How I Got AWS Certified While Having a Life

Get certified not dumped

JT Earl

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Get certified in X months articles are crap

Last month I attained my AWS Solution Architect Associate Certification(CSAA). It’s the first certification of my IT career and I’ve learned a lot from the whole experience. When researching the certification I came across a ton of articles talking about how to get it in a few months. I bought into these articles and began my studying thinking that I would finish in three months tops. What I’ve learned is that those articles are hyper misleading. Can you get your CSAA in a month or two? Sure, but don’t expect to do anything outside of work and study. I want to share my thoughts on how us mortal humans can get certified while working a 9–5(or longer) job, having a family, and keeping our pets happy. I linked my badge below to prove not only is this possible but I did it.

Know your numbers

The best way to maintain your lifestyle and get certified is to look at how much time you can commit to studying. AWS recommends around 80–120 hours of studying. Consider how many days and how many hours a day you can study. When figuring this out low ball yourself. It’s easy to think you can study 7 days a week but when you’re knee-deep in DynamoDB documentation on batch put calls memory limits you will regret being ambitious on your time estimate. I fell for this trap and was ambitious with my estimate on how much time I could study a day. My bravado ended up burning me out on studying. I pushed my exam date by about two weeks to take some time off and recover before my last big push of studying.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I’ve found that the 80–120 hour estimate by Amazon is very accurate. I spent 100 hours studying for the exam and it wasn’t until around 80 hours that I began to feel comfortable with the material. Other friends that have taken the exam have also been around this time range. You might be able to take the exam before 80 hours but these numbers come from Amazon, the makers of the exam. I…

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JT Earl

Programmer Since 17. Currently working in front-end and mid-tier programming for a finance company. Check out my Tech blog @ documentobject.com