Amazon has released a new AWS certification for Alexa developers, providing a path to gain validation for working with the popular virtual assistant for smart speakers.
The AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification is “intended for individuals who perform a role as an Alexa skill builder” and it “validates a candidate’s ability to build, test, and publish Amazon Alexa skills,” Amazon says.
So what are “Alexa skills,” anyway? Simply put, skills are what Amazon calls third-party apps for its smart speakers, such as weather programs, home automation functions, games, and more. Developers can use the Alexa Skills Kit to build and publish new skills, typically using Amazon’s AWS Lambda service to run their code entirely in the cloud.
In addition to its consumer products, Amazon offers the Alexa for Business paid subscription service, which offers opportunities for developers of business tools in areas like collaboration, workflow, teleconferencing, and the like.
Ready to get started with Alexa?
Get access to all of A Cloud Guru’s Alexa courses, labs, quizzes, and original series today. Check out our Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty course by Alexa Champion, Kesha Williams!
A booming market
This is Amazon’s first AWS certification for Alexa, the virtual assistant used in the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, following a limited beta exam earlier this year.
The booming smart speaker market is projected to grow to $23.1 billion worldwide by 2025. Amazon and Google each own about a third of a global market which saw a record 86.2 million units sold in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Exciting times! But for all the success in moving units, smart speaker makers like Amazon and Google haven’t had a “runaway hit” in their app stores, Bloomberg notes. Nearly four years after the launch of Alexa, Amazon has 80,000 apps, or skills, in its Alexa marketplace but not “one killer app,” developer Mark Einhorn says.
Part of the problem is that Alexa’s native controls supply far and away the most popular uses of Amazon’s smart speakers. But another issue may be that there simply aren’t enough developers with the combination of expertise in both cloud-based app delivery and developing for voice functionality and user experience.
The new Alexa Skill cert is an effort to turn the tide by training and validating more developers in those areas.
Upgrade your Alexa Skill skills
If you want to get into Alexa, or push your knowledge to the next level, we’ve got you covered. While we don’t have an Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification course yet, we have one in active development, and ACG members will get exclusive access when the beta goes live.
In the meantime, we have a ton of Alexa-related material, including Introduction to Alexa, AWS Lamba, and AWS Lambda@Edge courses, as well as Alexa Devs, an ACG Original Series devoted entirely to building Alexa Skills.
Successful achievers of the AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification will be validated for:
- Explaining the value of voice
- Designing the user experience
- Designing the architecture to build an Alexa skill
- Following AWS and Alexa security best practices for the skill
- Developing, testing, validating, and troubleshooting the skill
- Managing the skill-publishing process and working with the Alexa Developer Console
- Managing skill operations and life cycles
Amazon recommends that candidates for the certification:
- Have at least six months of hands-on experience building Alexa skills using the Alexa Skills Kit, including skills that incorporate services from the AWS Cloud
- Are proficient in at least one programming language
- Have published an Alexa skill
As you contemplate pursuing an AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder – Specialty certification, definitely stay tuned to this space – other virtual assistant vendors may soon be following suit with their own validation programs.