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Just got AWS Certified

kayis profile image K ・2 min read

As I wrote, I tried to get into back-end development to become a full-stack dev with AWS certification and did the next step in that journey.

After learning for about three weeks I finally took the first two exams the AWS Solutions Architect Associate (SAA) and the AWS Developer Associate (DA) exam. Since the testing centers are rather far away, I could only take two and will be taking the third and final associate exam next month when I'm near the next center.

Thanks to my buddy Adrian Föder, who took these exams with me. Having a fixed date really pushed me into finishing this, haha.

Difference

When I started I asked myself: which certificate should I take? Which is the right one for me?

Somehow they differed in name, but these names didn't really say anything to me.

I read a bit but it didn't really help. An solution architect was just a fancier name than developer for me.

First I wanted to go with the DA, because the name spoke to me.

I started to search for online training and found A Cloud Guru, they make money from certification training so they were inclined to say "TAKE ALLE THE EXAMS!", but since I didn't found a big difference between two of the associate certificates anyway I thought: well, why not? They aren't that expensive so why not do all?

After doing the courses and taking the exams I can finally say: Well they aren't that different.

Somehow the two overlap about 70%.

The SAAs remaining 30% is more about choosing the right technology. Think "When to install your MySQL on EC2 and when to use RDS?"

The DAs remaining 30% is more about using the APIs right and some implementation details you need to consider for performance/security reasons. Think "How much capacity units do you need to provide for your DynamoDB table?"

I found this a bit sad, they should have differentiate them more.

Difficulty

My friend, who took a few cert exams in his time, said they were really hard, but fair.

Many people said the DA is easier. If you worked with S3 and DynamoDB for years, you probably got most of the details covered, but I never did that, so I had the impression the SAA was easier.

In the end I had 77% in the SAA and 88% in the DA. So the outcome was quite different from what I expected.

Next

My next step is learning the rest needed for the AWS SysOps Administrator which I'm gonna take next month.

And then? I don't know!

Hopefully getting some nice projects :D

I'm really into this whole Serverless thing with SAM. The Mobile Hub also seems rather interesting with AppSync and Amplify.

Discussion

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ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

As soon as you slap the various AWS logos on your online profiles (LinkedIn, et. al.) the recruiter-spam really ramps up.

The annoying thing about the AWS exams is that they're only good for two years ...and they don't stack. So, when it comes to renewal time, there's the careful balancing act of sitting the exam sufficiently-late in the validity window so you're not wasting a significant percentage of your validity window while still leaving wiggle-room to re-sit the exam if you feel there's any chance to fail it.

That said, the re-certification fee while your existing cert is still valid is half the price of sitting after it's expired. Having been through the recert process on several of the available certs, it seems like the test content is fairly static.

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vitalcog profile image
Chad Windham

Thanks for sharing that extra bit of experience. It's really helpful to know about the requirements and what to expect for maintaining certification ahead of time. Much appreciated!

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shenril profile image
Shenril

I m also preparing the Solution Architect Certification using an official study guide book but I was wondering if the services you need to study didn t change ? Mainly EC2/S3/Dynamo, some SES, SQS?
I feel that in the last couple of years so many new services popped up in AWS, so I wondered if they were added on the exam ? Things like Machine Learning or Media Services ?

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kayis profile image
K Author

As far as I know they only ask stuff about the core services (VPC, SQS, SNS, EC2, S3, RDS, EBS, EFS, ELB etc.)

Some of them got updates. Like RDS got Aurora, and the 2018 exams include questions about it.

Some new services are also core services, like Lambda. They were already in the old exam and are more present in the current one. (I did the pre-2018 exam and a post-2018 practice exam)