Wednesday, February 1, 2017

To be (AWS certified), or not to be (AWS certified)

A couple of my bioinformatics colleagues have recently asked me about whether they should be AWS certified, and, if so, which certification would be best.

My general answer is that AWS certification doesn't hurt to have, but it is should not be considered a "must have" requirement for bioinformatics positions. The main reason I say this is that the certifications test, at least at the Associates level, tend to cover a broad set of AWS services, and some will most certainly not apply to many bioinformatics positions. As a community, we tend to go very deep in certain technologies as a function of our projects. Bioinformatics spans a varied set of technology stacks including  web applications, batch analysis of large corpuses of data, machine learning, etc. But any individual bioinformatics practitioner will tend to focus on only one of these types of projects for long stretches of time, usually measured in years.

Still, it does not hurt to have a Associate level AWS certification in either Solutions Architecture or Software Developer. These two in particular will teach the foundational services that one would encounter in using AWS for bioinformatics, as well as give you a grounding in how to navigate the documentation and leverage the AWS ecosystem when you need to dive deeper on some service or domain.