By Danny Aspinall
Haven’t you heard? There’s a new certification in town!
AWS recently announced the launch of a brand-new Associate-level certification; meet the AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate (DEA-C01).
As the fourth badge in the Associate-level collection, this AWS Data Engineer certification joins the Solutions Architect, Developer, and SysOps Administrator Associate credentials as a super-effective way for professionals to validate their knowledge and skills, gain credibility, and further sharpen their expertise.
This makes obtaining the AWS Data Engineer – Associate certification worth it for AWS talent looking to boost their curb appeal on the job market, unlock more career opportunities, and propel their progression within their role.
Sounds good, right? But before you dive in headfirst, there are a few things you need to know about the plans for this certification—particularly since it’s still in beta stage until the new year.
But fear not; you don’t need to go anywhere to find the answers you need. This AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate guide is packed with all the background, updates, and info you need to know when deciding whether to register your interest in the beta exam. So strap in!
In this guide, we’ll cover:
The Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition provides a market-leading insight into trends across the Amazon Web Services community.
The AWS Data Engineer – Associate certification will be awarded to those candidates who successfully pass the DEA-C01 exam. It tests talent’s knowledge and capability in core data-related AWS services, and validates skills in utilizing best practices to implement data pipelines, monitor and troubleshoot issues, and optimize cost and performance.
According to AWS documentation, there will be a distinct focus on tasks like:
Fundamentally, this certification is intended for—well, um—AWS Data Engineers…the clue’s in the name.
AWS actually surveyed data engineering professionals across the community at the start of 2023, keen to hear the feedback of AWS Data Engineers with 2 years of experience or more—and with data engineering and global big data services projected to have grown at an impressive 17.60% CAGR by the end of the year, it’s little wonder.
That being said, this beta exam is suitable for anyone in the AWS community interested in using AWS technology to transform data for analysis and actionable insights, although it’s recommended that you have the equivalent of 2-3 years of experience in data engineering and at least 1–2 years of hands-on experience with AWS services.
According to AWS, the target candidate for this certification should also have a confident understanding of the effects of volume, variety, and velocity on data ingestion, transformation, modeling, security, governance, privacy, schema design, and optimal data store design.
Earning any AWS Associate-level certification isn’t easy—it takes plenty of time, effort, and dedication to achieve.
We understand that this can be a little overwhelming for AWS professionals who already have a whole lot on their plates, with the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition finding that as many as 43% of candidates have started studying for certification but stopped before achieving it.
With the top reasonings for this including a lack of motivation, not enough time or availability to study, and the fear of failure, is the AWS Data Engineer – Associate certification really worth all the stress—especially when it’s still in beta?
To answer that, we first need to understand what a beta exam is, before weighing up the pros and cons to decide whether to take the beta exam, wait for the standard exam, or even bother with the certification at all!
Sometimes, AWS Certification uses beta trials to test out exam questions, topics, and structures before pushing them officially live. It enables AWS to collect and assess performance data to better understand what does and doesn’t work.
Beta is usually used for instances of exam outline updates or brand-new exams, like the AWS Certified Advanced Networking – Specialty and AWS Certified: SAP on AWS – Specialty exams last year.
There are three main benefits to sitting the beta version of AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate exam ahead of its official launch:
Albeit minor, there are a couple of downsides to working towards a certification still in beta, so it’s important to be aware of these too.
Firstly, while you’d typically find out how you’ve fared in a certification exam pretty quickly, you won’t find out your DEA-C01 results until 90 days after the beta closes on January 12, 2024. This means that those sitting the exam in November would face a five-month wait until they received their results in April—so how’s your patience?
And secondly, despite the enhanced experience it offers, the longer exam can be inherently tougher to sit. Rather than the usual 130 minutes you’re given to sit Associate-level exams, the AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate beta exam is 170 minutes to account for the additional 20 questions. A near three-hour exam is taxing to even the most dedicated of AWS enthusiasts, with exam fatigue likely to set in somewhere along the way. So it’s important to consider how this could influence your preparation and the impact it could have on your overall score.
But like all certifications, these challenges are certainly worth the reward. Once you receive your AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate certification 90 days after the close of beta, you’ll benefit from:
Convinced that the AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate certification is for you? Welcome aboard! Here’s how to get the ball rolling.
Beta registration for the DEA-C01 exam opens on October 31, 2023. But in the meantime, you can sign up here to stay updated on when registration for the beta exam opens, additional exam prep resources become available, and when exam delivery starts, to ensure you don’t miss out on this great opportunity.
Beta exam dates: November 27, 2023 – January 12, 2024
The AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate exam will be available to sit either at an in-person Pearson VUE testing center or as an online proctored exam, and the beta version will be offered in English only.
The cost of the exam is $75 while it’s in beta stage, rising to $150 when the standard DEA-C01 is launched. Over two-fifths (44%) of certified AWS professionals in our Careers and Hiring Guide said they had certification costs fully funded by their employer, and an additional 27% received partial funding. So, if you’re currently employed in a permanent position, you might want to ask your employer whether they’d be willing to contribute to the expense!
You’ll have 170 minutes to complete the 85-question exam. There are no hands-on labs in this exam. Instead, all questions will be either:
Registration for the post-beta, standard version of the exam opens in March 2024 and the exam will be available to take starting April 2024.
To identify your knowledge gaps and optimize your use of study times and methods, it pays to know the areas you most need to focus on.
This can also help you judge whether you’re the right type of candidate for this certification, if you’re still not sure about taking it. For example, it’s recommended that you have a general IT knowledge that includes:
This general IT knowledge should ideally complement a confident understanding of AWS, including:
You should expect lots of concepts and technologies to appear on the exam. AWS services and features considered in-scope for the DEA-C01 exam include (but aren’t limited to):
It’s also handy to be aware of what you’re not expected to know, to ensure you don’t waste valuable time and effort learning concepts and skills that won’t be covered in the exam. Tasks that are considered out of scope for the DEA-C01 exam include:
So, where is your learning and studying time best spent?
The AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate is split across four domains, each testing a different area of your knowledge and skills, and each having a different weighting to your overall score.
Since the exam isn’t out yet, it’ll probably be no surprise to learn there isn’t a whole lot of training material out there for the AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate exam just yet.
No need to worry though; there are sure to be plenty of training courses and learning paths from your favorite cloud educators available by the time the standard certification launches in April 2024.
That’s not to say you’re on your own until then. AWS recommend the following resources to kick off your revision for the beta exam:
With the beta now open, AWS Data Engineers should dive right in and sign up for the AWS Certified Data Engineer – Associate certification today. Sure, it might not be an easy ride, but being among the first to hold this badge is a sure-fire way to propel your career forward, whatever your goal.
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