Welcome to our comprehensive guide on preparing for your AWS (Amazon Web Services) certification! As the popularity and importance of cloud computing continue to rise, so does the need for professionals who are well-equipped to handle cloud-based infrastructure and solutions. AWS, a frontrunner in the cloud computing market, offers several levels of certifications to validate and showcase your cloud knowledge.
The purpose of this blog post is to provide you with a carefully curated list of the 10 essential books that will help you prepare for your AWS certification exams. Each book listed in this guide has been chosen for its comprehensive coverage of exam material, its practical approach to learning, and its high praise by those who have successfully achieved their certifications.
Table of Contents
Understanding AWS Certifications
Amazon Web Services offers a series of certifications that showcase your ability to design, deploy, and manage applications and infrastructure on their platform. These certifications are designed to validate your cloud expertise and enable you to stand out in the IT job market.
AWS certifications are divided into four primary levels: Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty:
- Foundational: This level is designed for individuals who are new to AWS and require an overall understanding of the AWS cloud. The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is the certification at this level.
- Associate: The Associate level includes three certifications – AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer, and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator. These are intended for individuals with some hands-on experience with AWS.
- Professional: This is the advanced level that also includes three certifications – AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Professional), AWS Certified DevOps Engineer, and AWS Certified Networking. These certifications are designed for professionals who are well-versed in AWS technologies and have two or more years of hands-on experience.
- Specialty: Specialty certifications focus on specific technical areas and require an in-depth knowledge of the respective domains. They include AWS Certified Security, AWS Certified Big Data, AWS Certified Advanced Networking, and AWS Certified Machine Learning, among others.
AWS certifications are increasingly recognized and sought after in the IT industry. Earning these certifications can help you advance your career by demonstrating your expertise in the leading cloud platform. In the sections that follow, we’ll guide you through the top resources – specifically, the top 10 books – to aid your preparation journey for these certifications.
Who Should Consider AWS Certifications?
AWS certifications are designed to validate and verify your knowledge and skills in the field of cloud computing. The certifications are beneficial for a wide range of individuals. If you fall into one of the following categories, you might want to consider pursuing an AWS certification:
- Cloud Practitioners: For professionals who are beginning their journey in cloud computing, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification can provide a fundamental understanding of AWS Cloud.
- Architects: Solutions architects, design engineers, and anyone involved in the designing of applications or systems on AWS can benefit from the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification.
- Developers: If you are a software developer involved in developing cloud applications on AWS, then the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification might be the right fit for you.
- SysOps Administrators & DevOps Engineers: These individuals are generally involved in managing, operating, and deploying systems on AWS. For them, AWS Certified SysOps Administrator or AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certifications would be suitable.
- Specialists: If you are an expert in a specific field like advanced networking, big data, security, or machine learning and want to hone your skills on AWS technology, you can consider the respective AWS Specialty certifications.
- IT Decision Makers: If you are an IT manager, leader, or decision-maker who needs a holistic understanding of the AWS Cloud, starting with the foundational AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner could be useful.
How to Prepare for AWS Certifications
Effective preparation for AWS Certifications requires a blended approach involving theoretical understanding, practical knowledge, and examination strategy. Here’s how you can embark on your AWS certification journey:
- Understand the Exam Blueprint: Each AWS certification has an exam guide that includes information about the exam and the knowledge areas it covers. Begin your journey by understanding the structure of the exam and its key components.
- Hands-On Experience: AWS recommends having hands-on experience with relevant services. Consider setting up a free tier AWS account to experiment and familiarize yourself with the platform.
- Choose the Right Resources: There are multiple resources available for AWS certification preparation, including books, online courses, whitepapers, FAQs, and documentation. Choose resources that align best with your learning style.
- Plan Your Study Time: Depending on the certification level, AWS recommends a specific amount of hands-on experience and studying time. Create a study plan that accounts for this, leaving time for review and practice exams.
- Practice with Sample Questions & Exams: Use practice questions and exams to familiarize yourself with the exam format and question types. They can also help identify areas where further study is needed.
The following section will delve into the top 10 essential books for AWS Certifications that can form an integral part of your preparation plan.
Top 10 Essential Books for AWS Certifications
Diving into a comprehensive book can provide you with an in-depth understanding of AWS services. Here are the top 10 essential books that will bolster your knowledge and help you prepare for your AWS certifications.
5.1 “AWS Certified Solutions Architect Study Guide with 900 Practice Test Questions”
This book offers a comprehensive study guide for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam, presenting real-world scenarios, hands-on labs, and review questions to supplement your studying. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to pass this exam.
5.2 “AWS Certified Developer Associate“
This guide walks you through the AWS services necessary for the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam. You’ll learn how to create, deploy, and maintain applications on the AWS platform, making it a must-read for aspiring AWS developers.
5.3 “AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Study Guide: Associate SOA-C02 Exam”
Targeted toward the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate exam, this book provides you with real-world scenarios, hands-on lab exercises, and challenging review questions. It’s a key resource for those aiming for this SysOps certification.
5.4 CLF-C01: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner: Study Guide with Practice Questions & Labs
Ideal for those starting with AWS, this guide covers the foundational AWS services and principles required for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. It’s an excellent book for those new to cloud computing and AWS.
5.5 “AWS Certified Advanced Networking Study Guide: Specialty (ANS-C01) Exam”
If you’re aiming for the AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty exam, this book is for you. It dives into complex networking scenarios and designs on AWS, providing an in-depth understanding of networking on the AWS platform.
5.6 “AWS Certified Security – Specialty”
This guide offers a complete path to mastering the AWS Certified Security Specialty exam. It provides in-depth knowledge of AWS security services and best practices, making it a must-read for those with a focus on security.
5.7 “AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty”
Aimed at those who work with big data on AWS, this guide helps you prepare for the AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty exam. It covers data lakes, analytics services, and big data design principles on AWS.
5.8 “AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty”
This book is for professionals aiming for the AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty certification. It helps you understand how to create, train, and deploy machine learning models using the AWS Cloud.
5.9 “Mastering AWS Lambda”
“Mastering AWS Lambda: Learn How to Build and Deploy Serverless Applications” is an invaluable resource for AWS Lambda experts seeking to enhance their serverless skills. The book provides comprehensive coverage of AWS Lambda’s capabilities and integration with other AWS services, catering specifically to experienced practitioners. With its hands-on approach, the book guides readers through the entire lifecycle of building and deploying serverless applications, offering practical examples and code snippets that deepen understanding and optimize workflows. The author’s expertise shines through in the clear explanations and meticulous attention to detail, ensuring Lambda experts gain advanced insights into topics such as application design, performance optimization, and event-driven architectures.
“Mastering AWS Lambda” serves as an authoritative reference, providing valuable guidance on best practices for designing scalable and resilient serverless architectures. It keeps pace with the evolving AWS ecosystem, offering insights into the latest features and updates. Overall, this book is an essential companion for Lambda experts, equipping them with the knowledge and tools necessary to harness the full potential of AWS Lambda and stay at the forefront of serverless computing.
5.10 “Amazon Web Services in Action”
This book provides a broad overview of many AWS services, making it a good starting point for most AWS certifications. It offers hands-on examples of how to interact with AWS services using code, offering a unique perspective to readers.
Additional Study Resources
In addition to the top 10 books for AWS certifications, there are numerous other resources that can aid in your preparation journey. Here are a few recommended ones:
- Online Courses: Online courses provide a structured learning path and hands-on experience. There are several online platforms like A Cloud Guru, Linux Academy, Coursera, and Udemy that offer comprehensive AWS certification preparation courses. These courses usually combine lectures with practical exercises and quizzes, enhancing your understanding of AWS services.
- AWS Whitepapers and Documentation: AWS regularly publishes whitepapers and documentation that provide in-depth knowledge about their services. These resources are a wealth of knowledge and can help you understand the intricacies of AWS services. AWS also provides the ‘Well-Architected Framework’ document, which gives an overview of best practices for creating and managing resources on AWS.
- AWS Training and FAQs: AWS offers free digital training resources directly relevant to various certifications and levels. Additionally, AWS FAQs offer a deep dive into different features of AWS services. Reading these FAQs can give you a solid understanding of services, which can be highly beneficial for the exam.
- Practice Exams and Sample Questions: AWS offers practice exams that replicate the experience of the actual certification exams. Taking these practice exams can help you gauge your readiness for the real exam. AWS also provides sample questions for each certification exam, giving you an idea of what to expect in the actual test.
- Discussion Forums and Blogs: Online forums like Stack Overflow, Quora, and the AWS subreddit can be valuable resources for understanding real-world scenarios. Blogs from certified professionals also provide insights and tips based on their personal experiences with the AWS certification exams.
Remember, a blend of resources will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of AWS concepts and services. Leveraging these different resources can help you excel in your AWS certification exams and your cloud computing career.
Understanding the AWS Certification Exam Structure
Understanding the exam structure is essential in your preparation for AWS certifications. Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect in an AWS Certification exam:
- Exam Format: AWS Certification exams contain multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions. Some questions present a scenario and ask for a solution, while others are fact-based.
- Exam Duration: Depending on the certification, the exam duration varies from 90 minutes (Foundational level) to 170 minutes (Professional and Specialty levels).
- Passing Score: AWS does not disclose the passing score for the exams, as it is subject to statistical analysis and can change. However, candidates receive a “Pass” or “Fail” status report after the exam.
- Question Domains: Each AWS Certification exam guide includes a list of domains — broad subject areas that the exam covers. The guide includes the percentage of the exam dedicated to each domain. This helps you understand what topics to focus on during your study.
Tips for Taking AWS Certification Exams
Taking an AWS certification exam can be daunting, but with the right approach, you can increase your chances of success. Here are some tips:
- Understand the Questions: Take time to carefully read and understand each question and its options before choosing your answer. AWS likes to include tricky wording or extra information to test your understanding.
- Pace Yourself: Be aware of the time. AWS Certification exams are time-limited, so it’s important to pace yourself and avoid spending too much time on any single question.
- Use the Review Function: If you’re unsure about a question, use the review function to flag it and return to it later. Just be sure not to leave any unanswered questions.
- Think in AWS Terms: AWS has its own way of handling IT operations, so answers that may seem correct in a traditional IT sense may not be correct for AWS. Always answer from an AWS perspective.
Maintaining Your AWS Certification
Once you’ve earned your AWS certification, it’s important to maintain it. AWS certifications are valid for three years from the date you receive them. To maintain your certification, you can either retake the exam or earn Continuing Education (CE) credits by participating in various learning events and activities.
- Recertification: Taking a recertification exam helps you to stay updated on the latest updates and changes in AWS. AWS provides a six-month period before your certification expires to pass the recertification exam.
- Continuing Education (CE) Credits: AWS offers a number of ways to earn CE credits, such as attending re: Invent or AWS Summits, completing eligible AWS Training courses, or presenting an AWS-led talk or workshop.
Remember that AWS regularly updates its platform and services, so continuous learning and staying updated with AWS trends is beneficial even after you’ve obtained your certification.
How to Register for AWS Certification Exams
Once you’ve prepared thoroughly for the AWS certification exams, the next step is to register for the exam. Here’s how you can do it:
- Create an AWS Training Account: If you don’t already have one, create an account on the AWS Training and Certification portal.
- Choose Your Exam: Navigate to the ‘Certification’ section in your AWS Training account. Select the exam you want to take and click ‘Schedule New Exam.’
- Choose Your Exam Provider: AWS certification exams are conducted by Pearson VUE or PSI. You can choose either provider based on your preference.
- Pick a Date and Location: Choose a suitable date and time for your exam. You can also select whether you want to take the exam at a test center or through online proctoring in the comfort of your own home.
- Pay for the Exam: Finally, pay for the exam and you will receive a confirmation email with the details of your scheduled exam.
What to Expect on Exam Day
On the day of your AWS certification exam, here’s what you can expect:
- Arrival: If you’re taking the exam at a test center, arrive at least 15 minutes early to complete the necessary check-in procedures.
- Identification: You’ll be required to present two forms of identification. At least one must be a government-issued identification with a photograph.
- Personal Belongings: Test centers typically provide a locker for your personal belongings. You’re not allowed to bring any personal items into the exam room.
- Exam Environment: During the exam, you’ll be seated at a personal workstation in a quiet, distraction-free environment.
- Online Proctored Exams: If you’re taking the exam from home, ensure you have a stable internet connection, a quiet and clutter-free workspace, and a computer with a webcam. An online proctor will monitor you throughout the exam.
After the Exam: Understanding Your Results
Once you’ve completed the exam, you’ll receive your results:
- Pass or Fail: AWS certification exams provide a pass or fail result. If you pass, you’ll receive your digital certificate within 72 hours of your exam. If you do not pass, you can retake the exam after a 14-day waiting period.
- Score Report: You will receive a score report with details on your performance in each of the exam domains. This can help identify areas where you need improvement if you plan to retake the exam or pursue further certifications.
- Digital Badge: Successful candidates also receive a digital badge they can display on their LinkedIn profiles or resumes, showcasing their AWS-certified status to potential employers.
- Recertification or Continuing Education: Remember, AWS certifications are valid for three years, after which you will need to recertify or earn Continuing Education (CE) credits to maintain your certification.
Embarking on the journey to becoming AWS certified may seem challenging, but with the right resources, a solid study plan, and commitment, you can succeed and enjoy the numerous career benefits that AWS certifications offer.
While preparing for AWS certifications, there are some common mistakes that people often make. It’s beneficial to know these ahead of time, so you can avoid them:
- Relying Solely on Theoretical Knowledge: AWS certification exams are designed to test your practical understanding of AWS services and scenarios, not just theoretical knowledge. If you only study theory without gaining hands-on experience with AWS services, you might find the exam challenging.
- Not Understanding the Exam Structure and Format: Each AWS certification exam has its own structure and format. If you don’t understand these before starting your study, you could focus on the wrong areas. AWS provides exam guides and sample questions that you should use to familiarize yourself with the exam format and content.
- Ignoring the Recommended Experience: AWS provides recommended levels of hands-on experience for each certification. Ignoring these recommendations and attempting the exam without sufficient experience often leads to failure.
- Not Reading AWS Whitepapers and FAQs: AWS whitepapers and FAQs provide a lot of important information that is directly applicable to the exam. If you don’t take the time to read these, you might miss out on essential knowledge.
- Skipping Practice Exams: Practice exams are crucial to getting accustomed to the exam environment and understanding the nature of questions. They also help identify your weak areas. Skipping these can lead to unnecessary mistakes in the actual exam.
- Underestimating the Exam: AWS certification exams are challenging and require a significant amount of study and hands-on experience. Underestimating the exam can lead to poor preparation.
- Cramming the Night Before the Exam: Like any other certification, AWS certifications are not something you can prepare for in a night. Cramming at the last minute can leave gaps in your knowledge and understanding, leading to poor performance.
- Not Keeping Up with AWS Updates: AWS is continually evolving and adding new features and services. Not staying up-to-date with these changes can result in a lack of knowledge about the current AWS landscape.
Avoiding these common mistakes can increase your chances of passing your AWS certification exam and gaining a deeper, more useful understanding of AWS.
AWS Certifications are a great way to validate your cloud skills, learn new technologies, and increase your value in the IT market. They prove your AWS expertise to employers and peers and can open doors to new opportunities. The journey to becoming AWS certified might seem daunting, but with the right preparation and resources, it is entirely achievable.
Remember to take advantage of the array of resources available to you, from study guides and books to hands-on labs and practice exams. Understand the exam structure, familiarize yourself with the AWS environment, and get as much hands-on practice as possible.
Avoid common mistakes like relying solely on theoretical knowledge, skipping practice tests, or cramming at the last minute. And importantly, don’t forget to keep up with AWS updates and changes.
Achieving an AWS certification is more than just passing an exam; it’s about gaining deep knowledge and practical experience with AWS, staying updated with the latest trends, and continuously learning. With dedication, persistence, and the right approach, you can certainly conquer the AWS certification exams and advance in your cloud career. Good luck with your AWS certification journey!