By Sean Wilkins
Updated on December 21, 2022
AWS Certifications Quick Start Guide
AWS Certifications demonstrate your type and level of expertise in AWS systems. Discover 5 popular certificates and learn about their exams.
If you're consdering a Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification, refer to this quick guide to help you select the right certification for you skill level and role. We've outlined the core AWS certifications, their focus areas, pricing, and useful resources to give you a better idea of what to expect on the exams.
What is AWS Certification?
AWS Certifications tell employers and your peers what kind and level of expertise you have in AWS. Currently there are 12 different AWS certification offerings in four different tracks. These tracks are tiered by experience level:
- Foundational - Recommended 6 months of fundamental AWS Cloud and industry knowledge to complete the certification.
- Associate - Ideally the learner will have 1 year of experience problem-solving and solutioning in AWS Cloud environments.
- Professional - Two years experience designing, operating, and troubleshooting AWS Cloud solutions.
- Speciality - This tier is focused on AWS specialities like Machine Learning, Data Analytics, and Advanced Networking.
The tracks are straightforward, beginning with the Solutions Architect which is focused on designing and building AWS solutions for multiple organizations/clients. Next is the Developer track, focusing on designing, building and/or maintaining applications that integrate with AWS. Finally, the SysOps Administrator track targets design, operations and management of an AWS solution, typically within the same organization.
What are AWS Certification exams?
In order to be certified, you must complete a corresponding AWS Certification exam (or series of exams). The exams are offered in multiple languages, and each uses three different test question formats including:
- Multiple-Choice - This is the most familiar and involves the selection of one out of four answers that are given for each specific question stem. This includes questions that can be embedded into graphics with point-and-click options.
- Multiple-Response (aka Multiple-Select) - This is similar to multiple-choice but allows you to select multiple correct answers.
- Sample Directions - This is an extended version of the previous test question types, with the question stem being more detailed.
Which AWS Certification should I get?
Amazon offers dozens of certification options. Below are five of the most popular AWS Certifications, with information about what each exam consists of, length, pricing, and courses to help you prepare.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
The AWS Certified Solution Architect – Associate certification focuses on individuals who will perform junior level solutions architecture tasks. The main content for this certification is highlighted in the exam blueprint. At a high level, the certification is split into four different domains:
- Designing highly available, cost efficient, fault tolerant, scalable systems (60 percent)
- Implementation/Deployment (10 percent)
- Data Security (20 percent)
- Troubleshooting (10 percent)
Candidates have a total of 80 minutes to complete the exam. A practice exam is available at a cost of $20, while the cost of the main exam is $150.
Get started with Pluralsight's AWS Certified Solution Architect Learning Path.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
The AWS Certified Solution Architect – Professional certification focuses on individuals who will perform senior level solutions architecture tasks. You can find the main content for this exam in the blueprint. At a high level, the certification is split into eight different domains:
- High Availability and Business Continuity (15 percent)
- Costing (5 percent)
- Deployment Management (10 percent)
- Network Design (10 percent)
- Data Storage (15 percent)
- Security (20 percent)
- Scalability & Elasticity (15 percent)
- Cloud Migration & Hybrid Architecture (10 percent)
Candidates have a total of 170 minutes to complete the exam. You can take a practice exam for $40, and the main exam for $300.
Explore your path to becoming an AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional with Pluralsight.
AWS Certified Developer - Associate
The AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification focuses on individuals who will perform junior level development tasks. You can find the exam blueprint on their website. The certification is split into four different domains:
- AWS Fundamentals (10 percent)
- Designing and Developing (40 percent)
- Deploying and Security (30 percent)
- Debugging (20 percent)
Candidates have a total of 80 minutes to complete the exam. A practice exam is available for $20 while the cost of the main exam is $150.
Become an AWS Certified Developer - Associate with Pluralsight.
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate
The AWS Certified SysOps – Associate certification is for individuals who will perform junior level single organization deployment, management and operational tasks. This is highlighted in the exam blueprint. The certification is split into seven different domains:
- Monitoring and Metrics (15 percent)
- High Availability (15 percent)
- Analysis (15 percent)
- Deployment and Provisioning (15 percent)
- Data Management (12 percent)
- Security (15 percent)
- Networking (13 percent)
Candidates have a total of 80 minutes to complete the exam. You can take a practice exam for $20, and the main exam for $150.
Explore Pluralsight's AWS Certified SysOps Admin - Associate Learning Path.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
The AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional certification focuses on individuals who will perform senior level single organization provisioning, development, deployment, management and operational tasks. This certification is the professional level for both the Developer and SysOps tracks. You can find the exam blueprint. The certification is split into four different domains:
- Continuous Delivery and Process Automation (55 percent)
- Monitoring, Metrics, and Logging (20 percent)
- Security, Governance, and Validation (10 percent)
- High Availability and Elasticity (15 percent)
Candidates have a total of 170 minutes to complete the exam. Currently, there is no practice exam available for this one; the cost of the main exam is $300.
Get started on exam prep with the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional Learning Path.
Learn more about AWS Certifications
With Amazon leading in market share of the Cloud infrastructure marketplace (over twice of any competitor) it’s obvious that it will continue playing a large role in the cloud market. This means that if you’re working with Cloud technologies, it’s vital that you’re well versed in Amazon’s offerings. As you can see, the specific area of focus depends greatly on what you’ll be doing – thankfully, Amazon has options across the board.
Sean Wilkins is an accomplished networking consultant who has been in the IT field for more than 20 years, working with several large enterprises. He is a writer for infoDispersion and his educational accomplishments include: a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Network Architecture and Design, and a Master’s of Science in Organizational Management. Sean holds certifications with Cisco (CCNP/CCDP), Microsoft (MCSE) and CompTIA (A+ and Network+).