Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud provider at the time of writing. It is widely used and powers many application around the globe. It can be difficult to break into cloud computing especially when coming from a traditional IT environment. The AWS certification program was developed to help with this and provide candidates the skills required to manage and build scalable AWS environments.
I personally went through this as I made the transition from a network engineer in a traditional hosted environment over to a professional services role entirely focused on the major cloud service providers (AWS, GCP, Azure).
During this transition, I’ve used numerous resources and learning platforms in order to obtain the skills I needed to perform my job role. As part of this journey, I have obtained the three associate AWS certifications (Developer, Architect, Sysops).
The purpose of this article is to share with you the resources I used to pass each AWS certification exam.
Below are the AWS Certifications I currently hold.
- AWS Solutions Architect Associate
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate
- AWS Certified Developer Associate
AWS Certification Program Overview
AWS is the gold standard when it comes to public cloud. The AWS certification program is the same way providing some of the most sought after certifications out there.
GlobalKnowledge.com recently published an article about the top 15 certifications for 2019 and AWS certifications where number 3 and 4 on the list.
AWS offers three main certification tracks (Architect or Generalist, Developer, Sysops or System Admin) with both associate and professional level exams. Additionally, AWS also offers specialist certifications around Big Data, Networking, Security, Machine Learning, and Alexa Skills.
AWS recommends at least having an associate level AWS certification before pursuing any of the specialization certifications. Here is a link for the official AWS certification documentation.
Udemy AWS Certification Training
Udemy is an online learning platform for almost anything you can think of. The platform is used by professionals to create courses that they are subject matter experts in. There are some great courses on public cloud providers and devops.
You can also sign up just for a specific course compared to the subscription model of Acloud Guru and Linux Academy. I personally use Udemy for devops courses around CI/CD and IAC tooling.
What is great about Udemy is that A Cloud Guru now offers their courses on Udemy so you don’t have to purchase a subscription to get access. You can simply buy the AWS certification training course your interested in. I talk about A Cloud Guru further on in this article and I highly recommend them for AWS.
Official Written Study Guide
There is an official written study guide available for many of the AWS certification exams. I prefer written guides over videos because I feel like I absorb the material better. I typically use video training as supplement to a written guide.
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You can purchase the written study guide on Amazon in paperback or kindle. Here is an affiliate link if you are interested, AWS Certified Solutions Architect Official Study Guide: Associate Exam (Aws Certified Solutions Architect Official: Associate Exam)!
Linux Academy is one of the best learning platforms out there for linux, devops, and public cloud. They have tons of videos focused on specific certifications but also on specific skills. For example, you can find training specifically for the RHCSA certification but also training on how to use a specific tools like their courses on VIM and Ansible.
Their courses on AWS and the AWS certification training are great. You will find a full series of lectures, a well put together written aid with useful diagrams and exam tips, labs that correspond with each section of the course work, flash cards, and exam quality practice tests.
The great thing about the labs is that they are fully managed by Linux Academy so you don’t have to go spin up the resources by yourself which saves alot of time. Linux Academy has all of the resources you need to learn the theory and get hands on experience so you can pass the AWS certification exams.
The problem I had with Linux Academy was that I felt that alot of the content was dry. I felt like the courses on acloud guru we’re more engaging and in some ways easier to follow.
With that being said, I did pass my AWS Solutions Architect Associate using only Linux Academy as my learning resource. You can’t go wrong with Linux Academy when you consider all that you get.
Acloud Guru is a training platform similar to Linux Academy. They have almost all of the required resources for the AWS certification training minus managed labs.
The founder, Ryan Kroonenburg, is an expert in public cloud, dedicated hosting, and a general security expert. He is the instructor for many of the AWS courses and does a really good job.
I found the video series for the Associate level AWS exams to be much more engaging compared to Linux Academy. Using the Acloud Guru platform, I was able to re-certify my AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification and obtain the Developer, and Sysops associate level certifications in four weeks. I used Acloud Guru over Linux Academy because my new employer offers free access to Acloud Guru only compared to my previous employer who offered Linux Academy access.
There are some drawbacks to Acloud Guru when compared to Linux Academy. They don’t provide the same level of written material when compared to Linux Academy.
Also, the labs for AWS require you to spin up the resources in your own AWS environment. This does provide a more real world experience but if you configure something incorrectly you could run up a huge bill and you would be responsible.
With Linux Academy, you can run through the labs quicker and you’re not liable for the bill of the infrastructure. However, learning how to setup billing alerting and understand cost control is critical to public cloud.
Finally, Acloud Guru does not provide as many courses on other topics compared to Linux Academy and the training they do is not always on par.
With that being said, if your focus is entirely on AWS, then I highly recommend Acloud Guru.
If you go through the Acloud Guru program for AWS training, then you will immediately be introduced to AWS free tier. In short, AWS offers certain resources on their platform for free for a certain duration. This allows you to use these resources to lab out scenarios and get real world experience on the platform for free.
However, you will have to provide a credit card and will be liable for expenses that fall outside of free tier. Be very careful, as you can run up a huge bill especially if you’re labing out big data infrastructure. Do some resource on cost control on AWS and enable billing alerting to help with this.
Anyone going for an AWS certification should set up a personal account and deploy free tier resources so their are familiar with the process of setting up an account.
You cannot go wrong with either Linux Academy or Acloud Guru. If you want better written study material, easy to deploy labs, and access to training outside of AWS, then Linux Academy is a great choice.
If you prefer the Acloud Guru instructors and are looking for training specifically around AWS, then Acloud Guru may be a better option for you.
Finally, Udemy is a great choice if you want to buy a specific course instead of paying for a subscription.
Go here if you want to learn more about Public Cloud!