Is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It?
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Is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It?

The AWS Cloud is full of tools, utilities and services that when combined properly can have a drastic impact on a company's bottom line and productivity. Pretty often, the only thing standing in the way of a company and improved security, reliability, high availability, and elasticity through an AWS cloud implementation is having the right person.

But that sort of person doesn't grow on trees. Cloud practitioners who can explain the value of the AWS Cloud are specially trained and prepared. They're people who, for example, can understand and explain the AWS shared responsibility model and who understand security best practices. Companies are searching for someone who can understand AWS Cloud costs as well as describe core AWS services like compute, network, database and storage. In short, companies are searching for AWS Certified Cloud Practitioners.

What is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner?

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is an IT industry certification offered by Amazon. Someone earns their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner by proving that they have an overall knowledge of the AWS Cloud – independent of a specific job role. That's because the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner isn't meant to define a specific job or role on an administration team. 

Earning the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner proves that you're broadly knowledgeable about core AWS services and their use cases. In addition to that, earning it means you have an understanding of billing and pricing models used by AWS and can explain pricing, availability, and opportunities to stakeholders. Last, it means you're so familiar with how the cloud impacts your business that you can be relied on to make smart decisions about future investments in the cloud.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is an associate-level certification that many cloud and networking professionals earn early in their career. It's an attractive certification because it covers so much different AWS Cloud-related material without specializing too specifically on any one tool or service or implementation. Earning the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner requires passing the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam (CLF-C01).

What are the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Objectives?

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam (CLF-C01) is the only exam you have to pass in order to earn your AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. The CLF-C01 is a 90-minute exam with 65 questions. Those questions will be either multiple choice or multiple responses, and the exam itself has four main sections.

  • Domain 1: Cloud Concepts
  • Domain 2: Security and Compliance
  • Domain 3: Technology
  • Domain 4: Billing and Pricing

In order to pass the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, you'll need to understand those topics as they apply to AWS account management in a general sense, but also as they apply to specific tools and technologies. You should know technologies like APIs, Cost Explorer, Elastic Load Balancers, AWS Marketplace, EC2 instance types, Security Groups and others like them.

How much does the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Cost?

CLF-C01, the exam for AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner costs $100 USD to attempt. It's the only exam you need to pass in order to earn the certification and there are no application fees or memberships you need to pay in order to be eligible. 

Assuming you can pass it on your first try, $100 is the total cost for earning the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. It's never a bad idea to prepare before a certification exam, so you might add the cost of certification training to that.

What Experience Do You Need for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner?

AWS recommends that a candidate have no fewer than six months of active engagement with the AWS Cloud before attempting the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. But be warned – those six months shouldn't be made up of casual familiarity with navigating the interfaces or occasionally checking in on an account. Someone hoping to earn their AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner will need to feel comfortable with AWS Cloud design, implementation, and operations. You should have enough practical experience to recognize a well-designed AWS Cloud solution from a mediocre one.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is all about breadth – earning it means you're familiar with the dozens of AWS services and features and can make a good recommendation about them to a company. Although it's an associate-level certification, you may struggle with the exam if you've only had exposure to one category of AWS services. 

For instance, maybe you're deeply familiar with Amazon Aurora and RDS because of your cloud database work. But you'll also need to know how to operate and manage AWS analytics tools like Athena, application integration features like SQS, compute and serverless solutions like EC2 and Lambda, and the other – roughly – 75 others.

Who Should Take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner?

Non-technical professionals, network administrators, and cloud administrators should take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. If it's a part of your job to help make decisions that could lead to cloud implementations, you should at least study for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.

Is AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It for Non-Technical Professionals?

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is a great certification for men and women who work alongside IT professionals but aren't themselves an IT technical professional. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is definitely worth it for non-technical professionals who have to access the cloud on a regular basis or make pricing decisions for network operations. 

The reason the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification is so worth it for non-technical professionals is that it doesn't go into technical details about actual configurations and technical settings – instead, it focuses on knowing the category of AWS Cloud services and how they're designed to help a business. When you understand the tools and services well enough, you'll be able to make informed decisions about what to spend your company's money when it comes to network solutions – but more importantly, what not to spend it on.

Is AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It for a Highly Experienced Network Administrator?

Network administrators with many years of experience won't be harmed or slowed down by the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, but it might not be the best certification depending on where you are in your career and what your job responsibilities look like.

It's never going to be a bad thing to know the technologies that make AWS Cloud environments possible, how they're billed and priced, what security and compliance tools AWS has for network operations or the value proposition for AWS Cloud utilities. But for many experienced network administrators working in technical capacities, that level of familiarity might not apply to their work.

Is AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It for Cloud Administrators?

Yes, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is definitely worth it for cloud administrators. Unless you get lucky, you're never going to rely solely on one service provider's cloud networking tools and utilities. Companies depend on different solutions from different providers based on a ton of different factors like cost, availability, interoperability and tons of smaller, personal reasons like preference.

The sort of familiarity you want as an entry-level cloud administrator is similar to the familiarity you'd want to have with restaurants in your area if you're really trying to impress a date. You'd of course want to show your date that you know all the best places in the city by learning a smattering of everything different places have to offer. The same is true in cloud administration. Your date's your employer and the different cuisines are the different cloud providers whose menus you know off the top of your head.

When your date wants Chinese take-out, you want to know where to go and when your boss wants a good network monitoring solution, you want to know AWS Control Tower. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is worth it because that's the level of familiarity you get.

Is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Worth It?

Yes, speaking generally, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is worth it for many professionals. It's not just IT professionals who benefit from the level of familiarity with cloud tools that the cert provides. Non-technical professionals, particularly those who make decisions or manage projects related to a company's network and cloud operations, will be helped a ton by the level of understanding the certification brings.

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is worth it especially for men and women near the start of their career as they learn as much as they can about all the many, many cloud offerings.

Using AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner to Learn Skills

Famously, in the world of computing and cloud networking, it's said that there are the Knowns, the Unknowns, the Known Unknowns, and the Unknown Unknowns. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is a great certification for all four. Not only does having the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner make you a more attractive cloud practitioner, but preparing for it can teach you things about the AWS Cloud that you didn't even know you were missing out on.

A course that prepares you to earn the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner will, by necessity, bring you up to speed on every tool and utility that AWS Cloud offers, how much it costs, what the right use cases for it are, and how to decide on using it. It won't make you an expert in any one topic, but it will make you broadly capable and familiar in the AWS Cloud space.

Using AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner to Validate Skills

If you've already spent a lot of time with the AWS Cloud and you're deeply familiar with all the tools and utilities, don't forget to earn the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and prove those skills. If you're confident you could pass the exam easily, $100 is a very low price to pay to validate your skills in using the AWS Cloud.

With the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, you earn documentation that says you can be trusted to make the right calls in the AWS Cloud and choose the right tools and utilities for a company's needs.

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