philschmid blog

My path to become a certified solution architect

#AWS #Certificate #Cloud
, October 24, 2020 · 4 min read

Photo by Fidel Fernando on Unsplash

Introduction

Hello, my name is Philipp and I am working as a machine learning engineer at a technology incubation startup. At work I design and implement cloud-native machine learning architectures for fin-tech and insurance companies.

I started to work with AWS 2 1/2 years ago. Since then I had built many projects both privately and at work using AWS Services. I like the Serverless services of aws the most. For me, Serverless first always applies.

In short, I have several years of professional and part-time experience with AWS, but no certificate. I know that hands-on experience and knowledge are more important than certificates. But sometimes you need a sheet of paper to prove that.

Disclaimer

This article won’t show how everyone gets certified in under 30h of studying. Instead, it should motivate others who have the same experience as me but are too lazy.


The Certificate

So a few weeks ago I decided to do the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate SAA-C02” certificate.

The “AWS Solutions Architect – Associate SAA-C02” certificate validates the ability to architect and deploy dynamically scalable, highly available, fault-tolerant, and reliable applications on AWS. The exam takes 130 minutes and consists of 65 questions


Research

First I researched, what are the exam criteria. According to the AWSSolution_Architect-_Associate_SAA-C02_Exam_Blue_Print it consists out of those 4 topics.

SAA-C02-Content-Domain-Weights

except from the PDF-Document

Second, I researched online courses and summary/ cheat sheets. I quickly found an online course as I was already familiar with a cloud guru. After some googling, I found Jayendra’s Blog, which has a cheat sheet for almost every topic.


Study

Initially, I watched the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate SAA-C02” course on a cloud guru. Due to my experienced, I watched the course at 2x speed. Every episode that contained a lab have I implemented independently afterwards.

After I completed the course I did one practice exam from a cloud guru and achieved 78%. Therefore I booked my practice in 3 days. In these 3 days, I studied 4 hours a day, did 10 practice exams, and learned with the cheatsheets.

Learning Path Overview

WeekCourse ChapterTopicTime invested
11&2Introduction & 10,000-Foot Overview1/2h
13Identity and Access Management & S32h
24EC23h
35Databases on AWS2h
36Advanced IAM1/2h
47Route 531h
48VPCs2h
59HA Architecture2h
610Applications1h
611Security1/2h
612Serverless1h
7-10x Practice Exams & studying cheatsheets12h

In total it took me 7 Weeks and ~28h to complete the “AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate SAA-C02” certificate.


Exam

On the day of the exam, I took the last practice exam and did every quiz from the a cloud guru course. I took my exam at home through PearsonVue. As an exemplary examinee, I fulfilled all requirements in advance and was ready for my exam. The check-in was very easy and the Instructor was very kind. It took around 10 minutes to start.

It took me 80 minutes to finish and pass the exam.

My AWS Certificate


Learnings

Practice exams are good, but due to the fact that AWS is developing so fast, they don´t have to be accurate. In my case, I had around 8–10 Questions about storage gateway, efs, fsx and in the practice exams way less of them. My learning from this is I should rather do one less practice exam and read some more documentation.

My second learning is that the confirmation of your abilities is something great to be proud of.


Thanks for reading and a special Thanks to Jayendra’s Blog and a cloud guru.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. You can connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn or write me an email.