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Your guide to the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification

By Danny Aspinall

Wondering if the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification is worth it? Or perhaps you’re already working towards earning it. This is the guide for you. 

Earning an AWS certification in 2023 is a great next career step for AWS professionals, as it provides a tried and tested way to demonstrate your knowledge, gain credibility, and validate your skills in the eyes of prospective employers.  

In the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide: AWS Edition, 80% of AWS professionals we surveyed believe certifications help you stand out in a competitive job market, and a quarter (25%) of them held an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification.  

The latest analysis from Lightcast, recently cited in a blog post by AWS, shows that job listings requiring this certification increased by 5% between October 2021 and September 2022—so it’s fair to say that AWS Certified Developer – Associate Certification is in high demand!  

But the fact is, gaining certification is no easy feat—it’s going to require plenty of time, effort, and dedication. So we thought we’d offer you a helping hand.  

In this guide, we’ve curated everything you need to know about the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification 

Exploring all the fundamentals and offering up some useful tips on studying, preparation, and assessment along the way, this is the go-to resource for anyone working towards an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification. 

What is the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification? 

The AWS developer certification, officially called AWS Certified Developer – Associate, is awarded to candidates who successfully pass the DVA-C02 exam.  

At its core, this certification sets out to test your understanding of core AWS services, uses, and best practices. It’s also intended to validate a candidate’s proficiency in developing, optimizing, testing, deploying, and debugging AWS cloud-based applications. 

More specifically, your ability to write, develop and optimize applications with AWS service APIs, AWS Command Line Interface (CLI), and SDKs, utilize containers, and deploy applications with a CI/CD pipeline.  

Who should obtain an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification? 

AWS Certified Developer – Associate is an Associate-level certification (the clue’s in the name).  

This means the certification is role-based and perfect for any relevant candidate looking to showcase their knowledge and skills, and build up more credibility as an AWS professional. A step up from Foundational-level certificates, it’s recommended for people with one or more years’ practical experience developing and maintaining cloud-based applications.  

By the time you come to take the DVA-C02 exam, candidates should be confident in developing and securing applications using AWS services, and deploying them using a continuous integration and continuous deployment pipeline.  

But that doesn’t mean you need that knowledge to get started. One of the biggest appeals of certification is that it’s also an incredibly effective way of upskilling and expanding your expertise, meaning the AWS Certified Developer – Associate can also be a good starting point for those with experience in developer roles, on-premises IT environments, and other cloud services.  

As a minimum, it’s recommended that you have experience using development tools and proficiency in at least one high-level programming language, as well as a basic understanding of cloud-native applications to write code, develop functional applications, and manage an application’s lifecycle.  

How to earn an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification 

The DVA-C02 exam can be taken either at an in-person testing center or as an online proctored exam, and is available to sit in the following languages:  

  • English 
  • French (France) 
  • German 
  • Italian 
  • Japanese 
  • Korean 
  • Portuguese (Brazil) 
  • Simplified Chinese 
  • Spanish (Latin America) 

You have 130 minutes to complete the 65-question exam and questions will be either:  

  • Multiple choice: these questions offer a choice of four responses—one is correct, while the other three are incorrect. The incorrect responses are known as ‘distractors’, and tend to be plausible responses relevant to the content area, so watch out!  
  • Multiple response: these questions offer a choice of five or more responses—and at least two are correct. And while there are two or more correct answers, it’s important to stay vigilant of those pesky distractors trying to catch you out.  

How is the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam scored? 

Although the exam is made up of 65 questions, only 50 of them affect your overall score. The other unscored questions are there to collect information on candidate performance and evaluate questions for future use—however, you won’t be told which questions these are in the exam.   

Unanswered questions are of course marked as incorrect, meaning there’s never any harm in guessing when you don’t know the answer! 

Exam results are reported on a scale scored 100-1000, and graded on a pass-or-fail model. To pass, you need a minimum score of 720.   

How much does the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification cost? 

As with all Associate-level certifications, it costs $150 to take the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam.  

If you’re currently in work, consider asking your employer whether they will contribute towards these costs. After all, of the 76% of AWS professionals in our Careers and Hiring Guide who are certified or working towards their first, 44% were fully funded by their employer, and an additional 27% received partial funding.  

The latest career insights from the AWS ecosystem.

Covering certification, salaries, benefits, career advice, and a whole lot more, the Jefferson Frank Careers and Hiring Guide is the ultimate resource for anyone looking to build a rewarding career in AWS. 

AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam guide 

So what’s actually in the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam? 

First things first, it’s important to note that the exam structure was updated in February 2023—this is especially important to those who have been studying for the DVA-C01 exam, or those professionals seeking recertification.  

 In the newly introduced DVA-C02, the AWS Certified Developer – Associate exam is made up four areas, each with different weighting: 

  • Development with AWS Services (32%) –  e.g. developing code for applications hosted on AWS; developing code for AWS Lambada; using data stores in application development  
  • Security (26%) e.g. implementing authentication and/or authorization for applications and AWS services; implementing encryption using AWS services; managing sensitive data in application code  
  • Deployment (24%)e.g. preparing application artifacts to be deployed to AWS; testing applications in development environments; automating deployment testing; deploying code by using AWS CI/CD services  
  • Troubleshooting and Optimization (18%)e.g. assisting in root cause analysis; instrumenting code for observability; optimizing applications by using AWS services and features  

You should expect many tools and technologies to appear across all four areas of the exam, including but not limited to: 

  • Computeeg. Amazon EC2, AWS Lambada, AWS Elastic Beanstalk  
  • Storageeg. Amazon S3, Amazon EBS, Amazon EFS  
  • Analyticseg. Amazon Athena, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon OpenSearch Service  
  • Databaseeg. Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon RDS, Amazon Aurora  
  • Management and Governanceeg. AWS AppConfig, AWS Cloud Formation, AWS Systems Manager 
  • Containers eg. Amazon ECS, Amazon EKS, AWS Copilot  
  • Security, Identity, and Compliance – eg. AWS IAM, Amazon Cognito, AWS KMS
  • Application Integrationeg. AWS SQS, Amazon SNS, AWS AppSync  
  • Networking and Content Deliveryeg. Amazon API Gateway, Amazon VPC, Amazon CloudFront 
  • Developer Toolseg. AWSCloud9, Amazon CodeGuru, AWS Amplify 

AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification: exam preparation tips 

Exam sound tough? Struggling to stay on top of revision? Lacking the time or motivation to keep going?  

You’re not alone. In fact, our Careers and Hiring Guide found that 43% of professionals have started studying for certification but stopped before achieving it.  

But fear not! We’re here to offer a helping hand with our top 5 tips on preparing for the exam, optimizing your learning, and earning your AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification.  

1. Focus your learning in the right areas  

Knowing what’s in the exam is only half the battle; it’s important to know what won’t be in the exam, too. There’s enough to learn without creating additional stress for yourself. 

Knowing what areas you can avoid when researching or revising ensures that you’re optimizing your learning and focusing only on what matters most to your certification.  

According to AWS, candidates are not expected to be able to perform the following tasks when earning an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification: 

  • Designing and creating CI/CD pipelines 
  • Designing architectures  
  • Administering servers and operating systems 
  • Administering IAM users and groups 

That’s not to say these skills aren’t important to your wider knowledge of the stack, of course. But when working towards your certification, feel free to leave these areas at the very bottom of your list.  

2. Utilize the right training material     

Wondering where you can learn everything you need to know for your AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification?  

The good news is, there are a ton of resources available online that can help you pass.  

AWS Certified Developer – Associate training with AWS 

There’s a wide range of learning resources directly from AWS Training and Certification, giving you peace of mind that you’re getting the best information from the best source. These include: 

  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate Sample Questions: a collection of example questions to help you familiarize yourself with the types of questions you’ll be asked and how you’ll be asked them. Not only is this a great resource to calm those pre-exam nerves, but it can also be a great starting part to help you quickly identify knowledge gaps. 
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate Exam Prep: AWS also offers a wide range of learning resources through AWS Skill Builder. Whether you’re looking for training specific to the certification or you’re wanting to spruce up a specific skill, AWS Skill Builder is jam-packed with engaging, fun, and effective ways to learn.  
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate Exam Readiness Webinar: additionally, AWS regularly hosts Exam Readiness webinars to help candidates home in on the specific areas to study. Better yet, some of these free virtual events will even be available on demand, meaning you’re able to take it at your own pace.  

Other online AWS Certified Developer – Associate training  

Of course, there’s also a whole load of high-quality training material available online from other trusted sources. This includes:  

  • Udemy: Udemy is packed full of AWS Certified Developer – Associate training courses and exam prep material. The highest-rated course, Ultimate AWS Certified Developer Associate 2023 NEW DVA-C02, offers 33.5 hours of structured, on-demand video learning and a full practice exam with explanations included. 
  • Digital Cloud Training: led by founder Neal Davis, Digital Cloud Training offers a comprehensive AWS Certified Developer – Associate course. It teaches all the important theoretical knowledge and then gives you the chance to put your skills into practice with guided hands-on lab exercises. With video training, cheat sheets, and practice exams, you’re sure to come away feeling prepped and confident.  
  • Cloud Academy: Cloud Academy has a dedicated learning path for AWS Developer – Associate (DVA-C02) Certification Preparation, with around 70hrs of training material. Led by AWS Certification Specialist, Danny Jessee, this all-encompassing course will guide you through everything you need to know via video training, hands-on labs, and exam preparation.  

3. Practice, practice, practice  

As the adage goes: practice makes perfect.  

Yes, yes, we know this sounds like an obvious tip. But when investigating the reasons 43% of professionals in our Careers and Hiring Guide who started studying for certification but stopped before achieving it, a common response was the fear of failure.  

And we think that sucks.  

Getting as much practice as possible before your exam should help to alleviate some of these concerns and build up your confidence. The best method? Practice exam questions.  

AWS Skill Builder offers official practice questions for each certification, and these are amazing resources to affirm your knowledge and become more accustomed to the style and depth of certification exams.  

And of course, if you find yourself struggling with the practice questions, there’s no need to fret! Simply take your learning and revision at your own pace—this is always better than diving into an exam headfirst.  

4. Find the schedule that works for you 

Another common reason professionals in our Careers and Hiring Guide dropped out before achieving certification was a lack of time to study. 

Finding a schedule that works for you—and just as importantly, sticking to it—is an integral part of staying on track. This ensures you’re demonstrating the time, effort, and dedication needed to successfully acquire an AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification.  

If you lack time because of a high workload in your role, consider asking your employer whether you can utilize work hours for your studying—particularly if the certification will bring added value to your team.  

Many organizations will already be actively investing in learning and development (L&D), with 36% of organizations in our Careers and Hiring Guide investing in employee skills training to stay competitive in attracting talent. With this in mind, don’t think twice about asking your employer or line manager what L&D resource is available to you—just be sure to make the most of it!  

If you’re a contractor or lack study time because of personal commitments, identify when you’re most available and make this your regular study period. Where possible, try and make this a non-negotiable period of ‘you time’ where you can get your head down without distraction.  

With many uncertified respondents in our guide citing procrastination as one of the barriers to certification, consistency and persistence are key.  

5. Keep your end goal in mind  

Finally, respondents in our Careers and Hiring Guide who didn’t achieve certification also reported a lack of motivation.  

To combat this, we recommend always keeping your end goal in mind.  

For example, with 89% of certified respondents believing certifications make you more marketable in the job market, the prospect of new opportunities could help you stay motivated. Alternatively, if you’re happy in your role, perhaps the prospect of a salary increase will keep you working towards that goal—in our guide, 73% received a post-certification pay rise averaging 27%.  

Whatever the reason you’re seeking certification, try not to lose sight of this end goal—particularly when the going gets tough. We understand that certification is no easy feat, but your hard work is always worth the reward 

On the lookout for your next AWS Developer job?

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