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Cloud Certifications: AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional

Oct 22, 2020 • 16 Minute Read


In a data-driven world, the need for cloud computing has become an essential skill for data accessibility, processing, and analysis to facilitate business requirements. Public cloud solutions have been widely adopted for developing apps for instant deployment, scalability, consistency, and security.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the market leader in the cloud services market with a 34% share. AWS provides a plethora of services that come with years of research, development, and customizations. AWS has grown exponentially, and is extremely popular among data scientists, developers, and IT professionals. According to Google Trends, AWS is the most-searched cloud service provider.

AWS is consistently inventing; they introduced AWS Outposts, Local Zones, and Wavelength along with many other services in the fourth quarter of 2019. AWS will be adding services for quantum computing as well. Amazon's fourth quarter data for 2019 showed a revenue of $9.95 billion, indicating a 34% increase in growth compared to the previous quarter.

This guide covers the details of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification, one of the prominent badges in the IT industry.

Tech Stack for Certification

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification is the ultimate goal to certify your AWS domain expertise. It expects candidates to have significant industry knowledge in the below AWS services:

  • Technical: Knowledge of scripting languages like shell and experience with Windows/Linux environments.
  • IAM: Identity and Access Management service to manage the privileges to access AWS resources for users and groups.
  • EC2: Elastic compute cloud includes virtual machine management (EC2 instance), load balancer, container services, and Lambda (computation).
  • Storage: This includes S3 (Simple Storage Service) for files, EBS (Elastic Block Store) for faster data access, and Storage Gateway for hybrid storage and backup/recovery services.
  • Network: Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for remote accessibility, Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), and Route 53 for IP routing.
  • Database: DynamoDB and SimpleDB for No-SQL database, Relational Database Service (RDS) for SQL database, and Redshift for the data warehouse.
  • Analysis: Services like Athena and Lambda for data analysis with SQL or big data with AWS Lake.
  • Additional Services: AWS CLI and billing, CloudFormation for resource automation using YAML/JSON, Gateway API for web API security, Simple Queue Service (SQS) for distributed messaging queue, Simple Notification Service (SNS) for mobile devices, Simple Workflow Service (SWF) for continuous integration and Time Sync Service, etc.

Amazon provides a one-year free subscription plan for practice and learning, though it requires credit or debit card details to confirm your identity. Students and educators can also take advantage of the AWS Educate program.

Prerequisites and Recommended Skills

The Professional AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is a successor of the Associate AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification. However in October 2018 Amazon removed the exam prerequisites, so anyone can proceed with the professional certification without having an associate certificate.

The Professional AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification expects that you have the following skills:

  • Two or more years of experience with AWS and a deep understanding of the AWS ecosystem with an ability to find optimal solutions for specific use cases.
  • Knowledge of the AWS tech stack, programming languages (Python, Java, shell, etc), and networking.
  • Knowledge of design, build, and continuous integration and development of projects.
  • Best practices for the five pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.
  • Experience with Windows and Linux operating systems with command prompt/terminal.
  • Knowledge of JSON and YAML syntax. Regular expression skills are also useful.

Follow the AWS exam preparation material for updated samples and details.

Certification Process Details

Once you study the training and practice material thoroughly, the next step is to schedule the test. The crucial attributes of the test are:


The exam is comprised of multiple choice questions, and answers can have multiple correct choices. Marks are only given if only the correct choices are selected.


The criteria for passing scores is set by using statistical analysis and is subject to change. Points are not given for incorrect answers.


The exam can be taken online (proctored exam) or given at a physical test center provided by PSI or Pearson VUE. The benefit of opting for a physical test center is the opportunity to meet other developers and make new connections.

For an online proctored exam, applicants must be able to speak English to communicate with the proctor monitoring the testing environment. Online proctoring exams are not available for candidates in mainland China, Japan, Slovenia, or South Korea. More details are available here. Find the additional information about system requirements and policies here.

Due to COVID-19, test delivery providers have released strict guidelines for safety measures. Follow PSI guidelines here and Pearson VUE guidelines here for testing center availability and safety measures.


The duration of the exam is 180 minutes, though it could vary in the future depending on the content.


There is a one-time fee of $300 for an AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional exam.

Beta Program

Amazon has a beta program where applicants can take the exam with new changes to the exam’s outline or take exams for new certifications. Early access is available to a limited number of candidates (on a first come, first served basis) who can take the beta exam as well as the stable exam once it’s out of beta. This allows applicants to take the exam twice without any additional fee. The beta program also provides the benefit of 50% off of the standard exam pricing.


Applicants only have one chance to clear the exam, though there is an option of a practice exam with an additional fee of $40.

Additional Details

The exam can be rescheduled up to 24 hours before the scheduled exam time; otherwise there will be no refund and the next exam can be scheduled only after 24 hours. In case of unsuccessful attempts, the next exam can be scheduled after 14 days with the same fee, though you can use vouchers to retake the exam.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification is valid for three years. The certificates will be available within five working days after a positive exam result.

Details about content and pricing vary, so make sure to verify it here.

Job Market

AWS’s customer list includes top tier companies like Adobe, Airbnb, BMW, Comcast, Disney, Docker, Dow Jones, ESPN, LinkedIn, Lyft, Netflix, Twitch, Twitter, government bodies, and so on. The ever-growing customer list of AWS represents the diverse market of job opportunities for AWS associates and professionals with lucrative salary packages.

  • Indeed: There are more than 8,000 jobs as of May 2020.

  • Glassdoor: There are around 2,000+ AWS architect jobs in the United States as of May 2020, with an average salary between $122,000 and $169,000.

  • LinkedIn: There are 2000+ jobs on LinkedIn with a base pay of $138,000/yr.

AWS is a perfect match for data scientists and web, and desktop app developers. To put the cherry on top, it is recommended to learn any trending high-level languages like Python, Java, or JavaScript to complement your AWS skills.

Pluralsight Resources

Pluralsight offers excellent resources for AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional preparation. To get started, follow this curated learning path for the certification. This path is specifically designed to give you a thorough knowledge of AWS skills for the certification using a practical approach.

Additional courses are also available to help you hone your programming skills :

Pluralsight’s Role and Skill IQs are also great resources to measure the level of your skills. They also recommend learning opportunities to fill in the gaps and reach the next level:

Pluralsight Labs




  • Prepare yourself with the AWS one year free subscription plan for practice, and follow the updated study material thoroughly from the official site.
  • Test your knowledge with online MCQs or with the paid practice test from Amazon.
  • Opt for a beta program if possible to take advantage of an extra attempt and discount.

Hopefully this guide answered your questions about the necessary details to get started with AWS platform and certification. Good luck with your certification.