Starting from today I am one of the AWS CSA(A) certified professionals. The license number is generated sequentially so it is easy to infer that I am the the 16.891st person on this planet holding the title, but given the 2 year recertification cycle I assume that many of those who were certified before may have not renewed their certification status.
Starting on the path
I have registered my own private AWS account in the second part of 2014, around the time when I was assigned to the project I have talked about in the previous text. I did not make much of that account and still do not use it for more than cloud backups; without a professional motivator, getting on this path will not truly bring anyone very far.
The game changer was the DevOps work I have started doing for a customer of my employer: they had a fully configured AWS environment I was given access to. The year Amazon suggests you to spend in a professional environment before trying to get certified is by no means a spurious requirement; there is an entire ecosystem that needs to be mastered in order to make the best use of it.
The certification adventure started about a month ago by reading this Reddit post. I didn’t get the free full month of study on offer due to the timezone difference but the seed got planted. What happened next?
As I mentioned in the first text of the certification series, I went further upstream and got myself the second level of what LPI has on offer – LPIC-2 (verify). Was it easy? Was it hard? Let’s start.
The LPIC-2 certification is granted by passing 2 exams, but only if one already holds a LPIC-1 certification. This means that in order to get LPIC-2 certified, one must pass a total of 4 exams.
Exam 201 – with a focus on advanced system administration topics such as kernel and boot loader configuration, filesystems and troubleshooting.
Exam 202 – focusing on a couple of common services such as e-mail, http, proxies and file sharing.
As with LPIC-1, the exams can be passed in any order, certification being granted when passing both.
I have passed both exams with a Pearson VUE test center (actually 2 of them, as I have gone to 2 different locations for the exams). In this setup each exam normally costs around EUR 150; the second was paid by my current employer.
What I have mentioned, preparation-wise, in the first text is still valid. Books alone will not help pass such exam, neither a light hands-on experience. The questions themselves are by no means tricky – if one actually used that particular piece of software or went through that usage scenario, then the answer comes fast; otherwise it won’t and the coin toss won’t help either. What I have also noted is that some questions are (randomly) asked at both 1st and the 2nd level; it’s very likely that the border between “harder” 1st level topics and “easier” 2nd level ones is very shallow.
I just got myself LPIC-1 certified (verify). I’ll try to address a few issues here, if anybody else wants to do it and doesn’t know how.
The LPIC-1 is granted upon passing 2 exams:
Exam 101 – more theoretically oriented, with many general questions.
Exam 102 – more practically oriented, with an emphasis on Scripting, Networking and Security.
The exams can be passed in any order, the certification is automatically granted upon passing both. Also, in order to get certified on the subsequent levels, you need to already have the lower level certification at hand. That is, for one of the LPIC-3 certifications you need to pass a total of 5 exams, in any order.
The “official way” of taking exams is through a Pearson VUE test center. You need to first purchase an exam voucher (EUR 150 approx, might fluctuate with exchange rates) and then go take the exam on a computer in a controlled setup.
The “alternate way” is to attend a conference where pen/paper exams are offered. In Europe you may want to register your seat on this site, then attend that particular event. The cost for taking the exam in such setup is lower and may be the way to go if you plan to attend the conference for other reasons than taking the exams alone.
I have personally taken both 101 and 102 exams during the FOSDEM 2016 event in Bruxelles, Belgium, on January 30 and 31st.