Is Pursuing an AWS Certification Worthwhile? (Full guide)

You’ve probably heard how respected AWS certs are, and are wondering whether there’s something to it. Computer science certificates can be useful, but are these AWS certs really worth it? Here’s the truth.

AWS certifications are some of the most respected certifications out there, and a sure way to land some great opportunities. They can set you apart, they can get you interviews with unicorn tech leads, and studying for the AWS cert itself is extremely useful and rewarding as you develop valuable skills.

AWS is the most in-demand cloud platform, so getting an AWS certification and taking your time to learn and apply the knowledge can open many doors in IT. An AWS cert will get you noticed, but without some experience with the right tools, it may not be enough.

The point being, if you only focus on the certs the benefit is limited. But if you study hard and learn step by step, doing the AWS certification can literally change your life.

AWS Certifications in cloud

Is It Worth Getting AWS Certified and Its Impact on Job Prospects

AWS certifications can enhance your career by demonstrating your AWS knowledge and giving you an edge over other candidates. They can lead to more interviews, validate technical skills, and potentially increase salary and project opportunities.

While not a replacement for a degree or hands-on experience, certifications complement these qualifications and deepen your understanding of AWS services.

Here are the main benefits of AWS certification:

  • Opens doors and gets you interviews
  • Validates your technical skills
  • Can increase your salary and bring in more projects
  • You get to learn a lot through preparation and practice
  • You’ll get appreciated more and be taken more seriously

An AWS certificate isn’t a replacement for a degree or technical experience, but it’s an excellent addition. Certifications will help you get a better understanding of the services in greater detail, but hands-on experience beats certifications any day.

Ultimately, AWS certifications are valuable, but you must continuously apply your skills and prove your worth. Choose certifications based on relevance, career path, and role success.

Is AWS Certification Enough to Get a Job?

An AWS certification doesn’t guarantee a job, but it can get you an interview for a job with minimal experience. You’ll still need to demonstrate some basic skills in something like basic python or bash, networking, Linux, and show yourself as someone who can learn and grow.

For some roles, amazon web services certifications are almost expected to have, something of a prerequisite to getting an AWS job. AWS certs could make you stand out for entry-level positions, but for higher-paying positions, you may not get noticed because other candidates have them as well.

To get a job, you may need additional skills next to AWS, such as system admin skills, database skills, programming languages, and others. Having an Azure cloud Microsoft Certification may prove useful, as these are all transferrable skills.

Certs are almost entirely useless for getting a job in development, but they are good as a guided learning path with a goal in the end. 

The highest benefit of an AWS cert is for companies that need to maintain their status as an AWS partner and whatever other benefits the AWS partnership brings. So if you find those companies, there’s a slightly higher chance to get a job at one with an AWS cert.

AWS Certifications can get you an interview

Bottom line is, if you can get an AWS cert at the Associate level and prove your knowledge in an interview, showing that you can apply what you’ve learned, then there’s a big chance you can get a job as an AWS engineer simply by learning on your own and getting the certifications.

Can You Get an AWS Job Without AWS Certification?

Certification isn’t required to work in AWS at all. With some cloud experience, it’s possible to switch from a different tech to AWS. Without experience, you’ll need to do some home projects, spin up some instances, take the time to learn, and get an interview to show off your skills.

If you really want to learn AWS go to where you can learn AWS from courses with an emphasis on real skills as opposed to just passing the cert. The Slack group has more than 32,000 members, where you can post questions and interact who will help you learn AWS.

Do AWS certifications increase salary?

AWS certifications can help you in getting noticed by recruiters, though they may not help in getting a raise at your current employer. This will of course depend on the employer, but the far more likely outcome is that you’ll have to move to other companies to get the salary jump.

Lots of people got a bump on their salaries by getting AWS certs, but only by taking the time to learn and didn’t just go for them simply to have them on your resume. Your managers will want to test in interviews what you learned and whether you can apply that in the real world, and your current employer may not care or you may have to ask for a raise yourself.

Exploring Different AWS Certifications and Their Worth

Is AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification Worth It?

AWS Cloud Practitioner certification isn’t the most useful cert out there, but it requires less time investment and is a good intro to a vast number of AWS services. Since cloud computing is the future, and cloud engineers are in demand, having this cert can certainly benefit your career.

However, because of being too generalized, people who are familiar with the basics in AWS Cloud tend to skip this cert and go for the Solutions Architect Associate instead. But, if you’re a complete beginner, Cloud Practitioner is probably a better choice for you.

Here’s a good video on how to prepare for the AWS CCP:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Worth It?

This certificate is highly sought after, and will not only get you in the door, but the knowledge you pick up will be massively valuable. The Associate level ensures you have the solid concepts of the AWS services as a base and it’s the basis for many different paths you can choose.

If you lack some in-depth tech knowledge, the CSA will allow you to start working with cloud technology as an experienced software engineer. However, if you’re new to the cloud, you might want to start with the CCP first (Certified Cloud Practitioner). It doesn’t take long and is a lot easier than CSA.

Is AWS Machine Learning Certification Worth It?

AWS Machine Learning Certification is a specialty certification, which can make you jump out from beginners and middle-level specialists in the eyes of recruiters, and in general. This certificate also increases your value when getting new projects, offers, and responsibilities.

A good piece of advice is to first do the associate certification, something like Solutions Architect, to gain some base level AWS knowledge and skills before doing the Machine Learning Certification.

This certificate is excellent for data scientists and statisticians because it deals more with data science than actual AWS services.

Is AWS DevOps Certification Worth It?

Since the AWS DevOps cert is in demand, it will get you noticed by recruiters, regardless of what you learned by trying to pass the exam. It does require some prior experience with AWS to be able to pass something like the AWS DevOps Engineer cert, and some experience is also necessary.

AWS DevOps certs require knowledge in a wide variety of areas and are not generalized DevOps certifications. Additionally, the DevOps Pro cert also tests your ability to solve difficult problems quickly, which means they aren’t the easiest to pass.

Is AWS Security Certification Worth It?

The AWS Security Specialty Certification is a certification in information security designed to teach you about many concepts regardless of AWS, such as incident response, infrastructure security, logging/monitoring, and data protection. As such, it’s a highly valuable course and useful outside of AWS.

You’ll need at least associate-level knowledge for this security cert, and have some AWS cloud experience of a few years. Someone just starting in AWS will probably not be able to pass a cert easily, if at all.

AWS Certification Process and Requirements

How Long Does It Take To Get AWS Certified?

On average, it takes about 6 weeks to pass the popular AWS Solution Architect Associate Exam, depending on your certification level and knowledge. While it’s possible to cram in 1-2 weeks, a slower, more skill-focused approach is recommended.

This method provides the most value, whether you’re new or experienced with AWS. Following a structured study plan, like Adam Cantrill’s, can help you pass the Solutions Architect exam

Is AWS Certification Hard? (Resources)

Depending on the AWS certification, they can range in difficulty depending on the level of the cert, how much you apply yourself, and your previous knowledge. The AWS exams aren’t easy, not even the CCP if you’re new to the AWS cloud, but you can get a lot of help with the right resource by taking your time with the learning process.

One of the best ways to get AWS certified is to learn from the best resources, such as:

By far the best way to make these certifications easier is to have real practical experience as much as possible, to be able to get the answers right, and quickly. You also shouldn’t rush during the exam and take your time to prepare yourself by visiting the resources mentioned above.

Does AWS Certification require coding?

You don’t need to know how to code to pass most AWS certification exams. For example, you can get a Cloud Practitioner cert without any coding experience, and you can make a career transition into AWS from any background if you take your time.

Many careers share a similar way of thinking with IT such as pattern matching, fault finding, and critical thinking, and this can make it easier for you.

Even if you have none of these skills, you can learn them just like anything else, regardless of what your job was before. I’ve read of people becoming AWS cloud specialists from being librarians, lawyers, and even forklift drivers. Check out TechStudySlack to get you started.

Can you get AWS certification without experience?

You can get AWS certifications without any experience, but you’ll need at least some practical experience to get hired. They aren’t easy for beginners and may get overwhelming at first, but if you stick with it, and pass that learning curve you can get these certifications yourself.

Here’s a video with tips on how to get a job in AWS without any experience:

College helps a lot to give you some IT background before you attempt these certs, but you don’t need to be an expert to become an AWS certified practitioner. There are tons of people who are self-taught and got these certs on their own, and so can you.

Cost and Validity of AWS Certifications

How Much Does It Cost to Get AWS Certified?

The Cloud Practitioner exams cost $100, the associate level exams are $150, while the professional-level and Specialty exams are $300. You can get a 50% discount on the 2nd exam or recertification.

Which AWS Certification Is in Demand?

The AWS cert that is most in demand is AWS Certified Solutions Architect. It provides a solid foundation in AWS computing and is the most popular AWS cert. A good starting point is also the Cloud Practitioner cert since it’s fairly easy and looks good on your CV as an extra certification.

Which AWS certification to take first will depend on your experience, the AWS Certification path you take, and the job roles you want.

How Long Does AWS Certification Last?

According to Amazon, AWS certifications will expire after 3 years. To call yourself a certified AWS professional, you’ll need to either go through the recertification process or take one cert higher, which may renew the previous one.

If you do not renew before the 3rd year (grace period) is over, you’ll need to take the full certification exam again. If you’re renewing an associate exam, you can take the professional one and that will renew the associate exam.

Earning Potential with AWS Certification

How Much Money Can You Make With an AWS Certification?

This will mostly depend on the location and your experience, but you can expect a salary of anywhere between $70-100k as you’re starting up. Since you’ll get noticed by recruiters more, the fastest way to increase your income with an AWS certification is by changing jobs.

You’ll still need as much work experience as possible. As I’ve said before, it’s entirely possible to make $100k in IT without any kind of certification, AWS or otherwise. However, it’s almost impossible to make any money in IT without experience.

Here’s the required experience for AWS certifications:

AWS Certifications required experience


How do I decide which AWS certification is right for me?

Determine your career goals, evaluate your current skill set, and choose a certification that aligns with your desired job role, such as Solutions Architect, DevOps Engineer, or Machine Learning Specialist.

Can I take the AWS certification exam online?

Yes, AWS offers online proctoring for their certification exams, allowing you to take the exam from the comfort of your own home or office.

Are there any prerequisites for AWS certifications?

While there are no strict prerequisites, AWS recommends having a certain level of knowledge and experience, depending on the certification you’re pursuing. For example, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam recommends having one year of hands-on experience designing and deploying systems on AWS.

How often do I need to renew my AWS certification?

AWS certifications are valid for three years. To maintain your certification, you will need to either pass a recertification exam or upgrade to a higher-level certification before the three-year expiration date

  • Alex Mitch

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