AWS Developers Hiring Guide

The market leader in
cloud computing

While Amazon is one of the biggest retailers worldwide today, the company’s flagship product and its biggest revenue stream is Amazon Web Services. What started in 2003 as a plan to provide digital e-commerce solutions, quickly grew into a cloud computing empire that holds 32% of market share.

With a 7-year headstart from its competition, AWS is an industry leader and a powerhouse. With over 200 services available in cloud computing, networking, and storage, it’s a one-stop solution for any business looking to take its projects to the cloud.

From simple storage to AI tools, it’s no wonder that AWS’s biggest strength is also its disadvantage. There are so many services and customization options that even the most seasoned engineers find the AWS dashboard overwhelming.

  • Hiring Guide

  • Interview Questions

  • Job Description

With such a widespread set of features, it’s no surprise that Amazon has developed a diverse training and certification program. Any candidate aspiring for a position as an AWS cloud engineer should have experience with the system as well as the certifications to prove it. 

Professionals with a foundational level certification are called cloud practitioners. To reach this level the candidate has to have a general understanding of cloud computing in AWS as well as its most popular features. It’s a certificate that requires very little experience, as it’s intended to serve as a foundation (hence the name) for future specializations.

Cloud practitioners are excellent candidates for entry-level positions, especially if you are looking for someone that wants to build a career inside the company. With the assistance of an AWS expert acting as a supervisor, the practitioner can hone their skills with a project and prepare for higher certifications. 

The second level, associate certification, is intended for professionals with at least one year of experience with the AWS cloud. A candidate has to pick one of three branches to specialize in:

Architecture: This path is intended for engineers who have worked as solution architects for over a year, designing, describing, and managing solutions for specific business problems using AWS.  

This is the profile a company should look for in a candidate when they want someone that can: 

  • Architect and deploy applications on AWS technologies with security in mind.
  • Define a solution using good practices and design principles.
  • Assess situations and provide implementation guidance throughout the life cycle of the project.

The professional level on this path is designed for people with over two years of experience as solution architects. The scope of their skills is similar to the ones mentioned above with the addition of experience dealing with complex problems and a good understanding of cost-control strategies. 

Operations: This branch is designed for people who have specialized as system administrator, using AWS to:

  • Implement and control data flow 
  • Select and use services based on data, computing, or security requirements
  • Deploy, manage, and operate scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant systems
  • Migrate on-premises workloads

Additionally, the associate SysOps has a good understanding of AWS costs and operational cost control mechanisms, as well as knowledge of AWS best practices and implementation strategies. 

Developer: As the name implies, this is the branch for software developers with at least one year of experience who:

  • Identify and choose the best AWS services for software development.
  • Develop, deploy, and debug cloud-based apps using AWS.
  • Have an understanding of core AWS functionalities and architecture. 

Both the SysOps and the associate developer can opt for a professional certificate in DevOps engineering. This certificate is intended for professionals who have spent at least two years working as DevOps engineers provisioning, operating, and managing AWS environments.

Aside from the aforementioned paths, Amazon also provides AWS certifications in Data analytics, Advanced networking, Database, Machine Learning, and Security. 


How difficult is it to find good AWS experts?

As we’ve seen so far, AWS certifications aren’t all-encompassing. Instead, they each focus on a particular skill set of the software development process as filtered by the intricacies of AWS.

As such, building the right job profile will help you narrow the candidate pool and focus on the people whose skills are in line with what's needed for your project. Use the above certifications as a guideline to assess which type of AWS specialist is best suited for the job. 

Remember that cloud practitioners have a grasp of the basics, associates have shown proficiency and experience working with AWS for at least a year, and professionals are the people who know AWS and its best practices inside and out.

With that being said, you should know that AWS certified specialists are highly sought after, so it’s no surprise that the average salary for an AWS-certified IT professional was 129,688$ as of 2019. Amazon holds three of the ten highest-paying certifications in North America. 

Finding a good cloud engineer with an AWS certification shouldn’t be too difficult as it’s one of the fastest growing job positions on the market. More professionals than ever are realizing just how important it is to be familiarized with cloud services, especially with AWS’s popularity.


How to choose an AWS expert for your project

As you go over the resumes and interview potential candidates, what should you be on the lookout for?

As usual, the most important factor is hands-on experience with AWS, which translates to knowledge and expertise in Amazon’s most popular services:

  • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
  • Simple Storage Service (S3)
  • Simple Queuing Service (SQS)
  • Relational Database Service (RDS)
  • Elastic Container Service (ECS)
  • Route 53
  • ElastiCache
  • Load Balancer

For example, anyone who’s ever worked with AWS should have a passing understanding of how to use EC2, S3, and Route 53 to set up a webpage.

Another aspect to keep in mind is cost management. While brute-forcing to solve a problem with pay-as-you-go services like AWS is perfectly feasible, it’s usually very expensive, and engineers/developers who’ve worked with the platform are aware of pitfalls that can lead to increased costs.


Conclusion

AWS is a market leader in storage, cloud computing, and network solutions. As of today, not even its closest competitors can offer all the services that Amazon has developed throughout the years. That’s why it’s so important to hire experts who can navigate the AWS labyrinth safely to turn your project into a reality.

The key to any good hiring process is asking the right questions to separate the wheat from the chaff. Here is a list of some question that, while basic, will allow you to quickly assess how much experience the candidate has with AWS.


What are the 3 basic types of cloud services and the AWS products that are built based on them?

At its core, AWS provides three kinds of services: Computing, Storage, and Networking. For computing, the most popular services are EC2, Elastic Beanstalk, and Auto-Scaling. For Storage, Glacier, and S3 (buckets). For networking, VPC and route 53. Since this is such a simple question, you should ask it early in the interview, depending on the answer you can get a good grasp of how familiarized the candidate is with AWS services as a whole.


What are the tools and techniques you can use in AWS to identify if you are paying more than you should be, and how to correct it?

Cost management is a huge problem with pay-as-you-go services, and while it’s usually the SysOps job to keep track of costs, every AWS cloud engineer should have a passing knowledge of how the services are billed and how to check how much has been spent. There are four ways in total to check for costs in AWS: Top Services Table, Cost Explorer, AWS Budgets, and Cost Allocation Tags. Another alternative to this question is to create a hypothetical cost-related exercise for the interview, preferably a real-life example from the company’s past, and ask the candidate how they would handle it.


What is Solaris? Is it available in AWS?

Solaris is an operating system that uses SPARC processor architecture, and as such, it’s not supported by the current cloud. So, it’s not available in AWS. This one is a trick question, and it’s designed to check if the candidate knows both the services available in AWS and about computer sciences as a whole.


How can you recover/login to an EC2 instance for which you have lost the key?

  1. Verify that the EC2Config service is running
  2. Detach the root volume for the instance
  3. Attach the volume to a temporary instance
  4. Modify the configuration file
  5. Restart the original instance

These kinds of questions are designed to assess if the candidate knows how to handle a situation that, while uncommon, is perfectly feasible. The right answer can go two ways: they either describe the process, or they describe where to look for information about the process. These are general questions, but the interview should go in-depth and explore the candidate’s about the services involved in the role they want to fill.

We are looking for {{Insert role here}} with AWS experience to join our staff and work on different projects. We are looking for team players with good communication skills, a passion for computers and IT, and the desire to grow as an individual and as a professional.


Responsibilities

  • {{List all the responsibilities of the role you wrote on the header, you can copy and paste the descriptions above, or use them for inspiration, then add any additional responsibilities related to the specifics of your project}}.

Skills and Qualifications

  • {{One/Two}} or more years of hands-on experience designing and deploying cloud architecture on AWS
  • Ability to evaluate cloud application requirements and make recommendations for implementation, deployment, and provisioning applications on AWS
  • Familiarity with AWS CLI, AWS APIs, AWS CloudFormation templates, and other services as well as the AWS dashboard.
  • Ability to provide best practice guidance
  • Familiarity with Windows and Linux environments
  • {{Add programming knowledge requirements such as backend languages, frameworks, high or low-level programming languages, additional tool}} 
  • {{Add the expected education level of your candidates as well as the certification level you are looking for}}

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