5 good reasons not to get AWS certified

Andreas Wittig – 17 Feb 2021

I completed my first AWS certification in 2014: AWS Solutions Architect Associate. During the following years, I accomplished all five associate and professional certificates. However, Michael and I decided not to renew our AWS certifications about a year ago. In the following, I will share five good reasons not to get AWS certified!

5 good reasons not to get AWS certified

Do you prefer listening to a podcast episode over reading a blog post? Here you go!

Stay away from the race to the bottom

More and more IT professionals are getting AWS certified. Recently, Amazon announced to help 29 million people around the world grow their tech skills with free cloud computing skills training by 2025. It is a race to the bottom. In the end, an AWS certification will not distinguish you from your peers anymore.

Find a way to escape the race to the bottom. You will find some inspiration in the following.

Showcase your skills with your work instead of a certificate

Whenever I’m involved in hiring a freelancer or employee, I look for a showcase of the applicant’s work. It is not that hard to fake an AWS certification. Having a look into the results of an applicant’s work is much more revealing.

Therefore, start your journey into the cloud and showcase the skills you acquire along the way. Start a blog, create a video channel, maintain an open-source repository, speak at the local user group, or find any other way to share your learnings and expertise.

Be unique, define your own curriculum

When aiming for an AWS certification, you need to follow the learning path defined by Amazon. In the end, your skillset is not unique but similar to millions of other IT professionals. Also, you will learn a lot of things that you are not interested in.

Pick your focus areas instead. Start with Serverless, Machine Learning, Networking, Databases, whatever sounds most interesting to you. It will be a lot more fun and allows you to differentiate your skillset.

Learning by doing is much more effective than memorizing answers

Let’s face it. How do 99% prepare for AWS certification? By memorizing questions and answers. That’s not a very effective way of learning.

I highly recommend learning by doing. It is harder to do so, but in the end, you know how to solve problems instead of answering multiple-choice questions. Migrate a website to AWS, implement a simple Serverless application, backup your data on S3, or implement an IoT use case.

Avoid marketing nonsense by learning from independents

AWS invests a lot into learning materials, which are used by their partners as well. Very seldomly you will read about limitations and pitfalls in those learning materials. To me, a lot of the content feels more like marketing content than technical materials. The problem with that is that you will not learn about the rough edges of the cloud. But that’s the expertise that distinguishes between success and failure in the real world.

Find independents to learn from and avoid AWS and their partners.


For sure, there are good reasons to get AWS certified. But, there are good reasons against doing so as well. The most important one, getting AWS certified, is a race to the bottom. Go on your own journey!

Andreas Wittig

Andreas Wittig

I’ve been building on AWS since 2012 together with my brother Michael. We are sharing our insights into all things AWS on cloudonaut and have written the book AWS in Action. Besides that, we’re currently working on bucketAV,HyperEnv for GitHub Actions, and marbot.

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