This is a question I’ve heard a few times now and I don’t think anyone’s answered it in any kind of comprehensive way so I wanted to put my 2 cents in. I’ve surmised the answer in a few sentences if you’re in a rush.
While there is no specific AWS certification for testers. Picking either the Architect Associate or the Developer Associate will provide you with a firm foundational understanding of AWS services.
Now we’ve got the textbook answer out of the way, I thought I’d give my opinion on some of the pro’s and cons of taking a few of the AWS certifications and how they help you as a tester.
Ok lets start with cloud in general and work our way down to AWS certifications.
It goes without saying if you’ve been actively involved in the software development industry over the past 5 years there’s been a dramatic shift in attitudes towards cloud technology. In the past companies would favour managing their own infrastructure. This mean that more often than not the software developed and the infrastructure it was deployed on would be in the same building. Or deployed on servers on client site.
This process has shifted massively towards hosting development & production software on rented infrastructure provided by massive cloud companies like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. There’s a bunch of benefits associated with the move and plenty of potential downsides as well. But the short answer is cloud is here to stay, so you might as well know the beast.
Of the giants that have entered this space, one stands out as the major player. That is of course Amazon Web Services, commonly abbreviated to AWS. If you’re serious about furthering your knowledge of cloud then AWS is a great starting place. Not only that, with its market dominance there’s a good chance that you’ll be testing software running on it.
You’re probably wondering,
“Steve, I get AWS and cloud are important, but why on earth do I need to get a certification in this?”
Ok so this is where I get a little opinionated about this kind of thing. Infact I wrote an entire article outlining 10 reasons why you should consider getting an AWS certification. Checkout it out if you want more of an explanation. Put simply, gaining a certification shortcuts your path to having an effective knowledge of how to use AWS and you get a lasting industry recognised qualification that you can add to your resume.
If I’ve managed to convince you that taking a certification is a good idea, then first off, hurray! 🙂
The next thing you might be wondering is, well what certification is right for me. I briefly answered this in the intro paragraph. But there is a bit more to outline. So here’s a high level overview of the AWS certification options. For more information checkout the AWS certification official home page
This might look a little overwhelming but I’ll break down which ones you will actually care about:
Few, that’s a little less stressful. Now we only have a handful to focus on. I’ll give you a run down of what each one has to offer and then give my overall opinion on what one I would take if I were in your position.
I’ve broken down the choices and ranked them by the amount of effort needed to pass them. Let’s dive in.
The AWS Cloud practitioner exam is possibly your best entry point into AWS. It will give you a broad understanding of the features and services AWS has to offer. It has no prerequisites unlike some of the other certifications. I’d recommend taking this exam for anyone thinking about getting certified, whether you’re a tester, developer, architect or business analyst.
You’ll learn the fundamentals of how cloud works, you’ll learn the reasoning behind why cloud exists and more importantly you’ll learn how you can use AWS to benefit yourself, your team or your company. If you’re worried about there being a bunch of code or programming to learn, DONT. There’s none of that, even in the more advanced course you’re unlikely to encounter much in terms of coding.
Learning time for this one is short. Everybody’s different of course, but if you bought a decent e learning course such as the ones provided by aCloudGuru in combinationwith taking a series of mock exams provided by WhizLabs then I’d imagine from start to finish you could have this one passed within a month of part time study.
Like the cloud practitioner exam there’s no official prerequisites for the Architect associate course. With that being said I’d highly recommend taking the practitioner first for a whole bunch of reasons. Not only will taking the easier of the two courses first better make you more familiar with the learning materials. It will also help get you comfortable with the exam process itself.
The exams for the certifications are held in test centers under strict exam conditions. This experience can be a lot to process and having already gone through it with the practitioner exam can make taking a more involved exam such as the architect associate slightly less intimidating. I wrote an article describing exam today, you might find it useful.
So what’s the architect associate exam all about?
You’ll cover a broad range or AWS products, but the main focus will be on EC2 (virtual machines), S3 (Storage) and RDS (Databases). They represent the core from which a lot of the other AWS products are built from. Amazon are basically giving you a firm foundation with this exam from which you can go on to further study if you wish.
Some might say that this exam is overkill for day to day use. But as testers we naturally have curious minds and I think going that extra mile with understanding can dramatically increase the quality of our testing strategies.
Of all the certifications you can do, I think this one is my favorite. Eeek after reading that I realised just how geeky that sounds. Who on earth has a favorite certification to take?! Oh well I guess I’m that guy.
Here’s my reasoning behind this. There’s a LOT of overlap between the Architect Associate and the Developer Associate. So much so, that if you were to pass one of them, then I’d say with less than a days study you could pass the other. So you could bag 2 for the price of one. In study time at least. You’ll still have to pay for both exams.
But that doesn’t directly answer why I like this exam so much. To answer that, here’s my thoughts. The gap between testers testers and developers these days in terms of technical skill isn’t as big as you might think. So an exam devoted to development using AWS will undoubtedly help testers as well. I’d go as far as to say that the exam itself could be renamed to the Developer Tester Associate exam.
I’ll write the least about this one because it’s more of a specialty option and I decided to through it into the mix purely because after taking one or a couple of exams you may have developed a take for it and want more.
If that’s the case then the security specialty exam is the one for you. You’ll learn the specifics of how AWS applies security to its infrastructure and as a result you can develop better testing strategies based on that knowledge that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
Like I said, this is way above and beyond. I’ve not taken it yet, but it’s on the horizon!
There are AWS official learning materials for these exams. But in my mind they can a distant second to third party offerings. I would skip them. Plus they are not cheap. The courses they offer run into the thousands of dollars and I was almost put me off taking an exam all together initially.
That was, until I found aCloudGuru and Whizlabs!
aCloudGuru specialise in teaching cloud technologies at affordable prices. They offer a variety of cloud solutions. But they specialise in AWS. Their courses are cheap and you get a high quality learning experience from them.
Whizlabs also offer courses. I’ll be honest, I’ve not taken any of them. What I have done however, it taken their mock exams. They are really really good. The questions are realistic and representative of what you might expect on the real exam and they are really cheap.
Great! I’d recommend signing up for a course that aCloudGuru offers. Checkout their homepage here.
If you’re thinking about taking the practitioner exam then I have an article with 25 completely free of charge exam quality questions available. Check it out.
Ok so that’s my 2 cents on what AWS certifications are useful for testers.