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Professional Development 6 Min Read

9 AWS Security Certifications to Consider in 2020

As cloud computing continues to grow in importance for almost all businesses, there’s an ever-increasing need to develop, deploy, and manage secure workloads in the cloud.

Since AWS accounts for the largest share of the public cloud infrastructure market and also offers a comprehensive range of industry-recognized certifications, it makes sense to consider AWS certifications as a way that you can demonstrate cloud credibility and competence as an individual and as a way your organization can demonstrate value to its customers.

AWS certifications fall into two broad categories: Core Certifications (which are offered at Foundational, Associate, and Professional levels, so you can find the right level to start at and then progress as you become more experienced) and Specialty Certifications (which take deep dives into specific IT disciplines).

Not only are AWS certification exams well-designed, rigorously tested, and kept up to date, but AWS introduces new courses and certifications as the need arises and also requires individuals to recertify themselves every three years — which helps ensure that skills and knowledge are always relevant and current.

To give you an overview of AWS’s offerings, this post describes nine AWS Certifications. Whether you’re just starting to build your cloud credentials, looking to expand your skills and expertise in a particular area, or want to deepen your expertise, there is likely to be something to match your needs.

Core Certifications 

AWS Core Certifications cover four roles (Architect, Operations, Developer, and Cloud Practitioner), and are geared to three knowledge levels (Foundational, Associate, and Professional).

1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (Foundational)

Who Should Obtain This Certification? The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is an introductory certification that’s designed to demonstrate an individual’s  basic knowledge of the AWS platform. It’s a great way for a beginner in a technical role to start building expertise, and it’s also an excellent way for people in non-technical areas to gain a solid understanding of the AWS Cloud. This examination is a recommended, optional step toward achieving an Associate-Level or Specialty certification.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: AWS recommends that candidates have at least six months of experience with the AWS Cloud in any role, including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial as well as a basic understanding of IT services and their uses in the AWS Cloud platform. 

Exam Details: Candidates have 90 minutes to complete the multiple choice exam, which costs $100. (Practice exams cost $20.)

2. AWS Certified Developer (Associate)

Who Should Obtain This Certification? The AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam is intended for individuals who perform a development role and have one or more years of hands-on experience developing and maintaining an AWS-based application.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have more than one years’ experience programming and writing code for AWS software and applications. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of best practices for using AWS workflow, notification, and database services, along with expertise in design, development, and management of AWS-based applications.

Exam Details: Candidates have 130 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $150.

3. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Associate)

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate is intended for system administrators in a systems operations role who have at least one year of experience in deployment, management, and operations on AWS. This certification is designed for individuals seeking to have their technical expertise and knowledge validated for the implementation, migration, management, and operation of highly available, and fault-tolerant systems on AWS.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have more than one year of experience operating AWS-based applications. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of managing data centers, AWS services, and security systems.

Exam Details: Candidates have 130 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $150.

4. AWS Solutions Architect (Associate)

The AWS Solutions Architect – Associate certification is intended for individuals who are seeking to have their skills and knowledge validated in architecting and deploying secure and robust applications on AWS technologies. 

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have one year of hands-on experience designing scalable, cost-efficient, and fault-proof systems on AWS. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of network technologies, client interfaces, security systems, and their integration on the AWS platform.

Exam Details: Candidates have 130 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $150.

5. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer (Professional)

The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional exam deals with provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. It is designed for individuals who are seeking to validate their technical expertise in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on the AWS platform. 

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have two or more years’ experience in a DevOps engineer role provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of designing and managing tools to automate production operations.

Exam Details: Candidates have 180 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $300.

6. AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Professional)

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional exam validates advanced technical skills and experience centering on designing and deploying dynamically scalable, highly available, fault-tolerant, and reliable applications on AWS. 

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have two or more years’ experience in the best practices of architectural design and deploying cloud architecture on AWS. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of cost optimization strategies, selection of appropriate AWS Services, and migration of complex application systems on AWS.

Exam Details: Candidates have 180 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $300.

Specialty Certifications

AWS Specialty Certifications take a deep dive into specific IT disciplines including Security and Big Data in order to validate advanced knowledge and expertise.

7. AWS Certified Data Analytics (Specialty)

Note: This course was formerly named AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty

The AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty certification is designed for individuals seeking to validate their technical expertise in designing and implementing AWS services to derive value from data. This exam is for anyone who performs complex Big Data analyses.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have a minimum of five years’ experience in AWS tools for data analysis. Additionally, the candidate must have knowledge of the design and maintenance of Big Data along with best practices for securing Big Data solutions.

Exam Details: Candidates have 170 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $300.

8. AWS Certified Advanced Networking (Specialty)

The AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty certification validates advanced technical skills and experience in designing and implementing AWS and hybrid IT network architectures at scale.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: The candidate must have a minimum of five years’ experience in the design and implementation of network solutions. Additionally, the candidate must have skills in AWS networking concepts as well as architecting, developing, and deploying AWS-based cloud solutions. Knowledge of security implementation and network optimization is also a must. AWS recommends that candidates hold an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or a current Associate-level certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, AWS Certified Developer – Associate or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate

Exam Details: Candidates have 170 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $300.

9. AWS Certified Security (Specialty)

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification enables experienced security professionals to demonstrate their knowledge of and ability to secure the AWS platform. This certification is suited to anyone who wants to validate their AWS knowledge across a range of security topics including risk assessment, infrastructure security, data protection and encryption, identity and access management, incident response, and logging and monitoring.

Recommended Knowledge and Experience: AWS recommends that candidates hold an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or a current Associate-level certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, AWS Certified Developer – Associate or AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate. Candidates require a minimum of five years’ of IT security experience designing and implementing security solutions, a knowledge of security controls for workloads on AWS, and at least two years’ of direct practical experience securing AWS workloads.

Exam Details: Candidates have 170 minutes to complete the exam, which costs $300.

Bonus

In addition to constantly updating its courses, AWS also introduces new courses and certifications on a regular basis. Two offerings that caught our eye for their timeliness and relevance are:

  • AWS Certified Database Certification: The new AWS Certified Database – Specialty Certification is intended for individuals who perform in a database-focused role and validates a comprehensive understanding of the breadth of AWS database services and how to accelerate the use of database technology to drive business transformation in your organization. The new exam will be available in April of 2020.
  • Architecting Serverless Solutions: Architecting Serverless Solutions is a new, intermediate-level, three-hour digital course that explains how to combine AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway in event-driven patterns to power scalable and secure serverless applications.

Wrapping Up . . .

AWS certifications can help you build foundational, intermediate, and advanced knowledge suited to a range of cloud technology domains and roles while demonstrating that your skills are up to date and have been validated by one of the most recognized organizations in cloud computing.

Becoming AWS certified can help advance your career and connect you with businesses seeking skilled cloud professionals. And collectively, AWS certifications can help demonstrate an organization’s knowledge, capabilities, and commitment to its prospects and customers.

If you have opinions or recommendations about training and certification, let us know. If you’re interested in a less formal way of keeping up on discussions of all things Security, Dev, Ops, and Compliance, subscribe to our blog and tune in to Your System Called — Threat Stack’s podcast.