I’ve decided to focus my next certification efforts on the AWS Architect – Associate exam (SAA-C01), choosing it as my first associate-level target for a couple of reasons. The first is as a result of passing the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam, AWS gifted me a voucher that provides a 50% discount in the exam cost, effectively reducing it from the normal $150 cost to $75. The second is I’ve previously purchased two Udemy resources that come strongly recommended on the forums I visit to gain insight relative to certification exams.
The first resource is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Course. The cost for this and the other Udemy course vary depending on when you attempt a purchase. Today’s price, according to the Udemy website is $17.59.
The second resource is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Practice Exams. Today’s price, according to the Udemy website is $14.29.
The course contains 13 hours of video lessons and additional resources that include two practice exams. I’ll be taking an additional six practice exams that are available in the second Udemy resource (Practice Exams). If successful my total monetary investment for this certification will be around $110. The option of taking this exam at home is not available and I am required to utilize PSI as the testing site vendor in order to take advantage of the voucher discount. There are not as many test sites available when compared with PearsonVue.
Because of workload conflicts, the first available date for taking the exam will be around January 20th. That gives me a little over three (3) weeks to complete study efforts before taking the exam.
There are some pains associated with the PearsonVue system that allows you to take certification exams from the comfort of your home, but overall it has been a path I’ll continue to follow when it is available. Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday (yes, Christmas Day), I focused on the free learning content available from Microsoft for its Azure Fundamentals certification. As a result of this effort, I received 9 badges and a “trophy” for completing the available course (there were 9 modules in the course).
The test as to the value of this content happened this morning when I raced through the 40+ questions in about that many minutes, obtaining a “pass” for the exam.
What’s next? Well, it will either be the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate or the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate. Today I’m undecided. Factors that have me leaning towards the Azure path first are:
- The exam can be taken at home.
- Microsoft has learning content that is available to the public at no cost that is specifically directed at their associate-level certification.
Unfortunately, neither of these benefits appears to be available, for the AWS associate-level certification. I’ll announce my decision later this week in another blog posting.
I decided to rush through both the preparation and certification exam process, taking the AWS free online course on Saturday, December 21st, and scheduling the exam for Monday, December 23rd. According to the certificate (see below), the course duration was 7 hours.
I think that is a fair assessment relative to the course length. Since the (CLF-C01) Exam Guide lacks depth relative to the technical aspects of how to operate in an AWS virtual environment, and the online course didn’t provide an opportunity to complete hands-on labs in the AWS cloud environment, I felt safe not having actually spun up a single EC2 instance or create a single bucket (it’s likely you need to know those definitions but not how to use them). My sense was rewarded with an exam result indicating I had passed.
What I can tell you without violating any NDA is there simply wasn’t a need for me to spin up a single EC2 instance or create a single bucket. What was necessary, is completing training like the online 7-hour course, so I could identify roughly what AWS services were related to specific situations or needs. That’s pretty much it.
Next in the queue is the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals free online course. While a little bit longer than the AWS Practitioner course, I’m thinking I’m going to try to get both the course and the certification exam done by the end of December. Given I managed to effectively do that in three days for the AWS Practitioner, I should be able to meet that goal.
Well, I finally have an opportunity to focus on the line of AWS and Azure certifications, now that the semester is over. Based upon some preliminary research I’ve done, the following details a roadmap for AWS, Azure, and Google “practitioner and associate” level certifications:
Practitioner Level Vendor Certification Resources
AWS Cloud Practitioner. Amazon provides a free 6-hour online course titled AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials. The course is designed to provide training for those seeking the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification (CLF-C01). The cost of the exam is $100. The certification expires after three years.
Microsoft Azure Fundamentals. Microsoft provides a free 9-hour 48-minute online course titled Azure Fundamentals. The course is designed to provide training for those seeking the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification (AZ-900). The cost of the exam is $99.00. The certification has no expiration date.
Associate Level Vendor Architect / Engineer / Administrator Certifications
AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate. Unfortunately, there are no free online courses relative to this certification. Third-party resources from Udemy and others are available. The cost of the exam is $150. The certification expires after three years.
Google Associate Cloud Engineer. Unfortunately, there is only classroom-based options from Google. Third-party resources from Udemy and others are available. The cost of the exam is $125. The certification expires after two years.
Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate. Microsoft provides four (4) free online courses totaling 25 hours 44 minutes in duration, designed to provide training for those seeking the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate certification (AZ-103). The cost of this exam is $165. The certification has no expiration date.