The Path to All Five AWS Certifications

TL;DR This is not a brain dump or a “how-to-pass exam X” post. There are plenty of those elsewhere already.

A little over a year ago (last August, to be exact), I unknowingly forked my career path. You may be asking how is that I came to cause such a major divergence while yet remaining unaware as to the fact that I had done so. The answer is both very simple and quite complicated: I got my first AWS certification.

In the year that has ensued, as you will have no doubt inferred by the title of this post, I have gone on to get the other four AWS certifications and join the “All 5 club”. In that time, I have come to meet a few others with that distinction and many more who would like to have it. When asked why they want all five certifications, the primary motivations (from my perspective) seem to be salary negotiating power and whatever conception of notoriety could come from having all five certifications.

If I said that, to some degree, I was any different, I’d be lying. I’m just as human as the next guy or gal, and I certainly like scrolling down my LinkedIn profile every now and then and seeing that nice little stack of AWS icons in the “Certifications” section. But often, as I’m watching the wonder of an auto-scaling group spinning up a new node because CPU hit 80% or watching a Terraform run finish after creating what could constitute a small enterprise data center, I really sit back in amazement and say to myself “wow”. That “wow”… That’s why I got that first certification… I wanted to know more about how all of it worked. I stumbled quite accidentally onto Ryan Kroonenburg’s Udemy course on how to study for the AWS Certified Developer exam. The more I listened to his lessons and saw AWS in action; the more in awe I became. That awe quickly gave way to a belief: that “the cloud” is where all of IT is going, even if (in some cases, and it will be, I assure you) it goes kicking and screaming. In fact, at the time I got my first certification, I was employed in an organization that will probably go to the cloud in that exact manner (as an aside: I actually listed the certification as an achievement on my yearly self-assessment and was quietly taken aside and warned that it was incredibly unwise to boast about getting a certification outside of “our stack”. Yeah, I listed it anyway).

A few months after that, I left to join a consultancy that wanted to build best-of-breed software solutions: passion for AWS welcome. Now I work for an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, and I live and breathe AWS day in and day out. Even after getting that fifth certificate, I still find myself wowed at how expansive the AWS ecosystem and what it has to offer (that seems to grow by the minute, too, in case you’re not paying attention). It’s not about the certs, really. For me, at least, the certs are a pointer to something bigger – that “the cloud” isn’t just changing game, it already has; and for the moment, at least, AWS is leading the way.

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