This past weekend, something unusual happened. People began noticing a new option when they scheduled their AWS exams – the Certified Cloud Practitioner beta. Until now, we haven’t had much solid information, but we’ve taken the exam and AWS has finally released their blueprint. So what is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner beta exam all about?

UPDATE: As of November 2017, the CCP Certification is out of beta status. You can now train for the exam with Linux Academy using our new Certified Cloud Practitioner course.

What is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam?

We made our predictions earlier this week, and it turns out we weren’t far off.

The Certified Cloud Practitioner exam is a high level introduction to AWS services. Those who have previously earned Certifications will be unable to take the CCP, as it focuses on a more general understanding of the cloud. Here’s what AWS has to say about it:

This exam enables individuals with an overall understanding of the AWS Cloud to validate their knowledge with an industry-recognized credential. It provides individuals in a larger variety of cloud and technology roles with a way to validate their AWS Cloud knowledge and enhance their professional credibility.

The Certification is still in beta status, but the CCP could be an excellent next step for your career if you’re in a role that requires you to know about the cloud, but not necessarily have the same depth of knowledge as an engineer or Solutions Architect.

Like other beta exams, the CCP was 110 minutes long, and consisted of 70 questions. If you come prepared, this should be plenty of time to complete everything.

What is on the exam?

This is the question everyone’s been asking. We took the exam so we can give you an idea of how to study, but first let’s look at the official domain from AWS:

  1. Cloud Concepts
  2. Security
  3. Technology
  4. Billing and Pricing

Cloud Concepts

Having a solid base of cloud computing knowledge is absolutely necessary if you want to pass the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. But don’t let this scare you away. All you really need is an idea of some basic concepts.

Questions in this domain were fairly broad. To do well, you should be familiar with high-level cloud concepts including:

  • Elasticity
  • Scalability
  • High Availability
  • Fault Tolerance

Of course, we can’t tell you exactly what questions were asked. But if you’re familiar with the concepts above and how they apply to AWS services, you should be in good shape. The idea here is to test your knowledge of how the cloud can impact an organization, not so much how to implement the systems themselves. For example, if you’re discussing AWS architecture with a colleague in order to prepare for a migration, you need to understand how to create an AWS cloud that is secure, compliant, and efficient.

We estimate that the Cloud Concepts domain makes up about 30% of the exam content.

Security

Security is an extremely important topic, even for those who aren’t working directly with infrastructure. The Certified Cloud Practitioner exam includes a number of questions related to security, compliance, and responsible management. As before, these questions are less about the implementation of security features, and more about overall concepts. You can expect to be tested on topics including:

  • The shared security model
  • Logs (think of services like Cloudtrail)
  • DDoS protection
  • IAM – managing users, password policies, and MFA

We estimate that the Security domain makes up about 20% of the exam content.

Technology

The technology domain is a main focus of the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam. Think of this as a “name that service” section. You won’t need to know how a given service works, or even how to use it in most cases, but you should be familiar with what it does and why it’s important.

If you want to ace this section, you should be familiar with the core AWS services as well as ones that are less widely used. Here’s a list of what services you should definitely know, but don’t be surprised if you see questions about other ones as well:

The level of detail in each question depends on the service. More widely-used services may require a bit more knowledge, and others will only require that you know what a service does. For example, EC2 is arguably one of the most important AWS services, and so you could be asked questions about different instance types in different scenarios. On the other hand, you may only be asked to choose the best description of a service like CloudFront.

In addition to the traditional services, the exam covers other AWS technology, including the command line interface (CLI) and software development kit (SDK). You may also see questions that overlap with other exam domains. For example, services like AWS Trusted Advisor and AWS Cost Calculator may fall into the technology domain as well as billing and pricing.

We estimate that the Technology domain makes up about 40% of the exam content (so make sure you brush up on AWS services!).

Billing and Pricing

Since the CCP exam focuses on business applications of AWS, billing and pricing are major topics to be aware of.

This may seem scary, but it doesn’t require any complicated math. What you need to know is how certain services are billed, what tools you can use to calculate their costs, and the overall value proposition of cloud infrastructure, as opposed to on-premises. You may also be asked questions about general account information and AWS support.

If you’re already in a business role, these questions should not be incredibly difficult. Think about the economic benefits of using AWS as opposed to other infrastructure options – that’s what this domain will test you on.

We estimate that the Billing and Pricing domain makes up about 10% of the exam content.

How to prepare for the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam

The CCP exam requires extremely high-level knowledge, and is much less rigorous than other exams like the Certified Solutions Architect. That being said, it never hurts to be prepared.

If you’re scheduled to sit for the exam and want to review before you take it, we recommend our AWS Concepts and AWS Essentials courses. These will cover most of the AWS services you need to know, as well as give some context for how they fit into your organization.

If you want an even deeper technical review of AWS, check out our Associate Certified Solutions Architect course. Fair warning, though. This will cover much more than you need to know for the Certified Cloud Practitioner. Unless you actively plan to sit for your CSA exam, it will probably be overkill.

Should you take the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam?

Well… it depends. Remember, this is still a beta exam. If the past is any indication, the CCP won’t be available for long. After some time, AWS will stop offering it, and begin to evaluate the results. In fact, even if you take the exam today, don’t expect to get your results until early next year. After an evaluation, AWS will decide whether or not to offer it as a full Certification or whether to develop its content further. With re:Invent 2017 a couple months away, there’s a chance the Certified Cloud Practitioner exam results will be announced at the big event.

Whether you take the CCP depends on your goals. If you want something to put on your resume immediately, this is probably not the right path for you. Instead, look into other Certifications – we recommend starting with the Solutions Architect.

However, if you want to be among the first to see what the future of AWS Certifications holds, the CCP is a great way to get involved. If one thing is clear, it’s that AWS is expanding its offerings to include even those in non-technical roles. And as the AWS cloud continues to grow, knowledge of the platform becomes more important by the day.

Want help studying? Check out our free ebook, which includes tips on passing every AWS Certification exam:

How to Pass AWS Certifications

10 responses to “What is the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam?”

  1. Drew says:

    Hi Phil,
    I’ve been speaking with a few other people who’ve taken the beta exam, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of a mystery. In the group of associates who’ve taken the exam (some of whom are already certified at Professional level), every single one of us received an email from CertMetrics informing us that the results were in, and that every one of us had received a grade of Fail.

    Did you or your peers also receive this notification and have the grade of Fail in your official transcript?

    We acknowledge it’s possible we’ve all failed, but it seems statistically improbable that not a single one would pass. Additionally, results were not supposed to be made available until Q1 2018, so to get a Fail so quickly seems odd.

    • Phil Zona says:

      Hey Drew, we haven’t experienced this yet. However, I’ve read a lot of similar reports online – even a few people who hold all 3 associate level certs have gotten the email saying they failed. We’ve got a few more team members taking the exam over the next week, and we’ll definitely continue to report back.

      One theory I’ve heard (not from an official source) is that everyone gets a “fail” status as a placeholder until the exam comes out of beta status. That seems like a strange way to handle it, but I guess it’s possible. As you said, results aren’t supposed to be available for a few months, so it’s surprising that you’d receive a grade back this quickly.

      I’ll update the post as we find out more. Thanks for bringing this up – it seems to be affecting a lot of people and we hope to know more soon!

  2. Joel Corey says:

    Very helpful and well though out, thank you!

  3. Christoph says:

    Thanks for this article! I like that there is an official entry level cert for AWS/Cloud now. I started my cloud journey with the Technical/Business Professional training as part of the AWS Partner Network Program.
    Having this exam available for the public will accelerate the knowledge transfer and make the transition easier for the masses 🙂

  4. Aniket Sinkar says:

    Good to know!= about the new exam

  5. Ashok Kalakoti says:

    Very useful information for everyone. Best articles to get started for AWS Certification plan.

  6. Charles Gregg says:

    This is a GREAT idea to show that one actually knows about the cloud! Good place to start for all.

  7. Shannon Sofield says:

    I was in the AWS cert site and was ready to schedule my Architect exam and saw this new beta exam. I was going to take it as preparation for the Architect exam. Now I see that results won’t be posted until Q1 2018. I wonder if I sit for the Practitioner exam as well as the Architect, that I can get both certs 🙂

  8. Grey says:

    I plan to take this Cert when it will be announced as an official CERT. I believe that it would be nice pause between the other technical AWS CERTs.

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