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The Best AWS Courses for Beginners (2021 List)

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Learning Amazon Web Services, or AWS, can be a game-changer for your tech career. The average salary of an AWS-certified developer or other tech professional is $129,868 — making an AWS certification one of the highest-paying in the US. 

Looking to learn AWS and possibly take an AWS developer exam and get an AWS certification, but don’t know where to start? This post is for you.

We’ll explain what AWS is, give an overview of the 11 different AWS certifications out there and go over AWS certification costs. If you’re a beginner looking to learn AWS for the first time, we’ll also break down eight of the best AWS courses on the internet to help you reach your AWS training and certification goals!

Disclosure: I’m a proud affiliate for some of the resources mentioned in this article. If you buy a product through my links on this page, I may get a small commission for referring you. Thanks!

What Is AWS? 

☁️ Amazon Web Services is a cloud platform self-described as “on-demand delivery of IT resources over the Internet with pay-as-you-go pricing.”

Essentially, instead of buying and maintaining physical data centers, routers, servers, etc., companies can use the cloud on an as-needed basis from a provider like AWS. 

AWS offers 200 fully featured services. For a handful of examples, there are: 

  • Amazon DynamoDB: a database service
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2): allows users to rent virtual computers
  • Amazon CloudWatch: a monitoring service that monitors health of apps 
  • And much, much more.

Competitors to AWS include Google Cloud Platform (GPC), Microsoft Azure, Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud, etc., but AWS is the leader with 32% market share.

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Overview of AWS Certifications 

Before diving into the best AWS courses, it’s important to know what your goals are with learning AWS. 

There are 11 different types of AWS certification paths that are good for different types of jobs (e.g., systems admins, security professionals, networking engineers, developers). 

If you’re new to AWS (or even just tech in general), a lot of these Amazon AWS certifications will be too advanced, especially since most of them require experience working in a technical role.

While real-world experience is required along with AWS training to earn each certification, it’s still important to know what cert you’d like to eventually get so you can take the right training/courses to get there.

Overall, understanding the AWS certifications that are out there can give you a starting point and roadmap to achieving your career goals.

Best beginner AWS certification

AWS Cloud Practitioner: If you’d like to work as a cloud practitioner, this will likely be the best one for you. It’s also the most beginner-friendly. According to AWS, you’ll need around 6 months of work experience with AWS Cloud in any role (technical, managerial, sales, financial) to take this certification.

Associate-level AWS certifications 

Professional-level AWS certifications

Speciality AWS certifications

As you can see, which AWS training and certification path to pursue really depends on your career goals. With most AWS certifications, you’ll learn AWS and spend time working in your chosen field first, then become an AWS-certified developer.

What Does an AWS Certification Cost?

💰 AWS certification costs vary based on which one you’re pursuing. According to AWS, these are the current prices for AWS exams (as of 2021):

  • The AWS Cloud Practitioner exam is 100 USD
  • Associate-level AWS exams are 150 USD
  • Professional-level and Specialty AWS exams are 300 USD

You’ll need to renew your certification every 3 years, but you’ll be provided with a 50% discount code to use for renewal.

8 Best AWS Courses for Beginners

Since you have to learn AWS before you can even start thinking about getting certified, your very first step is finding AWS tutorials and resources that work for you! Let’s dive into the best AWS courses for beginners.

1. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Fundamentals for System Administrators

Pluralsight Amazon web services fundamentals for system administrators
  • Platform: Pluralsight
  • Price: $24/month with a Pluralsight subscription
  • Level: Beginner – intermediate
  • Rating: 4.5 stars out of 1,107 students

In this AWS course, you’ll learn the foundational skills necessary to build reliable and cost-effective infrastructure on the AWS platform. Once complete, you’ll be ready to tackle more advanced topics like AWS Certified SysOps Administrator and AWS Certified Solutions Architect. To be successful with this course, it’s helpful to be familiar with the basics of cloud computing (e.g., infrastructure as a service, Microsoft and Linux, virtualization, storage).

2. AWS Fundamentals Specialization

Coursera aws fundamentals specialization
  • Platform: Coursera
  • Price: $39/month with a Coursera subscription
  • Level: Beginner
  • Rating: 4.6 stars out of 8,877 students

As you progress through four courses, this specialization covers the features, benefits, and capabilities of AWS. Perfect for aspiring IT professionals who want to understand core AWS services, security concepts, strategies for migrating from on-premises to AWS, and much more. This course was developed by AWS, and is taught by experienced AWS technical instructors.

3. Ultimate AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate 2021

Udemy ultimate aws certified solutions architect associate
  • Platform: Udemy
  • Price: $94.99
  • Level: Beginner
  • Rating: 4.7 stars out of 75,275 student ratings

Helps prepare you for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Certification. With this course, there’s no need to know anything about AWS before you dive in. Taught by someone who’s passed the exam with a score of 982 out of 1000. You’ll learn how to perform real-world solution architecture on AWS.

4. Introduction to AWS for Non-Engineers: 1 Cloud Concepts

LinkedIn Learning introduction to AWS cloud concepts

First in a four-part series that teaches the basics of AWS for newbies. Covers a brief history of cloud computing, cloud deployment models, and cloud design principles. If you take all four courses, it’ll help you prepare for the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam.

5. AWS Cloud Technical Essentials

edX AWS cloud technical essentials
  • Platform: edX
  • Price: Free or add a Verified edX Certificate for $149
  • Level: Beginner

Perfect for those who want to kick off their cloud career by learning the basics of AWS products, services, and solutions, including basic concepts of database, storage, networking, security and cloud computing. Great starting point as it requires no prior knowledge of cloud computing or AWS products and services.

6. Become an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect

Mammoth Interactive Amazon web services certified solutions architect

No programming knowledge needed and no prior AWS experience required. Designed to help you pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect (CSA) – Associate Exam. Covers Identity Access Management (IAM), AWS’ Virtual Private Cloud or VPC, Route53, AWS’ DNS management service, and much more.

7. Absolute Beginners Introduction to Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Skillshare amazon web services introduction
  • Platform: Skillshare
  • Price: $168/year or $32/month with a Skillshare subscription
  • Level: Beginner

A hands-on approach to learning AWS. Gives you a practical understanding of the key concepts and best practices of AWS, including AWS Services & CLI, an overview of EC2, an overview of S3, and more.

8. AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials

Coursera AWS cloud practitioner essentials
  • Platform: Coursera
  • Price: Free with audit option or $49 for Coursera certificate
  • Level: Beginner
  • Rating: 4.8 stars out of 273 student ratings

By the end of this course, you’ll have a good understanding of the core AWS services (e.g., compute, network, databases, storage). This course is also a good starting point if you want to take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exam.

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Start Learning AWS Today

Once you’ve gotten a solid understanding of the basics of AWS, you can start to specialize in the areas you find most interesting, whether that’s security, networking, systems administration, DevOps, etc.

When you gain experience, you can then get an AWS certification to prove your skills.

AWS is such a lucrative skill to know, and when you earn a certification you’ll be even more desirable to employers. As you establish yourself in a tech career, becoming an AWS-certified developer is a great goal to keep in the back of your mind!