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AWS Certification: Path to Diversity and Inclusion in IT

There are many options for a career in IT. AWS certification offers an exciting path to diversity and inclusion in tech, and a great opportunity for anyone interested in IT.

7 min read
AWS Certification: Path to Diversity and Inclusion in IT

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73% of developers worldwide think diversity is at least somewhat important, and 41% rank it as very important. Despite this, it's a topic many companies are uncomfortable talking about.

Statistics on diversity in a given industry show where improvements need to be made. For instance, 31 Canadian companies were surveyed by CBC, and only two responded, admitting that less than 50% of their workforce in all departments are women.

We all know Canada has a rich ethnic makeup. Canada's population of over 38 million is made up of a diverse mix. Canada's non-caucasian population, totalling 22% of the country's labour force in 2016, include approximately 25.1% South Asian, 20.5% Chinese, 15.6% Black, 10.2% Filipino, 6.8% Arab, 5.8% Latin American. Despite this, the representation of these groups in the tech industry needs improvement. The Brookfield Institute found in 2019 that only 9.2% of the tech workforce is South Asian, 9.8% Chinese, and 2.6% Black, to name a few. In terms of immigration, Brookfield found that immigrants make up 37.5% of the tech workforce in Canada which is encouraging. In terms of age, Brookfield found that 5.9% of the tech workforce in Canada was aged 15-24, 52.8% aged 25-44, 38.3% aged 45-64, and 2.9% 65 and over. According to Brookfield, in 2016, men were almost four times more likely than women to work in tech occupations and earned, on average $7,300 more than women in these occupations.

Fairly representing the diverse genders as well as this range of racial groups can be difficult but is made much more achievable by evolving attitudes among Canadian workers and employers, and helped by government initiatives like the 50-30 Challenge.

Looking at the tech industry, it's clear that AWS certification offers a path to greater inclusion and diversity in tech.

This valuable set of skills is available to anyone, makes you a much more attractive candidate to employers, and helps close pay gaps.

Please read on to learn about an AWS certification path, the benefits it provides, the types you have to choose from, and how to pick the right one for you.

What Is an AWS Certification?

AWS - or Amazon Web Services - is the largest global provider of cloud computing services.

An AWS certification proves that you have the necessary skills to use the platform. This makes you a more attractive candidate when attempting to find a tech job.

To obtain an AWS certification, you must pass a test. This can take a few days up to months, depending on your experience, study habits, and other factors.

The test itself is a multiple-choice exam. It takes anywhere from 60-180 minutes to complete at a testing centre or online.

The length of time required for the test also depends on which training path you choose.

Foundation and associate certifications require six months to 1 year of experience. Speciality and professional certifications require two years of experience and additional preparation.

Amazon does not limit to the number of times you can take an AWS certification test. You must wait 14 days between each attempt and pay the registration fee each time.

Benefits of an AWS Certification

Cloud computing offers significant benefits, including flexibility, scalability, safety, easy integration, network accessibility, and cost savings. 90% of businesses are already using it. Those who don't should consider migrating.

AWS is the largest cloud provider available. It currently makes up 40% of the market, with revenue expected to top $43 billion by 2022. Cloud computing allows businesses to save money. They can pay per usage instead of paying monthly or yearly fees. In fact, AWS cost optimization can save a business 72% on average.

AWS also presents benefits to those hoping to enter the tech sector, allowing them to create a more diverse workforce gradually. These include a better hiring process, fairer pay rates, and easy renewal.

Better Hiring

There's an ever-growing number of AWS certifications available today. Having any one of them proves to an employer that you have the skills they seek and take your training seriously.

A candidate with AWS certification will have a better experience from the hiring process to the day they retire. They'll get more interviews and earn higher wages once they're hired.

When a candidate has an AWS certification, the hiring manager is more likely to consider them regardless of gender or race. This leads to a diverse workplace hired based on skill.

Fair Pay

The average AWS-certified professional earns a salary of $113,932. Depending on the certification, the pay ranges from $117,773-$136,259. These rates apply regardless of gender or race and can help reduce pay gaps. Qualified candidates may be more willing to apply and stay at major tech companies if they know they'll be paid what they're worth.

Easy Renewal

An AWS certification is easy to renew at any time. You'll learn new skills and technology related to your preferred AWS certification path. Renewing your certification keeps you up-to-date with continually changing technology. It also shows your employer that you want to continue to learn.

Improved Diversity in the Workplace

AWS certifications are available to everyone who can pass the tests and earn them. Their benefits combine to allow for a more diverse tech workforce.

Easy renewal and fairer pay and hiring processes are better for everyone, but especially for those who may have been at a disadvantage. It puts skill at the forefront of the hiring decision, lessening the importance of other factors.

Women who follow the same AWS certification path as men won't have to worry about a pay gap. Visible minorities, defined by the Employment Equity Act as "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-White in colour," are more likely to be hired based on their qualifications, regardless of the colour of their skin. This has the potential to lead to greater diversity in the tech field.

Types of AWS Certifications

While knowing the AWS platform in and out makes you an attractive tech candidate, it also helps to focus on one specific area. The platform is large and complex, and learning everything about it would take years.

Several levels of AWS certification provide training in different skills. They include foundational, associate, professional, and speciality levels.

Foundational Level

TThere is only one basic, foundational-level certification available. It's known as the Certified Cloud AWS Practitioner certification. This certification is not a prerequisite but does give you essential skills. It'll provide you with cloud expertise and other useful information. If you don't know which certification to get first, you may want to start here.

Associate Certifications

The associate certifications require at least one year of experience building solutions in AWS, and there are three associate certifications available.

The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator certification is for system administrators. It allows them to validate their ability to deploy, manage, and operate AWS cloud systems.

The associate-level AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification provides skills needed to design scalable distributed systems on AWS that are highly available, cost-efficient, and fault-tolerant. This is the prerequisite for the professional level SA certification.

An AWS Certified Developer has all the necessary skills to develop, deploy, debug, and maintain cloud-native applications in AWS. Anyone with experience as a developer can be a suitable candidate.

Professional Certifications

There are two professional-level certifications in AWS. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect professional-level certification expands on how to design, deploy, and migrate AWS applications. Prerequisites include Associate-level certification and two years of experience designing and deploying solutions on the platform.

An AWS DevOps Engineer manages, implements, secures, monitors, and maintains applications in AWS. DevOps skills are in very high demand in the tech sector.

Speciality Certifications

Parallel to the professional-level certifications are, at time of writing, six speciality certifications. They have varying prerequisites, but most require a certain number of years of general experience in the domain along with one or more associate certifications.

The AWS Certified Security certification validates skills such as data encryption and secure internet protocols. Candidates must have an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or any other AWS Associate certification and two years of experience.

The AWS Big Data Specialty Certification involves managing business information. Prerequisites include one or more of the three AWS Associate certifications and five or more years of data analytics experience.

The AWS Advanced Networking certification involves more complex networking scenarios in AWS, including as part of hybrid IT networks.

The AWS Machine Learning speciality certification is ideal for data scientists and the developers who work with them. This certification validates the holder's ability to design and deploy machine learning solutions in AWS to solve business problems.

The AWS Alexa Skill Builder certification speciality prepares developers to use ASK - or Alexa Skill Kit to develop new dialogue capabilities for Amazon Alexa. This certification helps prove you are qualified to build, test, and publish Amazon Alexa skills for businesses.

The Data Analytics AWS speciality certification focuses on collecting, securely storing and analyzing "big data."

The AWS Certified Database speciality validates the holder's expertise in the wide variety of AWS database solutions, when to use each, and how to maintain them.

As AWS continues to grow, and its technology expands, the types of certifications candidates can obtain will also increase. If you don't see the right kind of certification for you now, keep checking back to see if a new one is developed.

Choosing an AWS Certification Path

There are a growing number of learning paths through which to obtain certification. Learning paths are AWS's recommended progression of learning to lead eventually to the certifications outlined above. The learning paths help to ensure a well-rounded understanding rather than going straight for a certification. This broader approach fosters greater confidence in the learner.

The Cloud Practitioner path is for those who want a broad understanding of the basics of cloud computing and the AWS platform. The Architect path is best for solutions architects and application designers. The Developer path is for software developers. The Operations path is best for systems administrators and DevOps engineers.

Perhaps you're interested in cybersecurity and want to follow the Security learning path to obtain AWS Security certification, or you may aspire to follow the Big Data path to obtain the certified data analytics speciality certification.

Choosing a learning path has everything to do with the kind of career you want. Find out what you need to learn and which certifications can teach it to you, then choose the right order to take them in.

Don't feel locked-in once you choose an AWS certification path. It's possible to change your mind and switch to another if you discover that your current choice is not the right fit, or set yourself a target of following them all and obtaining the full range of certifications.

How Can I Begin With AWS?

AWS is a worldwide major cloud provider that serves thousands of people every day. Getting certified in using it is one of the best things you can do for your career.

AWS is affordable and effective, making it the most popular cloud service available today. It may also help create a more diverse tech industry because anyone with the necessary skills can obtain a certification.

Choosing an AWS certification path can be difficult. There are so many options, and new ones continue to develop as technology changes. Consider what your career goals are and which certifications will help you reach them.

Do you need help deciding how to use AWS to improve your career or business? We'd be happy to jump on a call to discuss. See our services to learn more.

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