AWS Training and Certification Blog

Get hands on with AWS services to prepare for the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam

My favorite aspects about preparing for an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certification exam are the learning process and coming away with new knowledge. For anyone who has taken a certification exam, that feeling quickly turns to a brief moment of apprehension when the mountain of recommended documentation is staring at you.

There must be another approach, right? I’m a builder at heart. I like to build things, break things, and troubleshoot. You probably do, too! I spent a number of years as a full stack developer prior to joining AWS, and some of my most personally satisfying moments in my career occurred during that time. For a builder, I don’t think there’s a more powerful feeling than looking back after everything is complete and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Why am I telling you this? How does it help you prepare for the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam? In addition to your traditional study—yes, you’ll still want to read—I encourage you to get your hands on the technology and build to help you learn these new skills. In this blog, I’ll share ways you can get hands-on experience with AWS services to develop,  secure, and deploy applications.

Where to begin to prepare for your exam

As you begin your path toward certification, head to the AWS Certification page and take a look at the information to familiarize yourself with the exam. There are ample resources for the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam, including a prescriptive learning path with recommended digital and classroom courses, a ramp-up guide, practice tests, and more. Take full advantage of these resources, but also have a little fun as you prepare.

Let’s build!

Approximately 78 percent of the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam focuses on development, security, and deployment. These sound like the key areas of an application to me! Here’s where the fun begins.

What can we build and how can it help? Let’s build a serverless application to dive into the services:

  1. Leverage the AWS free tier to create and study at the same time.
  2. Build a web form deployed into an AWS Elastic Beanstalk application using an AWS software development kit that interacts with an Amazon API Gateway.
  3. Secure the application using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) with roles. For the ambitious at heart, use Amazon Cognito.
  4. Use the Amazon API Gateway to handle authentication and integration with backend AWS Lambda services. The information can then be persisted in an Amazon DynamoDB.
  5. Optionally, add a little decoupling and some additional challenges by introducing an Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) and send notifications via Amazon Simple Notification Services (SNS).

By building an application using these services, you’re not only studying, you’re also gaining hands-on experience—both of which are critical for a deeper understanding of AWS and increased confidence with the technology.

Taking your preparation farther

Are you a little more advanced and already familiar with those services? If so, consider developing a Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline. To do so, set up an AWS CodePipeline to trigger from an AWS CodeCommit push, or from an Amazon S3 event. Or better yet, set up a full continuous deployment pipeline by adapting this tutorial with the code you previously created. Think of something different? Go build it!

Again, I encourage you to take a look at your study methods and incorporate opportunities to build. If you’re like me, you’ll really enjoy this, and it will create a lasting learning experience. Good luck on your journey to become an AWS Certified Developer – Associate!