Which AWS Certification Exam Is Right For Me? – Part 2

In this section, we’ll discuss the six (6) AWS Specialty certifications that are currently offered by AWS to help you find out if these certifications are suitable for you. If you haven’t read the first of this 2-part article series yet, we encourage you to check it here: Which AWS Certification Exam Is Right For Me? – Part 1.

Which AWS Certification Exam Is Right For Me

Similar to Part 1 of this article, we will approach each segment in two parts: Purpose and Knowledge. Purpose will answer the question: “Why should I take this exam?” while Knowledge will answer: “What should I know for this exam?”. At the end of each segment, we will also include some handy references that will help you get started in preparing for that specific certification exam. Let’s get right to it then!

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AWS Certified Security Specialty

Purpose

Managing security is one of the most challenging yet fulfilling responsibilities that an individual can undertake. It is (and always should be!) every organization’s priority. For each step in the workflow, there is bound to be a vulnerability which is why nowadays, there are a variety of roles in the market that target individuals with specific skill sets in the security domain. We have titles like: InfoSec Engineer, InfraSec Engineer, IT Security Consultant, Risk and Compliance Analyst, DevSecOps Engineer, etc. If your main role focuses on security and your company engages in Cloud technologies then this specialty certification is a must-have on your portfolio. If you deal with security in some form but is not your main role, then this certification is still worth taking to reinforce your skills… and maybe land that promotion too. 

With the number of security attacks increasing each day and the industry losing millions of dollars because of it, companies are now allocating resources to hire capable security engineers to protect their products and services. Having a certificate to prove that you have that capability will give you an edge. AWS also acknowledges the importance and severity of the matter, especially on its platform. Since multiple customers rely on AWS and each of them interacts with different services each day, they will need certified knowledgeable people who know how to implement proper security in the cloud.

Knowledge

As a security engineer, you should be aware of your options and knowing when to use each of them. Each organization has its own set of requirements that needs to be fulfilled, and it is your responsibility to meet these requirements. Beyond knowing what native security tools are available in AWS, you should also be aware of common security tools OUTSIDE of AWS. What I mean by this is, for example, in S3 you can encrypt your objects using KMS or S3 Encryption. But what you can also do is encrypt your objects using a third-party tool before placing them in your S3 bucket. 

Knowing how to implement the best practices in security can only be achieved through experience, so it is recommended that you have some industry experience first before taking this specialty exam. You don’t need to learn how to secure every service in AWS, but it is important to have a concrete understanding of fundamental security practices for core AWS services (i.e. EBS volume encryption, least privilege access controls in IAM, network protection using security groups, monitoring and incident response using CloudTrail). These are just some of the general tasks that apply to almost any AWS environment.

To know more about the AWS Security Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide in the Tutorials Dojo website, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and the provided references below to prepare for this certification exam.AWS Certified Security Specialty Exam

Exam Coverage:

  1. Incident Response
    • Given an AWS abuse notice, evaluate the suspected compromised instance or exposed access keys. 
    • Verify that the Incident Response plan includes relevant AWS services. 
    • Evaluate the configuration of automated alerting, and execute possible remediation of security-related incidents and emerging issues. 
  2. Logging and Monitoring
    • Design and implement security monitoring and alerting. 
    • Troubleshoot security monitoring and alerting. 
    • Design and implement a logging solution. 
    • Troubleshoot logging solutions. 
  3. Infrastructure Security
    • Design edge security on AWS. 
    • Design and implement a secure network infrastructure. 
    • Troubleshoot a secure network infrastructure. 
    • Design and implement host-based security. 
  4. Identity and Access Management 
    • Design and implement a scalable authorization and authentication system to access AWS resources. 
    • Troubleshoot an authorization and authentication system to access AWS resources. 
  5. Data Protection 
    • Design and implement key management and use. 
    • Troubleshoot key management. 
    • Design and implement a data encryption solution for data at rest and data in transit.

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Security – Specialty Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Security – Specialty, Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Security – Specialty Classroom

 

AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty

Purpose

The advanced networking specialty certification is built for individuals whose jobs are to set up and maintain network solutions in their organizations. Managing a corporate network is a very tough but rewarding job. You carry the responsibility of making sure your infrastructure network is working 24/7 and all its components are running efficiently. If even one router suddenly malfunctions or gets misconfigured, it could mean disaster to your operations, which could translate to huge financial losses.

Network engineers benefit the most from this certification, especially if they handle networking in the AWS Cloud. If this is your career path and you have a passion for performing complex network tasks, you should aim to have this certification under your belt. For some companies, certifications are a must if you are applying as a network engineer. You need to have an industry-recognized level of knowledge and skills before they onboard you for this role.

Knowledge

You should have mastery over networking fundamentals and have a strong understanding of AWS network concepts and their underlying components. These include different network architectures and models, common network technologies, monitoring and security solutions, and application of best practices in AWS. It is also recommended that you first get experience in designing and implementing network solutions in both AWS and a hybrid setup. Get exposed to different use cases and approaches, either by reading about them or trying them out yourself.

Do you know the OSI model by heart? Have you configured an IP VPN solution before? Can you list down the components involved in setting up a highly available and secure connection between AWS and your corporate network? Do you understand how routing works (e.g. local route tables, BGP routing, failover routing)? How do you monitor faults in the network? How do you handle security intrusions and attacks like packet sniffing, DDoS, phishing attempts, etc? These are just some of the questions that you should be able to confidently answer before you take this certification exam. 

Since this certificate validates your expertise on Advanced Networking, expect the exam to be very challenging. To know more about the AWS Advanced Networking Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide on the Tutorials Dojo website, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and the provided references below to prepare for this certification exam.

AWS Certified Advanced Networking Specialty Exam

Exam Coverage:

  1. Design and Implement Hybrid IT Network Architectures at Scale 
    • Implement connectivity for hybrid IT 
    • Given a scenario, derive an appropriate hybrid IT architecture connectivity solution 
    • Explain the process to extend connectivity using AWS Direct Connect 
    • Evaluate design alternatives that leverage AWS Direct Connect 
    • Define routing policies for hybrid IT architectures 
  2. Design and Implement AWS Networks 
    • Apply AWS networking concepts
    • Given customer requirements, define network architectures on AWS 
    • Propose optimized designs based on the evaluation of an existing implementation 
    • Determine network requirements for a specialized workload 
    • Derive an appropriate architecture based on customer and application requirements
    • Evaluate and optimize cost allocations given a network design and application data flow 
  3. Automate AWS Tasks 
    • Evaluate automation alternatives within AWS for network deployments 
    • Evaluate tool-based alternatives within AWS for network operations and management 
  4. Configure Network Integration with Application Services 
    • Leverage the capabilities of Route 53 
    • Evaluate DNS solutions in a hybrid IT architecture 
    • Determine the appropriate configuration of DHCP within AWS 
    • Given a scenario, determine an appropriate load balancing strategy within the AWS ecosystem
    • Determine a content distribution strategy to optimize for performance 
    • Reconcile AWS service requirements with network requirements
  5. Design and Implement for Security and Compliance
    • Evaluate design requirements for alignment with security and compliance objectives
    • Evaluate monitoring strategies in support of security and compliance objectives 
    • Evaluate AWS security features for managing network traffic 
    • Utilize encryption technologies to secure network communications 
  6. Manage, Optimize, and Troubleshoot the Network 
    • Given a scenario, troubleshoot and resolve a network issue

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty, Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty Classroom

 

AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty (Formerly AWS Certified Big Data Specialty)

Purpose

There is no doubt that everything we do now and every decision we make is driven by data. The market demand for data scientists is increasing rapidly since they help drive strategic decision-making to boost profits. The AWS Data Analytics Specialty certification is aimed at these types of people who work with data each day. They manage data lakes and use different technologies to transform data into something more meaningful for stakeholders, such as predictions on market trends. If you use AWS data analytics services or similar tools in your work, then you should also aim for this certificate. It will demonstrate and validate your expertise in using these services.

Knowledge

Since this is a specialty certification, having prior experience in data analysis and data lifecycle management is recommended before taking on the exam. You should already possess the knowledge and techniques to produce outputs and gather insight from different data sources. You should also have hands-on experience with AWS Analytics Services such as Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Redshift. Understand which services integrate with one another to allow you to construct an end-to-end analytics solution ― from ingestion to storage, retrieval, and visualization. 

The exam will include tricky scenarios where you’ll need to implement different solutions using a combination of AWS services. Additionally, some scenarios will ask for specific requirements such as choosing the most cost-effective and secure solution or optimizing an existing system using automation, so you need to be able to determine which among your options is the most appropriate answer. To know more about the AWS Data Analytics Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide (coming soon!) on the Tutorials Dojo website, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and the provided references below for you to prepare for this certification exam.

AWS Certified Data Analytics Specialty Exam

Exam Coverage:

  1. Collection 
    1. Determine the operational characteristics of the collection system 
    2. Select a collection system that handles the frequency, volume, and source of data 
    3. Select a collection system that addresses the key properties of data, such as order, format, and compression 
  2. Storage and Data Management 
    1. Determine the operational characteristics of a storage solution for analytics 
    2. Determine data access and retrieval patterns 
    3. Select an appropriate data layout, schema, structure, and format 
    4. Define a data lifecycle based on usage patterns and business requirements 
    5. Determine an appropriate system for cataloging data and managing metadata 
  3. Processing 
    1. Determine appropriate data processing solution requirements 
    2. Design a solution for transforming and preparing data for analysis 
    3. Automate and operationalize a data processing solution 
  4. Analysis and Visualization 
    1. Determine the operational characteristics of an analysis and visualization solution 
    2. Select the appropriate data analysis solution for a given scenario 
    3. Select the appropriate data visualization solution for a given scenario 
  5. Security 
    1. Select appropriate authentication and authorization mechanisms 
    2. Apply data protection and encryption techniques 
    3. Apply data governance and compliance controls

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Data Analytics – Specialty

 

AWS Certified Database Specialty

Purpose

If you are a database administrator, a database architect, or a developer with a large focus on database programming then you should consider taking the AWS Certified Database Specialty for your next certification exam. If you are a professional with tons of experience in databases and are looking to transition to a database-related role in the AWS cloud, this specialty exam should also serve as a good starting point for your journey. This certificate is primarily designed for people who want to validate their skills in AWS database technologies and display their expertise in the area to potential future employers and customers. 

The AWS Database Specialty will also demonstrate how to maximize the different AWS database services and how to manage them in a secure and efficient manner. This will prove useful if you are working in an industry that is heavy on databases and data warehousing. By having trained personnel along with the innovations of AWS, these two factors will allow you to improve your own operations and in turn, allow you to innovate faster. 

Knowledge

AWS offers a range of types of databases in their catalog, from commonly used industry ones such as Amazon RDS for relational databases, Amazon DynamoDB for non-relational databases, Amazon Redshift for data warehousing, to more complex, specific offerings such as Amazon Neptune for graph databases, Amazon Elasticache for in-memory caching, Amazon DocumentDB for document databases and Amazon QLDB for ledger-type databases. You should have a strong background in database management using Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Redshift. You should also be familiar with different design principles that emphasize security, high availability, fault tolerance, and/or scalability. Lastly, you should also have comprehensive knowledge of database migration, monitoring, and troubleshooting common database issues.

To know more about the AWS Database Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide (coming soon!) on the Tutorials Dojo website, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and the provided references below for you to prepare for this certification exam.

AWS Certified Database Specialty Exam

Exam Coverage:

  1. Workload-Specific Database Design 
    1. Select appropriate database services for specific types of data and workloads 
    2. Determine strategies for disaster recovery and high availability 
    3. Design database solutions for performance, compliance, and scalability 
    4. Compare the costs of database solutions 
  2. Deployment and Migration 
    1. Automate database solution deployments 
    2. Determine data preparation and migration strategies 
    3. Execute and validate data migration 
  3. Management and Operations 
    1. Determine maintenance tasks and processes 
    2. Determine backup and restore strategies
    3. Manage the operational environment of a database solution 
  4. Monitoring and Troubleshooting 
    1. Determine monitoring and alerting strategies 
    2. Troubleshoot and resolve common database issues 
    3. Optimize database performance 
  5. Domain 5: Database Security 5.1 Encrypt data at rest and in transit 5.2 Evaluate auditing solutions 5.3 Determine access control and authentication mechanisms 5.4 Recognize potential security vulnerabilities within database solutions 

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Database – Specialty

 

AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty

Purpose

Machine learning is a part of almost every business nowadays. Utilizing computers to perform complex tasks with agility and precision has allowed industries to increase their overall productivity and revenue. Furthermore, machine learning and cloud technology are two inseparable partners, since the cloud offers you the compute and storage capacity you need to run your solutions cost-effectively. If you are working in this field such as a role in data science or if you have a passion for machine learning, deep learning, and AI development, be sure to add this certification to your portfolio. This certificate will indicate that your capabilities meet the qualifications for building and deploying quality ML/AI solutions for businesses using AWS. 

Knowledge

The exam will validate your knowledge of utilizing different ML approaches to resolve specific problems. Therefore, you should already possess a strong grasp of basic ML algorithms and frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTorch. You should also be familiar with the services in AWS that will allow you to implement these algorithms and frameworks. A good example would be Amazon SageMaker, which would enable you to build, train, and deploy machine learning (ML) models. Lastly, since this is a specialty exam, you should already have a fair amount of experience in machine learning and AI prior to taking this certification exam. This is because the exam will also quiz you on the best practices for different ML deployments and operations, and it would be an advantage if you have some experience with these situations.

To know more about the AWS Machine Learning Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide (coming soon!) on the Tutorials Dojo website, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and the provided references below for you to prepare for this certification exam.

AWS Certified Machine Learning Specialty Exam

Exam Coverage:

  1. Data Engineering 
    1. Create data repositories for machine learning. 
    2. Identify and implement a data-ingestion solution. 
    3. Identify and implement a data-transformation solution. 
  2. Exploratory Data Analysis 
    1. Sanitize and prepare data for modeling.
    2. Perform feature engineering. 
    3. Analyze and visualize data for machine learning. 
  3. Modeling
    1. Frame business problems as machine learning problems. 
    2. Select the appropriate model(s) for a given machine learning problem. 
    3. Train machine learning models. 
    4. Perform hyperparameter optimization.
    5. Evaluate machine learning models. 
  4. Machine Learning Implementation and Operations
    1. Build machine learning solutions for performance, availability, scalability, resiliency, and fault tolerance. 
    2. Recommend and implement the appropriate machine learning services and features for a given problem. 
    3. Apply basic AWS security practices to machine learning solutions. 
    4. Deploy and operationalize machine learning solutions.

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty, Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Machine Learning – Specialty Classroom 

 

AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder Specialty

Purpose

The AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder Specialty is a very unique kind of certification. As the name suggests, it is centered around Amazon’s AI-powered virtual assistant application known as Amazon Alexa. If you are pursuing this certification then it means that you’re working as an Amazon Alexa Skill Builder or are planning to work as one. An Amazon Alexa Skill Builder is an individual who develops new skills for Alexa’s AI capabilities. Generally, these capabilities include, but are not limited to, building smart devices and smart technologies. If you think working with Alexa to produce smart solutions is for you, then have a go at this certification exam.

Knowledge

AWS recommends having at least 6 months of hands-on experience building Alexa skills using the Alexa Skills Kit, and incorporating services from the AWS Cloud in your solutions. Additionally, you should also be comfortable with handling JSON data. It would be best to broaden your knowledge in building Alexa Skills by taking on more projects and extending them to AWS. Try to build Alexa skills that rely on processing speech, video, image, audio, and text. Also take note of the errors that you encounter along the way, and how to properly troubleshoot them. Lastly, you should be familiar with the best practices in using the Alexa Skills Kit. The exam will include scenarios that will require you to meet specific conditions such as security and compliance, appropriate storage selection, and proper use of physical interfaces and devices.

To know more about the AWS Alexa Skill Builder Specialty exam, visit the official AWS exam guide here. Use this together with our free study guide (coming soon!) on the Tutorials Dojo website to help you prepare for this certification exam.

Exam Coverage:

  1. Voice-First Design Practices and Capabilities 
    1. Describe how users interact with skills 
    2. Map features and capabilities to use cases 
  2. Skill Design
    1. Design and develop an interaction model 
    2. Design a multi-turn conversation 
    3. Use built-in intents and slots 
    4. Handle unexpected conversational requests or responses 
    5. Design multi-modal skills using one or more service interfaces (for example, audio, video, and gadgets) 
  3. Skill Architecture 
    1. Identify AWS services for extending Alexa skill functionality (Amazon CloudFront, Amazon S3, Amazon CloudWatch, and Amazon DynamoDB) 
    2. Use AWS Lambda to build Alexa skills 
    3. Follow AWS and Alexa security and privacy best practices 
  4. Skill Development 
    1. Implement in-skill purchasing and Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills 
    2. Use Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) for expression and MP3 audio 
    3. Implement state management 
    4. Implement Alexa service interfaces (audio player, video player, and screens) 
    5. Parse Alexa JSON requests and provide responses 
  5. Test, Validate, and Troubleshoot
    1. Debug and troubleshoot using Amazon CloudWatch or other tools 
    2. Use the Alexa developer testing tools 
    3. Perform beta testing 
    4. Troubleshoot errors in the interaction model 
  6. Publishing, Operations, and Lifecycle Management
    1. Describe the skill publishing process 
    2. Add and remove users in the developer console
    3. Perform analysis of skill analytics in the developer console
    4. Differentiate among the statuses/versions of skills (for example, In Development, In Certification, and Live)

Exam Duration: 170 minutes

Passing Score: 75% 

Price: 300 USD

AWS Exam Readiness Course: Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty

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AWS Certifications are consistently among the top paying IT certifications in the world, considering that Amazon Web Services is the leading cloud services platform with almost 50% market share! Earn over $150,000 per year with an AWS certification!

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