Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

The Value of an AWS Certification

A Cloud Guru News
A Cloud Guru News

While certifications don’t always equate to competence, the AWS Certification does correlate to higher salary. Yes, it’s worth it.

The lack of cloud expertise was identified as the #1 challenge with cloud adoption by 25% of corporations. There’s clearly a shortage of certified AWS professionals available today.

There is consistent debate over the value of certifications in general. Just mention a DevOps certification and you’ll be going down a rabbit hole of think piece — from which there is no escape. Try to get a job as a network engineer without a Cisco certification, and you’ll be thinking Sisyphus got off lightly.

Martin Fowler does a good job in summarizing a number of the issues people have with certifications with this great post on certification vs competence. In short, he argues there is often low correlation between certification and competence, and the failure is often is that the certification does not accurately test competence for a job role.

Despite the correlation between certification and competence, there is still huge demand for certifications. A Cloud Guru offers online training for Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the certification courses outsell the other courses by more than 10 times.

Each of the five AWS certifications available earn an average salary of more than $100,000

There is one very good reason for this — in the real world, certifications translate to leveling up your career with better jobs and pay increases.

We see these types of positive message very often. We also see the other type of messages — when someone needs to obtain a certification to validate new skills in order to to keep their job. Like it or not, a certification is often a requirement for employment.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect associate-level certification pays a median salary of $125,091.

I see two reasons for requiring certifications. The first is that most businesses do not have an effective and cheap way to test the competence of job applicants. The second is that vendors require a minimum number of certifications to maintain partner status and gain partner benefits.

So if a business doesn’t have an effective and cheap way to test the technical competence of a candidate, but there is often have a low correlation between competence and certification, then shortlisting by certification surely is a fool’s errand? A lot of organizations realize this, so will use experience rather than certifications in the shortlisting processes, but this is far from perfect either.

I’m going to avoid opening up the massive can of worms about failed hiring practices, and just leave it that the reality is that in many positions the only way recruiters and hiring managers filter a large number of applicants easily is by using certifications.

The second factor driving the demand for certifications is the partnership requirements of vendors. For me this is actually a good thing, but not because it gives an accurate measure of the competence of the partner in the specific vendor technology, but rather it gives a good measure of the commitment of the partner to the vendor technology.

The cost of achieving higher level partnership status is often high, the direct training and certification costs are small compared to the higher cost of committing the time of revenue generating employees to achieving certifications. For me I see partnership levels, not so much a test of competence, but rather a test of commitment.

We speak to a lot AWS partners about achieving partnership status, and the truly committed partners are locked in an arms race with each other to get AWS certified skills and go well beyond achieving the minimum partner certification requirements. We’ve seen companies get their receptionists and accountants certified in a bid to have 100% of employees certified (another argument for competence vs certification).

These companies offer cash incentives, pay increases and will prefer certified candidates when hiring over non-certified candidates.

The average salary for AWS-certified IT staff is 27.5 percent higher

My personal view of AWS certifications and the competence vs certification argument, is that the AWS associate certifications should be treated like a drivers license. Assume the individual has a basic level of competence with AWS, but I wouldn’t throw them the keys to a Porsche GT2 on day 1.

The other side to the certification argument is what is the downside is there to getting certified? Historically the time and cost of attending classroom led training was a big barrier. With online learning platforms like A Cloud Guru an individual can get AWS certified at their own pace for under USD $180, including the $150 exam fee — as opposed to the typical USD $2,095 for time boxed instructor led classroom training.

Either way, until hiring practices are improved, expect certifications to be around for a long time. And with the new and more affordable certification training options, there are fewer excuses than ever before to get certified.

Top Stories From AWS This Week

Amazon Web Services launches new updates daily and it’s hard to find the time to keep up. To help you stay up-to-date after your certification, A Cloud Guru created the AWS This Week newscast to provide quick and current headlines from Amazon Web Services delivered to your inbox every week.

Sign up today for AWS This Week to get the top stories delivered to your inbox weekly!

A Cloud Guru training courses are delivered by industry experts with a shared passion for cloud computing. Keep up with the A Cloud Guru crew on Twitter.


Get more insights, news, and assorted awesomeness around all things cloud learning.

Get Started
Who’s going to be learning?
Sign In
Welcome Back!
Thanks for reaching out!

You’ll hear from us shortly. In the meantime, why not check out what our customers have to say about ACG?

How many seats do you need?

  • $499 USD per seat per year
  • Billed Annually
  • Renews in 12 months

Ready to accelerate learning?

For over 25 licenses, a member of our sales team will walk you through a custom tailored solution for your business.