Review By: Sanjib Behera



Expiry Month


Expiry Year


Time taken to Prepare

21 Days

Resources Used

  • AWS Free Tier Account, AWS Whitepapers, Stephane Maarek Database Specialty Course, AWS Online Training, AWS Database Blog, AWS Knowledge Center and Jon Bonso Practice tests

Detailed Review Of Preparation

This is Sanjib Behera, passed the new AWS Certified Database Specialty exam on 26th Sep 2020.

This new exam focuses on all the Database services provided by AWS (RDS/Aurora/DynamoDB/ElastiCache for REDIS/ElastiCache for Memcached/Redshift/DocumentDB(Mongo)/QLDB/Neptune/Keyspaces(Cassandra)), just note that Timestream is still in beta on this time of writing, maybe sometime later it will be generally available. Also CloudFormation service for IAC and (DMS & SCT) services for migration. Additionally, CloudWatch service, S3, EBS (backups & snapshots), HA/FT/DR questions will be asked, also there will be questions where you need to choose between SSM parameter store/Secrets Manager, so knowing the difference between them is necessary, Security in Transit/Security at Rest queries will be asked. Make sure you know the difference between MultiAZ and Read Replicas and how to encrypt unencrypted DBs and the migration techniques and strategies. Also, make sure you understand Multi-master concept, Global table concept, Serverless DB concept, which is more favorable in which use-case. Whether to use ElastiCache or Read Replica can do the work.

I have working with Databases especially RDBMS databases from the last 19 years(including my college days) & NoSQL DBs from the last 3 years. So I have good know-how about them already and also working with AWS services has helped to understand how they work in and outs. But still, I did not have exposure to few AWS DB services like Aurora (which features heavily in the exam), and NoSQL DB like QLDB/Neptune/Keyspaces.

So at first, I downloaded their documentation from AWS documentation and also went through the AWS online training for free online courses. Also, I started reading the AWS Database blog to gain my knowledge. Below are a few links from AWS online training. Hope it will help everybody who will write this exam in the future.

Note: Please go through the 11th link at the very last when you are confident and are ready to appear for the exam, to do the last minute check whether you are really ready or not.

 Amazon DynamoDB – Architecture and Features
Introduction to Database Migration
Amazon Aurora MySQL - Basics
Deep Dive into DocumentDB
Amazon Aurora MySQL - Migration
Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) Service Introduction
Amazon ElastiCache Service Primer
Amazon RDS Service Primer
Amazon Neptune Service Primer
Amazon Redshift Service Primer
Exam Readiness: AWS Certified Database - Specialty

.Once I completed the AWS online training barring the last link, then I started with the Stephane Maarek & Riyaz Sayyad Udemy course for the same. Once I went through the course, I started with the Jon Bonso practice tests and was parallelly reading the AWS Database blog as well. I started my studies in the first week of September and gave the exam on 26th September.

Also, my main mantra was to study daily 6-7 hours to achieve this certification within a month. As, I am a fan of late-night studies and with a daily job, I only have that time which I use for my upskilling.

Last but not least, if you are going to give this exam, make sure you use your free AWS account to practice all the databases services and check all the features since you never know which question can be asked. Also, it is better to know which metrics are shown in CloudWatch and which in Performance Insights. Have good know-how of CloudFormation service and how it can be used to create the Databases in 1 account, multiple accounts, and in multiple regions. Also, know about the rollback strategy for DBs created via each RDS DB engine. Read the AWS Database blog site for more in-depth information. Also, I regularly follow the AWS Blog & AWS DynamoDB Twitter account to regularly update my knowledge on different usecase(s) and solutions. So these are some pointers that I use for my certifications.

So this is it, here is the detailed journey, how I went about it and what I read to crack this difficult exam.

Benefits From Certification

  • Pay Hike
  • Promotion
  • My Job Needed It
  • Knowledge is Power
  • I just did it for the giggles