The blue print from AWS website, should be the first stop which will give an idea on all the details for the exam, and you can access it at aws.amazon.com/certification URL. Checkout AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate web page to download one.
In exam blue print, the first page explains the knowledge and skills needed to pass the exam. When getting a closer look under “AWS knowledge” section, the first point mainly focuses on basic AWS services such as computer networking, storage and database services. Also you are expected to have hands-on experience on these services.
The second point emphases on professional experience on architecting large scale application. AWS wants one to have one or more years of experience, here one does not need to provide any proof of it.
The next three points are about having clear understanding of basic AWS concepts, including AWS global and network infrastructure. The last few points expect you to have a clear understanding of security features and client interfaces… again hands on experience in with AWS deployment and management services.
The next section, General IT Knowledge lists almost every available technology under this section starting from multi-tier architecture and all the way to collaborative technologies.
If you are coming from development background, you may be familiar with multi-tier architectures using web servers, caching, application servers and RDBMS or NoSQL. In addition, you may have a good knowledge of RESTful Web Services, XML and JSON.
If you are coming from an operations background, you don’t need to worry about load balancers, storage, message queues, Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) and Content Delivery Networks. If you are an Infrastructure admin, you might skip topics like LAN/WAN network topologies, route tables, access control lists, firewalls, NAT and protocols such as TCP/IP and HTTP or HTTPS.
But we all come from different backgrounds and may not necessarily have all the listed skills. However, during your preparation for the exam, you should be learning basics of listed topics. You don’t need to dive deep in each and every topic, but basic understanding and knowledge is needed to be a successful solution architect.
The next page of exam blueprint lists different domains which appear on the exam and also percentage covered of each domain in the exam. I will write a separate blog post regarding these exam domains.
Let’s move on to the core of this blog post, First step to get started with exam preparation.
Some certified engineers have described this exam as difficult, but most of them tell you that it takes considerable amount of studying to pass successfully. Therefore not surprisingly that one would use multiple study materials. A detail look into the different available study materials to consider that will help one to decide on what would be required to pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam. Starting with paid programs and all the way to free ones.
What are your options for class room training?
Some prefer a classroom setting, and think interaction in the class room will be beneficial. In that case, you do not have much options apart from attending training from AWS or AWS APN Training Partners.
AWS recommends a three day training course titled “Architecting on AWS” and 4 hour “AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop” before taking the certification exam.
“Architecting on AWS” course is described on AWS website as 'the fundamentals of building IT infrastructure on AWS'. The course is designed to teach solutions architect how to optimize the use of the AWS cloud by understanding AWS services and how these services fit into cloud-based solutions. It also teaches you the AWS cloud best practices and recommended design patterns.
The best thing about this training course is that you will be presented with case studies from current AWS customers on each topic throughout the course on how these organizations designed their infrastructures and what strategies and services they are using for successful cloud deployment. This makes you learn from experience of others and also what AWS think as the best.
This three day course cost around $1950, and is available in classroom and as well as online.
The next course is a 4 hour of “AWS Certification Exam Readiness Workshop”. This course teaches you on how the exam is structured, including question formats, content domains, and the breakdown of questions across those domains. This four hour workshop cost approximately $225, and is available in classroom and as well as online. Now adding both the options above, you need to spend 2175 us dollars for attending in person class room training.
The advantage of the above is one can ask questions directly to the tutor in live in-person, and interesting classroom interaction can be expected. Obviously great place to network with other certification preparation students and possibly forming a study group with them where you can study outside of the class room after the class is completed.
From my prospect, $2175 for exam preparation would be considered too high when paid from your own pocket, unless your employer is ready to reimburse. Please note that “Architecting on AWS” is not just designed for exam preparation; it is also a basic AWS training program for anyone who wants to specialize in AWS. Therefore, some employers may encourage their employees to take this training program and reimburse the course fee.
What is the less expensive option if you still prefer to take live training?
AWSPro Academy offers online AWS certification classes conducted by AWS certified professionals, who also bring their real-world and relevant experience to the students. We offer both weekend and evening classes for various AWS certifications. We ensure that you will pass the AWS exam or 100% of your money back, guaranteed. AWSPro’s 6 weeks, 30 hours online live classes cost you around $1000, but take advantage of our early bird discount and enroll it for $800.
Hope this blog post will help you to figure out where to start your exam preparation and possible AWS exam preparation training courses. I will write another blog post on less expensive way of preparing the exam.
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