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Hone AWS skills with these training methods

IT pros have an abundance of AWS training resources available to boost cloud know-how, but knowledge is no substitute for hands-on cloud experience.

AWS professionals come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of expertise. There are AWS developers, AWS architects, AWS security experts and even experts in one of the hundreds of AWS cloud services, ranging from databases to storage to machine learning.

For many, a higher salary is the biggest perk and motivator for obtaining these skills. Enterprises demand experts with AWS skills, and AWS professionals typically command salaries of $150,000 or more, depending on how specialized the skill. But salary isn't the only motivator. Many IT pros also have interest in AWS or cloud services; the technology is new and exciting, and that excitement keeps IT pros engaged.

Whether the money or the technology motivates an IT job seeker, there are a several ways to meet AWS career goals.

AWS certification training typically involves skills that many employers seek, but it's becoming more difficult to get a job with credentials alone.

Third-party AWS training companies provide additional educational resources. Cloud Guru, Lynda.com and Cloud Academy all provide third-party AWS training, and each provides context outside the AWS view of the industry. Cloud Guru and Cloud Academy each provide a pure cloud course set, with the latter company focusing more on certification training. Lynda.com is more of a general training site, as cloud computing is one of many educational tracks.

But nothing beats on-the-job training. While some employers want to see AWS certifications, most want experienced IT staff. Pros who can use AWS or build applications effectively are those who have done it for longer than a year. Experience matters more than credentials, to a point where AWS certifications are no longer mandatory for an AWS position.

Experience matters more than credentials, to a point where AWS certifications are no longer mandatory for an AWS position.

The most common question I get asked about this subject is, "How do you get your first AWS gig?" Simple answer: Take a job with a path to AWS skills. For example, if you're a Linux sys admin with a few years of experience, find a relatable job doing that with a company that plans to move their Linux servers from the data center to AWS Linux server instances. You'll eventually get a ton of AWS skills that you can resell in your job hunt.

If you're a database pro, your path is a bit easier. Most database skills are transferable to AWS, including AWS-native Relational Database Service and Redshift databases. Transferring your database skills directly into an AWS job is easy, as employers put more of a premium on database talent than they put on IT pros with knowledge of specific AWS-native databases.

No matter what AWS skills path you choose, it's really a matter of desire more than luck. If you want to learn AWS, you can. If you want a job putting those AWS skills to use, you can find it. And you can easily build upon that base set of skills.

Next Steps

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This was last published in July 2017

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What resources did you use to gain more AWS expertise?
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There are not many AWS projects. A well experienced IT professional with course training in AWS Solution Architect, along with a sr. solution architect should be able to do the job and gain additional experience.
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