Review of the HashiCorp Terraform Associate exam

Intro

In this article, I will recap my experience with taking the HashiCorp Terraform Associate Certification. I will break down my prior experience, resources used, study tips, and more. I will discuss the importance of Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and how you can develop that skill set. Let's get started!

Prior Experience

Here is my prior experience going into the exam:

Currently, I am working on Freelance Python projects. I have passed a variety of other certifications and worked with other IaC technology.

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practioner
  • AWS Solutions Architect Associate
  • In process of studying for AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate
  • Deployed common infrastructure patterns with personal projects using AWS CloudFormation

During my studies for the Solutions Architect exam, I got very familiar with CloudFormation and deploying Infrastructure as Code. I have continued to utilize CloudFormation during some of my personal projects. I had a decent level of experience with IaC and was searching out for more opportunities to develop that skill set. The Terraform certification was a great way to do just that.

If you have any experience with Cloud Infrastructure, this is a great certification for you! I would not recommend this as the first certification you pass.

Resources

I used just a few resources in studying for this exam. These materials are more than enough to successfully pass the exam. I do suggest going outside the scope of the exam, and working on writing a variety of Terraform code on your own. Make sure to sign up for the AWS Free Tier and to deploy the services in the course. If you haven't used the free tier before, the link below will explain how to get started with that.

What is Terraform? and Why choose Terraform?

As defined on the Terraform website,

"Terraform is an open-source infrastructure as code software tool that provides a consistent CLI workflow to manage hundreds of cloud services. Terraform codifies cloud APIs into declarative configuration files".

Terraform leverages APIs to work with multiple different providers. In just a few lines of code, you can deploy a Digital Ocean Droplet and an AWS EC2 Instance. This is the real power of Terraform. A lot of companies out there use multiple different cloud providers, and having the ability to deploy infrastructure using one service is very valuable.

Study Strategy

When I study for any certification, I make a point to go above and beyond for the hands-on portion of learning. Following along with any course that you choose is great, but the real learning happens when you are left on your own. Once you get comfortable with Terraform, take a shot at deploying services with no guidance from the course (make sure they are low cost!!!). This is what the AWS Free Tier is for. You will have to spend more time reading the documentation and Googling. This is where the real learning happens. Do not skip doing this! You can pass the certification just with the Udemy course, but you aren't taking this course just to pass. You are taking the course the learn a new skill that you can implement on the job. The extra work is well worth it!

My Study Workflow

Review Udemy course section + Write the section code -> review corresponding documentation -> Deploy IaC services on your own!

I repeated this process over and over for each Udemy section. When I finished the course, the review was easy because I spent so much time laying the foundational components of Terraform.

Test Tips

I wanted to set a few expectations for taking any type of certification exam like this online. There will be an overview in the Udemy course on how the specific test-taking actually works. I am sure that most of the people taking this exam have some sort of experience with Pearson Vue or PSI. This exam uses PSI.

Make sure you test your computer to check that it works with PSI the night before the exam. Log on to your exam ~30 minutes before your test time. It takes up to 15 minutes for PSI to verify your ID and testing room.

Outside of the logistics, the actual test is relatively straightforward except for a few tricky questions. Take your time and read through the question thoroughly, and flag any questions to review later. You should have plenty of time to go back over any flagged questions.

Going Forward

I started another round of #100daysofcloud a few days ago. I plan to create a Github repository and push Terraform code samples to it. This will involve researching common infrastructure patterns used in a professional setting, and then recreating those in the AWS Free Tier. This is a critical skill for anyone trying to work in Cloud.

Be on the lookout for more blogs! I will discuss more details of Terraform and other Cloud services.

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