AWS Certifications Path

Before going through the AWS certifications path below, it is important to note that AWS has scrapped the prerequisite for Professional-level exams. Previously, you can only take the Professional-level exams (Solutions Architect Professional and DevOps Engineer Professional) after passing their Associate-level counterparts. Now, you can take any AWS exam without the need to pass any prior AWS exam, which is ideal for those who already have extensive working experience in the industry.

aws certifications path

Foundational

Cloud Practitioner

If you are coming from a non-technical background. The foundational level will be a good start for you to learn and understand the concepts of cloud computing.

aws certified cloud practitioner

Purpose

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This certification path is intended for those who want to gain a high-level understanding of the AWS Cloud Platform. The people that benefit the most from this certification are those working in technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, marketing, or financial roles. This is the easiest exam among all of the certification exams, and an individual who wants to establish a cloud career with or without IT experience can easily make the transition as a Cloud Practitioner.

Tip: If you are just starting out, you may opt to get this exam first before you aim for the other certificates. However, if you already have some IT experience then it might be better to go straight for either of the three Associate level certification exams.

Knowledge

If you have a basic understanding of how the Cloud operates, then the Cloud Practitioner Exam will help validate your knowledge. By now, you should be able to identify what are the benefits of using the AWS Cloud Platform, understand the principles of architecting and operating in the Cloud at a high level, and be aware of the services that are available in the AWS Cloud.

AWS offers a free online course for this and there are also some well-regarded practice tests that can help you simulate the actual exam environment. Along with the official AWS exam guide for Cloud Practitioner, we also have a free study guide to help you prepare for this foundation-level exam.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 65 questions, has a time limit of 90 minutes, and a passing score of 700 out of 1000.

Cost: 100 USD

Associate

AWS offers three role-based learning paths at the associate level. To get certified, you need to pass the exam with a score of at least 720 within 130 minutes.

Solutions Architect Associate

aws certified solutions architect associate

Purpose

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate is the most popular associate-level certificate and the most common entry point for those who want to learn and start a career in AWS. This is for individuals who design systems and deploy effective solutions on the Amazon Web Services platform. If you want to show to your customers and your employers that you have the knowledge and the skills to architect solutions in AWS, then this should be the next exam in your lineup. This exam will also measure your preparedness for the Professional level of the AWS Solutions Architect path.

Knowledge

A Solutions Architect Associate focuses more on architecting solutions using commonly used tools such as EC2, RDS, S3, and the likes. Be sure to have a solid understanding of the fundamentals of AWS, such as networking, security, cost optimization, designing scalable and highly available solutions, and the best practices in architecting in AWS. Being an AWS Solutions Architect is all about knowing how to apply the best practices in the industry to help meet your customer’s needs.

You can check out the official AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate exam guide here. For additional learning materials, check out our exam study guide, which contains a list of services to focus on and also includes some exam tips. Also, go through some online courses, labs, and verify your knowledge with our up-to-date practice exams.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 65 questions, has a time limit of 130 minutes, and a passing score of 720 out of 1000.

Cost: 150 USD

Developer Associate

aws certified developer associate

Purpose

The Certified Developer Associate learning path is designed for candidates who want to develop and maintain AWS-based applications. This is an associate-level certification exam, so you can start your journey as an AWS developer through this certification path. Having experience in software development is a plus in preparing for this exam. If you have responsibilities that require you to engineer cloud-based applications and deployments, then this should be the next certificate that you should aim for.

Knowledge

Naturally, you should already have some knowledge of software development. Cloud-based development is a bit similar to how you develop applications locally. The only major differences are the tools that you will use to build your applications, as well as the manner in how you build them so you can utilize the advantages of the cloud. You should be able to demonstrate an understanding of the core AWS tools, as well as how to use the APIs and how to apply the best practices in your operations. Understand what resources are there to help you build your applications quickly, how to make deployments and changes in a swift and controlled manner, and how to debug them when you encounter bugs and errors.

To know more, check out the official AWS Certified Developer Associate exam guide here. We have also prepared a handy exam study guide for you. Our study guide, along with our AWS Cheat Sheets and practice exams are here to help you pass (and maybe even perfect!) your AWS Certified Developer exam.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 65 questions, has a time limit of 130 minutes, and a passing score of 720 out of 1000.

Cost: 150 USD

SysOps Administrator Associate

aws certified sysops administrator associate

Purpose

The Operations Learning Path is designed for candidates who want to learn how to create automatable and repeatable deployments of applications, networks, and systems on the AWS platform. This path is commonly pursued by those working as Systems Administrators, IT Administrators, or DevOps Engineers. If your responsibility is to take care of your company’s AWS environment, from operational management to handling data flow, then this is the certification you should take next. Since this is another associate-level certification, you can start off your SysOps career with this certificate and level up your AWS knowledge in preparation for more difficult certification exams.

Knowledge

The main focus of this exam is provisioning, operating, and maintaining systems running on AWS, deployment, management, orchestration, and general operations of AWS services. You must also be able to demonstrate a good understanding of the monitoring, network, and security services in AWS. Having prior experience as a systems administrator will benefit you greatly since a good intuition in operational management is required for this role.

Read more about the SysOps exam in the official AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam guide here. We have also prepared a number of resources to help you prepare and ace this exam, such as our exam study guide, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and our highly recommended practice exams.

Tip: The majority have found SysOps to be the hardest among all the Associate level exams. Therefore, if you are planning to acquire all three Associate certifications before jumping to the Professional-level exams, it might be a good idea to take either the Solutions Architect Associate or Developer Associate exams first before taking the SysOps exam.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 65 questions, has a time limit of 130 minutes, and a passing score of 720 out of 1000.

Cost: 150 USD

Professional

Solutions Architect Professional

Purpose

When it comes to enterprises and large corporations, employers prefer hiring people who hold a professional-level certificate. This is more commonly suited for senior-level or managerial positions in the company, which requires a lot of experience in architecting large scale solutions. Some customers may also require you to have this certification before they can confidently give you a high stakes project. Having a professional certificate in your portfolio demonstrates your capability in fulfilling the responsibilities of an AWS Solutions Architect. Furthermore, the certification opens up a lot of opportunities for you – careerwise, and your company – market-wise.

Knowledge

This is a professional level exam, so expect it to be difficult. A high degree of technical knowledge and experience in designing AWS-based applications is required for this certification exam. There is an ongoing debate whether the Solutions Architect Professional or the DevOps Professional exam is the hardest exam of them all. So if you have taken the DevOps Pro exam but not this one yet, this might be the time to stop wondering because the answer is: it really depends on your previous work experience and background. This exam validates the candidate’s ability to design and deploy enterprise-wide scalable operations on AWS and implement cost-control strategies. 

We highly recommend that you take the associate exam first as the professional level exam is super tough. The official AWS exam guide can be found here. We have also prepared a detailed exam study guide that will help you prepare for the exam. There are a bunch of resources available online for study materials. Afterward, you should take our recommended practice exams to validate your knowledge.

Tip: Even though it’s no longer a prerequisite to taking the Solutions Architect Associate exam before taking the Solutions Architect Professional test, we still highly recommend that you go for the SA-Associate exam first and if time permits, the SysOps exam as well, before taking the SA-Professional exam.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 75 questions, has a time limit of 180 minutes, and a passing score of 750 out of 1000.

Cost: 300 USD

DevOps Engineer Professional

Purpose

One of the most in-demand and searched job titles nowadays is the DevOps Engineer position. Forming as a link between development and operations in tech, a DevOps engineer’s duty is to facilitate these two groups to make everything work as smoothly and as efficiently as possible. Key terms that are commonly associated with DevOps include cloud and automation.

A DevOps engineer requires an extensive amount of knowledge and experience in almost all areas to be able to work effectively. Therefore, they rely on the tools and services offered by the cloud to simplify their work. By taking the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer certification exam, you are showing to your peers and employers that you are equipped with the skills to maximize the AWS platform and bring value to your company and your customers. This value can be quantified through smoother operations, faster deployments processes, or larger cost-savings.

Knowledge

This is the professional-level certification for both the AWS Certified Developer and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator associate certification, so we recommend taking at least one of these first as the DevOps Pro exam is also super tough. This exam validates your knowledge in provisioning, managing, operating and security of AWS solutions and covers advanced development topics such as architecting for a cloud-native environment, and deconstructing on-premises, legacy applications, and repackaging them into cloud-based, cloud-native architectures.

Knowing and understanding the different AWS services is not enough. You should also be able to solve problems that would make the most sense to your customer’s needs. This is why AWS recommends that you should first have experience solving problems in AWS before tackling this exam. You should also be able to take advantage of automation and reusable code to reduce errors and increase work efficiency and agility. Services such as CloudFormation, OpsWorks, Systems Manager, and CI/CD tools are some of the services you should be very familiar with.

Check out the official AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional exam guide here as well as our exam study guide. We also have our community-recommended AWS Cheat Sheets and practice exams that will help you prepare for this difficult test.

Tip: Just like in the Architecture path, taking one or more Associate exams first (preferably Developer Associate and SysOps) is recommended before going for the much tougher DevOps Pro exam.

Exam Details: The exam consists of 75 questions, has a time limit of 180 minutes, and a passing score of 750 out of 1000.

Cost: 300 USD

Specialty

If you wanted to have an advanced skill in a specific technical area using the AWS platform. AWS offers 6 specialty certifications with a passing score of 750 out of 1000 within 170 to 180 minutes.

Security

Purpose
Managing security is one of the most challenging yet fulfilling responsibilities that an individual can undertake. It is (and always should be!) every organization’s priority. For each step in the workflow, there is bound to be a vulnerability which is why nowadays, there are a variety of roles in the market that target individuals with specific skill sets in the security domain. We have titles like InfoSec Engineer, InfraSec Engineer, IT Security Consultant, Risk and Compliance Analyst, DevSecOps Engineer, etc. If your main role focuses on security and your company engages in Cloud technologies, then this specialty certification is a must-have on your portfolio.

Knowledge
Knowing how to implement the best practices in security can only be achieved through experience, so it is recommended that you have some industry experience first before taking this specialty exam. You don’t need to learn how to secure every service in AWS, but it is important to have a concrete understanding of fundamental security practices for core AWS services (i.e. EBS volume encryption, least privilege access controls in IAM, network protection using security groups, monitoring and incident response using CloudTrail). These are just some of the general tasks that apply to almost any AWS environment.

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 170 minutes
  • Passing Score: 750
  • Cost: 300 USD

Advanced Networking

Purpose
The advanced networking specialty certification is built for individuals whose jobs are to set up and maintain network solutions in their organizations. Managing a corporate network is a very tough but rewarding job. You carry the responsibility of making sure your infrastructure network is working 24/7 and all its components are running efficiently. If even one router suddenly malfunctions or gets misconfigured, it could mean disaster to your operations, which could translate to huge financial losses. Network engineers benefit the most from this certification, especially if they handle networking in the AWS Cloud.

Knowledge
You should have mastery over networking fundamentals and have a strong understanding of AWS network concepts and their underlying components. These include different network architectures and models, common network technologies, monitoring and security solutions, and application of best practices in AWS. It is also recommended that you first get experience in designing and implementing network solutions in both AWS and a hybrid setup. Get exposed to different use cases and approaches, either by reading about them or trying them out yourself.

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 170 minutes
  • Passing Score: Not published but ~680 based on research
  • Cost: 300 USD

Database

Purpose
If you are a database administrator, a database architect, or a developer with a large focus on database programming then you should consider taking the AWS Certified Database Specialty for your next certification exam. If you are a professional with tons of experience in databases and are looking to transition to a database-related role in the AWS cloud, this specialty exam should also serve as a good starting point for your journey. This certificate is primarily designed for people who want to validate their skills in AWS database technologies and display their expertise in the area to potential future employers and customers.

Knowledge
AWS offers different types of databases in its catalog and you should have a strong background in database management using Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon Redshift. You should also be familiar with different design principles that emphasize security, high availability, fault tolerance, and/or scalability. Lastly, you should also have comprehensive knowledge of database migration, monitoring, and troubleshooting common database issues.

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 180 minutes
  • Passing Score: 750
  • Cost: 300 USD

Data Analytics

Purpose
There is no doubt that everything we do now and every decision we make is driven by data. The market demand for data scientists is increasing rapidly since they help drive strategic decision-making to boost profits. The AWS Data Analytics Specialty certification is aimed at these types of people who work with data each day. They manage data lakes and use different technologies to transform data into something more meaningful for stakeholders, such as predictions on market trends. If you use AWS data analytics services or similar tools in your work, then you should also aim for this certificate. It will demonstrate and validate your expertise in using these services.

Knowledge
Since this is a specialty certification, having prior experience in data analysis and data lifecycle management is recommended before taking the exam. You should already possess the knowledge needed to produce outputs and gather insight from different data sources. You should also have hands-on experience with AWS Analytics Services such as Amazon Kinesis and Amazon Redshift. Understand which services integrate with one another to allow you to construct an end-to-end analytics solution ― from ingestion to storage, retrieval, and visualization. 

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 180 minutes
  • Passing Score: 750
  • Cost: 300 USD

Machine Learning

Purpose
Machine learning is a part of almost every business nowadays. Utilizing computers to perform complex tasks with agility and precision has allowed industries to increase their overall productivity and revenue. Furthermore, machine learning and cloud technology are two inseparable partners, since the cloud offers you the compute and storage capacity you need to run your solutions cost-effectively. If you are working in this field such as a role in data science or if you have a passion for machine learning, deep learning, and AI development, be sure to add this certification to your portfolio. This certificate will indicate that your capabilities meet the qualifications for building and deploying quality ML/AI solutions for businesses using AWS.

Knowledge
The exam will validate your knowledge of utilizing different ML approaches to resolve specific problems. Therefore, you should already possess a strong grasp of basic ML algorithms and frameworks such as TensorFlow and PyTorch. You should also be familiar with the services in AWS that will allow you to implement these algorithms and frameworks. A good example would be Amazon SageMaker, which would enable you to build, train, and deploy machine learning (ML) models. Lastly, since this is a specialty exam, you should already have a fair amount of experience in machine learning and AI prior to taking this certification exam. This is because the exam will also quiz you on the best practices for different ML deployments and operations, and it would be an advantage if you have some experience with these situations.

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 180 minutes
  • Passing Score: 750
  • Cost: 300 USD
Alexa Skill Builder

Purpose
The AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder Specialty is a very unique kind of certification. As the name suggests, it is centered around Amazon’s AI-powered virtual assistant application known as Amazon Alexa. If you are pursuing this certification, then it means that you’re working as an Amazon Alexa Skill Builder or are planning to work as one. An Amazon Alexa Skill Builder is an individual who develops new skills for Alexa’s AI capabilities. Generally, these capabilities include, but are not limited to, building smart devices and smart technologies. If you think working with Alexa to produce smart solutions is for you, then have a go at this certification exam.

Knowledge
AWS recommends having at least 6 months of hands-on experience building Alexa skills using the Alexa Skills Kit, and incorporating services from the AWS Cloud in your solutions. Additionally, you should also be comfortable with handling JSON data. It would be best to broaden your knowledge in building Alexa Skills by taking on more projects and extending them to AWS. Try to build Alexa skills that rely on processing speech, video, image, audio, and text. Also take note of the errors that you encounter along the way, and how to properly troubleshoot them. Lastly, you should be familiar with the best practices in using the Alexa Skills Kit. The exam will include scenarios that will require you to meet specific conditions such as security and compliance, appropriate storage selection, and proper use of physical interfaces and devices.

Resources

Exam Details

  • 65 questions
  • Time Limit: 170 minutes
  • Passing Score: 750
  • Cost: 300 USD

 

In the next section of our cloud certification paths series, we will discuss the different Azure certification options that you can take to further expand your skills.

This article is part of our free Journey to Cloud: A Beginner’s Guide eBook. Click here to get a free copy.

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