From Novice to AWS Pro: My Certification Journey Unveiled + Proven Tips

Person climb up the blocks, and these blocks are aws certification badges

A collaborative masterpiece blending my creative touch with the ingenuity of AI. 🎨🤖

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Unexpected Start

My certification journey commenced unexpectedly. 🚀 While searching for an avenue to transition into IT, I stumbled upon the ITSkills4U program. Developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS), ITSkills4U is a comprehensive initiative tailored for Ukrainian citizens aiming to broaden job prospects beyond non-IT roles, navigate a switch to the IT sector, or elevate their existing IT career. This program encompasses AWS cloud training programs and certification pathways, a golden opportunity I fully embraced.

Now, let’s delve into the content that prompted you to click on this post. As you may have anticipated from the accompanying image, I successfully attained three distinct certifications: 🏆

  1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CCP)
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA)
  3. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional (DOP)

Allow me to clarify that I underwent instructor-led training for all three certifications, a generous offering facilitated by the ITSkills4U program at no cost. However, I won’t extensively delve into these training experiences within this post. This isn’t solely due to the accessibility limitations some might face but also because these sessions are notably intensive. Within 5 to 8 days, a substantial amount of information is presented, making absorption challenging. 📚

Nonetheless, these courses are exceptionally motivating, largely contingent on the instructor – an aspect for which I consider myself fortunate. 🙌 Moreover, a significant advantage of such classes lies in the community of like-minded individuals they provide, fostering a supportive environment. 🤝

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CCP)

You might consider bypassing this certification if you possess a foundational grasp of cloud concepts and building blocks. It holds less relevance for technical specialists and appears better suited to non-technical roles connected to the cloud. However, stepping into my shoes, I found several merits in obtaining this certification.

Initially, this entry-level AWS certification offers the advantage of staying persistent when confronting the avalanche of new material at the associate level. This is especially pertinent as you enter the vast “cloud” landscape. My approach of embracing “simple steps” resonates significantly here.

Now, onto the pivotal aspect – the certification exam itself. Accomplishing the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner brings not only clarity but also invaluable insights into the certification process: 🔍

  • Registering for the exam ✍️
  • Booking the exam slot 🗓️
  • Absorbing all exam policies and FAQs 📖
  • Taking the system test 🖥️
  • Familiarizing yourself with Pearson OnVUE software 🧠
  • Navigating the procedural intricacies before the exam 🧐
  • Engaging with the proctor during the exam session 🗣️

Moreover, this experience positions you to tackle subsequent associate-level exams with reduced anxiety and stress 😌 related to administrative aspects.

An additional noteworthy point revolves around the cost-saving strategy. AWS extends a 50% discount on your next exam upon passing the preceding one. This nugget of advice gains particular significance if you receive a complimentary voucher for the CCP exam (provided you’re willing to invest some effort in the hunt). 💰🎫

As for study resources, since this certification doesn’t necessitate hands-on prerequisites, any free study material proves beneficial. Whether articles, videos, slides, AWS’s official resources, reputable authors, or even ChatGPT – leverage whatever aligns with your learning style. 📖📹

One counsel I particularly emphasize is regarding video materials. While they’re undeniably valuable, it’s crucial to cultivate comfort with reading AWS documentation (articles, whitepapers, study guides, etc.). This skill becomes an essential asset in your toolkit. 🛠️

I need to remember some details since my first certification endeavor, but I’ve documented the essentials. Onward we go…

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA)

In the current landscape, you’ll find many articles addressing this topic. To veer away from the commonplace “5 super-duper tips on how to amass 50 certificates in 3 days,” my approach has been personalizing the discussion based on my unique journey. Thus, I embark on this section with a list of advice to avoid: 🚫

Don’t Pursue Associate-Level Certifications Without Hands-On Experience 👐

While amassing years of proficient experience is unnecessary, don’t disregard hands-on engagement. Referring to the AWS Exam Guide, the suggested candidate possesses a minimum of one year’s practical involvement in designing cloud solutions utilizing AWS services. I stand as proof – achieving AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA) was well within reach even with just one month of hands-on AWS experience. This isn’t a boast but a testament to the goal’s attainability. 📝👷‍♀️

For my certification preparation, I invested in an A Cloud Guru subscription. While their AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate video course proved invaluable, the true gems were the hands-on labs. These guided exercises facilitated an in-depth understanding of the AWS environment and services, allaying concerns about potential cloud costs. 💡💻

I also briefly explored AWS Cloud Quest for practice exercises, although its extensive time commitment and my limited inclination for gaming led me to only dip my toes. 🎮

Avoid Memorizing Practice Exam Questions 🧠

A common trap – many, myself included, initially succumb to the allure of scouring the internet for as many practice questions as possible, hoping to memorize answers. While this might prove lucky for a few, it’s not a sustainable strategy. Instead, practical exams eventually become an inescapable phase in your preparation journey. ⚠️📚

Embracing thorough practice, my approach diverged from rote memorization. I concentrated on understanding solutions by meticulously analyzing detailed explanations. Ultimately, this strategy evolved – starting with carefully perusing the question and focusing on its essential elements. Subsequently, I evaluated each answer, promptly eliminating those with no substance (a rarity at the professional level). Typically, a few options remained, each subtly nuanced. Confidence came from a thorough grasp or a careful consideration of their viability. 💡

Initially, this process unfolded at a measured pace, mainly if English wasn’t your native language. Over time, the ability to swiftly comprehend the task evolved, honed through diligent practice against the ticking timer. ⏳

An invaluable resource in this endeavor was, curated by Jon Bonso and his team. Their detailed explanations, complete with readable diagrams and comprehensive links to documentation, played a pivotal role in enhancing my understanding. 📚

While many in our community vouch for Stephane Maarek’s guidance, I can’t offer personal insights, as our focus remains aligned with my experiences. With that, I’ve conveyed the essence of this section. 🙌

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional (DOP)

Initiating this phase, it’s worth mentioning that I had initially harbored no intention of pursuing further certifications. My trajectory in the realm of cloud technology involved crafting personal projects to acquire practical experience and secure employment.

Yet, fate intervened again – a message from ITSkills4U announced a fresh instructor-led training program tailored for DevOps certification. The allure of “certificate mania” proved irresistible once again.

The course spanned five days, during which my desire to undertake the certification exam waned. Not due to any shortcomings in training – it was indeed enriching. Instead, I confronted the stark realization of how much remained uncharted. It could have culminated here, with the course integrated into my knowledge trove alongside others, gradually fading from memory.

However, a powerful motivator emerged – none other than the age-old impetus: money. The alluring prospect of dollars – $300, to be precise – served as the gateway to AWS’s professional exam. 💰📝

Meanwhile, the ITSkills4U program was nearing its conclusion. By the curriculum, an internal exam presented an opportunity to acquire a voucher for the professional exam. The timeline was tight – a month until the deadline. As you might have guessed, I managed to squeeze within this timeframe. ⏰

This chapter aptly bears the title, “How I Mastered the AWS DevOps Engineer – Professional Exam in One Month” – to be exact, four weeks comprising one week of instructor-led training and three weeks of intensive self-study.

My preparation strategy naturally leveraged insights gleaned from the preceding certifications. A thorough comprehension necessitated the perusal of this ongoing narrative. 📖

So, what facets propelled my success?

Adrian Cantrill’s AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional Course

Inarguably, this course played a pivotal role in my grasp of the intricate materials constituting AWS DevOps certification. Adrian’s reputation preceded him – an educator renowned for his meticulous attention to detail and exhaustive material presentation. I discerned this to be the quintessential approach for a professional-level endeavor, and thus, I engaged wholeheartedly. The coursework seamlessly intertwined theoretical foundations with pragmatic applications, unraveling the principles underlying the DevOps Engineer - Professional exam. My engagement spanned two intensive weeks, weaving through full-time working hours and weekends. 💡

Jon’s Bonso AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional Practice Exams

Building on my precedent experience with the Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA) certification, I procured a Practice Exam Set, adopting the same approach. However, these questions demanded more than mere surface engagement. The complexity extended to lengthy queries and multifaceted solutions, underscoring the significance of discerning nuanced variations among answers. Unlike the associate-level certifications, where a trial-and-error approach might suffice, each choice necessitated astute consideration here. 🔍

Allocating a week, I immersed myself in rigorous practice. To bolster my practical prowess, I ventured into related labs on the ACloudGuru platform, leveraging the advantages of hands-on experience.

As the exam day dawned, time seemed to warp, racing at an unprecedented pace. In contrast to prior experiences, which I could revisit and refine, the DevOps Engineer – Professional exam demanded swift thinking and agile decision-making, an unexpected yet refreshing challenge. 🕐

The culmination of my efforts bore testament to the transformative power of dedicated study, thorough preparation, and strategic execution. 🏆

Universal Exam Tips

Consider Special Accommodation for Non-Native English Speakers 🌍

For those whose native language isn’t English, I recommend inquiring about special exam accommodation before scheduling. This accommodation grants an additional 30 minutes to answer questions, ease time constraints, and ensure a fair opportunity to showcase your knowledge.

Mind Your Beverage Intake Before the Exam

It may sound peculiar, but abstaining from coffee and water right before the exam is sage advice. This small precaution can prevent unnecessary distractions during crucial moments.

Strategic Scheduling: Choose the Morning, But Not Too Early

When scheduling your exam, aim for the morning slot. However, striking a balance is critical – avoid an excessively early start that might leave you dizzy and less focused.

Prioritize Restful Sleep Over Exam Cramming 💤

Refrain from excessive exam-related pondering the night before. A good night’s sleep is your greatest ally. An hour before the exam, engage in a leisurely walk. This simple activity provides a mental reset, enabling your brain to unwind before the impending focused effort. 🚶

Harness Self-Belief and Embrace Challenges 💪

Above all, cultivate self-confidence and embrace challenges. Stepping out of your comfort zone invariably leads to remarkable achievements. Believe in your capacity to succeed and harness the drive to conquer new miles.

Remember, the journey you undertake today molds the path to your future accomplishments.