It's been a while - however, I have been settling into my new role as DevOps Engineer / SRE, whilst having a key requirement by my employer to pass the AWS SAP-C02.
I would love to simplify the process for anyone deciding to embark on this challenge and give you guidelines on what worked for me and what to avoid.
So first and foremost, especially if you are in the early phases of your AWS Cloud Career like myself 1 - 2 Years.
It's vital to engage with your community - I am posting this blog within the AWS Community Builders forum - so if you reading this you are already well on your way! Engage with your Peers and gain as much Experience and Exposure, either from personal projects and asking questions, to learning from your Peers's Experiences. We have are lucky to have AWS Hero's and awesome program managers whom are always willing to assist.
Step 1 - Set Realistic Targets and Stay True to Yourself.
Choose a Training Provider or in my case more than 1, I went with Cloud Academy & Adrian Cantrill's course. Adrian's course really helped give me that extra hands-on exposure I needed to build confidence to state, Okay I am now confident on this Subject Matter, as he gives tonnes of real-world examples and has a Slack Group filled with people providing great insight as well.
We all have day jobs and responsibilities, but Consistency is key. I feel what really helped keep me to my commitments, was Cloud Academy's approach they allow you to set a date of when you would like to have achieved your exam by. For example, we can tell we have 78 Hours of Content to work through, but if you took the AWS SysOps, SAA or the Developer Associate there is a lot of overlap, so this will be in your favor:
You can preset based on the overall hours - how many hours in a given day or given week you would like to commit too and all the rest of the training plan, is performed by Cloud Academy.
From there they will send you reminders should be falling behind your schedule and you can always amend this should need be:
The Training Courses are often coupled with Labs after explaining a specific domain and short practice tests to confirm that you have understood all the material provided to you. At the end of the course you will be provided a Certificate of Completion after passing a Mock Exam.
The above roughly took me three months to complete, before I headed into Adrian's content, but what's great with this is you can show potential employers your worth, by sharing such achievements on Social Media, that you are upskilling yourself.
2.) Labbing !!!
So I performed a tonne of Labs which I have shared on LinkedIn, working through Adrian's course and a few personal projects of my own, because I recently made the transition from AWS Support Team Lead to DevOps / Site Reliability Engineer, I needed the extra exposure to prove to myself that I do not just have a theoretical understanding of the courseware, as these are Technical Certifications, so being hands-on is a must!!!
Working with Grafana & Amazon's Amazon Managed Service for Grafana
Site to Site VPN Lab - With SCP's Defined & within a IaC Control Tower Account I built
Identity Management & VPN Authorization
3.) Setup a Free Tier account & Sign-up to Bitbucket & Terraform Cloud
Most of the above Labs cost me almost nothing, and for the cost that I had to absorb - Our free AWS Credit from the AWS Community Builders Program comes in handy!!!
Terraform Cloud allows up to 5 free users in your organization and you can hook this up to your BitBucket or Github using the VCS Provider feature and Create CI/CD pipelines, and webbooks, seamlessly.
Again all the above is free!!!
3.) Practice Tests
So I have always been a big fan of Jon Boso's Tutorial Dojo Practice Tests - They have always setup me up for Success, not only are the exams much harder than the actual exam, but it gives you the ability to practice your Exam Agility as sitting for an Exam for 180 - 190mins can take its toll.
An added benefit to Tutorial Dojo's Practice questions is they don't just explain for example why you would be correct/incorrect in answering a question, they would provide you detailed explanations with the necessary whitepapers to the actual AWS Documentation itself. What surprised me further is they even have Youtube Video Explanations to boot!
Remember the best investment we can make is the one in which we make on ourselves!
4.) BOOK YOUR EXAM!
Once you are comfortable passing all of your practice exams, book your exam and do not procrastinate, by now I would have worked for just about 4 Months and I felt a little unsure, but AWS at the time was giving free exam retakes should you fail, so I booked my exam and then after 24 hours, I received the below result:
My worst nightmare occurred - I failed, after preparing for such a long period, it really disheartened me and at that point, I had just over a Year's Experience with AWS. So I took a break and continued with my day-to-day tasks, getting more hands-on experience, and time just flew, before I knew it, it was July and the Promotional Retake Voucher Expires at the end of August.
So I put in another Month's worth of Practice Exams and I booked the Exam once more.
6 Months Later - I achieved what I thought was an impossible goal
I made it over the mountain & let me tell you, it felt like a marathon, but there is no greater victory then proving to yourself that with the right amount of passion, consistency, resilience, and mental endurance, there is nothing you cannot do! So if I can do it, so can you! All the best on your Exam!!!