Is an AWS Certification worth it in this time and age?
The past few decades have seen the rise of the tech industry into the behemoth that it is today. Naturally, as tech companies soar in relevance so does the demand for a new breed of IT professionals. But with so many people trying to build the next disruptive innovation, join the biggest companies, establish the latest start-up or simply earn impressive paychecks, what are the odds of standing out in the industry?
Candidates willing to sacrifice their time and put in the required effort have various options when it comes to standing out. Needless to say, some options have greater potential. AWS (Amazon Web Services) certifications are one such option for many industry novices and veterans alike.
Many industry candidates view AWS certifications as effective tools for enhancing their professional expertise, and a stepping stone to greater opportunities. However, are they as valuable as some industry players help them to be? Will this certification yield gains significant enough to offset your time, money, and effort? Better yet, will these certifications help solidify your reputation as an aficionado in the industry?
What Is AWS?
AWS (Amazon Web Services) is Amazon’s wing that specializes in providing cloud computing services. It is among the biggest cloud computing vendors, rivaling industry giants such as Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
Cloud-related solutions have become the craze of the IT world, and rightfully so. Given the recent push to implement lean business models, many companies are turning to cloud computing vendors like AWS to eliminate the costs and responsibilities of hosting their servers. Instead, such businesses can rent servers from Amazon at relatively low per-server cost.
Why The Sudden Frenzy For an AWS Certification?
With servers shifting from air-conditioned data centers full of computer servers to virtual servers (for cloud computing customers at least), there emerges an immediate need for certified cloud practitioners, architects, developers, and operators. In the grand scheme of things, this shift does not cause any changes in the fundamentals of computing: the hardware and software used are more or less the same.
What changes is how IT professionals install and manage virtual hardware and software for seamless cloud-based usage. Since the setup and interaction processes of virtual data centers are different from physical ones, your skills as an IT professional have to evolve correspondingly.
Types of AWS Learning Programs
To determine whether an AWS certification will be a worthwhile investment, you first have to understand the different types of certifications Amazon offers and the purpose of each. Currently, Amazon offers 11 certification programs clustered according to career path and experience level.
Here are the available certification levels and programs:
- Foundational: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
- Associate: AWS Certified Developer, AWS Certified SysOps Administrator, and AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- Professional: AWS Certified Solutions Architect and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer
- Specialty: AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder, AWS Certified Big Data, AWS Certified Security, AWS Certified Advanced Networking, and AWS Certified Machine Learning
These certifications are recognized internationally and could help validate your expertise as a cloud computing professional to potential employers. Not to mention, the leap from foundational and associate to professional and specialty levels is quite staggering. Candidates with years of experience and AWS professional-level certifications to their names are extremely rare and in-demand, making them less likely to face competition (if any) when looking for jobs.
Besides taking the level-based approach, you can venture into Amazon’s learning programs according to the roles they offer. A role-based approach prepares candidates for specific careers in the cloud computing industry.
You can choose either of these for distinct roles:
- Cloud Practitioner
Start with the basics and learn fundamental cloud practices.
Learn how to design and implement cloud computing solutions, including cloud infrastructure, cloud security architecture, and cloud application architecture.
Essentially a software engineering role, you will learn how to develop, operate and deploy applications for cloud systems efficiently, securely, and with no downtime.
Learn how to combine your traditional IT operations experience with DevOps and apply your newfound specialty to cloud architectures.
If these paths do not appeal to you or are not in your line of work, you can opt for other roles, including media services, APN partners, storage, and machine learning.
Why Should You Become AWS Certified?
Demonstrate Your Credibility to Potential Clients and Employers
Trust and credibility could mean the difference between securing a long-term contract and getting rejected when providing client-facing services. Clients often prefer working with experts certified in the field of technology they seek to adopt. An AWS certification is an excellent way of attracting potential clients and demonstrating your competence in your line of work.
Higher Earning Potential
An AWS certification is not only an impressive accomplishment to add to your technical resume. It also increases the hourly rates or salary your qualifications command. According to Global Knowledge, IT professionals who gained new certifications in 2020 received annual raises averaging $12,000 – $13,000. On average, AWS-certified professionals enjoy up to 20% bumps in their salaries.
Cloud Is the Future
The ever-growing need for convenience and cutting-edge technologies like machine learning and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is driving the push to cloud-based services. Industry experts expect over 80% of enterprise workloads to shift to the cloud in the next five years. Cloud computing expertise will soon be a necessity for IT professionals.
Why is AWS Certification Worth It?
AWS certifications can be valuable additions to candidates with strong foundations. However, given the huge gap between being a certified professional and having hands-on knowledge, remember that a certificate is not a magic wand. Certification alone may not be enough to land you a good job, but it could give you an upper hand over non-certified competitors and possibly be a deciding factor. The best way would be to have the certificates and knowing how to sell yourself. Being able to communicate that knowledge the way you are targeting the employers hiring need. We grant access to all of our candidates to an in-depth course on “how to sell yourself”, where you will also find a Salary Negotiation section.
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