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How can I become an AWS Authorized Instructor?

To become an AWS Authorized Instructor, you need deep knowledge of Amazon products and services and must be able to communicate this wealth of technical information.

Amazon maintains rigorous standards for individuals who want to teach its training courses. Every person must be certified in the subjects they plan to teach, plus they must have the AWS Authorized Instructor credential.

I recently became an AWS Authorized Instructor. And while the protocols have changed a bit because of COVID-19, let me walk you through the program.

AWS Authorized Instructor overview

As stated, the first prerequisite is to obtain an AWS technical certification. I hold these three designations:

  • AWS Cloud Practitioner;
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect -- Associate; and
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect -- Professional.

Other possible AWS certifications include:

  • AWS SysOps Administrator -- Associate;
  • AWS Developer -- Associate;
  • AWS DevOps Engineer -- Professional;
  • AWS Data Analytics;
  • AWS Database;
  • AWS Machine Learning;
  • AWS Alexa Skill Builder;
  • AWS Advanced Networking; and
  • AWS Security.

I had been too busy to attend the physical classes necessary to train and undertake AWS performance evaluations. But Amazon has offered new COVID protocols that allow virtual attendance for instructor evaluations. This eliminated one of my obstacles to becoming an AWS Authorized Instructor.

AWS Instructor training

Not only does Amazon want its instructors to know the technology,  it also wants them to be aware of the various teaching strategies that use many different learning modalities. Candidates must complete and pass a three-day instructional workshop.

On the first day, Amazon evaluates the candidate based on their ability to present technical material with the assistance of a slide deck. The candidate presents for 20 minutes on a certification topic of their choice and then for 20 minutes on a topic chosen by the evaluator.

On the second day, the candidate can no longer use the slides to assist in presentations, and the evaluator chooses two new topics. These changes in format test the instructor's ability to maintain student interest using computer demos, whiteboard activities, collaborative techniques and engaging oration.

On the third day, the candidate presents a topic chosen by the assessor for up to 60 minutes, using slides, the whiteboard and demos. The candidate must also complete three to five computer labs that test their ability to solve actual problems using AWS technology. Authorized instructors must project competence with course delivery as well as the AWS technology.

How to prepare

Once registered for the AWS Authorized Instructor program, the candidate gets access to the topic's course material. For the AWS Certified Solutions Architect -- Professional course, for example, this includes a PDF document with over 700 slides and labs. The prospective instructor must study each slide, as evaluators may request that the student present on any topic.

As part of my preparation, I related each module to a real-life scenario, to focus my flow of information. During the eight-week course, I prepared for the Instructor Delivery Workshop. I kept every bit of information from the slides, tackled questions they might ask around any topic and prepared simple demos with the use of a whiteboard. By doing so, I thought I could cover and understand the bulk of the material. I felt comfortable as I headed into my AWS Authorized Instructor training.

The overall experience

During the workshop, I presented topics as in any other class. I made an effort to engage my audience, encouraged them to ask questions and added some humor to my presentations.

Both presentations went well on my first day. The assessor identified ways to improve and encouraged all participants to learn from everyone else's feedback. However, I wasn't quite as confident about my performance on the second day when I presented without slides. I also had limited experience with an online whiteboard tool.

On the third day, I made sure to incorporate all the feedback received from the prior days and played to my strengths to ensure I made a lasting impression. Furthermore, I completed the skills evaluations labs successfully and within the allotted time, which demonstrated that I understood the architecture of an AWS solution.

AWS Authorized Instructors have high standards and rigorous evaluation criteria because they represent Amazon. You must understand the course material, demonstrate your ability to deliver courseware competently and show that you have the confidence and patience to manage a classroom of intelligent and engaged adult learners. If you follow these tips, you'll be sure to become an AWS Authorized Instructor.

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