Originally published on February 20, 2018, this article has been updated to reflect recent announcements.
Earlier this week, AWS announced that “following our most popular beta exam ever, the AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam is” now available! On that note, I’m honored to announce that 1Strategy was the first ever AWS Partner tapped to help rewrite the AWS certification exams. Andrew Clark and myself were invited as subject matter experts (SMEs) to help write this exam.
AWS can be overwhelming. With ~100 full-fledged services, trying to figure out what services are central to success on AWS vs. which are more niche tools is a non-trivial task. Luckily the folks on the AWS Training & Certification team are here to help you navigate the myriad of services and give you some guidance on where to start. As a bonus, you can get a sweet certification to show that you’ve started your heroic AWS journey and do have a modicum of competence.
The AWS Training & Certification team has been making some big changes:
- Hosting free digital AWS Trainings
- Offering the first real business-focused AWS certification
- Changing their exam vendor to expand accessibility for potential certification holders
- Started releasing updated exams:
- Involving the AWS community in the creation and maintenance of the exams
I’m delighted by all of these changes and I’m heartened to see that AWS has worked hard to update the certification exams. In particular, I’m excited to see that they’re going to greater lengths to engage those of us who live and breathe AWS in the upkeep of the exams.
Having taken a few AWS Exams in my day, I can tell you that many of the older exams didn’t do a fantastic job of including new services and features. The crux of a given question often hinged on 2-year old AWS technology, and I would catch myself thinking “I would use feature <XYZ> to address this requirement. I wouldn’t use <3 year-old convoluted workaround which is intended to be the “correct” answer>. I was excited to help make the tests better, but also curious to see what the test-writing process would be like.
Turns out writing good test questions is hard. Is a question based on something that the minimally qualified candidate would know? Is it something they should know? Is the question too obscure? What should be offered up as a right or a wrong answer? Given some of the certification exams, it appears some engineers think that others should, in the 2-3 minutes they have to answer the test question, be able to figure out a solution it took 2-3 weeks for the engineers themselves to figure out. For what it’s worth, this tendency isn’t limited to discussions about exam questions—I’ve also seen this in interview questions as well.
Overall, wrestling with exam questions gave me a greater respect for what needs to go into a proper certification program and the massive amount of work it requires. I’m also super excited about the direction that the AWS certification programs are going and I encourage everyone to get involved.
If you’re like me and you love to geek out about AWS, nothing is better than being sequestered in a room full of other subject matter experts, in front of a whiteboard, arguing about technical AWS minutiae. You may even get great real-world tips and tricks from those who have been in the trenches.
Don’t have time to get all 9 certs? 1Strategy can help accelerate your AWS adoption or enhance your existing AWS architecture. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in getting help from AWS Experts!