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Parul Saxena

Cloud Certifications: AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate

Parul Saxena

  • Oct 22, 2020
  • 15 Min read
  • Oct 22, 2020
  • 15 Min read
Cloud Infrastructure
Operations and Management
AWS Certified SysOps Administrator SOA-C01


Cloud computing offers businesses a cost-effective, instantly scalable, and fault-tolerant IT infrastructure. AWS certifications have become a featured highlight in the global market.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SOA-C01) examination is intended for systems administrators in a systems operations role managing highly scalable and fault-tolerant systems in AWS. The certification demands that candidates demonstrate the ability to deploy AWS solutions for different scenarios according to AWS's best practices and troubleshoot AWS environments for performance. The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate Certification requires its candidates to be comfortable deploying and managing full production operations on AWS.

Who the Certification Is For

This certification is designed for systems administrators, operations managers, and those in a DevOps role who want to learn how to create automated and repeatable deployments of applications, networks, and systems on the AWS platform. Also, any developer who wants to move into a systems administrator role can take this certification.

Prerequisites and Recommended Knowledge

There is no prerequisite for this exam; however, candidates are expected to have the following competencies:

  • Understanding of AWS Tenets

  • Hands-on experience with the AWS CLI and SDKs/API tools

  • Understanding of network technologies

  • 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

Skills Validated

This exam validates the ability to implement and control the flow of data to and from AWS, along with on-premises workload migration to AWS following AWS operational best practices. The skills validated by the certification are:

  • Deploy, manage, and operate scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant systems on AWS

  • Implement and control the flow of data to and from AWS

  • Select the appropriate AWS service based on compute, data, or security requirements

  • Identify appropriate use of AWS operational best practices

  • Estimate AWS usage costs and identify operational cost control mechanisms

  • Migrate on-premises workloads to AWS

Topics Covered

The important topics and concepts covered in the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate exam are:

  • EBS: EBS is a block-level storage device that you can attach to one instance or multiple instances at the same time. Knowledge of EBS is essential since it is used as a primary data storage that requires frequent updates. The Pluralsight course Implementing Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) provides fundamental knowledge about implementing EBS.

  • IAM, IAM Policy, IAM User, IAM Group: A basic understanding of policies and permissions is important to provide authorization to perform various tasks to secure infrastructure in AWS. The Pluralsight course Identity and Access Management on AWS: Policies and Permissions provides a thorough explanation of IAM policies and permissions.

  • Autoscaling EC2: EC2 is an Amazon service that allows developers to run apps in a secure cloud environment. The Implementing AWS EC2 Auto Scaling course through Pluralsight provides key concepts about implementing and deploying EC2 autoscaling groups.

  • ELB: ELB automatically distributes incoming app traffic and scales resources. The AWS Networking Deep Dive: Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) course through Pluralsight provides tips and tricks for configuring ELB.

  • ElastiCache: ElastiCache is a fully managed and scalable cache service provided by Amazon to improve the performance of the web apps. This Amazon ElastiCache overview is a good read for basic understanding.

  • Elastic Beanstalk: Elastic Beanstalk is the orchestration service offered by Amazon Web Services for deploying apps. The Building Applications Using Elastic Beanstalk Pluralsight course helps you understand Elastic Beanstalk.

  • VPC: VPC allows you to create the logically isolated section of Amazon services in the virtual network. The Pluralsight courses Deploying Basic Infrastructure Services on AWS and AWS Networking Deep Dive: Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) provide good knowledge about designing and implementing VPCs.

  • RDS: Amazon RDS is the relational database that provides a cost-effective and resizable capacity.

  • ROUTE53: Amazon Route 53 is a scalable and highly available Domain Name System service. Understanding and configuring the DNS can be confusing for many developers. I highly recommend the course AWS Networking Deep Dive: Route 53 DNS to learn about configuring Route53.

  • OpsWork: OpsWork is the configuration management service that provides managed instances of Chef and Puppet.

  • SNS: SNS is the fully managed pub/sub messaging service.

  • Snowball: Snowball is a data migration and edge computing device.

  • CloudWatch, CloudTrail, and Athena: AWS monitoring and reporting is the most important topic on the exam. The Architecting for Security on AWS Pluralsight course provides knowledge about securing data, resources, and services at each level of deployment.

    • CloudWatch: CloudWatch is a monitoring service in AWS and is used to configure alarms. The Pluralsight course Monitoring AWS Cloud Security provides excellent knowledge about creating dashboards and monitoring AWS resources.

    • CloudTrail: CloudTrail is the Amazon compliance service that enables governance and auditing of AWS accounts. The course Monitoring with AWS CloudTrail outlines the usage of CloudTrail and is useful for certification preparation.

    • Athena: AWS Athena is a query service that uses ANSI-standard SQL to query directly from Amazon S3. This makes it easy to analyze big data instantly in S3 using standard SQL.
  • CloudFormation: AWS CloudFormation enables you to manage your complete infrastructure or AWS resources in a text file. The courses Architecting for Operational Excellence on AWS and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer: Continuous Delivery and Automation provide knowledge about automating infrastructure using CloudFormation.

  • SQS: Amazon SQS is a message queue service used by distributed apps to exchange messages through a polling model, and it can be used to decouple sending and receiving components.

  • NAT Gateway: Network Address Translation (NAT) instances are used in a public subnet in the VPC. They enable instances in the private subnet to initiate outbound IPv4 traffic to the internet or other AWS services, but prevent the instances from receiving inbound traffic initiated by someone on the internet.

Domain-specific Weightage and Associated AWS Services

DomainWeightageAWS Services
Monitoring and Reporting22%CloudWatch, CloudTrail, Athena
High Availability8%Autoscaling, Elastic cache
Deployment and Provisioning14%EC2, ELB, SQS
Storage and Data Management12%S3, RDS
Security and Compliance18%IAM, IAM Policy, IAM User and IAM Group
Networking14%VPC, NAT Gateway
Automation and Optimization12%CloudFormation, EBS, OpsWork

Certification Process

Exam Format

  1. Multiple-choice: Has one correct response and three incorrect responses.

  2. Multiple-response: Has two or more correct responses out of five or more options.

  3. Unscored Content: Your examination may include unscored items that are placed on the test to gather statistical information. These items are not identified on the form and do not affect your score.

Note: Unanswered questions are scored as incorrect.


You have 130 minutes to complete the exam.


The cost of the certification is $150 USD.

Delivery Method

The certification exam can be taken at a testing center or scheduled as an online proctored exam.


Test results are reported as a score between 100 and 1000. The minimum passing score for most sections is 75%. However, for a few sections, the minimum passing score is 68%. The overall minimum passing scoreis 720.

The score report contains a table the breaks down the candidate’s performance at each section level. This information is designed to provide general feedback for each section. The examination uses a compensatory scoring model, which means that the candidate does not need to “pass” the individual sections, and only the overall examination score is considered.

Pluralsight Resources

Pluralsight has designed a learning path that covers all the topics required for the certification. The AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate (SOA-C01) learning path at Pluralsight consists of 21 courses. I highly recommend going through this learning path to prepare for the exam. Once you have taken all the courses in the learning path, be sure to take the CyberVista Practice Tests, which are linked in the same learning path from Pluralsight.

Job Prospects

The high adoption rate of AWS cloud services by organizations around the globe has translated into top salaries for some IT professionals choosing to pursue these certifications.

According to the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Survey, out of 12,271 IT professionals, 1,011 respondents said they hold an AWS certification. The average salary of an AWS-certified IT professional is $130,610.


  • Review the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate (SOA-C01) Exam Guide a day or two before the certification day. This will help you to review the exam topics and ensure that none of the topics are a surprise.

  • Take multiple practice tests. This will enhance your problem solving capability and give you an idea of the questions asked on the exam.

  • Get a good night's sleep before the exam so that you are completely relaxed.

“Your calm mind is the ultimate weapon against your challenges”. -Bryant McGill

All the best and happy learning!