The title says it all, I'm finally 3x AWS Associates Certified! When I started this journey, I had zero knowledge of what cloud computing was. Couldn't even wrap my head around what EC2 or a VM was, what EBS did, or how to comprehend S3 and yet I was able to pass all 3 AWS Associates Certifications in 4.5 months.
If you're in doubt that you can actually learn this or have no idea what is going on, that's ABSOLUTELY NORMAL since there are a lot of services to cover but believe me that everything will eventually click. It's like having a bunch of puzzle pieces and slowly connecting everything together.
Now you are probably curious how I did it. Well like most people, my first AWS certification was the AWS Solutions Architect (AWS SAA). It is highly recommended to go for this one first since what it covers has a lot of overlapping parts with the other two. You have to understand about 30 or so services so it makes it easier in the long run if/when you attempt to do the other two. You might be wondering what about the AWS Certified Cloud Practioner (AWS CCP)? Well I skipped it since I didn't see any value in it for me but it does provide a good foundation into AWS.
Next, I took the AWS Developer Associate (AWS DVA) since it is known to be the easiest one and personally I felt like that was the case. While it covers less services, you have to possess a deeper understanding of those services. I previously wrote an article about it here.
Finally, I took the AWS SysOps Associate (AWS SOA). This is hands down the hardest one out of the three. While I did think it was a bit challenging, I felt that I might have overstudy for it. But honestly it's better to overstudy than understudy. Also if you have an AWS SAA, AWS DVA, or both then I say you have a good base to work with in order to study and pass the AWS SOA. I would not recommend attempting this as your first AWS certification unless you have prior work experience.
In essence, it breaks downs to a sequence of steps:
- Find a course (that includes hands on labs)
- Take the course (and take it as many times as you need)
- Find some practice exams
- Take the practice exams (I averaged around 10 practice exams per certification)
- Understand throughly why you got the questions wrong or questions you got right but weren't sure about the answer
- (Optional) Make your own cheat sheet or study guide or better yet find one that is already made.
- Take the practice exams again until you have average 85+.
Now with the template above I will use that as a reference for each of the certification below and show you the exact resources/practice exams I used.
- Stephane Mareek's Ultimate AWS Certified SAA and Neal Davis' AWS Certified SAA. I took both courses since I was new to AWS but either one would do you good.
- For practice exams, I used both Jon Bonso's SAA Practice Exams and Neal Davi's SAA Practice Exams.
- I used Neal Davis' cheatsheets but Jon Bonso's cheatsheets are really good as well.
- I used Neal's AWS Certified DVA but Stephane's Ultimate AWS Certified DVA is also a very good course as well.
- For practical exams, I used both Jon Bonso's DVA Practice Exams and Neal Davis's DVA Practice Exams.
- I used Neal Davis' cheatsheets but again Jon Bonso's cheatsheets are an excellent resource.
- I used Stephane Mareek's Ultimate AWS Certified SOA for the course.
- For practical exams, I used Whizlabs' AWS SOA Practice Tests and Jon Bonso's SOA Practice Exams. Be aware though that Whizlabs has some frustrating grammatical errors at times but the material they cover for their practice exams are rock solid.
- Didn't use any cheatsheet this time and just went over the questions I got wrong. However I did go over the entire course's slides several times.
Of course I'm done...not because what's the point of certifications without cementing the knowledge by either getting some work experience, doing more hands on, or creating personal projects. So while I do feel proud of this accomplishment, this is just the beginning. There is always going to be another challenge that you should strive for.
Currently for me it's coming up with ideas for personal projects and writing them on my whiteboard, potentially studying for one of the Professional certifications, or maybe learning how to finally cook. Either way enjoy the wins regardless of how small and never stop learning.