AWS Certified DevOps Professional – my thoughts after the exam

Almost exactly one year after getting my first AWS certification (AWS Certified AWS Architect – Associate) I passed my DevOps exam with a score of 885/1000 points with 1 hour time left. Am I happy? Sure! Was it worth it? Kind of…

What are the benefits of becoming AWS DevOps Professional? 

Wider knowledge – from my perspective, I can say that I was pushed to learn about services that I didn’t know of before. I can use that knowledge while planning some automation and not reinventing the wheel with lambdas. 

More job offers to choose from – I can’t tell much about being AWS Professional as I got this certification just 4 days ago. From the perspective of two times certified associate, I can tell that some of the offers require you to be certified or want you to get one soon after being hired so it’s good to have one in the first place.

When it comes to job interviews it depends. Some people want to check the level of your knowledge anyway. Usually, they try to ask about corner cases to prove that you don’t know all 😉 On the other hand, some of the technical interviews are quicker as recruiters focus more on experience and they don’t ask AWS technical questions assuming that you know your craft. 

What was my background before the exam?

  • Around 3 years of experience with AWS.
  • Two Associate Certifications earned within 1 year.

What I didn’t want to learn before the DevOps exam

CloudFormation – because Terraform is my preferred tool for building infrastructure and from my perspective is simply better.

Elastic Beanstalk – in my whole career no one asked me to help him with its setup (so the tool works as designed, right? 🙂 ). Plus as a DevOps Engineer provision basic infra in a code is just a matter of minutes to me.

CodeCommit – as there are few simply better alternatives such as GitHub, Bitbucket, Gitlab and except Gitlab all of them have perfect synergy with AWS CI/CD stack.

CodeStar – I didn’t understand its use case.

OpsWorks – seriously, who use Chef or Puppet nowadays for provision 😀 Yeah, I know, a lot of companies… But anyway I felt that I will not touch it in near future. 

As you can see there were a bunch of things. What I can say after is that I changed my mind about Cloud Formation. It’s not that bad as I assumed.

My preparation was a mixture of

AWS Certified DevOps Professional Hands-On! By Stephan Maarek – 20,5 hours of labs inside AWS console presented in a step-by-step manner. I can say that this course alone gave me strong fundamentals to pass the exam. I was watching it in x1.75 speed as some of the stuff was known to me already and I felt comfortable with gettings information fast. This was a key resource in my preparation plan.

AWS Certified DevOps Professional test exams from Whizzlabs – Around 500 exam questions. From my perspective, some of them were even harder in comparison to the ones in the exam. I took two practice tests one day before the exam.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional 2020 from A Cloud Guru – To be honest, this course is not worth the time. It just covers the topics from a higher perspective. If I had to pick between this and Stephan Maarek I would choose the second option without hesitation. Although the course itself is… not enough practice exams are a true gem. I spent tens of hours going through the questions over and over again to pinpoint holes in my knowledge and at the end of preparation I had few extra pages of things to learn.

AWS documentation – a resource that should be known already by anyone who aspires to be AWS Professional. If something was unclear at any point in course or labs I was immediately checking it inside docs and writing it down to repeat later on.

Apart from the above, I took one official practice test from AWS and failed but thanks to it I learned that I need more practice before the real attempt.

How did my preparation look in practice? 

Course from Stephan with some labs during the process -> practice tests -> learning unknown -> practice tests -> learning unknown -> practice tests…

Once I was happy with the results I scheduled the exam and passed it on my first attempt. The whole learning process with ~ 8 full practice tests, course, and labs took me around 80 hours.

Really important note

Exam questions assume that you have strong fundamentals from areas such as EC2, VPC, S3. CloudWatch, SNS, SQS (apart from exam topics) so It’s a good idea to refresh some stuff from AWS Certified AWS Architect – Associate before taking the exam. 

Two tips for AWS Certified DevOps Professional wannabes

  • If you are not a native English speaker you can get extra 30 minutes for your exam. How to do it is described here.
  • You can cut the price of the exam by half if you use the discount code earned from the previous exam. 

My final advice

Give yourself time and master things you don’t know – even if you think that they are useless to you at this moment they may come in handy in the future. I wish you all the best and good luck!

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