If you’re looking to take an AWS exam, you’re going to want to know how much it’s going to cost, right? If you do, you’re in the right place. After spending a ton of time researching, and taking the exams myself, I’m going to talk you through not only what the exams cost, but what you can expect to pay for all the optional extras you can spend on to pass your AWS certification.
Let’s get straight to the point…
How much do AWS certifications cost? Sitting the AWS certification exam costs: $100USD for Cloud Practitioner, $150 for the Associate-level, and $300 for the Professional-level and Specialty. But, there are also hidden costs to be aware of: most spend an additional $20-$100, but on the extreme side, some spend $2000+.
So to pass your AWS exam, there’s no getting around the fact that it will cost you the fixed amount for the certification fee. But, if you’ve done any research online so far you’ll have seen that there are many, many additional resources that are advertised to you which claim to help you get certified.
These additional costs can quickly add up, and it can be confusing.
You have lots of options, that all cost varying amounts and all have their pros and cons. By the end of today’s article, you should have a much better understanding of the different options available to you and what they cost, so you can make a decision that’s right for you.
At the end of the article, I’ll make you a recommendation on what I’d suggest, so if you feel overwhelmed as you scroll the options—hold tight—I’ll help you out in the end to make a decision, so don’t worry too much.
Sound good? Let’s start by taking an overview of all these different additional things you can spend your money on, and roughly how much they cost.
All The (Additional) AWS certification Options Summarised
Here’s a summary of what you can expect to spend on those additional resources to help your AWS certification training process if you choose to do them. We’ll get into the details and pro’s and con’s very soon.
- In-Person Training: ~$500-$4000
- ACloudGuru / CloudAcademy: $30 per month
- Udemy / One-off courses: $20 per month
- Books: $20-50
- Practice Exams: $10-20
- YouTube: $0
- AWS white-papers: $0
Important: You DO NOT have to spend a penny on your AWS training. There are many ways that you can learn and pass your exam completely free. I’ll get into more details on how later, once we run through the different options.
Let’s now take a closer look at all the different options, their pros, and cons, starting with the priciest option, in-person training.
How Much Does In-Person AWS Training Cost?
To pass your AWS exam, one of the highest ticket items is classroom training from AWS or a certified partner.
There’s a whole range of different types of training, from short and intensive several hour training to full week-long training.
Training is provided from a number of different third parties and companies in partnership with AWS. Classroom training is almost guaranteed to be intense. They’ll cover a lot of the information, and depending on which course you take, you could even be ready, and take your exam at the end.
So the question is, is the classroom training worth it?
I’ll be quite frank with you here, and say that I wouldn’t suggest you book classroom training unless your company is offering to pay the cost. If you’ve really got that much spare cash to drop on the exam, and you want something quick, intensive, and comprehensive, classroom training could work for you.
But for most, I just don’t think the classroom training is worth the price tag. And if you’re thinking: “No way can I pay that much!”, don’t worry, because there are much cheaper (and free!) options we’ll discuss today, too.
If you’re looking for a classroom course, take a look at the AWS training website learning library.
Let’s now take a look at a very popular option: online learning platforms.
How Much Does ACloudGuru (Or CloudAcademy) Cost?
Cost: ~$30 per month
Learning platforms will always pop up in discussion forums and online articles about how to pass an AWS exam.
I’ve not personally had experience with all the platforms (there’s a lot!) however since I’ve been a long-time member of ACloudGuru I can give you some insight into how that platform works, and whether if it’s worth the money.
So firstly, ACloudGuru is a mainly certificate-focussed learning platform.
I’ll cut to the chase here, I think ACloudGuru is pretty good. ACloudGuru has a big team updating their content, so it’s pretty much always up-to-date, which doesn’t mean it’s not without issues from time-to-time, but on the whole, the content is high quality and up-to-date.
The learning platforms typically charge a monthly rate, which is what ACloudGuru does. If you choose this option I’d recommend you do your research about the exams first, find out which one you want to do, then sign up to ACloudGuru and immediately dive in. This way you don’t spend extra months on membership when you’re not ready to start taking your exam.
It’s worth mentioning here that there are a few other learning platforms that you might want to check out: LinkedIn Learning, Pluralsight, ExamPro, Udacity, EdX, and Coursera. There are also some independents who have their own courses published, such as Adrian Cantrill. Hopefully, I haven’t missed any, because there are, quite frankly, SO many.
Next up, one-off courses, that you can buy on platforms like Udemy.
How Much Are Udemy / One-off Courses?
Cost: ~$20 per course
One of the next options on your list and a popular option for certification courses is Udemy. On Udemy you can find two main types of content: course walkthroughs, and practice questions. For my last exam, I didn’t use any practice questions, but I’m definitely considering it in the future after reading many success stories from others who used them and recommend them.
Unlike the cloud platforms, Udemy is a buy once but keep forever type thing, which, might make sense for some of you who are looking to take things a bit slower, at your own pace, and you don’t want to be pressured by the feeling of a membership renewal cost. You can take the exam at your own pace, and you’ll know upfront what the cost is.
Jon Bonso (check out the current prices of his courses on Udemy) is the dark wizard of exam practice questions, you can buy his practice exam questions which are going to be useful as you come to the end of your studying and you want to validate your learning. Many, many people recommend his practice exams, and the reviews speak for themselves. If you’ve got a little extra money to spare, this can be a great investment.
When it comes to practice exams, remember that the certification will cost you to re-take. So if you spend $30 on practice exams, and avoid the retake cost, it could actually save you money, which is just something to consider.
But, unlike the learning platforms, you’re not going to get that course updated very often, if at all. And things in the world of cloud change quite rapidly, so the course might get outdated quite quickly, which is something to keep in mind.
If you’re interested, check out Jon Bonso (check out the current prices of his courses on Udemy) for practice exams. For actual exam prep you can find Ryan Kroonenburg (check out the current prices of his courses on Udemy) who is the guy behind ACloudGuru which we talked about, and also Stephane Maarek (check out the current prices of his courses on Udemy), who all come highly recommended if Udemy is the way you want to go.
Okay, so let’s move on now, to books.
What About Books For Learning AWS?
There are certainly books out there that are aimed at passing the AWS exams, I’ve even bought a physical copy myself of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect book which is on my: My (Highly!) Recommended Cloud Engineering Books.
So, what’s the deal with books for passing AWS certifications?
Again, I’ll get to the point: I don’t recommend books for AWS certifications.
Why don’t I recommend books? The main reason is that AWS changes a lot (side note: which is why I have a newsletter dedicated to helping people keep up!) and a book is going to get out of date real fast.
I do think books are great for general learning, and they’re a nice way to switch up your learning mediums when you’re staring at a screen all day, but I just can’t recommend them for taking and passing certifications specifically.
That was quick and easy, let’s move onto another option, YouTube.
How Much Does In-Person AWS Training Cost?
You might have also considered YouTube as an approach for learning about and passing your exam. Whilst there are some nice videos that you can find about AWS certifications online, I don’t think they’re as good of an option as a paid-for course. The reasoning is similar to the books: they might be outdated.
It’s nice to get some learning for free, but just be careful about what you watch on YouTube, as the content might be old, and you can’t guarantee the quality. That said, I’ve watched a lot of “tips” videos, that aren’t really about content, but are about the approach to the exams. These videos have been super helpful to me, hearing from how other people prepared for their exams.
Are Documentation & Whitepapers Good For The AWS Exams?
When you start digging into ways you can research the AWS exams, you’re going to get recommended to look at the white papers from AWS and the AWS documentation, and both are great options.
In fact, reviewing the documentation isn’t optional if you want to pass an AWS exam. When you take the exams it’s highly likely that you’re going to need to check out both the general AWS documentation and the AWS whitepapers.
The big question here is can you pass your AWS exam with the docs and whitepapers alone? And the short answer is: yes, but I’ll explain more a little later when I dive further into how to create a strategy for passing your AWS certifications when you don’t want to pay anything for additional resources.
You can find the full list of whitepapers on the AWS website.
So that concludes our run-through of the many different options you can pay for your AWS certification. But, I imagine by now you might be feeling quite overwhelmed with the number of options, and I totally get it! This whole certification space is very confusing. So let me share with you what I’d recommend if you’re stuck in making a choice.
My Recommended Approach For Taking An AWS Certification?
If you’re stuck in which path to take, I’d recommend:
- Buy a membership to one of the platforms (ACloudGuru is my personal favorite, or get a Udemy course).
- And then if you feel like you need extra confidence for your exam, get yourself a Jon Bonso (check out the current prices of his courses on Udemy) practice exam.
But don’t forget to utilize all the free resources online like the AWS docs and whitepapers. If you have a Kindle: download the docs as a PDF and email them over, it makes life super easy. There’s also free YouTube video’s and articles everywhere, you just have to dig around a little.
Can You Take An AWS Exam And Pay Nothing More Than The Exam Cost?
So something I kept saying throughout today’s article is that you don’t have to pay for anything additional in order to pass your AWS exam. And I just wanted to take a moment to explain that in more detail so you understand what I mean.
If you have the spare cash for some of these training resources, they can be useful, but if you don’t — don’t worry. One of the best things you can do to prepare is to get hands-on as much as you can, read the docs, read the white papers, and utilize online resources.
Yes, going the free route might be a little more “difficult” as you’ve got to dig out the different resources, but it’s 100% possible. Don’t feel pressured into paying for a course etc if it’s not right for you.
Just remember that a course is usually part of the process to get a job, or an interview. Knowing the actual underlying technologies is more important than the piece of paper from the course. If you put in the hard work, and you really understand how AWS works, this is the important part.
Go Pass That AWS Exam!
And that concludes our rundown of how much you can expect an AWS exam to cost you. There’s no way to escape the cost of the exam itself (well, actually sometimes AWS does give out free certifications, and discounts!). But everything else: the training courses, books, are all OPTIONAL.
The main thing that I want to say before you leave is another reminder: you don’t have to pay anything to pass an AWS exam. You can just read the docs, read the FAQs, read the whitepapers, experiment hands-on, and you’re going to be okay. But if you have the spare cash to invest, go for it.
I hope this helped you out a little understanding of the different options that you have available to you for passing your AWS certification exam. Before you go, I just want to remind you about my newsletter, which I send out every month, which includes the latest news about the cloud, I think you’ll like it.
Also, I’ve created some resource pages which will show you all the different books, courses (you name it) that I recommend and why I recommend them. I’m guessing you’re in the market for educational content, so check it out: My (Highly!) Recommended Books & Courses To Learn Cloud Engineering, I spend a ton of time researching these things, so there should be something in there which you’ll like.
Speak soon cloud engineering friend!