, but the journey is worth the effort. Getting the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification is well worth the effort, both short-term and for your career.

There are several ways you can go about studying for the exam. One option is a downloadable guide for the Cloud Practitioner exam on the AWS site. This guide is an excellent place to start. However, if you have little to no experience with AWS, taking a course to help you learn and prepare for the exam is a smart choice. The AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials is a free self-paced course. Again, another solid option.

It is worth considering a fully-fledged guided course that will prepare you for not just the exam but provide an excellent introduction to the AWS cloud. If this type of learning is best for you, consider our CBT Nuggets course, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.

If you haven’t yet, set up an AWS account and learn by doing. It’s one thing to study exam material and follow along with a course. It’s another to spend time in an AWS cloud environment as there is no substitute for experience. When you run into issues – and you will – coming to a solution that you researched and figured out will prove invaluable.

Next Steps After Certification

Getting an AWS certification is a significant accomplishment, and it is a considerable accomplishment. However, this is only the beginning, even if you are a seasoned IT professional. Certification will only get you so far.

If the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification was your first in the industry, getting hands-on experience is the logical next step. While you pursue this experience, consider what your next certification goals might be. A natural progression is to expand to one of the certifications offered at the Associate level with AWS.

After enough time and experience, the AWS specialty certifications become an option. If one interests you now, work your way in the industry towards it. AWS offers discounts on subsequent certification exams.

One thing you don’t want to do is let your hard-earned certifications lapse. AWS certifications are valid for three years, and you must recertify within that period to maintain your certification.

Final Thoughts

With the job forecast for growth in the cloud industry, there isn’t a better time to learn the skills you need to succeed. Getting a certification shows remarkable growth and dedication. This is equally true for an IT professional working in the cloud who achieves an AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. This foundational certification can jump-start a new career in IT.

Even if you are a seasoned IT pro, brushing up or gaining new skills for a position working on cloud resources is worth considering. Consider CBT Nuggets as your dedicated partner as you begin your training. We are here to help you achieve your AWS certification goals.


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