Over the past decade, the popularity of cloud computing services skyrocketed alongside the volume of data generated by people. Today, many companies lean towards storing their information in the cloud since it ensures scalability and accessibility at a reasonable price. One of the most popular platforms that provides cloud solutions is Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Getting certified as an AWS expert validates a developer’s technical skills. If your or your client’s project runs on AWS, it stands to reason that AWS-certified developers would be the first choice to implement it.
However, AWS Certification goes beyond validating skills. Developers whose company gives them the opportunity to get certified are more likely to stick with it for the long haul since this opportunity demonstrates the company’s willingness to contribute to professional growth. Going through the AWS Certification process will teach your developers to be more broad-minded and apply out-of-the-box thinking to meet challenges with cloud solutions. On top of that, pursuing AWS Certification as a team encourages employees to look up to each other and hone their skills together. Obtaining AWS Certification influenced my team in just this way, increasing their effectiveness and the quality of project delivery. Based on my experience, I’ve prepared a list of tips to help you get your team ready and obtain AWS Certification.
All fired up and ready to go?
Before earning specialized certifications, your employees must pass an entry-level AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, as my team did. The purpose of this first stage is to check developers’ general knowledge of the AWS cloud. If you can’t make up your mind about what AWS Certifications fit your team members best, pay attention to the contents of different exams and proceed with those that most closely match their roles. It’s best if employees obtain different certifications, expanding the team’s overall expertise.
Preparing for AWS Certification requires binge reading AWS documentation, which contains plenty of free guides and tutorials categorized by the direction you want your team to take.
However, if you need a more time-efficient way for your developers to get ready, search for a course (which is usually paid) that contains only the details having to do with a concrete certificate. Another free way for your team to get insights about the exams is to look through discussion forums where people who have already obtained certification share hints and useful insights. Amazon also frequently organizes webinars to share useful information about certification; creating an AWS Training and Certification account will help your developers stay abreast of news and updates.
If you want your team to test the waters before applying for and investing in official certification, they can take a practice exam beforehand. Doing so gives a better understanding of what questions will be on the actual exam. But note that the list of topics for the practice exams is quite approximate.
On the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam, your employees will most frequently encounter scenario-based questions that test their ability to apply different AWS services correctly, especially Amazon S3, AWS Lambda, Amazon EC2, and Amazon VPC. Test situations require developers to decide which service to apply and which advantages of the cloud can help them out. Note that one problem can be resolved in different ways, and your team’s task is to find the optimal variant. Make sure that your team members read the questions carefully, since they can contain hidden pitfalls. For example, two separate questions may ask test takers to choose the cheapest and the most reliable service, respectively, and provide a similar list of services from which to select. On top of that, your employees should learn the responsibilities of different certified specialists (like what issues a Solutions Architect or DevOps Engineer usually resolves) to demonstrate that they know their roles back(end) to front(end).
Remember those tricky moments during school tests when questions seemed similar but, in fact, were different? Your developers will get a little nostalgic during the AWS examination because Amazon has included such questions! Additionally, there won’t be much time to handle each question, so they'd better leave for later those they can’t solve right away and do the ones they’re sure about in the first place.
The best way to learn a large amount of information is to explain it to others. In other words, your developers should be both teachers and students. Divide topics between team members and have each team member make a presentation for the rest so everyone doesn’t have to work through all the material on their own. Set deadlines and make presentations regularly, because theoretical knowledge fades fast.
One more learning practice that will help developers memorize complex matters is creating a joint document in which to share the most challenging questions that require additional effort and attention. To ensure your employees don’t review huge loads of information to refresh their memory shortly before the examination, encourage them to make notes in the shared document about the most essential parts of the certification exam.
Using the tips mentioned above, our team successfully passed the AWS Certification exam in one take. If you want to facilitate the exam preparation process and choose the right certifications for your team members, follow these recommendations:
1. Opt for certifications that will strengthen the skills specific to employees' roles.
2. Pay attention to AWS learning sources, which provide plenty of details that may come in handy during the exam. If your developers have limited time, embark on a paid training course from Amazon.
3. Set up regular knowledge sharing meetings to motivate your employees to study systematically.
4. Ensure that your developers have a sufficient pool of sources to derive knowledge from, such as forums, documentation, and tests.
5. Log time spent on preparation to plan your team’s workload and study hours more effectively.
6. Save information collected during preparation for future employees.
Last but not least, create a friendly atmosphere during preparation, since people rarely perform well under pressure. Support them and ensure they don't fear making mistakes — you’re all in this together as a team.