Preparation for a certification is a humbling experience. You would think you know everything until you take those practice tests and realize “hmmm it’s a long way to go.”

I passed AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate yesterday and it was an awesome experience.

AWS certified solutions architect associate certificate

Solutions Architect exam is not easy as it requires you to be knowledgeable and skillful in a lot of AWS services. If you have a solid background in systems design then it’ll be easier otherwise it may take a little more time to understand different cloud architectures and why use those services. For example, if you understand the differences between SQL and NoSQL databases, how partitions work, what are shards, etc., then you can just extrapolate that knowledge into when and why use AWS RDS or DynamoDB.

If you’re starting out, then first check what’s required to get this certification. I’m listing down a few of the important points:

  • Hands-on experience using compute, networking, storage, and database AWS services

  • Hands-on experience with AWS deployment and management services

  • Ability to identify which AWS services meet a given technical requirement

  • An understanding of network technologies as they relate to AWS

  • An understanding of security features and tools that AWS provides and how they relate to traditional services.

You can read more about that on their website aws certified solutions architect associate

I have already used AWS services a lot. Moreover, I went through a lot of different cloud architecture of companies that uses AWS for their cloud application. You can find those on my aws notes section. I started preparing for the certification like a week back and spent 25ish hours. If you’re new to AWS then I’d say you shouldn’t be spending more than 80 hours for the preparation. Here’s my learning path:

  • I went through the documentation of almost all the services. It’s very well written. For example: VPC can be a very confusing topic but it’s explained really well in the documentation. Moreover, I did lots of hands on by following the documentation. I did hit a lot of roadblocks, broken and fixed a few things which helped me to solidify my understanding.

  • Read whitepapers! Doesn’t matter if it’s going to help you in certification or not, it will definitely make you a better engineer. For example:- You can read my blog on the discovery disaster whitepaper. It doesn’t matter what services you’re using, these are general guidelines and is universal. I’d recommend you to read as many whitepapers as you can.

  • Read the tutorialsdojo cheatsheet.

  • Read the FAQs. I’ve already consolidated most of the FAQs, you can read here.

  • Take Jon Bonoso’s practice test on Udemy. The questions are very good and will test your understanding of the services. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not getting good marks. Believe in the process and grind. Review answers of each questions and take notes of it. I did find the actual exam tougher than these tests but I loved these tests.

  • There’s a possibility that you would find multiple answers as correct ones and believe me most of the questions in the exam are like that. Use the “process of elimination”. It is going to help you out a lot.

Once you’re prepared, go to this website to schedule your exam. You’d need an amazon account. I wish that we were able to take these certifications from the comfort of our home :) but for now you would need to go to the test center to sit for one.

What am I going to do next? Well, I’m planning to further increase my knowledge and take a few specialty certifications. But, I’m not sure at this point of time. Moreover, I plan to browse through Microsoft Azure and GCP just to get the hang of their cloud services.

I hope my experience helps you out in your voyage of learning and getting certified with AWS. If you wish to read about my aws notes, you can check here.