AWS is the leading cloud provider with 32% of the market share. It offers highly available and cost effective services, so it’s no surprise companies are migrating from on-premises to AWS in droves.
As developers, we’re often caught in the middle of this, being asked to re-architect software to new models such as containers or serverless. Sometimes the reasons for this seem unjustified given the huge changes required, but a lack of knowledge of AWS can hold you back from engaging in discussion.
Fortunately AWS offers training and certifications from beginner to advanced levels, giving you the ability to understand solutions proposed by cloud architects and maybe even eventually to offer your own.
If you’re a developer considering getting an AWS certification, then consider these 5 reasons to help you make up your mind.
1. AWS knowledge makes you a better developer
Running applications in AWS with high availability requires a different approach to designing software. This can include:
containers - your application should be designed as a stateless service, allowing multiple instances of it to be run
serverless - function as a service technologies like AWS Lambda mean the deployable unit is your code function itself (no containers or VMS)
These approaches can be very different from the traditional single monolith application. Migrating from one to the other normally requires lots of rearchitecting. If you’ve involved in such a project, then knowledge of AWS may be vital to validate any proposed solutions. Having knowledge of the target environment will allow you to spot any potential pitfalls before it’s too late.
For example, did you know that AWS Lambda has a maximum execution time of 15 minutes? Probably not the best option for that hour long database maintenance query then.
2. Studying for a certification encourages fast and deep learning
There’s nothing like scheduling an exam to focus your mind. AWS offers several difficulty levels, including associate, professional, and speciality. Choosing a level which pushes you slightly outside your comfort zone may be a good option to force you to learn about new AWS services.
For example, here are some interesting services I discovered during my study for the AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam:
AWS Mechanical Turk - a service which allows you to schedule work to be completed by real humans. Interacting with people via an API is real sci-fi stuff!
AWS Macie - a service which uses machine learning to identify and alert you to sensitive data (names, addresses, credit card details) in S3 buckets. Maybe they ran out of ideas and named it after the project’s lead developer?
AWS Snowmobile - the service to use when you have a lot of data to put in AWS. They send you a truck, you fill it with data (up to 100PB), then they go and upload it into your AWS account. I’m not joking!
The point is, had I not studied for the certification I wouldn’t have learnt about these services. Now I have them in my back pocket, ready to use should a project require them.
3. AWS certifications improve future job prospects
An AWS solutions architect gets paid more than a senior developer. 50% more in fact. This is according to itjobswatch.co.uk which publishes trends on the UK IT jobs market.
Why does this matter though, if you’re a developer and want to stay that way? Well this all goes to show that those with AWS knowledge can demand higher salaries. Learning about AWS technologies will add another string to your bow, allowing you to negotiate a better salary.
Smaller companies don’t always have the budget to hire someone dedicated to AWS infrastructure. They might not even need someone full-time anyway. If you have an AWS certification on your CV, then for these types of companies it’s likely to set you apart from the other candidates.
If not, then at least it’s something to say for the dreaded “What was your greatest achievement?” interview question.
4. Your employer may sponsor your continued learning
On average U.S. companies spent $1,111 on training for each employee in 2020, according to the Training Industry Report. Does your company have a training budget? Maybe it does but it’s not being spent?
$1,111 would more than cover the cost of online courses, taking your AWS exam, and throwing a celebratory party afterwards (only if you pass, of course).
As an example, to study for the AWS Solutions Architect Professional exam I spent:
$180 to schedule the exam (50% off for having taken a previous exam)
$80 for an online course which formed the core of my learning for the exam (shout out to Adrian Cantrill at learn.cantrill.io)
$20 for AWS usage during my study period
$0 for additional online resources, including AWS documentation and white papers
Do you think your company would have a problem covering $280 for a significant investment in your AWS skills?
5. To bootstrap your own projects
If you work on your own side-projects, then best not rely on your home computer to host your potential next big-break. Sorry, but your living room is not a server room. You’ve got no chance of providing high availability for your service with your consumer-grade ISP connection.
Getting certified will give you the confidence to get your side projects up and running in AWS. You’ll be able to brag to your developer friends about your edge-optimised content delivery network, whereas really you’ve just clicked a few buttons to setup AWS CloudFront.
If these ideas have given you inspiration to at least look into the AWS certification options, then head over the official AWS certification page.
If you have any questions about the process, the exams, or study-tips, then leave a question and I’ll see if I can help from the perspective of someone whose taken (and passed) the Solutions Architect Associate and Professional levels.