Which AWS Certification Exam Is Right For Me?

Want to boost your career by becoming AWS certified but not sure which AWS certification exam to take? Tutorials Dojo is here to help you decide which one is suitable for you depending on your career goals. 

It’s important to know why you’re taking a certification exam. It can be because your job requires you to have one, or because you want to land your dream career and impress your employers. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that AWS certifications hold a lot of value in the industry. Cloud computing, DevOps, SysOps, and Serverless are just some of the buzzwords that are making noise in the market right now. Having the right certification at the right moment can drastically affect your career qualifications and your future in the industry.

So what are your options then? AWS currently offers 12 different certificates for you to choose from. They categorize these certificates based on two factors: difficulty and role. Given the number of certification exams to choose from, it can be daunting for a newcomer to figure out where to start, and even those who are already in the field still have trouble deciding which certifications they really need to have. We believe that the answer to this problem lies in two points: purpose and knowledge. Now we aren’t saying that these two points are the solutions to all of this. What we want to tell you, our dear reader, is that by figuring out these two points, the whole picture becomes clearer.

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So let me elaborate. What do I mean by purpose and knowledge?

Purpose is the driving factor on why you’ll be taking an AWS certification exam. Without purpose, there isn’t any reason for you to think about what exam to take, much less read this article! If you want to gain foundational knowledge of AWS and Cloud Computing, for example, maybe the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification is for you. If you are applying for a company that deals with machine learning, maybe consider going for a specialty exam. Purpose defines goals, and goals define requirements.

Knowledge, on the other hand, is knowing where you are at right now. Like, as of this moment. Do you know what an EC2 is? Can you create a highly available website with your eyes closed? By gauging your knowledge, you realize how prepared you are for an exam.

But some of you may be wondering, how would a person know what he/she knows and what he/she doesn’t? The best way to do that is to read the official AWS Exam Guides and to take sample exams from both the AWS site and our Tutorials Dojo portal. If you are a fairly new in AWS, it might be best to take the associate exams first before jumping to the professional ones (though you are free to not follow this advice), just so you can get a feel on how the exams are like and how difficult the questions are.

Which AWS Certification Exam is Right for Me?

Which AWS Certification Exam Is Right For Me

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/training/learning-paths/

AWS FOUNDATIONS LEARNING PATH

Which AWS Certification Exam is Right for Me

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/training/path-cloudpractitioner/

Purpose

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 go for 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 which 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 Coverage:

  1. Cloud Concepts 
    • Define the AWS Cloud and its value proposition 
    • Identify aspects of AWS Cloud economics 
    • List the different cloud architecture design principles 
  2. Security and Compliance 
    • Define the AWS shared responsibility model 
    • Define AWS Cloud security and compliance concepts 
    • Identify AWS access management capabilities
    • Identify resources for security support
  3. Technology
    • Define methods of deploying and operating in the AWS Cloud
    • Define the AWS global infrastructure 
    • Identify the core AWS services 
    • Identify resources for technology support 
  4. Billing and Pricing
    • Compare and contrast the various pricing models for AWS
    • Recognize the various account structures in relation to AWS billing and pricing 
    • Identify resources available for billing support 

Exam Duration: 90 minutes

Passing Score: 70% 

Price: 100 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Practice Exams by Jon Bonso, Adrian Formaran, and Tutorials Dojo

AWS SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT LEARNING PATH

Which AWS Certification Exam is Right for Me

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/training/path-architecting/

The Architect Learning Path consists of two certifications. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional. Both are designed for individuals who want to learn how to design applications and systems on AWS. This is mostly intended for solutions architects and design engineers who are responsible for mapping out and implementing architectures on the AWS cloud. 

Tip: Even though it’s no longer a prerequisite to take 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. 

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Certification

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 on AWS cloud. 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 recommended free study guide. Also go through some online courses, labs, and verify your knowledge with our up-to-date practice exams

Exam Coverage:

  1. Design Resilient Architectures
    • Design a multi-tier architecture solution
    • Design highly available and/or fault-tolerant architectures
    • Design decoupling mechanisms using AWS services
    • Choose appropriate resilient storage 
  2. Design High-Performing Architectures
    • Identify elastic and scalable compute solutions for a workload
    • Select high-performing and scalable storage solutions for a workload
    • Select high-performing networking solutions for a workload
    • Choose high-performing database solutions for a workload 
  3. Design Secure Applications and Architectures
    • Design secure access to AWS resources
    • Design secure application tiers
    • Select appropriate data security options
  4. Design Cost-Optimized Architectures
    • Identify cost-effective storage solutions
    • Identify cost-effective compute and database services
    • Design cost-optimized network architectures

Length: 130 minutes

Passing Score: 72%

Price: 150 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional Certification

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 – career-wise, 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 you to 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 free study guide that will help you prepare for the exam. There are a bunch of resources available online for study materials. Afterwards, you should take our recommended practice exams to validate your knowledge.

Exam Coverage:

  1. Design for Organizational Complexity
    • Determine cross-account authentication and access strategy for complex organizations (for example, an organization with varying compliance requirements, multiple business units, and varying scalability requirements).
    • Determine how to design networks for complex organizations (for example, an organization with varying compliance requirements, multiple business units, and varying scalability requirements).
    • Determine how to design a multi-account AWS environment for complex organizations (for example, an organization with varying compliance requirements, multiple business units, and varying scalability requirements).
  2. Design for New Solutions
    • Determine security requirements and controls when designing and implementing a solution.
    • Determine a solution design and implementation strategy to meet reliability requirements.
    • Determine a solution design to ensure business continuity.
    • Determine a solution design to meet performance objectives.
    • Determine a deployment strategy to meet business requirements when designing and implementing a solution.
  3. Migration Planning
    • Select existing workloads and processes for potential migration to the cloud.
    • Select migration tools and/or services for new and migrated solutions based on detailed AWS knowledge.
    • Determine a new cloud architecture for an existing solution.
    • Determine a strategy for migrating existing on-premises workloads to the cloud.
  4. Cost Control
    • Select a cost-effective pricing model for a solution.
    • Determine which controls to design and implement that will ensure cost optimization.
    • Identify opportunities to reduce cost in an existing solution.
  5. Continuous Improvement for Existing Solutions
    • Troubleshoot solution architectures.
    • Determine a strategy to improve an existing solution for operational excellence.
    • Determine a strategy to improve the reliability of an existing solution.
    • Determine a strategy to improve the performance of an existing solution.
    • Determine a strategy to improve the security of an existing solution.
    • Determine how to improve the deployment of an existing solution

Recommended Knowledge :

  • Ability to evaluate cloud application requirements and make architectural recommendations for implementation, deployment, and provisioning applications on AWS
  • Familiarity with AWS APIs, AWS CLI, AWS CloudFormation templates, AWS Billing Console, and the AWS Management Console
  • Designing a hybrid architecture using key AWS technologies (e.g., VPN, AWS Direct Connect)
  • Ability to provide best practice guidance on the architectural design across multiple applications and projects of the enterprise
  • Familiarity with a scripting language
  • Familiarity with Windows and Linux environments
  • Map business objectives to application/architecture requirements
  • Architect a continuous integration and deployment process
  • Explain and apply the five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework

Length: 180 minutes

Passing Score: 75%

Price: 300 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Solutions Architect Professional Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

AWS CERTIFIED DEVELOPER LEARNING PATH

Which AWS Certification Exam is Right for Me

Sources: https://aws.amazon.com/training/path-developing/

AWS Certified Developer – Associate Certification

Purpose

The Certified Developer 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 in 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 on 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 very 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 next AWS Certified Developer exam.

Exam Coverage:

  1. Deployment 
    • Deploy written code in AWS using existing CI/CD pipelines, processes, and patterns. 
    • Deploy applications using Elastic Beanstalk. 
    • Prepare the application deployment package to be deployed to AWS. 
    • Deploy serverless applications. 
  2. Security
    • Make authenticated calls to AWS services. 
    • Implement encryption using AWS services. 
    • Implement application authentication and authorization. 
  3. Development with AWS Services
    • Write code for serverless applications.
    • Translate functional requirements into application design.
    • Implement application design into application code. 
    • Write code that interacts with AWS services by using APIs, SDKs, and AWS CLI. 
  4. Refactoring
    • Optimize application to best use AWS services and features.
    • Migrate existing application code to run on AWS. 
  5. Monitoring and Troubleshooting
    • Write code that can be monitored. 
    • Perform root cause analysis on faults found in testing or production.

Recommended Knowledge :

  • In-depth knowledge of at least one high-level programming language
  • Understanding of core AWS services, uses, and basic AWS architecture best practices
  • Proficiency in developing, deploying, and debugging cloud-based applications using AWS
  • Ability to use the AWS service APIs, AWS CLI, and SDKs to write applications
  • Ability to identify key features of AWS services
  • Understanding of the AWS shared responsibility model
  • Understanding of application lifecycle management
  • Ability to use a CI/CD pipeline to deploy applications on AWS

Length: 130 minutes

Price: 150 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified Developer Associate Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo 

 

OPERATIONS LEARNING PATHS

Which AWS Certification Exam is Right for Me

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/training/path-operations/

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate Certification

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 ace this exam, such as a free study guide, our widely known AWS Cheat Sheets, and our highly recommended practice exams.

Exam Coverage:

  1. Monitoring and Reporting
    • Create and maintain metrics and alarms utilizing AWS monitoring services
    • Recognize and differentiate performance and availability metrics 
    • Perform the steps necessary to remediate based on performance and availability metrics 
  2. High Availability 
    • Implement scalability and elasticity based on use case
    • Recognize and differentiate highly available and resilient environments on AWS 
  3. Deployment and Provisioning 
    • Identify and execute steps required to provision cloud resources 
    • Identify and remediate deployment issues 
  4. Storage and Data Management
    • Create and manage data retention
    • Identify and implement data protection, encryption, and capacity planning needs 
  5. Security and Compliance
    • Implement and manage security policies on AWS
    • Implement access controls when using AWS 
    • Differentiate between the roles and responsibility within the shared responsibility model 
  6. Networking 
    • Apply AWS networking features
    • Implement connectivity services of AWS
    • Gather and interpret relevant information for network troubleshooting 
  7. Automation and Optimization 
    • Use AWS services and features to manage and assess resource utilization
    • Employ cost-optimization strategies for efficient resource utilization 
    • Automate manual or repeatable process to minimize management overhead

Recommended Knowledge :

  • Understanding of the AWS tenets – architecting for the cloud
  • Hands-on experience with the AWS CLI and SDKs/API tools
  • Understanding of network technologies as they relate to AWS
  • Understanding of security concepts with hands-on experience in implementing security controls and compliance requirements
  • Understanding of virtualization technology
  • Monitoring and auditing systems experience
  • Knowledge of networking concepts (e.g., DNS, TCP/IP, and firewalls)
  • Ability to translate architectural requirements

Length: 130 minutes

Price: 150 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

Tip: 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.

 

AWS DEVELOPER + OPERATIONS LEARNING PATH

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional Certification

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 free exam study guide. We also have our community-recommended AWS Cheat Sheets and practice exams that will help you prepare for this very 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 Coverage:

  1. SDLC Automation
    • Apply concepts required to automate a CI/CD pipeline 
    • Determine source control strategies and how to implement them 
    • Apply concepts required to automate and integrate testing 
    • Apply concepts required to build and manage artifacts securely 
    • Determine deployment/delivery strategies (e.g., A/B, Blue/green, Canary, Red/black) and how to implement them using AWS Services 
  2. Configuration Management and Infrastructure as Code 
    • Determine deployment services based on deployment needs 
    • Determine application and infrastructure deployment models based on business needs 
    • Apply security concepts in the automation of resource provisioning 
    • Determine how to implement lifecycle hooks on a deployment 
    • Apply concepts required to manage systems using AWS configuration management tools and services
  3. Monitoring and Logging
    • Determine how to set up the aggregation, storage, and analysis of logs and metrics 
    • Apply concepts required to automate monitoring and event management of an environment 
    • Apply concepts required to audit, log, and monitor operating systems, infrastructures, and applications
    • Determine how to implement tagging and other metadata strategies 
  4. Policies and Standards Automation
    • Apply concepts required to enforce standards for logging, metrics, monitoring, testing, and security 
    • Determine how to optimize cost through automation 
    • Apply concepts required to implement governance strategies
  5. Incident and Event Response 
    • Troubleshoot issues and determine how to restore operations 
    • Determine how to automate event management and alerting
    • Apply concepts required to implement automated healing
    • Apply concepts required to set up event-driven automated actions
  6. High Availability, Fault Tolerance, and Disaster Recovery
    • Determine appropriate use of multi-AZ versus multi-region architectures
    • Determine how to implement high availability, scalability, and fault tolerance
    • Determine the right services based on business needs (e.g., RTO/RPO, cost)
    • Determine how to design and automate disaster recovery strategies 
    • Evaluate a deployment for points of failure

Recommended Knowledge :

  • Developing code in at least one high-level programming language
  • Building highly automated infrastructures
  • Administering operating systems
  • Understanding of modern development and operations processes and methodologies

Length: 180 minutes

Price: 300 USD

Recommended Practice Exam: AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professional Practice Exams by Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo

 

RECERTIFICATION

In order to stay up-to-date with the continuously evolving AWS platform, maintain your AWS Certified status, and continue your expertise, you need to renew your credentials every three years. This process is called recertification. It refreshes the value of your AWS certificates and it proves to your colleagues and employers that you are up-to-date with the latest AWS best practices and updates. 

To know more about the recertification, visit this link: https://aws.amazon.com/certification/recertification/.

Keeping your skills relevant and updated is a must in this industry. Here are some handy tips to on how to do so:

  • Read up to date resources such as our AWS Cheat Sheets and Exam Study Guides.
  • Do lots of practice on your AWS Free Tier Account and create projects which will enhance your knowledge of the AWS services. 
  • Take AWS practice exams from time to time even if you are not sitting for the exam as it will refresh your knowledge and will enable you to stay up-to-date with the latest AWS best practices. Our bestselling Jon Bonso and Tutorials Dojo practice exams on the Tutorials Dojo portal are rated the best out of all the practice test courses in the market, and provide a comprehensive reviewer complete with detailed explanations, which can help you pass your AWS exams on your first try.

In the second part of this article, we will talk about the different AWS Specialty Certifications and learning paths.

***

AWS Certifications are consistently among the top paying IT certifications in the world, considering that Amazon Web Services is the leading cloud services platform with almost 50% market share! Earn over $150,000 per year with an AWS certification!

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