AWS Certification

Certification Path

Amazon has several paths for certification that target different job roles. Having an architecture and a security background I decided to move towards the full AWS Solution Architect first then pursue a security specialty later on if it seemed valuable. The first place to start is an overview for the learning paths

After looking at the prerequisites my certification path looks like this:

Cloud Practitioner -> Solution Architect-Associate -> Solution architecture

The Certifications

Early on I decided not to pay for any classes or training on my AWS journey. Classes are great if you have the time at the right time and you have the money to direct towards the cause. Although, I don’t mind paying for books - because I like books.

There is a near vast amount of free information available from AWS directly and from other trusted sources. The AWS resources, including the normal service documentation, are definitely sufficient enough to allow you to pass these exams.

Cloud Practitioner

Everyone has to pass the Cloud Practitioner exam. I call this the “Junior Sales Associate” exam. The main purpose of this exam is for you to understand how the cloud is different and what AWS has to offer to help you be successful with it.

This certification is also meant for managers and other non-technical people who may need to understand or work with AWS. The material is pretty lightweight.

You can visit the certification area which details quite a few learning material options. I read the recommendations and approached it like this.

  • Read the recommended AWS White Papers for the test
  • Watched a several hour video from AWS on the subject
  • A very quick skim through my main book (see below)
  • Took the AWS practice questions
  • Read all the FAQs on the major areas (pay attention to the cost/billing sections)

The exam is as advertised and is a mile wide and an inch deep. If you have been using AWS for any amount of time it will help you pass the test. Do spend some time moving about in the AWS Console. The familiarity with it will help.

Solution Architect-Associate

After passing the Practitioner exam it was time to move on. The certification area for the Solution Architect-Associate exam has more options and a lot more material. There are more suggestions for paid training but once again I decided not to take that route.

I read a lot of material for the next exam. Plus I bought a book.

Important Areas

These seem to be important areas of the exam and rightfully so. Much of architecting the foundations includes one or more of these areas.

  • VPCs and subnetting
  • CIDR blocks, the defaults for AWS and differences between IPv4 and IPv6
  • Load balancer types and when you should use each one
  • Public IPs, private IPs, and EIPs - along with EIN usage
  • How gateways and NAT work within a VPC
  • Backup options for storage, databases, snapshot time and effects
  • General storage differences between EBS and EFS
  • S3 types and characteristics
  • Database types, replicas, and BC/DR scenarios
  • IAM users, roles, and credentials - you have to know the uses

Most importantly I spent a lot of time working with the basic services. I set up a couple of accounts and worked with networking, S3, and some simple databases.

Working with the CLI and SDK, I chose to use Python/SDK, also helps you understand how the services are management and automated. This also helps you understand how and when to use the correct credentials.


It is useful because it does give you some credibility plus you can also verify your abilities to a degree for yourself. The nice thing is once you pass one AWS Certification you do receive a benefit that grants you a 50% discount on the next exam.

The next stop is the AWS Solution Architect Certification exam.

Good luck on yours!

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