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From the First Step Forward: Best AWS Training Tips cover image

The beginning of the year is the best time for our ambitions to thrive. How many times have you promised yourself you’re going to finally save for that dream car, read twice as many books, or find a more rewarding job with better career prospects? If this last one is also your hope for 2021, here’s a bit of honest advice: no field is hotter right now than cloud computing, and no cloud computing platform is more prominent than Amazon Web Services (AWS). In this guide, we collected the best AWS training sources, tips, and ideas to help you find your footing in the exciting and challenging world of professional cloud computing!

Start With a Solid Foundation

If you’re feeling serious about mastering AWS and finding a job in the field of cloud computing, getting certified makes all the sense, right? You will need to prove your newly gained expertise to recruiters and potential employers, after all. To do that, you need to pass the AWS exam.

The AWS Certification program offers a chance to earn 12 distinct certification badges, each associated with a certain role in an organization – the only exception is the Foundational-level certification called the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner (CCP). If you think this makes it far from the best AWS training choice… Think again!

In the past, you had to be an AWS CCP to register for a higher-level certification exam: it was a prerequisite with no way around it. The rule has since been eliminated to provide the candidates with more flexibility (you can now pick any AWS exam to take first), but any cloud computing expert would tell you it’s still the best AWS training starting point. Why? For the same reason you don’t typically start college before attending elementary school: you need to get down the basics.

By studying for the Foundational-level AWS exam, you will cover all the bases you need like the back of your hand, including but not limited to concepts of cloud computing, core AWS services, and value proposition. With a solid understanding of the basics, you will find it a lot less challenging to master solution design, DevOps engineering, or any other specialty you decide to pick. And once you get your AWS certification, jobs will be much easier to find.

Invest in All-Inclusive Training

When you’re looking for the best source to learn AWS, you need to think strategically. In the age of Pinterest and DIY, we all sometimes get the feeling we can craft anything ourselves – and yet, baking your own banana bread or repainting a shelf is very different from crafting the best AWS training program. Technically, you could save a few bucks by trying to collect and compile the information you need from various sources – however, it might do you more harm than good.

First and foremost, with your current lack of knowledge and experience with cloud computing, you will not be able to differentiate quality content from something that’s outdated, incomplete, or just plain wrong. Unaware of the variety of components and topics needed for some program to be considered as the best source to learn AWS, you might end up with a ton of useless information – and don’t even get us started on wasted time!

In all honesty, professional growth is probably not the best place to save. To stay on the globally unmatched cloud leader’s throne, AWS introduces new products, services, and upgrades all the time. What this means to a learner is that all the best AWS training websites, courses, or programs must be constantly reviewed and updated by experts – therefore, the best places to learn AWS are rarely ever free.

Think of it this way. If you invest in an up-to-date AWS course made by industry experts, you’ll get ready for your certification exam a lot faster (not only will you not waste time gathering the materials yourself, but you’ll also learn a lot more effectively). The sooner you get certified, the sooner you can start reaping the benefits – including financial rewards.

Don’t Limit Your Learning to Theory

Cloud computing is no comparative linguistics: you can’t learn it all from reading theory. You need to actually roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to understand the AWS Cloud in-depth – and there are two main ways to do that.

You should start by testing your knowledge using tests, quizzes, practice exams, and hands-on labs. The best AWS training courses can often have them included, so if you followed our second tip, you might have this sorted out. Practicing regularly allows you to be aware of your level of knowledge, strengths, weaknesses, and areas that might require some extra revision.

Once you have some general knowledge of AWS core services and their purpose, it might be the time to get to know them up close. AWS offers a Free Tier for beginners, which allows them to try a lot of its products and services free of charge (either for 12 months, a short-term free trial, or forever). Naturally, there are limits to the resources you can use, but they’re more than enough for a beginner (e.g., you get 5 GB of Standard storage in S3, 750 hours of computing capacity in EC2, and 1 million free Lambda requests per month). After all, the best AWS training is exploring the Amazon cloud services yourself!

Keep Your Eye on AWS Updates

When discussing the best AWS training courses, we mentioned that AWS is constantly updating, upgrading, and introducing new features and products. If you aim to become a real expert of Amazon cloud services, we’d advise you to keep following their news and announcements on a regular basis. Whether you only have a few minutes or a few hours to spare every week, there are ways to use them for getting your dose of AWS updates.

If you can and want to dedicate a lot of time and get to know all that’s happening in the AWS camp, you can read the official AWS News blog. The posts are added on a pretty regular and frequent basis, and you will be sure you’re not missing anything! However, there’s a risk you’ll spend more time reading about minuscule upgrades than you’d like – are you sure it’s the most productive thing to spend all your free time on?

Now, if the time you’d like to spend on keeping up with AWS every week is no more than an hour, you might enjoy the AWS Podcast, hosted by two seasoned Amazonians – Simon Elisha (Head of Solution Architecture, Public Sector) and Nicki Stone (Senior Software Engineer). New episodes are uploaded weekly and typically last 15–45 minutes.

Striving to keep up with AWS by investing even less time? We get it: you want to concentrate on your own projects and not every little platform element that received a slight upgrade. In this case, your best bet would be to follow the social media accounts that select and sum up the most important announcements for you. For example, BitDegree Academy presents the top three stories every week – being one of the best places to learn AWS online, it makes sure the students don’t miss any critical innovations or improvements.

Remember Why You Started

Even if you enroll in the best AWS training program, explore the platform on your own, and set some time for updating your knowledge every week, it’s only natural to experience some ups and downs in your motivation: the important thing is not to remain in the latter.

Mastering Amazon cloud services is not something you can do in a day or a week. If you’re a bit afraid of not being able to follow through with it, here’s one thing we’d recommend doing before you start. Think of why exactly you want to reach this goal, and scribble down your list of reasons. Anytime your motivation (or will) takes a dip, refer back to your arguments. It’s unlikely they will have lost their relevance – after all, who doesn’t want a more promising career, a nicer paycheck, and an impactful role in shaping the future? After all, with a valid AWS certification, jobs and promotions come a lot quicker!

Make sure to remind yourself why you started this learning journey in the first place: this extra push will help you reach your goal quicker and enjoy the benefits sooner. While choosing the best source to learn AWS (have you checked out this course by BitDegree Academy yet?) and identifying the proper steps is a great start, keeping a steady pace and motivation is what will help you most in the long run – get ready to kick off the career upgrade of your life!

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Eidmantė Kalašinskaitė